Youth athletes, especially youth weightlifters, have higher protein requirements than their non-athletic peers. In How Much Protein Do Youth Weightlifters Need? Dr. Mark Lavallee, Chairman of the USA Weightlifting Sports Medicine Society, recommends consuming 1 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of lean muscle mass per day.
The muscles, however, can only absorb a certain amount of protein at a time. To maximize muscle-building, spread out your protein consumption with these protein packed snacks:
1. Bistro Boxes
These boxes are not only healthy and attractive, they are simple to assemble. An hour of meal prep should yield enough snack boxes for an entire week. For directions on making these beautiful snacks, read here.
2. Bean & Cheese Quesadillas
Quesadillas appeal to almost everyone, and they are so easy to make. Sandwich some cheese and beans between two tortillas and microwave for a few seconds. If you’re in the mood for something fancier, make the more deluxe version pictured above with this recipe.
3. Eggs with Toast
Nothing beats an egg when it comes to the perfect protein. Eggs contain all nine of the essential amino acids (as well as all nine of the non-essential amino acids). In fact, scientists often use egg protein as the standard against which they judge all other proteins. Serve up some fun with these eggs fried inside a piece of toast.
4. Apple and Peanut Butter Nachos
Everything about this snack is yummy–sweet apple slices, peanut butter, and whatever fun toppings you have on hand. For the recipe, read here.
5. Energy Balls
Trade out unhealthy cookies for these Dark Chocolate & Blueberry Energy Bites. For more flavors, check out 12 Kid-Friendly Energy Ball Recipes Made Without Protein Powder.
6. Protein Bars
Homemade snacks are wonderful, but sometimes you just don’t have that kind of time. Keep a small stash of kid-friendly protein bars on hand for those busy times. These Lucky Bar Kid Protein Bars have a great nutrition profile–more protein than 2 eggs, low sugar, low sodium, low fat, and no cholesterol. Plus, they come in five fun flavors.
7. Cheese Plates
I would not go to this much trouble on a regular basis, but for a special occasion, this cute cheese tray cannot be beat. Adding a variety of nuts, cheeses and meats makes a fun and fancy protein snack. For instructions on assembling it, read here.
Smoothies are an awesome way to sneak protein into your day, and they can be made with just about any combination of juice, fruit, yogurt or milk. Try this Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie for a new treat.
9. Tuna Salad on Crackers
10. Trail Mix
Trail mix is one of the easiest protein snacks: It is simple to assemble, does not require refrigeration, and has a long shelf life. Try this protein packed recipe pictured above.
I know what you are thinking: That looks like a vegetable; it cannot be tasty. Don’t knock edamame until you have tried it. Many kids love these tasty little beans, and they are very good for you. Edamame, or soybeans, are a whole protein source, which means they contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs. In addition, 1 cup (155 g) contains a whopping 18.5 grams of protein. Try them out with this recipe.
12. Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk is a great post-training recovery beverage. Pour a cold glass of your favorite dairy, soy or coconut milk and enjoy a quick blast of muscle building protein. To make your own chocolate milk, try this recipe.
13. Hummus with Pita and Veggies
And . . . we have come full circle to those cute little bistro boxes, now filled with hummus, pita, chicken and veggies. These look so tasty and fresh, you could not possibly go wrong. For instructions on assembling, read here.