Read time: 6 minutes
Life as a mom means you’re constantly on the go. When hunger hits and you have an hour left of soccer practice, it can be all too tempting to dig into your kid’s snack stash and gobble up a handful of goldfish crackers. But if you’re trying to lose weight, those high-carb treats might be keeping you from reaching your goals.
Enter: protein. This macronutrient can be a game changer when it comes to weight loss. Because protein molecules are large, they take a longer time to digest and therefore keep you full for longer. Protein curbs hunger and cravings and can help you keep your busy day moving.
Leave the cooler at home. We’ve put together our favorite grab-and-go, protein-based snacks that don’t require refrigeration. They’re perfect for those busy days when you’re out and about and need a quick, nutritious pick-me-up.
What to Look for in a Protein-Based Snack
Not all protein-based snacks are created equal. When selecting the snacks and recipes for our list, we took these factors into consideration.
Protein quality is crucial. Opt for snacks that contain high-quality protein sources, and ideally are less processed. Complete proteins, which contain all the essential amino acids our bodies need, are particularly beneficial.
A well-rounded snack should provide a balance of macronutrients to keep you satisfied and energized. Alongside protein, look for snacks that offer healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. The combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates will provide a steady release of energy and support optimal nutrition.
Fiber is an often-overlooked component in protein-based snacks, but it plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy digestive system and promoting satiety. Choose snacks that are rich in dietary fiber, such as those made with whole grains, fruits, beans, vegetables, or nuts and seeds.
Low added sugar
Many pre-packaged snacks marketed as healthy may also be loaded with added sugars. Be mindful of the sugar content and opt for snacks with little to no added sugars. Instead, seek out snacks that derive their sweetness from natural sources like fruits or use alternatives like stevia or monk fruit.
Look for snacks that offer additional nutritional benefits beyond protein. Consider snacks that are fortified with vitamins and minerals, or those that naturally provide essential nutrients like antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, or fiber. These added nutritional benefits can help support overall health and well-being.
How Much Protein Do You Really Need for Weight Loss?
Best Portable Protein-Based Snacks for Busy Moms
Our favorite protein-based snacks are not only delicious and nutritious, but also conveniently portable, requiring no refrigeration. Whether you're shuttling the kids to after-school activities, running errands, or simply need a quick energy boost, these snacks will fuel your body and keep you going strong.
17g of protein per ½ cup
Roasted or steamed edamame pods are a delicious and protein-rich snack. These vibrant green pods are packed with plant-based protein, making them an excellent option for vegetarian or vegan moms. Edamame is also rich in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins like folate and vitamin K.
Our pick: Crispy Baked Edamame from Verywell Fit
14g of protein per cup
Roasted chickpeas are crunchy little powerhouses. These crispy legumes offer a good amount of protein and are an excellent source of dietary fiber. They are also low in fat and provide important minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Our pick: Roasted Chickpeas from Love and Lemons
Homemade Protein Bars
14g of protein per bar
By making protein bars yourself, you have control over the ingredients, allowing you to choose high-quality protein sources and avoid unnecessary additives. These protein bars from Eating Bird Food provide a balanced combination of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates, making them ideal for sustained energy and muscle recovery.
Our pick: Peanut Butter Protein Bars from Eating Bird Food
24g of protein per pack
Tuna is a lean source of animal-based protein that supplies important amino acids necessary for muscle repair and growth. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health and cognitive function. Enjoy it straight from the pouch or spread it on whole-grain crackers for a quick snack.
Our pick: Elite Wild Tuna Pouch from Safe Catch
Chocolate Protein Muffins
13g of protein per muffin
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, these delectable muffins are for you. The combination of protein and chocolate flavor makes them a satisfying treat and guilt-free snack. Moist and flavorful, these muffins can be stored at room temperature for a quick and nutritious snack.
