Once the warmer weather hits, we start spending most of our out-of-office time doing things that require lots of energy. If you're anything like us, that means breaking out the bikes, getting the heart rate up on hikes or group runs in the park, and exploring new cities, just to name a few.
For days on the go like these, fuel that comes in a package is par for the course. The key is to look for clean ingredients and lots of protein.
What every on-the-go snack should have.
You don't need us to tell you to steer away from sugary, refined carb bombs—they're the biggest culprits in leaving you with a wonky stomach, feeling unsatisfied, and craving more food an hour later. A quick reminder: Of all the macronutrients, protein is the most effective for providing a satiating effect.
Studies have shown that protein gives you that "full" feeling—with less food—because it signals the release of appetite-suppressing hormones and slows digestion. It also helps stabilize your blood sugar levels, and a high protein intake, according to some research, can even help boost metabolism. Not to mention, if we're talking about really active days (anyone else sign up for a half-marathon this year?), protein is essential for recovery thanks to its critical role in repairing and rebuilding muscle, reducing soreness and risk of injury.
So, how much protein are we talking?
Generally, the recommended daily allowance (aka the baseline amount you need to be healthy) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight per day. Simply multiply 0.36 by how much you weigh to get an idea of how many grams of protein you should consume in a day. On days you're physically active, you'll want to aim for a bit more than that number.
4 portable protein-filled snacks we love:
1. Nut butter packs. These are perfect any time you need a quick, portable, and nutrient-dense snack. Our current pocket-size favorites (for deliciously fueling our desert morning hikes at this year's mbg revitalize) are made by NuttZo: Their Power Fuel 2go packs, loaded with the brand's unbeatably yummy blend of seven organic nuts and seeds (think almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, and chia seeds), have no added sugar or oils and are gluten-free. (The new NuttZo refrigerated Bold BiteZ bars, by the way, pack in 11 grams of protein and only 5 grams of sugar). Honestly, we love it straight out of the packet, but for a no-fail on-the-go pairing, try them as a dip with pretzels or a topping for overnight oats. Which brings us to…
2. Collagen-packed oatmeal cups. Instant oats are chock-full of both healthy protein and fiber, which also promotes fullness, so it's the best of both worlds. On-the-run breakfasts during revitalize weekend consisted of Purely Elizabeth's Collagen Protein Oat Cups, which come in Vanilla Pecan and Blueberry Walnut flavors. They're lightly sweetened with coconut sugar, gluten-free, and each cup comes loaded with a NuttZo Power Fuel 7-Nut & Seed Butter squeeze pack for a total of 11 grams of protein.
3. Roasted chickpea snacks. If you've got the time to roast a sheet pan of chickpeas, you can't go wrong. This legume is a go-to travel snack for nutritionists and R.D.s thanks to its impressive nutrient profile: Chickpeas are an excellent source of protein and fiber—a half-cup serving contains 7.5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber—on top of other vitamins and minerals. And if you don't have the time (or the interest to turn your oven on in the heat of summer), your grocery store's snack aisle likely stocks some snackable chickpea options.
4. Three-ingredient chocolate milk. We're all adults here, and while most of us have graduated to protein smoothies, can we just agree that few things in life feel better than fueling up with an ice-cold chocolate milk? It's actually an excellent source of high-quality protein (about 8 grams per serving), especially post-workout. You can find shelf-stable single servings to stash in your gym bag or backpack (just make sure the sugar content is low), or you can make your healthy chocolate syrup. Mix ½ cup of cacao powder with 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and once it's boiling, add in ½ cup of maple syrup and stir until thickened. Just store it in the fridge (it'll last about a week), and add a few teaspoons to dairy or nondairy milk. You'll get a rich, super-satisfying glass of chocolate milk that's as awesome and you remember it.