8 Healthy High-Protein Snacks to Help You Power Through the Day
Snacking on Foods High in Protein Helps Keep You Feeling Full Longer
When it comes to healthy eating, there’s a lot of focus on what youshouldn’tbe eating. Skip the “added sugars,” “bad fats,” and “bad carbs.” But, what should you be eating? And when you realize your last meal was a bit too light — and your next meal is still a ways off — which snacks are smart choices?
Foods high in protein are good snacking picks because the macronutrient helps keep you feeling fuller longer, explains Mary Wirtz, RDN, a wellness dietitian at the Healthy Living Program at the Mayo Clinic: “Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, so it therefore keeps us satisfied and satiated.”
And the longer you feel satisfied and satiated, the less likely you’ll want to reach for other less-healthy snacks or extra calories, she adds.
Several epidemiological studies that have followed large groups of people over the course of several years have indeed found improved health outcomes in people who eat diets high in protein. Some of those health benefits include lower risk of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
Other research suggests diets high in protein can help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. A study published in May 2015 in theInternational Journal of Obesity, which followed 932 obese families, found that a high-protein diet helped control blood pressure and inflammation in both kids and adults — and helped both the kids and adults in the study lose weight and keep it off.
Why is protein so important? Protein is used by every cell in the body (including our muscles, bones, blood, cartilage, and all tissues) for basic functioning, Wirtz says. Once digested and transported to where we need it, the protein we eat helps our bodies do just about everything we do, from repairing and rebuilding muscle after we exercise to making the hormones and chemicals that help keep our organs functioning and regulate our sleep, digestion, and immune function.
So when we get hungry between meals, high-protein snacks may provide the energy our bodies need (calming our hunger signals) and keep our systems functioning optimally.
It’s important to remember, however, that just because a food is high in protein, that doesn’t mean you should overdo it. Some foods that pack a lot of punch when it comes to grams of protein per calorie, like red meat or full-fat cheese, can also serve up a lot of saturated fat, which should be eaten in moderation.
Here are eight good-for-you snacks that deliver when it comes to protein.
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