Of the three macronutrients, protein is, by far, the most important. Of course, we still need fats, and carbohydrates in many instances, but protein is key for so many reasons. To begin with, protein is essential for optimal cellular health and function, and when you consider the fact that our bodies are comprised of hundreds of billions of microscopic cells, the importance of protein really becomes apparent. From a bodybuilding perspective however, protein really comes into its own. For anybody looking to get big and jacked, protein is vital because it plays an essential role in the growth and repair of muscle tissue. Without protein, our muscles would not function, our bodies wouldn’t be able to repair them, and they simply would not grow. For times between meals when you’re hungry and are looking to fuel the gains, finding healthy high protein snacks can be a bit of a challenge. If you’re looking for inspiration and wish to steer clear of unhealthy trans fats and sugars, here are some great suggestions.
Beef Jerky – There is a lot of confusion surrounding beef jerky, as a lot of people seem to assume that it is unhealthy. While it’s true that some jerky recipes have extra salt, sugar, and artificial chemicals and flavourings added, if you choose an all-natural beef jerky, it is actually very healthy. Jerky is basically made from lean beef which has been trimmed of fat, and dehydrated. The end result is a delicious piece of dried beef that is very lean, and is packed full of protein. One ounce will provide roughly 9 grams of protein.
Greek yoghurt – Greek yoghurt is another high protein snack food that is a staple ingredient in many a bodybuilder’s diet. Greek Yoghurt contains moderate levels of fat, but is packed full of protein as well as beneficial minerals such as calcium. Greek yoghurt is also high in healthy bacteria, making it great for digestive health. One cup will provide, on average, around 20g of protein. Greek yoghurt is ideal because it can be eaten straight away, it’s convenient, and it can be combined with berries, or oats, to give a balanced snack with plenty of texture.
Boiled eggs – Eggs are a bodybuilder’s best friend, and boiled eggs make the perfect snack to be eaten on the go. Eggs are wonderful because you will find around 5 – 6g of protein in each one, as well as healthy fats in the yolk. What’s more, eggs are also the only food to be able to boast a complete essential, and non-essential, amino acid profile. This basically means that contain every amino acid required by the body, whether it can synthesize them itself or not. Simply boil a few up in the morning, cool in ice water, peel, store in a Tupperware and chill in the fridge and you can eat them as and when.
Tinned salmon – While tinned salmon is not as delicious as fresh salmon, when you’re in a hurry, tinned salmon is a godsend. Tinned salmon is full of protein, with half a cup providing around 20 grams. What’s more, it is also loaded with B vitamins, selenium, and plenty of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which not only provide energy to fuel your workouts, but they also boost the metabolism so you can shred fat as you build muscle.
Peanut butter with celery sticks – Let’s face it, there’s probably not a bodybuilder in the world who doesn’t love peanut butter, and if you also love celery, you’re in for a treat. Celery contains vitamins, minerals, and plenty of water to hydrate your body, whereas peanut butter is rich in healthy fats, and of course, in protein. Simply take a celery stick, spread a generous spoonful of peanut butter on there, and enjoy. It’s worth noting that you must ensure you choose natural peanut butter, with nothing added, and nothing taken away. Basically, the ingredients should list 100% peanuts, and that’s it.