High Protein Vegan Snacks for Athletes

10 High-Protein Vegan Snacks for Athletes

10 High-Protein Vegan Snacks for Athletes

Planning high-protein vegan snacks can be a challenge for athletes. Athletes may be unaware of how much protein they need or unsure what vegan foods contain protein. 

Let’s take a look at how much protein athletes should aim to consume with snacks. Then we will explore 10 high-protein vegan snacks athletes can add to their meal plan.

What is a Vegan Diet?

An athlete who follows a vegan diet does not consume any animal-based or animal-derived products. This includes beef, chicken, turkey, pork, seafood, dairy products, eggs, and butter. Some individuals following a vegan diet also avoid honey (1). 

Instead, all nutrients in a vegan diet are provided by plant-based sources. Plant-based sources of nutrients include:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds

Carefully planned high-protein vegan snacks can help athletes with meeting their sports nutrition needs throughout the day. 

Vegan Diet

How Much Protein?

When it comes to protein, athletes are encouraged to spread their protein intake throughout the day with several meals and snacks. 

In regard to serving size, athletes should aim to eat ~0.25 – 0.3 grams of protein per kg of body weight at each eating occasion (23).  

In general, this calculates to be in the range of 25-30 grams of protein at each meal/snack, with larger athletes needing more protein than smaller athletes.

Spread Protein Intake Throughout the Day with Meals and Snacks

High-Protein Vegan Snacks for Athletes

When planning snacks, I often encourage athletes to view their snacks as “mini-meals” that help them meet their daily sports nutrition needs. 

To create a balanced snack,, athletes should plan for the snack to contain a good source of protein along with food from at least one other food group. 

By pairing foods to enjoy together, athletes can create a healthy snack or “mini-meal” that meets their target protein intake. 

Let’s take a look at a variety of vegan items athletes can include in their snacks to increase the protein content.

#1 Plant-Based High-Protein Milks

An easy way for athletes to boost the protein content of snacks is to enjoy a glass of a high-protein, plant-based milk along with their snack. 

In general, plant-based milks (almond, coconut, oat) tend to be low in protein (~1 gram of protein per cup). However, soy milk is an exception to this, providing ~6 grams of soy protein per cup (4). 

Some brands of plant-based milks are starting to offer higher protein varieties. Silk® Original Protein is an almond and cashew milk blend that contains added pea protein. A 1-cup serving of this beverage provides 10 grams of protein, along with calcium and Vitamin D. 

When you are shopping for a higher protein plant-based milk option, it is important to read the nutrition facts label and compare the protein content between products. 

Nutrition Facts Label

#2 Plant-Based Yogurts

Enjoying a plant-based yogurt is another way to add protein to your snack. 

The protein content of plant-based yogurts tends to vary based on the type of plant-based milk used in the yogurt. Similar to soy milk, soy yogurt contains soy protein with ~6 grams of protein per 8-oz serving (5).

In addition, some brands are starting to offer Greek-style, plant-based yogurts, which have a higher protein content than traditional plant-based yogurts. 

For a quick, healthy snack consider preparing a fruit and yogurt parfait made with plant-based yogurt, whole grain vegan cereal, and mixed berries. 

#3 High-Protein Vegan Smoothie – Great Snack Option!

A fruit smoothie or protein shake is another great high-protein vegan snack option. 

Athletes can easily meet their protein needs by preparing the smoothie with a high-protein plant-based milk, a plant-based yogurt, nut butters, chia seeds, and even adding in tofu. They can further boost the nutrient profile by adding in a variety of fruits, leafy greens, and spices.

High Protein Vegan Snack - Smoothie

When looking for a quick post-workout shake, athletes can choose to use a vegan, plant-based protein powder, such as one made with pea or soy protein.

However, it is important to be aware that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the same way that food is. Dietary supplements may contain banned substances that could potentially make you ineligible for competition (6). 

Due to this, athletes should look for supplements that have been third-party tested. Supplements that are third-party tested have an outside organization evaluate the supplement for accuracy of ingredients. 

Two companies that evaluate sports supplements are  NSF International Certified for Sport and Informed Sport

For a great high-protein vegan shake recipe, check-out the Vegan Weight Gain Smoothie Recipe from Katie Dodd, Registered Dietitian. This smoothie recipe is made with a vegan protein powder, nut butter, and avocado making it a nutrient dense, high protein vegan snack option.

