The number one key to success in bodybuilding is your ability to follow the diet for a long period of time. Whether you are following a lean bulking diet or a cutting diet, staying consistent with the diet is the number one factor in succeeding.
Eating healthy foods in the right quantity, at the essential mealtimes – breakfast, lunch, and dinner, should be the foundation of your dieting approach.
However, oftentimes, the hardest part about following the diet is the time in-between meals. Therefore, choosing the right snacks to hold you over to the next proper meal can make or break your physique.
In this article, I will outline what makes a good bodybuilding snack, in my opinion, and list 20 healthy bodybuilding snacks.
What Is a Healthy Bodybuilding Snack?
In terms of calories and macronutrients, a healthy bodybuilding snack should have an adequate amount of protein and/or be fairly low in calories. This snack could also be high in overall food volume and most importantly, it should taste good.
Therefore, on the list below, you will not see only foods like raw celery or lettuce. This also means that I will not give you snack ideas with a high number of calories, like homemade high protein granola bars, even though they might be “healthy”.
Preferably, healthy bodybuilding snacks shouldn’t be heavily processed, and are easy to prepare, easily accessible and don’t require too many ingredients.
20 Healthy Bodybuilding Snacks
Here is the list of my top bodybuilding snacks, that will help you hold over until your next meal, in no particular order.
1. Greek Yoghurt
Low-fat Greek yoghurt is a great source of protein that everyone can easily add to their diet. As long as you aren’t lactose intolerant, Greek yoghurt is a staple that should be in your bodybuilding diet.
It is low in carbs and has almost zero grams of fat if you choose to go with the low-fat version, which I recommend.
The taste of plain Greek yoghurt is – plain.
So, to make it tastier, simply add fresh berries on top of the yoghurt.
I also like to mix in a scoop of your favourite protein powder to make it even higher in protein or add few drops of zero-calorie sweetener.
This nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 100g (or 3.5 oz.) of plain nonfat Greek yoghurt.
- Calories: 59
- Carbohydrates: 3.6g
- Fat: 0.4g
- Protein: 10.3g
2. Icelandic Yoghurt (Skyr)
Icelandic yoghurt or Skyr is very similar to Greek yoghurt in almost all aspects. Therefore, is a great substitute for Greek yoghurt in most recipes.
Icelandic yoghurt in comparison to Greek yoghurt is thicker and higher in protein.
Similarly to Greek yoghurt, you can add berries or mix a scoop of protein powder (or both) to your Icelandic yoghurt to add more flavour to it.
This nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 100g (or 3.5 oz.) of plain Icelandic yoghurt (skyr).
- Calories: 73
- Carbohydrates: 4g
- Fat: 1.3g
- Protein: 11.3g
3. Cottage Cheese
Lowfat cottage cheese is another dairy product that should be a staple in your bodybuilding diet. It is low-carb, low-fat and rich in protein.
It contains a slow-digesting casein protein, which supplies your body with a steady source of protein. Which makes it a perfect snack before going to bed.
Cottage cheese can be used in all sorts of sweet and savoury dishes.
For example, you can add berries and fruits to it, use it as a dressing for your savoury dishes or add it to pancakes and muffins.
Or you can even eat it plain if you want it.
This nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 100g (or 3.5 oz.) of plain low-fat cottage cheese.
- Calories: 81
- Carbohydrates: 4g
- Fat: 2.3g
- Protein: 11g
4. Protein Bar
You must have guessed that protein bar is going to be on this list of the best bodybuilding snacks.
Here is what I like about protein bars the most:
- Most of them taste good
- Can easily help you up to your daily protein intake
- Very convenient snack
However, there is one problem about protein bars you should be aware of.
Many protein bars you would find in the supermarkets, I would personally, consider a candy bar.
That’s because not all protein bars have an adequate amount of protein, are high in sugar and fats.
This is why you should always check out the nutrition facts.
Here are some rough calorie and macronutrient targets I would look for when picking a protein bar.
- Calories: 150 – 250 (per bar)
- Carbohydrates: 10 – 20g
- Fat: 5 – 10g
- Protein: 15 – 20g
5. Protein Shake and Ready-to-Drink (RTD) Shake
Similar to protein bars, most people would consider protein shakes also as a typical bodybuilding snack.
All you need is a shaker cup, a scoop of protein and some water.
Here is the nutritional information provided by the USDA for 1 serving or 32g (or 0.33 cup) of generic protein powder mixed with water.
- Calories: 113
- Carbohydrates: 2g
- Fat: 0.5g
- Protein: 25g
If convenience is a major factor for you, you can also opt for ready-to-drink (RTD) protein shakes, that can be found in most supermarkets and gas stations.
Unlike protein bars, ready-to-drink shakes are typically lower in calories, so you should not have a hard time picking the right one.
Here is the nutritional information provided by the USDA for 1 serving or 295g (or 10.5 oz.) of generic ready-to-drink (RTD) protein shake.
- Calories: 180
- Carbohydrates: 2.5g
- Fat: 10g
- Protein: 19.4g
6. Canned Tuna
Canned tuna is another great snack for bodybuilders. It basically contains nothing but protein.
