Though the effects of protein deprivation are most pronounced over long periods of time, even a small deficiency can cause adverse effects. According to the NY Times, protein is necessary for healthy growth and is used to repair cells in the body. It can be challenging to incorporate the right amount of these essential amino acids into your meal planning, but choosing high-protein snacks throughout the day can help. Energy level and brain function can also be affected by how much protein you consume during the day.
Meat Sources of Protein
It’s no secret that meat is loaded with complete protein, plus it contains all the essential amino acids. Meat is relatively easy to prepare or can be purchased already prepared for added convenience. Choose lean cuts and organic, antibiotic-free meats.
- Turkey jerky – This lean jerky is easy to transport and eat on the run. Turkey is a lighter, less expensive alternative to beef that still contains plenty of healthy protein.
- Tuna – Tuna isn’t just for college kids on a budget. This inexpensive fish is a protein powerhouse, and can be purchased canned, in pouches, or in filets. For an easy snack, spread chunk tuna on whole-wheat crackers.
- Chicken Breast – Salted leftover chicken breast is surprisingly delicious and quick, or try an open-faced chicken breast sandwich spread with low-fat mayo or smashed avocado for a simple and filling portable snack that takes only seconds to prepare.
Vegetarian Sources of Protein
If for dietary reasons or personal preferences meat is not the best source of protein for you, eating high protein vegetables can offer a double whammy of nutritional benefits. Also, yogurt with fruit or other toppings is a great choice for vegetarians that eat dairy.
- Soybeans – Roasted soybeans are packed with protein and will satisfy a salty, crunchy snack craving. Soybeans boiled in the pod and served with salt (called Edamame) are equally delicious.
- Hummus – Chickpeas are an excellent source of both protein and fiber, and are irresistible when mashed into hummus and served with toasted pita bread or fresh sliced veggies.
- Greek yogurt with walnuts and honey or fruit – This decadent snack bursts with flavor and will fill you up and keep you full. Try adding blueberries for a fresh antioxidant boost. Choose a non-fat or low-fat yogurt if calories and fat content are an issue.
- Cheese with fruit – This simple snack is an irresistible combination of sweet and salty. Cheese packs a protein punch plus a wallop of dairy, and fruit provides essential vitamins and nutrients.
- “Protein in Diet”, The New York Times
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