Plant-Based Protein Powders

#4 Edamame: High-Protein Vegan Snack Addition

Edamame is a type of green soybean typically served in the pod. A 1-cup serving of cooked edamame contains ~18 grams of soy protein (7).

Soy protein is a complete protein. A complete protein contains all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce (2). 

In addition to protein, edamame contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals (7) making it a great option for vegan athletes.

I recommend athletes keep a bag of frozen edamame on hand to defrost and enjoy for a quick, high-protein vegan snack. For a change of flavor, you can toss the edamame in sea salt, garlic, ginger, or any of your favorite spices. 

#5 Nuts and Nut Butters

Nuts and nut butters are great options to boost the protein content of your snacks. In addition to protein, nuts contain unsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals. 

Different types of nuts provide different nutritional benefits, so try to include a variety in your overall sports nutrition meal plan.

Nut butters make a great spread for sandwiches, are delicious mixed into smoothies, and are a perfect topping for apple slices and whole grain, vegan crackers. A 2-tablespoon serving of nut butter contains ~7 grams of protein (8), depending on the brand.

When selecting a nut butter, choose a product that has limited added ingredients. Some nut butters contain added sugars and hydrogenated oils, making them less healthy choices. 

Also, be mindful that not all nut butters are vegan, as some contain added sweeteners, such as honey.

#6 Seeds and Seed Butters

Seeds are an excellent way to add protein, unsaturated fat, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to a vegan snack (9). Aim to include a variety of seeds, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds, with your snacks. 

Seed butters, such as those made by SunButter®, are also a great option for adding protein to a snack. Athletes who have a nut allergy, can enjoy seed butter, which is prepared with sunflower seeds and allergen free. 

#7 Vegan Trail Mix

Trail mix is a great vegan snack option. Athletes can build their own trail mix by combining together their favorite seeds, nuts, dried fruits, as well as vegan breakfast cereal, whole grain crackers, and pretzels. 

Athletes should make sure to pack the trail mix into individual serving size bags to enjoy on-the-go.

Vegan Trail Mix

#8 Chickpeas

When looking for ideas to increase the protein content of your vegan snack, don’t forget about chickpeas. 

Chickpeas, also referred to as garbanzo beans, are a type of legume. A 1-cup serving of cooked chickpeas provides ~10 grams of protein. In addition to protein, chickpeas contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals (10).

Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus. For a snack, consider enjoying hummus as a dip with whole grain vegan crackers or as a spread on a sandwich.   

Roasted chickpeas are another great snack option, which can be enjoyed on their own or tossed into trail mix for added flavor and crunch.

#9 High-Protein Vegan Overnight Oats

Protein overnight oats is a great high-protein vegan snack athletes can meal-prep in advance and eat on the go. Although individuals may traditionally think of oatmeal as a breakfast food, it can be enjoyed at any time of day. 

A benefit of overnight oats is that the recipe is extremely versatile. Athletes can add in high protein, plant-based milk, plant-based yogurt, nuts, nut butter, and chia seeds to make an oatmeal packed full of protein. 

By changing up the type of fruit and spices used, athletes can enjoy a new flavor every day. 

If you have never made overnight oats and are interested in trying it out, you can click HERE to download a free Overnight Oats recipe.

#10 Vegan Protein Bars

When athletes are looking for a quick snack to help meet their protein needs, a vegan protein bar can be a good option.

By keeping some vegan protein bars in their gym bag, athletes can ensure they have a snack available when time is limited. However, when they have more time to plan and prepare snacks, they should focus on eating whole foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

When you purchase vegan bars, look for products that are made with whole grains, contain a good source of plant-protein, and have limited added ingredients. 

High Protein Vegan Snacks - Protein Bars

High-Protein Vegan Snacks for Athletes

You are now set with 10 ideas for creating a high-protein vegan snack. By carefully planning your snacks to fit within your overall vegan meal plan you can ensure all of your sports nutrition needs are met.

For athletes looking for additional plant-based sports nutrition tips, check out my blog: Vegetarian Post-Workout Meal: 3 Keys to Success.

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About the Author

Mandy Tyler is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. 

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