Focusing on fueling your body at meals is essential to getting the performance you want. Balancing meals with quality protein and the right amount of carbs helps build and maintain muscle and supplies you with the calories you need to train and perform. But what about snacks? When you are training at a high level, meals alone may not be able to give you everything you need - topping up with a nutritious snack is a great way to fill in the gaps.
It’s easy to reach for a handy bar of chocolate or a packet of crisps but a little planning can help you get more from your snack adding protein, essential carbs as well as vitamins and minerals. We’ve put together a list of snacks that will give you 15-20g of protein in one go.
1 80g pot John West Infusions: 19g of protein
Perfect for on-the-go protein and rich in vitamin D as well.
Yoghurt with Nuts and Seeds
3 tablespoons 0% fat Greek yoghurt with 1 tablespoon each of almonds and sunflower seeds: 19g of protein
A great way to boost calcium and iron as well as protein – nuts and seeds are rich in minerals and fibre. Did you know that lower fat yoghurts have a higher protein content? There is almost double the protein in many 0% fat yoghurts compared to full fat.
Cheese and Crackers
30g hard cheese (e.g. cheddar); 2 wholegrain crackers and a glass of milk: 17g of protein. Add some grapes or an apple to boost your 5-a-day.
Salmon to go
1 pot John West Infusions Salmon on 2 wholegrain crackers: 17.5g protein
A quick and tasty way to add protein to a mid-afternoon snack. The carbs from the crackers provide energy so this is a great snack if you are heading out to train after work.
Protein, carbs fibre and iron all in one pack. This does need to be cooked ahead but this is a surprisingly tasty snack that you can bring with you to work or training. They als make a great after-training snack. 1 tin of chickpeas has 17g of protein.
Preheat the oven to 200oC. Drain a 400g tin of chickpeas then spread them out on kitchen paper to get as dry as possible.
Put them in a large bowl and drizzle over some olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, a little cayenne pepper and some ground cumin. You can leave them plain if you prefer. Use your hands to mix everything so all the chickpeas are well coated. Pour out onto a non-stick baking tray (or cover a tray with baking parchment). Roast for 30-40 minutes until starting to brown. Do watch them as they can burn fairly quickly. They should be crispy and light when done.
Not just for breakfast, wholegrains are a source of protein and granola is a tasty way to eat them. 50g of granola with 1 tablespoon each of pumpkin and sunflower seeds topped with a Greek yoghurt will give you 16g of protein.
Consultant Nutritionist - MSc., BSc., MINDI
Sarah has a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Trinity College and a Masters in European Food Regulation.
She runs a food and nutrition consultancy giving one-to-one advice on nutrition and diet as well as working with some of Ireland's leading food companies.