Whether you’re headed back to school or simply want to save money by eating out less at your midday meal, packing a protein-rich lunch helps you maintain a healthy weight, boosts satiety, and minimizes muscle loss during weight loss. Protein also keeps your metabolism high, according to a review published in 2012 in The British Journal of Nutrition.
Reduced-Sodium Turkey Jerky
Not all jerky is high in sodium, and adding low-sodium lean turkey jerky to your sack lunch is an easy way to boost protein — and satiety. For example, some brands of reduced-sodium turkey jerky contain 70 calories, 14 grams of protein, and just 140 milligrams of sodium, which is a lot less than traditional jerky.
Pumpkin Seed Kernels
Pumpkins seed kernels are loaded with protein, fiber, iron, and healthy fats — including omega-3 fatty acids — and make an excellent addition to healthy sack lunches. A 1-ounce portion of pumpkin seeds kernels, also known as pepitas, contains a whopping 8 grams of protein. Add pumpkin seeds to trail mix, or eat them plain with your lunch or as a mid-morning satiating snack.
Choosing a reduced-fat cheese stick, or adding a slice of reduced-fat cheese to your sandwich, increases the protein and calcium content of your sack lunch. A stick of reduced-fat mozzarella cheese contains 6 grams of protein and 15 percent of your calcium daily value, but just 50 calories.
Mix canned light tuna with light mayonnaise, nonfat plain yogurt, or both to make a nutritious tuna salad. Three ounces of canned light tuna packed in water provide you with almost 17 grams of protein, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database. Add tuna salad to whole-grain bread to make a tuna salad sandwich, top vegetable salad with tuna salad, or eat this nutritious protein food all by itself to increase satiety and keep your metabolism going strong.
Choosing Greek yogurt over regular yogurt for your sack lunch means you’ll be getting extra protein — and generally less sugar and carbohydrates. Be sure to pick plain Greek yogurt instead of fruit-flavored varieties to avoid excess sugar and calories. One container of plain nonfat Greek yogurt is a 100-calorie option that provides you with 17 grams of protein and just 5 grams of sugar.
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