Protein Snack Hacks
The ideas and suggestions written below are provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or care. The contents of this article are not intended to make health or nutrition claims about our products. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider before beginning any physical fitness or health and nutrition related activity.
Found everywhere from muscles and bones to skin and hair, proteins are essential for growing bodies. And while they're known as the building blocks of muscle, proteins do so much more. They help bodies heal and thrive. They also slow down the digestion of carbohydrates to provide lasting energy.
Because kids need protein to grow, they need it on a regular basis, especially during growth spurts. Typically, the daily recommended protein for kids is .34 grams per pound. Seeds, nuts, legumes, cheese, yogurt, beans, lean meats, fish, and tofu are all whole food sources of protein that can be combined with other foods for layering nutrition and improve the overall nutrition quality of the meals and snacking occasions.
During weekdays, kids find themselves on the go from the time school is out until dinnertime or even later. When it comes to snacking, kids gravitate to carbs. Popular snack choices like crackers, pretzels, and fruit juice are high in carbohydrates and lead to energy peaks and valleys. But when kids’ snacks are balanced with protein, they get a steadier stream of energy for a longer time.
Rather than reaching for a bag of potato chips, how about a handful of crunchy almonds? Swap fruit juice for a fresh protein smoothie, and bring some string cheese to enjoy with whole grain crackers or bread. Our CLIF Kid ZBar Protein is another easy go-to option, created with a balanced blend of whole grains, vitamins and minerals, and 5g of protein to keep kids zipping and zooming along, even after a long day at school.
Here are some other easy snacks that can contribute to the daily recommended amount of protein for kids on the go.
- Apple with peanut butter: 1 tbsp. of peanut butter provides 4 grams of protein
- Hummus with carrot sticks: 1/4 cup of hummus provides 4.8 grams of protein
- Whole wheat crackers with cheese: 7 grams of protein in every ounce of cheese
- Strawberry yogurt shake: provide 5.5 grams of protein (prepared with 1/4 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup strawberries, honey to sweeten)
- Mini chicken wrap: 1/4 cup grilled chicken provides 9.5 grams of protein
- Trail mix with almonds, dark chocolate chips, dried cherries: 10 almonds provide 2.5 grams of protein
Remember, variety is the spice of life and nutrition. Offering a variety of protein sources increases the opportunity to better meet your kids’ dietary needs.
Taking a few extra minutes to prepare snacks with protein will make a huge difference in your children's stamina, especially as they go from one activity to the next. Get your kids to help out — they'll be more excited to eat foods they make themselves. Plus, it's a fun, creative challenge to see what you can prepare with a few simple ingredients, and a great opportunity to spend time together.
- Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (2002/2005). The report may be accessed via www.nap.edu.
- Elango R, Humayun MA, Ball RO, Pencharz PB. Protein requirement of healthy school-age children determined by the indicator amino acid oxidation method. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec;94(6):1545-52. Epub 2011 Nov 2.
- Nutrition Guidance for Healthy Children Aged 2 to 11 Years, Volume 108, Issue 6, Pages 1038-1047 (June 2008).