It's a simple and well-understood concept: You have to eat big to get big. Yet with the hustle and bustle of today's lifestyle, getting the calories you need can prove to be a major, unexpected obstacle. Packing enough meals for the week is one thing, but ensuring you have the snacks to support muscle growth throughout the day is another, often forgotten, piece of the puzzle.
Dazed and confused about what to grab on the go to achieve the gains you desire? Don't fret. The athletes of Team MuscleTech are here to share some of their favorite lean, mean, muscle-building snacks. Next time you're in need of a quick fix, try one of these go-to options to ensure you're riding steady on the gains train.
Protein Powder and Nuts
For personal trainer Lindsay Cappotelli, a protein shaker filled with a scoop of her favorite protein powder and a baggie of nuts suits her well on the run. "Whenever I'm traveling and have to eat on the run, this snack works perfectly," she says. Portability is key. "All I have to do is add water, shake, and drink!"
Protein is the number-one nutrient for sparking muscle growth, so that's a no-brainer in any portable snack. The addition of a healthy fat, such as , provides a boost in essential nutrients and helps slow down digestion, ensuring that you feel full for hours to come. Plus, since many protein shakes are low-calorie on their own, the calorie-dense nuts deliver an extra caloric boost to help support hard training.
Athlete Jesse Hobbs also turns to a quick-digesting protein shake when time is tight. "My favorite easy snack to take with me on the go is two scoops of whey protein isolate along with a handful of cashews," he says. By balancing his protein intake with a handful of calorie-dense, nutrient-heavy cashews, Hobbs has the perfect snack to aid satiety and provide muscle-building support.
Turkey Jerky and a Banana
Fitness athlete Shawn Russell turns to the dried meat—turkey jerky, specifically—and pairs it with a banana when he's short on prep time. "The best thing about this meal is that you can find it just about anywhere—even at a gas station!" he adds. Aside from being largely available, jerky is portable and requires no special storage. As an added bonus, it's almost pure protein!
Just remember that even protein-packed snacks can be a case of "buyer beware." Most jerky is lean, but you still need to take a few seconds to double-check the labeling. Common jerky meats include 97 and 93 percent fat-free options.
These are both great choices and come in your choice of beef, turkey, chicken, or ostrich. Just keep in mind that 88 and 83 percent fat-free jerky might have quite a bit more saturated fat than you need. Stock up on the lower-fat types, and keep some in your pantry and office desk!
Protein Bars and Apples
When he's faced with no time to prepare, physique competitor Jimmy Everett's top pick is a clean protein bar. A good protein bar should contain a balance of protein, carbs, and fats to supply your body with the energy you need to tackle the day ahead. Look for something that's relatively low in sugar and unnecessary calories from fat.
In addition to a protein bar, Everett often finds himself munching on an apple and almonds to further boost his caloric intake and support his nutrition and training goals.
IFBB pro Elissa Martis likes to whip up her own on-the-go snack to grab when she's short on time. "I love my pumpkin protein pancakes," she says. "I often make them in advance and freeze them so they're ready to go when needed." That way, all Martis has to do is eat and reheat. Talk about a time saver!
Fitness model Jenna Renee Webb is also a flapjack fan. "My favorite easy-prep snack is pre-made pancakes made using a birthday cake whey protein," she says. Like Martis, Webb makes a big batch in advance to kick her week off with a macro-friendly, portable snack that makes it easy to stay on track.
Looking for your own, tasty protein-pancake recipe? Check out the recipe below for a treat that's sure to please. Looking for an additional boost in muscle-building calories? Try making two medium-sized pancakes and stuffing them with peanut butter and banana!
Pumpkin puree: 2 tbsp
Almond flour: 2 tbsp
Egg whites: 2
Baking powder: 1/4 tbsp
Coconut oil: 1 tsp
Vanilla extract: 1/4 tsp
Pumpkin spice: 1 dash
Stevia: to taste
- Blend all ingredients, and cook as you would a traditional pancake!
Serving size: 1 large pancake
Recipe yields: 1 serving