No matter how good your intentions are, once hunger hits your resolve to eat better melts away and you may find yourself in front of the vending machine eyeing a bag of Fritos or a package of Ding Dongs… again. You may have sworn off the vending machine, but once your lunch is gone and your stomach begins rumbling, it’s natural to search out the easiest, quickest fix which often comes in sugary carb form.
This unhealthy cycle doesn’t have to continue. It just takes a little planning and preparation on your part. While preparing your lunch for the day, make a point to pack a portable high-protein snack to beat that mid-afternoon crash.
1. Cottage cheese
Throw some cottage cheese in an airtight container and it will be your savior when hunger strikes. One 5-ounce serving contains 20 grams of protein and gives you 125 milligrams of bone-building calcium. This dairy snack actually offers more protein than a typical serving of Greek yogurt! For a little extra flavor, top your snack with fresh fruit or nuts.
2. Peanut butter crunch
You may have eaten this healthy snack as a kid, but the adult version of the kid-friendly snack takes this classic to the next level. Load a few celery sticks with peanut butter (or your favorite type of nut butter) and sprinkle it with raisins and peanuts or almonds If you’re not a fan of celery, scoop out the middle of an apple and fill it with the nut butter. Feel free to get creative by using various nuts and dried fruits to find your favorite combination
3. Tuna salad on crackers
Buy several of the single-serving StarKist Ready-to-Eat Tuna Salad packages and pack them along with some whole-grain crackers for an easy snack that packs in an estimated 16 grams of protein. If you like to add in celery, carrots, and onion, prepare a batch of tuna salad at home and take a serving with you.
4. PB & J Greek yogurt
If you love the classic peanut butter and jelly combination, then this is the perfect protein-packed snack for you. Bring along a single serving of plain Greek yogurt and top with jelly, peanut butter, fresh fruit, and unsalted peanuts. If you use a grape jelly, using fresh grapes will pair well. With around 22 grams of protein this snack will keep you running until dinner time.
5. Beef jerky
Arguably no snack is more portable than a bag of beef jerky. A typical variety is about 115 calories and contains 9 grams of protein. Skip the sodium and sugar-packed jerky found in the aisles of convenience stores and pick out one from a health food store. This chewy snack stays fresh for months and can easily be kept in your desk drawer for that moment when hunger strikes.
6. Hard-boiled eggs
This classic snack is easy to make and has plenty of protein, high-quality fat, and more nutrients your body needs. Boil half a dozen eggs the night before, and you’ll have a ready-to-go snack the rest of the week. If a couple of hard-boiled eggs aren’t doing it for you, bring along some baby carrots, salami, or nuts.
7. Homemade trail mix
By making your own trail mix, you can tailor it to your own taste while making sure it stays on the healthy side. Choose a base nut that is high in protein and nutrients. Almonds, Brazil nuts, and pistachios are all recommended. Add in a hint of sweet using unsweetened dried fruit, coconut flakes, or if you’re a chocolate fiend, some semisweet chocolate chips. For a bit of salt, pumpkin or sunflower seeds add a different texture to the mix and just enough sodium. For a little crunch, you can add in cereal, popcorn, or granola.
8. Deli roll-ups
This snack will give you a quick boost of energy and it’ fully portable. Buy a package of lower-sodium turkey meat from the deli and your favorite cheese. Roll a slice of turkey with one slice of cheese and throw in a tomato, lettuce, avocado, bell pepper, or your favorite veggies. This snack gives you around 11.9 grams of protein, ensuring you stay full longer.