5 Protein-Packed Snacks for a Quick Energy Boost

It’s 10 a.m., and you find yourself reaching for the snack drawer at work to take the edge off your hunger. Rather than choosing chips or crackers, try packing yourself a healthy, protein-packed snack instead! While carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet, they can cause blood sugar spikes that leave you sleeping at your desk later on.

Proteins are made of vital amino acids that we need to keep our bodies functioning. They’re tougher for your body to break down, meaning you’ll feel fuller for longer. Proteins also help stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent spikes, giving you a quick energy boost to keep powering through the day.

Here are 5 protein-packed snacks to try.

1. Protein Energy Balls

Looking for a sweet snack with extra protein? Energy balls are the perfect solution! Here’s an example recipe from Well Plated by Erin, with 4 grams of protein in every serving:

Mix the ingredients together and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until chilled. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and enjoy!

Erin’s recipe also includes variations with dried fruit, coconut flakes, nut butter, and chopped nuts. Try different combinations of your favorite ingredients for a twist! You can also press the energy ball mix into a pan and make protein bars instead.

2. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a soft, creamy cheese made from curds of pasteurized milk. The curd sizes vary, giving cottage cheese a distinct texture. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 3.5-ounce serving of low-fat cottage cheese contains 11 grams of protein in only 84 calories.

Cottage cheese is versatile and can be eaten alone or with fruits and vegetables. Here are some ideas for a quick protein snack with cottage cheese.

  1. Top a serving of cottage cheese with your favorite cut-up fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries. For added texture and more protein, add chia seeds or chopped nuts. Finish with a drizzle of honey.
  2. Chop up your favorite vegetables, like celery, carrots, or radishes, to dip into the cottage cheese. You can also add seasonings like dill, garlic, and oregano to spice things up!

3. Meat and Cheese Roll-ups

If you have deli meat and cheese in your fridge, you have all the ingredients for a high-protein snack! Roll a low-fat string cheese or cheese slices with deli turkey or chicken — you can also add lettuce and other veggies to make a wrap without the bread. These meat and cheese wraps are a great low-carb option for preventing blood sugar spikes. The 18 grams of protein (6 grams in string cheese and 12 grams in 2 ounces of deli turkey) will help keep you fuller for longer to fuel your day.

4. Protein Smoothies

Smoothies are a great way to combine your favorite fruits, protein powders, nut butter, and milk into an on-the-go snack. While fruit alone isn’t a large source of protein, you can blend in plenty of ingredients to make a filling and delicious smoothie. You can also tweak the ingredients and their amounts to your desired taste, consistency, and protein content. 

Here are some ingredient ideas:

  • Milk: Choose your favorite milk variety, like 2%, almond, oat, or coconut. The type of milk you choose can add extra protein — for example, 1 cup of 2% milk has 8 grams of protein.
  • Greek yogurt: Higher in protein than regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is thick, creamy, and the perfect addition to a smoothie. On average, 1 serving (156 grams) of Greek yogurt has 16.1 grams of protein.
  • Protein powder: Mix in 1-2 scoops of your favorite protein powder for an added protein kick! Options can include whey, pea, hemp, and egg-based protein powders. The protein content varies between types and brands, so be sure to look at the nutrition label.

5. Chia Seed Pudding

Did you know that just 1 ounce of chia seeds contains nearly 5 grams of protein? There’s a good reason why chia seeds are hailed as a “superfood” for their high protein and fiber content. Add them to a high-protein liquid along with some sweetener to make a delicious chia seed pudding. You can mix together 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with ½ cup of 2% milk and a drizzle of honey for a grand total of 12 grams of protein.  Refrigerate the chia pudding for at least a few hours or overnight for the best consistency, then top with your favorite fruits and nuts.

Protein-Packed Snacks

By Emily Wagner

Emily earned a Bachelor of Science in biotechnology from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2018 and a Master of Science in biomedical sciences with a focus in pharmacology from University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in 2020. During her thesis work, she studied non-small cell lung cancer and how the immune system plays a role in response to different treatments. Emily feels privileged to use her research acumen and scientific mind to write about topics that advance the health and wellbeing of others. She currently lives in Colorado where she enjoys the mountains, spending time with her dog, baking, and reading a good book.