4 Healthy, muscle-building snacks
A small meal in between massive meals will tend your metabolism and keep your muscles growing—but providing it’s got all the correct macros. Fuel your body smarter with these 4 fast and simple snacks.
The Rules of Snacking :
To make your snacks work harder for you when bridging the gap between meals, take heed of these guidelines:
- Keep it light: Remember, it’s a snack not a meal. So cap calories at about 350.
- Up the protein: To keep muscle growth growing in full force all day long, be sure your snacks contain some quality protein. Shoot for at last eight grams.
- Eat clean: Snack is an opportunity to work toward your daily macros and get the right vitamins, minerals, and fiber into your diet. But this will happen only if you stick to whole foods and avoid the packaged crap that dumps unwanted calories and synthetic ingredients into your gut.
- Play the clock: To avoid packing on fat, most of your snacking calories should come mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Try to limit late-night snacking to only items rich in protein, such as cottage cheese.
1. Tex-Mex Pinwheels
Who says pinwheels are just for school lunch boxes? This super-fast grown-up version has it all: a good amount of protein, plenty of fat-fighting fiber (gracias, pinto beans), and a little kick from the pickled jalapenos to wake up your taste buds.
Sailor strength: Popeye was right. Swedish researchers discovered that nitrates—naturally occurring compounds found in spinach—work to improve muscular strength.
What You’ll NeedServes 4
- 1 ½ cups fat-free refried beans
- 4 (8-inch) whole-grain tortillas
- 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup pickled jalapeno, sliced
- 4 cups baby spinach
- Spread an even amount of the refried beans on each tortilla, leaving about a half inch from the edge open. Sprinkle an even amount of the cheese and jalapeno over the beans. Top with spinach and roll tightly.
- Slice onto one-inch pieces and spear each pinwheel with a toothpick to hold together.
Per Serving309 calories, 15g protein, 31g carbs, 13g fat
2. Jerky Trail Mix :
You don’t have to be lost in the woods to reap the benefits of this riff on trail mix. Jerky cranks up the protein numbers, while the hunger-quelling healthy fats in the nuts help tame any vending-machine temptation. Plain popcorn provides antioxidants and fiber.
Pop Secrets: While the golden popcorn at the multiplex is a calorie bomb, researchers found that plain popcorn is a rich source of many of the same disease-fighting antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.
What You’ll NeedServes 6
- 4 cups plain, air-popped popcorn
- 4 oz jerky, chopped
- ½ cup unsalted roasted almonds
- ½ cup unsalted roasted cashews
- ¼ cup unsalted shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- Place all the ingredients in a large container and toss to combine. Divide mixture among sandwich zip-top bags for transport.
Per Serving311 calories, 15g protein, 30g carbs, 16g fat
Calories Count: The most energy-dense snack in this feature is the Jerky Trail Mix, which clocks in at 311 calories. Cap any snack at 350 calories; if you go beyond that, you’ve stepped into meal territory.
3. Ants on a Log :
This manly version of a childhood favorite is a perfect way to sneak more whey protein into your diet. The fact that it takes about 10 seconds to prepare doesn’t hurt, either.
Log Lift: Nutty-sweet almond butter delivers a powerful mixture of artery-friendly monounsaturated fat, protein, and the bone-strengthening trio of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.
What You’ll NeedServes 4
- ½ cup almond butter or natural peanut butter
- 1/3 cup plain or vanilla whey protein powder
- 1 tbsp honey or pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 4 full celery stalks
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- In a bowl, stir together nut butter, protein powder, honey or maple syrup, and cinnamon.
- Stuff the grooves of the celery with the nut-butter mixture and top with cranberries. Slice each celery stalk into thirds.
Per Serving265 calories, 13g protein, 21g carbs, 17g fat
4. PB&J Blini :
This twist on PB&J will take you right back to the playground. Blini are small pancakes that can be transformed into transportable mini nut-butter-and-jam sandwiches for those times when you’re feeling puckish. Also try stuffing them with a smear of cream cheese.
Flour Power: Ground from whole almonds, almond flour is packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and vitamin E while also containing an impressive 1-to-1 protein-to-carb ratio.
What You’ll NeedServes 8
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour or oat flour
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp oil or butter
- ¼ cup natural peanut butter or almond butter
- ¼ cup low-sugar jam of choice
- Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, gently beat eggs and stir in milk. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Let the batter rest 10 minutes.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. By the tablespoonful, drop batter into pan and cook until edges begin to brown and bubbles form on the surface, about two minutes. Flip over and cook for one minute more, or until golden brown on the bottom. Repeat with remaining batter. You should have about 20-minute pancakes.
- Spread about one teaspoon each of nut butter and jam on 10 pancakes and top with remaining pancakes. Wrap each blini sandwich in a piece of foil for transport.