New Years Special: Get $200 off our 12-Week Sustainable Health Program. Book A Free Session Now!

Top 10 High-Protein Snacks to Fuel your Holidays & New Year

The holidays and New Year bring joy and cheer, and also a lot of things to do! As the new year is upon us, it is always a good idea to take the ‘oxygen mask’ approach, and take care of ourselves as best as we can to be able to show up for the ones we love.

Our bodies and brains need constant energy, so it is important we are eating in a way that helps support all the activity – from cooking to shopping to wrapping to visiting with family and friends, to clean-up and and taking down decorations – this time of year!

We’ve also all heard eating more protein is good for us, but don’t always know what that looks like for us as an individual. So below are some good reasons to include quality, varied protein sources in the diet, and the top 10 protein-filled snacks to help you thrive through the holidays and into the New Year.

Why is Protein Important?

Protein is an essential macronutrient, along with carbohydrate and good fat. Research analyzing many studies shows protein in the diet promotes fullness (Yang et. al, 2014), slows digestion of sugars (Miglani & Bains, 2017), and suppresses appetite (Halton and Hu, 2004). In addition, it is beneficial for lipid (fat) metabolism and lowers blood pressure (Johnstone, 2012).

Further, protein promotes fullness by signaling the release of appetite-suppressing hormones, slowing digestion, and stabilizing blood sugar levels (Dhillon et. al, 2016, Leidy et. al, 2015, Promintzer & Krebs, 2004).

More protein in the diet also increases metabolic rate more than carbohydrates and fats (called ‘diet-induced thermogenesis’), increases fat-free mass (or muscle), and creates a state of greater energy output than input due to increases in sleeping metabolic rate (Moon & Koh, 2020Drummen et. al, 2018). General dietary guidelines for adults suggest 45-65% of total energy from carbohydrates, 20-35% from fat, and 10-35% from protein, with a recommended dietary allowance of 46 grams per day for females and 56 for males, which translates to 0.8 grams /kilogram of body weight per day and is high in protein if it exceeds this amount (Pesta & Samuel, 2014).

The body needs 20 essential amino acids from protein, and while our bodies can make 11, we need to consume the other 9 (called ‘essential’) for a complete profile. Animal sources contain all the amino acids needed (called ‘complete proteins’), whereas plant sources need to be combined in most cases, except for quinoa and soy. A variety of protein is best for your health, since plant sources contain many vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that animal sources do not. In addition, some studies show increases in some cancers associated with processed meat, so a diet either high in fiber or replacing meat sources with fish or chicken removes the effect of meat on the increase in some cancers (for review, see Johnstone, 2012).