Look for canned tuna in brine or spring water, but stay away from tuna in oil.
It can be rough eating it straight out of the can. Therefore, I suggest making a salad with it.
Simply, put whatever amount of tuna you want into the bowl, shred some lettuce, dice up tomatoes and onions, grate some carrots, and add some salt and pepper if desired. Mix it all and you have a low-carb, high protein tuna salad!
Here is nutritional information provided by the USDA for 100g (or 3.5 oz.) of canned tuna in water, drained.
- Calories: 85
- Carbohydrates: 0g
- Fat: 0.9g
- Protein: 19g
Any kind of jerky – beef, turkey, duck, fish, tuna, kangaroo, or alligator, makes a great bodybuilding snack.
Jerky contains a good amount of protein but also is pretty high in fat.
Because of excessive chewing that comes with eating jerky, it’s a good snack option that will help you reduce hunger and appetite.
Here is nutritional information provided by the USDA for 100g (or 3.5 oz.) of beef jerky.
- Calories: 410
- Carbohydrates: 11g
- Fat: 25.6g
- Protein: 33.2g
8. Low-Calorie Fruits and Berries
Various fruit and berries, but not all, can curb your sweet tooth without having any guilt.
For example, wild berries, and especially strawberries are great tasting and very low in calories. You can eat them on their own or add, for example, on top of Greek, Icelandic yoghurts or cottage cheese.
Here is nutritional information provided by the USDA for 100g (or 3.5 oz.) of strawberries.
- Calories: 35
- Carbohydrates: 7.6g
- Fat: 0.2g
- Protein: 0.6g
Furthermore, watermelon is another fruit that you could have as a snack. Watermelon has very few calories, contains high water content and is extremely filling.
Here is nutritional information provided by the USDA for 100g (or 3.5 oz.) of watermelon.
- Calories: 30
- Carbohydrates: 7.6g
- Fat: 0.2g
- Protein: 0.6g
9. Leafy Greens & Vegetables
All leafy greens contain very few calories, are full of fibre, minerals and vitamins.
Of course, you would not want to be like a rabbit and eat them on its own.
Instead, make a giant salad bowl.
Shred some lettuce, dice up some other veggies, add a lean source of protein like canned tuna or some chicken breast and add a low-calorie salad dressing.
Mix it all and you have a filling, low-carb, high protein salad!
In terms of macronutrients, most leafy greens are somewhat similar. Here is nutritional information provided by the USDA for 100g (or 3.5 oz.) of romaine lettuce.
- Calories: 20
- Carbohydrates: 3.2g
- Fat: 0.3g
- Protein: 1.2g
Furthermore, I could have created a long list of vegetables you could eat, especially when dieting because most of them are very low calories. However, the problem is that not everyone likes snacking on raw vegetables.
Although, I also believe that pickles are an exception, especially if you are into bodybuilding.
Pickles are high in sodium, which makes them a great snack before your workout. They can help you get a better pump in the gym and relieve muscle cramps due to the high content of sodium, potassium and vinegar.
Here is nutritional information provided by the USDA for 100g (or 3.5 oz.) of romaine lettuce.
- Calories: 14
- Carbohydrates: 2g
- Fat: 0.4g
- Protein: 0.5g
10. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are another staple for many bodybuilders.
It’s a high-quality source of protein, is a source of “good” fat and is a rich source of vitamins. You can simply eat them on their own, with a little bit of sauce or add in salads.
Here is nutritional information provided by the USDA for 1 large egg – 50g (or 1.75 oz.).
- Calories: 72
- Carbohydrates: 0.5g
- Fat: 5g
- Protein: 6.2g
11. Low-Calorie Jelly
Sugar-free jelly is another snack you can eat quite a lot without eating over your daily calorie limits.
Most of them contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame. Although some people tend to avoid consuming them, the research shows that artificial sweeteners are generally considered safe for human consumption.
Here is nutritional information provided by the USDA for 100g (or 3.5 oz.) of sugar-free jelly.
- Calories: 20
- Carbohydrates: 4.2g
- Fat: 0g
- Protein: 0.8g
12. Coffee & Zero Free Drinks
Have you ever noticed that after drinking a cup of coffee hunger feeling magically goes away?
That’s because caffeine is a great appetite suppressant.
One thing to remember is that you don’t want to drink macchiatos and frappuccinos due to the high-calorie content.
Ideally, you want to drink black coffee as it contains less than 5 calories.
If you don’t like the taste of black coffee, you can add a small splash of milk or some artificial sweetener (or both).
13. Protein Ice Cream
Nowadays, protein ice creams are becoming more available in grocery stores and are becoming more of a staple in the bodybuilding community.
Some of the most popular protein ice cream brands are Enlightened and Halo Top. They come in a variety of flavours and most of them have an “ice cream” like creamy texture. Of course, every now and then you find a brand that has more of an icy texture.