Our pick: Double Chocolate Protein Muffins from Eating Bird Food
12g of protein per 1 oz
Beef jerky is a convenient and protein-packed snack that's ideal for moms on the go. Made from dried and seasoned meat, beef jerky is a concentrated source of animal protein. It's low in fat and carbohydrates, making it a satisfying option that promotes satiety. Beef jerky is also rich in essential minerals like iron and zinc, making it a nutrient-dense snack.
Our pick: Classic Flavor beef Jerky from Think Jerky
10g of protein per ¼ cup
Pumpkin seeds are a small, but mighty snack that's rich in protein and other essential nutrients. They provide a good amount of plant-based protein, along with healthy fats, fiber, and important minerals like magnesium, iron, and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are also packed with antioxidants, promoting immune function and overall health. You can eat them raw or roast them with your favorite spices for a savory treat.
Our pick: Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from One Drop
14g of protein per ½ cup
Granola, when made with protein-rich ingredients like nuts and seeds, can be a nutritious and high-protein snack option. It offers a good balance of carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fiber, which can help keep you feeling full and energized. However, it's important to choose granola that’s low in added sugars or opt for homemade. Enjoying a small handful of granola can provide a satisfying and nutrient-dense snack for busy moms.
Our pick: Keto Granola Cereal from Wholesome Yum
9g of protein per pancake
Enjoy breakfast any time with these heavenly protein pancakes. Prepare them in advance and keep them at room temperature for a quick and filling snack. Protein pancakes provide sustained energy, promote satiety, and support muscle repair. They can be enjoyed plain or topped with fruit, nut butter, or Greek yogurt for added flavor and nutrients.
Our pick: High-Protein Pancakes from Eat the Gains
Quinoa Salad Cups
6g of protein per salad
Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids your body needs. These salad cups make a wholesome and satisfying snack that's rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They’re an excellent choice for moms who want a balanced and flavorful snack without the need for refrigeration.
Our pick: Favorite Quinoa Salad from Cookie and Kate
Nut Butter Packs
6g of protein per pack
Single-serving nut butter packs are a lifesaver when it comes to protein-based snacking. Brimming with protein, healthy fats, and fiber, these packs provide a nourishing combination that supports satiety and promotes stable blood sugar levels. Whether it's almond butter, cashew butter, or peanut butter, these little packets are portable and mess-free. Pair them with rice cakes, whole-grain crackers, or apple slices for a delicious and protein-rich snack.
Our pick: Almond Butter Snack Pack from Justin’s
6g of protein per 20 almonds
Raw almonds are called a superfood for good reason. They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, providing essential nutrients while keeping calories in check. If you’re used to flavored almonds, the unprocessed and unsalted variety might take some getting used to, but you’ll grow to love the subtle, earthy flavor. Plus, they make a great addition to that other protein-rich snack: Greek yogurt.
Our pick: Raw Whole Almonds from Terrasoul Superfoods
Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter
7g of protein per two tablespoons of peanut butter
Sweet, savory, crunchy, and smooth: rice cakes with peanut butter have it all. Rice cakes are light and crispy snacks made from puffed rice. Peanut butter adds protein and healthy fats, while rice cakes provide fiber, together helping to keep hunger at bay and maintain energy levels. Satisfy your cravings for both sweet and savory treats without derailing your weight loss plan.
Our pick: Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice Cakes from Lundberg
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts
7g of protein per ¼ cup
This simple snack is sweet, salty, and a little bit spicy, perfect for a microbreak during a busy day. These roasted nuts are chock full of protein and fiber, two nutrients that promote fullness and can help you stay on track if you’re trying to lose weight. If you’re feeling adventurous, try experimenting with different spices, too. If spiciness isn’t your thing, feel free to dial up or down the cayenne pepper.
Our pick: Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts from Robin by One Drop
6g of protein per two balls
Energy balls are bite-sized, nutrient-packed snacks made from a blend of ingredients such as oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and natural sweeteners like honey or dates. These no-bake treats come together in under 10 minutes. The best part? They can be customized to fit your taste preferences.
Our pick: No-Bake Peanut Butter Coconut Balls from Robin by One Drop
This article has been clinically reviewed by Hanna Rifkin, RD, CDCES, clinical health coach at One Drop.