TOP 10 HIGH-PROTEIN SNACKS 

  • 10 – Roasted chickpeas have 7 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, as well as nutrients like phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, and folate. The fiber and nutrients help protect against type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, and amino acid profile can be complemented with cereals in the diet (Jukanti et. al, 2012).
  • 9 – Peanut butter on celery. With 9 grams of protein in 2 tbsp (30 grams per serving) studies show peanut butter promotes fullness between meals (Kirmeyer & Mattes, 2000, Devitt et. al, 2011) plus nutrients and water from celery.
  • 8 – Or jerky, meat that is trimmed of fat, dried and cut into strips, with an impressive 9 grams protein in 1 oz. Since store-bought versions are likely high in sugar and additives, it is best to make yourself with a good cut of beef such as flank steak, top of bottom round, or london broil. Use seasonings like soy sauce, black pepper, onion and garlic powder, seasoned salt, worcestershire, and liquid smoke for the traditional flavor without the sweet.
  • 7 – Baked Tofu. With 9 grams protein in a 3 ounce serving (84 g), tofu is made of soybeans that have been ground, boiled, pressed, and packed. While it has less protein than jerky, it also contains nutrients and vitamins not present in animal sources. Tofu has a mild flavor, so it can absorb any flavors you want to add, e.g. sauteed in olive oil and seasonings. 
  • 6 – Canned salmon is also high in protein like eggs and jerky (6.5 grams per ounce) and contains minerals like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and vitamin B12. The addition of omega3 fatty acids helps lower risk of depression and heart disease, and eating fish at least once per week has been shown to protect against dementia. Low mercury levels make it an ideal high-protein snack. To help with the fishy flavor and add nutrients, pair with capers and lemon juice on whole grain or seed crackers.
  • 5 – Hard-boiled eggs are a good source of complete protein (6 grams in 1 large egg) and also contain many other nutrients like selenium, B vitamins, and other minerals like phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Pair with some apple slices for added fiber and nutrients.
  • 4 – Canned Tuna has 20 grams protein in a 3 ounce serving, Omega3 fatty acids, and nutrients like selenium, B vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Enjoy on a seed cracker for added nutrients and fiber.
  • 3 – Lentil salad is a healthy plant-based protein, with 9 grams in ½ cup, and nutrients like iron and folate. Also high in fiber, lentils have been shown to manage diabetes and promote fullness, as well as reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Combine cooked lentils with chopped veggies, spices, and topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a healthy, portable snack.
  • 2 – Cottage cheese is also relatively high in protein, with 14 grams in a 3 ounce serving and protein making up 70% of its caloric content. It also contains healthy fats (organic sources only), calcium, phosphorus, sodium, selenium, and vitamin B12.
  • 1 – Turkey Roll-ups contain 6 grams from turkey, 6 grams from cheese (e.g. cheddar), plus nutrients from veggies like cucumber, tomato, pickle spear, and mustard for flavor, and help regulate blood sugar and appetite (Kuori et. al, 2013, Astbury et. al, 2014, Samkani et. al, 2018)

When you are feeling overwhelmed and need some holiday cheer, now you have some motivation to grab one of these go-to snacks and take on the day!

Happy Holidays & New Year everyone!

KATY HARRIS, MSPH, CSCS

Katy Harris MSPH, CSCS is a Master of Public Health, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, health and wellness business owner, and ultimate player who runs the WellLife Studio in Chapel Hill, NC.

References:

Ali. “Beef Jerky.” Gimme Some Oven, 23 Nov. 2021, www.gimmesomeoven.com/beef-jerky/.

Barberger-Gateau, Pascale, et al. “Fish, Meat, and Risk of Dementia: Cohort Study.” The BMJ, British Medical Journal Publishing Group, 26 Oct. 2002, www.bmj.com/content/325/7370/932.

Devitt, A A, et al. “Appetitive and Dietary Effects of Consuming an Energy-Dense Food (Peanuts) with or between Meals by Snackers and Nonsnackers.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3144712/.

Dhillon J;Craig BA;Leidy HJ;Amankwaah AF;Osei-Boadi Anguah K;Jacobs A;Jones BL;Jones JB;Keeler CL;Keller CE;McCrory MA;Rivera RL;Slebodnik M;Mattes RD;Tucker RM; “The Effects of Increased Protein Intake on Fullness: A Meta-Analysis and Its Limitations.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26947338/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

El Khoury D;Brown P;Smith G;Berengut S;Panahi S;Kubant R;Anderson GH; “Increasing the Protein to Carbohydrate Ratio in Yogurts Consumed as a Snack Reduces Post-Consumption Glycemia Independent of Insulin.” Clinical Nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23591152/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

FB;, Halton TL;Hu. “The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15466943/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

“Fooddata Central Search Results – Cheese, Cheddar.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173414/nutrients. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

“Fooddata Central Search Results – Cheese, Cottage, Lowfat, 1% Milkfat.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173417/nutrients. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

“Fooddata Central Search Results – Egg, Whole, Cooked, Hard-Boiled.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173424/nutrients. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

“Fooddata Central Search Results – Fish, Salmon, Pink, Canned, Drained Solids.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175175/nutrients. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

“Fooddata Central Search Results – Fish, Tuna, White, Canned in Water, Drained Solids.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175158/nutrients. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

“Fooddata Central Search Results – HOUSE FOODS Premium Firm Tofu.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173788/nutrients. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

