Whether you want to build muscle, burn fat or lose weight, protein can help. Snacking on this macronutrient helps give you energy, keeps you full and aids in faster recovery after strenuous workouts. It also increases immune function. Hand your body what it needs with these 10 high-protein snack recipes.
Greek Yogurt and Quinoa Parfait
Choosing Greek yogurt over the regular stuff is the easiest way to ramp up your protein intake. One serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt contains about 18 grams of protein compared to only 8 grams in regular, nonfat plain yogurt. To top it off, quinoa offers 8 grams of protein per cup. Try 6 ounces of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt layered with 3/4 cup cooked quinoa and 1/2 cup of your favorite fresh fruits.
Cottage Cheese with Fruit and Nuts
With 25 to 28 grams of protein per cup, cottage cheese rivals the amount of protein found in just 3 ounces of chicken breast. And some studies suggest eating low-fat dairy may help speed up weight loss. However you slice it, cottage cheese is a no-brainer for fit-minded people. Try 1 cup nonfat or low-fat cottage cheese topped with 1/2 ounce of cashew pieces and 2 tablespoons of fresh blueberries.
Whether you eat the yolk or toss it out, hard-boiled eggs are a portable and convenient way to get in quality protein any time of the day. Sprinkle them with a dash of salt to boost flavor. There are approximately 13 grams of protein in two whole eggs or four egg whites. Prep ahead by boiling a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week and store them in the fridge for quick peel-and-go snacks.
Protein Shake or Smoothie
Protein shakes are, by far, the fastest and most convenient way to shuttle powerful protein and amino acids to your muscles. Try a chocolate-banana smoothie. It calls for 1 scoop of a protein powder of your choice, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup of fat-free chocolate milk and ice. Blend until smooth.
Tuna and Avocado on Rice Cakes
With its lean, muscle-building protein, tuna is a snack-time favorite. One can of water-packed tuna contains 35 grams of protein. To up the flavor profile, add 1/4 cup of fresh avocado mixed with diced carrots, celery and onions. Serve the mixture on top of a couple of whole-grain rice cakes.
Hummus with Veggies
"Salty" plus "crunchy" equals a winning combination. And hummus and veggies fit the bill. Salty hummus packs about 5 grams of protein in a quarter-cup. Serve it up with crunchy carrots and celery, which hydrate and supply essential nutrients to the body.
Lunchmeat isn't just for sandwiches; it makes a tasty protein roll-up too. Two slices of turkey have about 7 grams of protein. Lean chicken breast has about 10 grams per two slices. And roast beef offers about 10 to 12 grams of protein in a slice duo. For a tastier treat, try wrapping your favorite lunch meat around one part-skim mozzarella cheese stick. One cheese stick adds 6 grams of protein and just 60 calories to this already high-protein snack.
Beef or Turkey Jerky
If you find your stomach grumbling and you have nowhere to stop but a gas station, jerky is your No. 1 pick. A 1-ounce serving of reduced-sodium beef jerky has a whopping 15 grams of protein and only 80 calories while the same size serving of turkey jerky has 11 grams of protein and 60 calories. Just be sure to steer clear of the brands filled with sugar and sodium.
Not only are lentils a superstar protein source, but they're also packed with filling fiber and energizing iron. One cup of lentil soup has anywhere from 13 to 18 grams of protein and 12 to 15 grams of fiber. If soup isn't your thing, lentils are also awesome on top of a big salad.
Just 1 cup of these little green pods carries about 17 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber and 7 grams of healthy fats. Zap a bag in the microwave on high or steam them on the stovetop in salted water for about 6 minutes. Then dash them with coarse sea salt and dig in!
This article originally appeared on Active.com — your source for information, training plans, expert advice and everything you need to connect with the sport you love.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.