- Getting extra protein is always a great idea if you’re an active individual.
- Cottage cheese typically has 28 grams of protein in a single cup – even the low 1% milkfat variety.
- A large egg has 6.3 grams of protein.
- A wide range of vegetables contains more protein than you might be expecting. For example, bean sprouts contain an estimated 13.1 grams of protein per 100 grams of sprouts.
- Jerkies aren’t just for meat-eaters anymore – vegetarian and vegan options also exist.
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The National Academy of Medicine currently recommends that all adults should consume at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight. To calculate that based on pounds, multiply your weight by 0.36 to find the basic number if you’re a sedentary person.
If you’re more active, you need even more protein, according to Health. And if you have muscle gain or weight loss goals or you’re an older adult, your protein needs may also be higher.
While there are lots of protein-rich foods, some of which may surprise you or you may not have known about, it’s important to get lots of protein throughout the day. Here are 13 great snacks and swaps to add to your diet.
If you’re avoiding dairy, non-dairy brands of milk can bring a protein boost to your bowls and your cups.
There are several brands of protein-packed soy, nut, hemp, and pea protein-based milk available at multiple price points, in various flavours – and even with your choice of sweetened or unsweetened options if the sugar content is a concern.
Not all of these dairy-free alternative types of milk contain the same amount of protein, according to Healthline. The protein content in different brands can also vary, so read nutrition labels carefully before making your decision.
Adding protein-rich milk to granola for a snack or to your afternoon cup of coffee is a smart way to sneak in some extra protein.
On its own or in a recipe, Greek yogurt packs a big protein punch.
Some brands of Greek yogurt can pack up to 25 grams of protein per serving, according to Eat This, Not That. But be careful – some brands can also be high in sugar, so read those ingredient labels carefully.
When in doubt, grab a plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it to taste with fresh fruit and perhaps a small amount of your preferred sweetener, such as maple syrup or honey.
Several types of seeds can be sprinkled throughout your meals and snacks all day long for added protein.
Chia, flaxseed, sunflower, sesame, hemp, and pumpkin seeds can go in everything from baked goods to smoothies and can be used as toppings on salads and yogurt.
A single ounce of each of these types of seeds contains between 4.4 and 8.8 grams of protein according to Healthline, along with plenty of added nutritional benefits. Sprinkled throughout your day, that could be huge.
Protein powders in your smoothies can make boosting your protein levels easier.
There are plenty of protein powders – dairy-based and vegan alike – to choose from. Again, sugar levels can be a problem if you’re not careful and taste and texture vary widely as well.
The sheer variety of protein powders you can buy can be overwhelming, but Prevention has a great breakdown of different types to help guide you.
Bonus: Great flavours can help make sure your smoothies are never boring. With 15 or more grams of protein in a single scoop, it’s a small change with potentially big benefits.
They may not be very glamorous, but don’t underestimate the power of eggs.
They’re a staple in many refrigerators – but it’s because of that fact that they can be easy to overlook as a high-quality protein source.
Scrambled, over easy, or hard-boiled, a single large egg packs 6.3 grams of protein, according to Men’s Health.
Many cheeses — including cottage cheese — pack significant protein as well.
MyFoodData has a handy list of 20 cheeses that are high in protein, but cottage cheese might be the clear winner, with a whopping 28 grams of protein in a single cup of the 1% milkfat variety, according to Healthline.
If you’re vegan, you don’t have to miss out on that cheesy protein tang by incorporating nutritional yeast into your diet. Omnivores and vegetarians can benefit from its delicious nutrition, as well.
Nutritional yeast has been long revered by vegans because it’s packed with nutrition – including 2 grams of protein per tablespoon, according to Healthline. More importantly, if you’re avoiding animal-based proteins, it is a complete protein – which is something that is more difficult to come by if you’re only eating plants.
But it’s also delicious for everyone and I dare you to make this recipe for vegan cheese sauce and not love it if you’re a traditional cheese-lover. It’s packed with protein and nutrients, as well as heart-healthy unsaturated fat from the olive oil, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you’re an omnivore or vegetarian, of course, you might not want to completely replace your beloved (and protein-packed) cheese with nutritional yeast. But you should definitely keep your options open regarding recipes that include this healthful, flavorful ingredient.