“Fooddata Central Search Results – Lentils, Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, with Salt.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175254/nutrients. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

“Fooddata Central Search Results – Peanut Butter.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2063208/nutrients. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

“Fooddata Central Search Results – Snacks, Beef Jerky, Chopped and Formed.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167536/nutrients. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

“Fooddata Central Search Results – Turkey Breast, Low Salt, Prepackaged or Deli, Luncheon Meat.” FoodData Central, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174572/nutrients. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

HM;, Mudryj AN;Yu N;Aukema. “Nutritional and Health Benefits of Pulses.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism = Physiologie Appliquee, Nutrition et Metabolisme, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25061763/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

IA;, Astbury NM;Taylor MA;French SJ;Macdonald. “Snacks Containing Whey Protein and Polydextrose Induce a Sustained Reduction in Daily Energy Intake over 2 WK under Free-Living Conditions.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24670946/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

Johnstone, Alexandra M. “Safety and Efficacy of High-Protein Diets for Weight Loss: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.” Cambridge Core, Cambridge University Press, 8 Mar. 2012, www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/safety-and-efficacy-of-highprotein-diets-for-weight-loss/88D02B63EC2E41F9C8DDF33220A0538D.

Larrieu, Thomas, and Sophie Layé. “Food for Mood: Relevance of Nutritional Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Depression and Anxiety.” Frontiers in Physiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 Aug. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6087749/.

Leidy HJ;Clifton PM;Astrup A;Wycherley TP;Westerterp-Plantenga MS;Luscombe-Marsh ND;Woods SC;Mattes RD; “The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25926512/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

Li SS;Kendall CW;de Souza RJ;Jayalath VH;Cozma AI;Ha V;Mirrahimi A;Chiavaroli L;Augustin LS;Blanco Mejia S;Leiter LA;Beyene J;Jenkins DJ;Sievenpiper JL; “Dietary Pulses, Satiety and Food Intake: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Acute Feeding Trials.” Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24820437/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

Lopez, MJ. “Biochemistry, Essential Amino Acids.” Europe PMC, europepmc.org/article/NBK/nbk557845. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

M;, Promintzer M;Krebs. “Effects of Dietary Protein on Glucose Homeostasis.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16778578/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

Miglani, Neetu. “Interplay between Proteins and Metabolic Syndrome–A Review.” Taylor & Francis Online, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2014.938259. Accessed 22 Dec. 2023.

Moon, Jaecheol, and Gwanpyo Koh. “Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss.” Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30 Sept. 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7539343/.

Pesta, Dominik H, and Varman T Samuel. “A High-Protein Diet for Reducing Body Fat: Mechanisms and Possible Caveats – Nutrition & Metabolism.” BioMed Central, BioMed Central, 19 Nov. 2014, nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-11-53.

RD;, Kirkmeyer SV;Mattes. “Effects of Food Attributes on Hunger and Food Intake.” International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11033986/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

RN;, Jukanti AK;Gaur PM;Gowda CL;Chibbar. “Nutritional Quality and Health Benefits of Chickpea (Cicer Arietinum L.): A Review.” The British Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22916806/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

Samkani A;Skytte MJ;Kandel D;Kjaer S;Astrup A;Deacon CF;Holst JJ;Madsbad S;Rehfeld JF;Haugaard SB;Krarup T; “A Carbohydrate-Reduced High-Protein Diet Acutely Decreases Postprandial and Diurnal Glucose Excursions in Type 2 Diabetes Patients.” The British Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29644957/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

Wang C;Harris WS;Chung M;Lichtenstein AH;Balk EM;Kupelnick B;Jordan HS;Lau J; “N-3 Fatty Acids from Fish or Fish-Oil Supplements, but Not Alpha-Linolenic Acid, Benefit Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes in Primary- and Secondary-Prevention Studies: A Systematic Review.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16825676/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.

Yang, Dan, et al. “Acute Effects of High-Protein versus Normal-Protein Isocaloric Meals on Satiety and Ghrelin – European Journal of Nutrition.” SpringerLink, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 4 July 2013, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-013-0552-4.

Related Posts