4 High-Protein Snacks to Drop on Grocery Store Shelves Right Now

The human body has an impressive, innate ability to heal itself during the normal ups and downs of life. And that’s where the magic of protein comes in. This is why nutritionists and health experts consider protein to be an essential part of their diet. These chains of amino acids play a role in muscle growth, digestion, hormonal regulation, cell repair and energy production.

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“Protein contains the building blocks for muscle and tissue development. It is essential for optimal immune function and regulated mood,” says Sydney Green, MS, RD, and owner of Green Health. “At its most basic level, protein is a tremendous source of energy and is vital to thriving.”

You may be looking for the best ways to incorporate more protein into your diet. There are plenty of high protein foods to eat between meals. Why not use your snacking habit to your advantage?

“Protein helps build and repair lean muscle, as well as slow digestion so you get full faster and stay full longer,” advises Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, and a board certified specialist in sports dietetics. “Because it slows down the digestion process and helps keep your blood sugar more stable, it can help reduce the occurrence of energy fluctuations throughout the day.”

But simply grabbing whatever advertises high-protein content off the shelf won’t cut it. Whether you’re trying to build strength, achieve a weight loss goal, or simply stabilize your energy, there’s a perfect way to add protein to your day.

“Just because a food is high in protein doesn’t mean it’s good for you,” says Goodson. “If it contains large amounts of added sugars or saturated fat—both of which can be found on food labels—you may want to choose another option. Both sugar and saturated fat can add up to a lot of calories and, at times, Not a lot of nutrients.”

For the untrained eye, it can be difficult to identify which foods are worth your money. Here are four high-protein snacks our experts recommend you skip for a well-balanced diet.

Balance Peanut Butter Nutrition Bar
Courtesy of Amazon

per 1 time: 200 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 15 g protein

Protein bars are a convenient way to boost your protein on the go. It’s not easy to toss in your bag for those busy days—and there’s a better way to satisfy your hunger than with a handful of chips.

This mineral and vitamin-filled protein bar may look like it has the best nutritional balance, but the ingredient list tells a different story, with 17 grams of sugar for 15 grams of protein. “This bar has more grams of sugar than grams of protein,” says Green. “Plus, the ingredient list is full of highly processed items.”

One ingredient you can find in many protein bars is protein isolate. This bar contains a protein blend made from soy, whey and milk protein isolates.

“Ideally, protein should come from a whole food source rather than an isolate. For example, the protein from Greek yogurt is different from the ‘milk protein isolate,'” notes Green. “You also want the grams of protein at breakfast to exceed the grams of sugar.” In short, this is a snack you can pass up.

Discovery Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Bar
Courtesy of Amazon

per 1 time: 180 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated fat), <5 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (9 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 17 g protein

Quest Bars offer a litany of dessert flavors like S’mores, Peppermint Bark, and Birthday Cake, so you can indulge without the sugar. People with diabetes or ketogenic diets have to strictly limit their sugar intake, and this is marketed as a high-protein bar that can meet their needs.

How can you make a cookie dough substitute without sugar? By using artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. They are low in calories and do not have a significant effect on your blood sugar level.

But some studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can be harmful to gut health. “This product contains potential gastrointestinal irritants such as erythritol (sugar alcohol) and corn fiber,” says Green. If you have any digestive issues like IBS, you’ll want to reach for a real treat at this “healthy” dessert.

You can find high quality protein bars if you know what you are looking for. Goodson recommends choosing an appropriate bar of 10 to 20 grams. “If you’re looking at bars, shakes, and powders that contain more than 30 grams of protein per serving, it’s probably not worth buying,” she says.

Clean Simple Eats Cookies 'N Cream Protein Powder
Clean Simple Eats

per 1 scoop: 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 1.9 mg cholesterol, 70 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 20 g protein

When you’re trying to build muscle, you have to take in a lot of extra protein. for reference, healthline It is said that the average person needs about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. But to gain muscle, you’ll want to more than double that with 0.7 to 1.0 grams per pound of lean body mass. Adding protein powder to smoothies or water can help supplement the protein you get from your diet, making it easier to reach your goal.

But even though this particular blend sounds delicious and packs 20 grams of protein with zero grams of added sugar, it’s not the best if you’re trying to stay on track with a nutrition plan. Green explains that this powder contains xylitol as its second ingredient, which will not help you kick the sugar habit.

“Xylitol is a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are sweeter than real sugar and can leave you craving sweets throughout the day,” says Green. So it is better that you look for some other option.

Dannon Oikos Pro Vanilla Greek Yogurt
Courtesy of Target

per container: 140 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 20 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 20 g protein

Yogurt is a powerhouse of nutrients, combining the benefits of protein, calcium and probiotics. If you tolerate dairy, it is a great snack for reducing belly fat as well as reducing hunger.

And yet, Dannon tries to bulk up her Oikos Greek Yogurt with unnecessary ingredients that you don’t need in your bowl for its claimed 20 grams of protein per serving.

“Greek yogurt itself is naturally rich in protein. This product adds whey protein to yogurt to boost its grams of protein,” Green says. “Plus, this product contains ‘natural flavours,’ which can cause GI upset, as well as preservatives.”

Instead of buying the hype, stick to regular Greek yogurt, topped with peanut butter or other nuts, for even more satiating protein.

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