Protein is an essential part of any diet. It’s great for filling up and building muscle and fortunately for busy (and hungry!) bodies, it’s easy to take with you to work, to the beach, to the gym — just about anywhere.
But, before you pack your lunch, calculate how much protein you need to consume per day, since this is different for everybody. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. To determine your RDA, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36, or use this online protein calculator. Also, studies show that individuals should eat about 20–30 grams of protein per meal to keep muscles strong.
Luckily, you have many options to meet this goal. And while a small cooler will expand your options somewhat, taking many of these snacks with you is as easy as tossing them in your bag. Here’s rundown of the tastiest, muscle-building snacks you can tote just about anywhere.
Try These 8 High-Protein, On-The-Go Snacks:
1. Hard-boiled eggs
In a little over 10 minutes, you can hard-boil a couple of eggs (making sure to cool them in ice-water afterward for easy peeling). And at 6.29 grams of protein per large egg, why wouldn’t you? Eggs taste great on their own, but it isn’t hard to peel and slice them, shake on a little salt and pepper, and toss them in a tupperware for later.
Having a portable cooler or ice pack will come in handy for protein-packed dairy items. Cottage cheese has a whopping 10.4 grams of protein per 100 gram container. Nonfat plain greek yogurt is another good choice with 6.47 grams of protein per 100 gram container. Both can be enjoyed on their own or with fresh fruit. Just remember to pack a spoon when you’re on-the-go!
3. Canned fish
Sure, canned fish is kind of a love-it-or-hate-it food. If you’re in the former category, be thankful, because it has stratospheric levels of protein. A typical 6-ounce can of tuna in oil contains 8.2 grams of protein per ounce, and sardines in oil have 6.9 grams of protein per ounce. The recommended amount of protein per meal or snack is about 3–4 ounces so you can use one can of fish for two separate snacks (unless the double protein is what your nutrition goals call for). Plus, since lugging around a can opener is not super convenient, tuna is now packaged in resealable pouches you can take on-the-go.
4. Nuts and seeds
Dry roasted nuts and seeds are satisfyingly crunchy and, pound-for-pound, an excellent choice for meeting your protein needs. A typical selection of mixed nuts contains 5.5 grams of protein per ounce, while almonds have 6 grams per ounce, and pumpkin seedshave 5.2 grams per ounce. But the true heavy hitter of this category is peanuts, which clock in at 6.9 grams of protein per ounce.
Yep, those steamed soybean pods you eat at a sushi dinner are chock full of protein and easy to grab and go. With a solid 18.4 grams of protein per cup, edamame should be a mainstay in your protein game. Edamame is one of the few sources of plant protein that’s also a complete protein, which is great news for vegans.
6. Beef jerky
With 9.4 grams of protein per ounce (and so many chewy, delicious flavors to choose from) beef jerky is a no-brainer for the protein-hungry among us.
It’s important to note that jerky tends to be high in sodium so should be eaten with plenty of water. There is also “clean” jerky on the market, such as jerky from grass-fed or organic beef, as well as jerky options without added sugars, fillers, or additives.
7. Peanut butter
With 7.7 grams of protein per tablespoon, you can feel good about eating this delicious treat. Peanut butter smeared on toast or apple slices is a perfect high-protein afternoon snack. Nutrition tip: look for all-natural peanut butters or other nut butters that don’t contain hydrogenated oils or added sugars.
Hummus may not be the first food you think of when looking for something protein rich, but with 4.85 grams per ¼ cup (the recommended serving), it deserves a spot on your radar.
For more tips on how to have a healthy diet and lose weight, check out Beachbody’s cooking show Fixate.