I personally like to make my own version of protein ice cream, which is much higher in food volume, using 3 – 4 ingredients:
- 250g of frozen strawberries or other fruits & berries
- 150g of water or skim milk
- 25g of protein powder
- 3g of xanthan gum (optional)
You simply put frozen strawberries into a bowl, pour in the water or skim milk and blend it up. Then you add a protein powder and whip it using a mixer for about 3 minutes. If you have xanthan gum, add it and whip for another minute. Xanthan gum will make the ice cream much thicker.
Here are the calorie and macronutrient breakdown for the whole recipe using strawberries, water and protein powder.
- Calories: 185
- Carbohydrates: 25g
- Fats: 2g
- Protein: 20g
14. Rice Cakes and PB Powder
Top two rice cakes with lower-calorie peanut butter spread for a quick bodybuilding snack to keep you feeling satisfied.
Take two teaspoons of peanut butter powder, add a few teaspoons of water and mix it well. Divide peanut butter between your rice cakes and spread evenly.
Here are the approximate calories and macros for this snack.
- Calories: 118
- Carbohydrates: 17.7g
- Fat: 1.7g
- Protein: 7.1g
Smoothies can be the perfect drink to make in the morning when you need to kick start your day, as well as a snack in between your meals.
Using protein powder, frozen berries, unsweetened almond milk, skim milk or water as main ingredients for the smoothie makes it a healthy bodybuilding snack, when dieting.
Depending on the amount of frozen berries and the type of liquid you are using, such a smoothie should contain around 180 – 250 calories and have 20g of protein.
16. Protein Oatmeal
Protein oats or “proats” are when you basically add protein powder to oats in your bowl of porridge.
Oatmeal is a great source of slow-digesting carbohydrates as well as fibre on its own. By adding a scoop into your bowl of oats you also make it much higher in protein which makes a healthy bodybuilding snack.
To make it more filling at the same time keeping the total number of calories as low as possible I like to cook oatmeal with water.
Also, by cooking oatmeal in the microwave, adding liquid to it gradually and cooking it in 2-minute increments multiple times, it will absorb more liquid.
This makes it about 1.5 – 2 times higher in volume, in comparison to cooking it regularly or just covering it with boiling water.
Depending on the amount of oats, protein powder and toppings the nutritional information will differ significantly.
My typical bowl of protein oats includes about 60g of oats and one scoop or 30g of protein powder. For these quantities, the calories and macros are the following.
- Calories: 332
- Carbohydrates: 36g
- Fats: 6g
- Protein: 29g
17. Air-Popped Popcorn
Air-popped microwave popcorn is another healthy snack that is super simple to make in just 5 minutes.
Simply take popcorn kernels, put them in a bowl and cover with a lid. Put in the microwave and set for about 4 – 5 minutes. Cook until the popping slows down to about 3 seconds between pops. Then stop the microwave.
I found that just listening to the popping is the best way of knowing when your popcorn is done cooking. Once finished, lightly season with salt or other seasonings blend.
According to the USDA. The nutritional information for 66 grams or 2.3 ounces of popcorn kernels is the following.
- Calories: 255
- Carbohydrates: 52g
- Fats: 3g
- Protein: 8.6g
18. BCAA Slushie
With a BCAA slushie, you can quickly curb that sweet tooth and get your BCAAs in at the same time.
Here’s how you make it:
- Mix about 10 grams of flavoured BCAA powder in about 150 ml or 5 ounces of water until dissolved.
- Add the whole mixture into a blender with 2 cups or 250 grams of ice.
- Then blend until ice is crushed to the consistency you like.
- Pour into a big cup or bowl and enjoy.
Here are the approximate calories and macros for the whole recipe.
- Calories: 36
- Carbohydrates: 0g
- Fats: 0g
- Protein: 9g
19. Protein Pancakes
Protein pancakes are healthy breakfast food as well as a snack in between meals that taste great and fill you up.
By substituting traditional pancake ingredients with egg whites, protein powder and banana you can make low-carb and low-fat protein pancakes.
Furthermore, you can separate egg whites from the yolks and beat them in a separate bowl before folding with the mixture of all the other ingredients. This will make pancakes more fluffy – higher in overall food volume.
Here are the ingredients for typical low-calorie protein pancakes:
- 30g of protein powder
- 1 large banana
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
Approximate calories and macros for the whole recipe are the following.
- Calories: 380
- Carbohydrates: 34g
- Fats: 12g
- Protein: 36g
20. Low-Calorie Wraps
To make a fairly low-calorie wrap – take a burrito size tortilla, layer it with some lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, and some low-calorie dressing or sauce such as sriracha, wrap it up and it’s ready to eat!
These wraps are perfect for a to-go snack as well!
When making these wraps you can substitute chicken with any other lean meat. You can include other types of vegetables and experiment with low-calorie dressing combinations.
A typical wrap that includes a chicken breast, some lettuce, tomatoes, carrots and low-calorie dressing would have the following calories and macros (approximately).
- Calories: 360 – 425
- Carbohydrates: 38 – 42g
- Fats: 6g
- Protein: 40 – 50g
So, there you have it – easy to make, low-calorie, high protein bodybuilding snacks for you to consider next time you are hungry and cannot wait until your next meal.
Keep these tasty snacks in mind as you follow the diet plan that suits you best and continue the journey towards your fitness goals!