1. Keep Single Servings of Protein
Weight loss happens faster when you eat a calorie-controlled diet full of healthy meals and portion-controlled snacks. But trying to eat the right foods and the right amount of each food can be a huge challenge. When I recently talked to Dr. Brian Wansink, a Cornell University researcher who studies eating behavior, he suggested that dieters keep at least six single servings of protein in their refrigerator at all times. That way, a healthy portioned-controlled snack is always available when cravings hit. His research has found that this simple habit can help us to eat better to lose weight.
So what are the best single-serving protein snacks to keep on hand? Scan this list and find a few foods that you enjoy. Then stock your refrigerator to take advantage of Dr. Wansink’s smart tip. Just be sure that you store each protein snack in a single serving container so that you’re not tempted to eat more than you should at snack time. And store the containers on the front shelf of your refrigerator so they are the first thing you see when you open the door to look for a healthy snack.
A single serving of edamame is one cup of the prepared (steamed) soybeans. Store each serving of edamame in an individual, microwave-safe baggie or plastic container so that you can pull it out of the refrigerator and pop it into the microwave when you’re hungry. A single-serving of this healthy snack provides a whopping 17 grams of protein and it is also a great source of fiber.
3. Cottage Cheese
If you prefer a protein snack that is creamy, keep cottage cheese on hand. A 1/2 cup serving of 2 percent milkfat cottage cheese provides 12 grams of protein. Eat your cottage cheese with a few berries or steamed veggies to add nutrients and fiber. Be aware, however, that cottage cheese is high in sodium. So if you’re watching your salt intake, this might not be the best choice for a healthy protein snack.
4. Chilled Shrimp
Cooked, chilled shrimp are a great high protein snack to grab when you need something light but meaty. A single 3-ounce serving of shrimp provides 18 grams of protein. The number of shrimp in a single serving will vary depending on the size and the type of shrimp you buy.
Keep in mind that shrimp are highly perishable. Cooked shrimp will stay fresh for up to three days in your refrigerator. For that reason, I keep shrimp frozen most of the time. Then I create single-serving plastic containers of 3-4 medium shrimp. I add a lemon wedge to each one and store them in the refrigerator where they thaw. Then I eat them within a day or two of creating the snack packs.
5. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is great high protein snack if you’re craving something creamy and sweet. A single-serving of Greek yogurt provides 20 grams of protein. It’s also a good source of calcium. But if you’re watching your sugar intake, you might want to stick to the plain-style yogurt. Add your own fresh berries or a teaspoon of honey to add natural sweetness.
6. String Cheese
If you need an easy high-protein snack to grab on the go, string cheese is it. You’ll find plenty of brands in the dairy section of your grocery store and they generally come individually wrapped so that they are easy to store and easy to carry. Each single-serving stick provides 8 grams of protein to keep you feeling full and satisfied until meal time.
7. Deli Meat
Deli meat is an easy go-to snack when you’re hungry. The problem with deli meat, however, is that some varieties are very high in fat. Popular meats like salami or bologna are full of protein, but also full of fat. So if you like to snack on lunch meat, choose chicken, turkey, ham or roast beef. A single 2-ounce serving of most brands will provide 9-13 grams of low-fat protein.
Remember, however, to keep portion size in mind when you eat these meats. Most of us store deli meat in the bags we get from the butcher. If you do that, it’s easy to eat too much at snack time. Take a minute to create mini snack bags with an individual portion of meat and a few veggie sticks to grab when you’re hungry.
8. Hard Boiled Egg
My favorite high protein snack is a hard boiled egg. They are easy to prepare if you cook several at a time and they are exceptionally easy to store, although cooked eggs only stay fresh for one week in the refrigerator. One large hard-boiled egg provides 6 grams of protein.
If you’re watching your saturated fat intake, you can eat hard boiled eggs without the yolk. I like the taste of egg whites, so I eat them plain. But you can also add a scoop of homemade hummus (more protein!) for extra flavor.
Tuna is a great source of protein and there are so many ways to prepare and eat it. If you like sushi-grade raw tuna, you can eat a single serving of this protein-packed fish to get 7 grams of protein. But fresh tuna doesn’t store well in your refrigerator. So many dieters keep single serving pouches of tuna on hand. You can eat it right out of the pouch or throw the tuna onto a bed of greens with a squeeze of lemon for an instant, healthy, protein-rich salad.
10. Chocolate Milk
Need to calm your chocolate craving? A glass of chocolate milk is a good protein-rich snack and it’s a great post-workout snack, too. An 8-ounce glass of the creamy treat provides 8 grams of protein. But be careful. It’s easy to pour and drink more than a single serving of chocolate milk. Since you’re not likely to store this high-protein snack in single serving containers, just be mindful of the type of glass you pour your milk into before you drink. A small water glass works well if you want to avoid overdoing it.