Eat protein-packed snacks like nuts, nut butter, and jerkies.
Whether you like the crunch of a handful of nuts or you prefer to smear slices of apples or pears with tasty nut butter, incorporating these nutrient powerhouses into your diet can make a huge difference when you’re looking to up your protein.
Look for raw or dry-roasted nuts rather than ones roasted in oil for your healthiest options, registered dietitian Judy Caplan, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Health.
When scanning your nut butter options, registered dietitian Amy Lorraine recommended choosing options with the least ingredients on her blog. Many brands contain added sugar, salt, and oil, so be sure to check the ingredients list.
Jerkies are universally high in protein, but can be hit-or-miss regarding sodium and sugar levels. If you’re vegetarian or interested in a healthier option, here are some jerkies for vegetarians and vegans rounded up by Epicurious.
Chickpeas aren’t just for hummus — they can be a crunchy snack, too.
Chickpeas in soup, hummus, and salad are fairly easy to find – but did you know they can be crunchy, too? Baking them and then seasoning them with your favourite spice blend can turn into a high-protein, easily transportable snack, according to the Minimalist Baker.
Dry-roasting chickpeas – or other legumes – and then seasoning them yourself means you can control the fat, salt, and sugar content. Be vigilant if you buy crispy roasted chickpea snacks in stores – they can sometimes have high fat and sodium content that you may not have expected.
Edamame, sugar snap peas, and other legumes — including peanuts — belong in your diet.
Lentils, peas, and all kinds of beans are botanically related – and are also nutrient-packed sources of vegetable-based protein. Peanuts are part of this family as well.
Healthline has a complete breakdown of the nutritional benefits of several members of the legume family and how they can enhance your diet.
Vegetarian proteins are great, but you’ll need to combine them with whole grains to make complete proteins with all nine essential amino acids, according to Today’s Dietitian.
Canned fish — including sardines and tuna — are also high in protein.
When you combine canned tuna and melted cheese, the meal can bring a lot of protein to your lunch or dinner. According to SF Gate, tuna packed in oil and tuna packed in water have slightly different protein numbers.
Besides featuring some gorgeous packaging, canned sardines also contain around 20 grams of protein per three-ounce serving according to Men’s Health.
Nutritionist Lauren Antonucci even called them “pretty much perfect.” Portugal has raised canned sardines and tuna to an art form – and they’re wrapped in beautiful packaging, are delicious, and are also incredibly healthy.
Don’t forget that quinoa, rice, and alternative types of pasta can add protein to your diet as well.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan who is looking to add more complete proteins to your diet, you may already know that quinoa is one of them – and if you didn’t before, now you do.
According to Healthline, quinoa is thought of as a grain by most of us, but it’s technically a seed. With 8 grams of protein per one-cup serving and plenty of other nutrients including 58% of your RDA for manganese, it’s a worthy addition to your repertoire.
And while brown rice is healthier for you than white rice for a number of reasons and outshines white rice in the protein category, the numbers are closer than you might expect. According to Healthline, brown rice has 1.83 grams of protein per one-third cup when it’s cooked, as opposed to 1.42 grams in the same amount of white rice.
If you can’t live without your pasta, there’s far more than just standard macaroni on store shelves, from protein-boosted traditional pasta to lentil, black bean, chickpea, and brown rice alternatives. Be sure to read nutritional labels in your pasta aisle for yet another way to get more protein into your diet.
Bonus: many of these pasta options are also gluten-free, if that’s also a dietary concern.
Finally, some vegetables contain more protein than you might anticipate.
According to MyFoodData, which is a service of the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Nutrition Facts Database, a single serving of 200 common vegetables can provide you with anywhere from 1 to 13.1 grams of protein.
Legumes are included in this list, but so are things you might not have expected, such as broccoli, spinach, and sweet corn. Overall nutritional value can be affected by your chosen cooking methods – roasted or steamed is generally healthier than deep-fried – but the protein is there for the taking.
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