Being a gym rat in India isn’t easy; The country’s misunderstandings regarding nutrition have long limited the range of nutraceutical fitness supplements available in the country to just mass gainers, protein powders, and protein bars.
Read More: Protein Bar Without Protein Powder: A Healthy And Tasty Snack
This poses a rather unique challenge; Protein macros are among the most challenging to meet, especially for the country’s large vegan and vegetarian population. Portable snacks such as fruit and nut bars or protein bars are a godsend for those who find it difficult to cook or eat out around a busy schedule, albeit with a caveat: most manufacturers in the country offer their products in a limited range of flavors that are all too similar to each other, which can make consuming the snacks a task once the monotony starts to set in.
Things took a turn for the better in the 2010s, with several MNCs entering the Indian market with a broad range of protein-rich supplements that were meant to help individuals hit their macros. These MNCs, which included the likes of GNC Holdings and Glanbia plc, spearheaded a series of aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at educating the average citizen about the importance of a nutritionally sound diet, with an emphasis on protein intake. These campaigns were subject to great success, both in promoting brand products and in helping consumers make more informed choices, which gradually led the fitness industry and the community to innovate at an unprecedented rate, developing several portable snacks that you can purchase or concoct in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Yup, good old hard cheese. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar and gouda, are ideal for a quick snack; They keep fresh in a Ziploc bag for almost a day and pair well with carb-heavy snacks like graham crackers and baked pita. An ounce of hard cheese contains 7–11 grams of protein while clocking in at around 100 calories.
Roasted nuts are an excellent all-natural paleo-friendly snack, and there are numerous options on the market, ranging from heirloom peanuts to imported almonds. Several manufacturers sell pocket-sized servings of roasted nuts in a variety of flavors, both sweet and savory. You can also make the snack at home with just about any nut using a convection oven—a simple process that takes less than ten minutes. The calories per serving depend on the fat content of the nut in question; that said, most nuts average around 160-170 calories per ounce, with 5-7 grams of protein.
Almost all types of plant and whey protein are available in single-serving form, making them extremely convenient for professionals who are constantly on the move. Whey and plant protein isolates are some of the most bioavailable edible proteins in existence, featuring complete amino acid profiles and incredibly high protein concentrations per gram, ranging from 80–100% depending on the formulation. Protein powder contains about 100 calories per ounce, making it ideal for the calorie-conscious.
Jerky is an incredibly lean and nutrient-dense food made by drying various meats that include the likes of chicken, pork, buffalo, fish, et al. The practice of curing meat dates back thousands of years and was originally intended as a means to preserve left over meat during hard times. Jerky today is savored the world over as a low-calorie snack; An ounce of chicken jerky contains an incredible 12 grams of quality protein while only measuring 70 calories. Mutton, fish, deer, and buffalo meat jerky are all popular in many Indian states and are made using traditional cooking techniques such as open smoking and salting-aging.
Greek yogurt is sold across the country in convenient single-serve packages, making it a great high-protein snack option that is loaded with a generous amount of gut-friendly bacteria. The snack makes for a great alternative to high-calorie foods such as ice cream or kulfi; The tangy curds contain over eight grams of protein in a 100-gram serving while clocking in at only 70 calories. Homemade Greek yogurt can also be made by straining regular curd through a cheesecloth to separate the curd from the whey. The whey obtained as a byproduct is also rich in protein and can be used as a vinegar substitute in everything from salad dressings to whey sodas.
Cooked fish that is suspended in oil is a delicious high-calorie snack, both by itself and with carb-rich snacks like rusks or graham crackers. A three-ounce serving of this nutrient-rich food clocks in at nearly 100 calories (sans oil) and over 12 grams of complete protein. Tinned fish is also a great source of micronutrients such as vitamin B12 and selenium.