How to Get Easy, Non-refrigerated Go To Protein

Why high-protein is so confusing and healthy protein snacks that do not need to be refrigerated.

I slept in a car for a summer once.

It was while I was still in college. You know that time when young adults tend to make some questionable decisions. I learned the perils of eating on the go.

One of the trickiest things to find when you don't have access to a refrigerator is protein.

If you wait until you're hangry, you'll eat just about anything.

There are a lot of articles out there on "healthy snacks" you can eat that contain "a lot" of protein. The funny part is what they consider "high-protein".

Some of these snacks contain as little as 4 to 6 grams of protein (24 and 36 calories) out of 100 or even 200 total calories. The math on that just doesn't seem to work.

Surprisingly, there isn't a true definition of what a high protein diet is.

In this post we'll try to do two things: come up with a loose definition of what a high protein snack is. I'll also give examples of protein sources that don't need refrigeration.

Why is "High-Protein" so Confusing?

There is not a standard definition for what defines a "high-protein" diet. The International Society of Sports Nutrition defines high-protein in this position stand remarking;

"High-protein diets have been more generally defined as intakes reaching or exceeding 25% of total energy. High-protein diets have also been identified as ranging from 1.2–1.6 g/kg."

Let's break those two main points down a bit. 25% of total energy intake is 25% of the total calories you eat in a day.

For example:

  • 25% of 1200 calories is 300 calories
  • 25% of 2000 calories is 500 calories
  • 25% of 2500 calories is 625 calories

How about that range of protein consumption? If you don't use the metric system, you likely live in America. (I'm just going to leave this post I wrote about the metric system here)

1.2-1.6g/kg works out to be .54-.72g/lb of body weight.

For example:

  • If you weigh 100 lbs, you would eat 54 to 72 grams of protein a day
  • If you weigh 130 lbs, you would eat 70 to 94 grams of protein a day
  • If you weigh 175 lbs, you would eat 95 to 126 grams of protein a day
  • If you weigh 200 lbs, you would eat 108 to 144 grams of protein a day

All those numbers aside, you might still be asking, what should your snack look like?

If you eat 3 meals a day, with around 20-30 grams of protein per meal, you might be looking to add 12-84 grams of protein.

12 grams of protein is actually very practical to hit. For example, there are 12 grams in the average cup of Dannon nonfat greek yogurt.

What if you don't have an office mini-fridge? Let's look at some more fridge-free protein sources with at least 12 grams of protein.

How to get Easy, Non-Refrigerated go to Protein

When you're eating on the fly, you don't usually find yourself searching for another way to get more carbs. Protein is the most difficult macronutrient to find.

When you do find a food that contains protein, there are often three problems:

  1. The food is not a complete protein source
  2. There is not much protein in the food per gram
  3. Protein sources like yogurt need refrigeration

A complete protein is a food with the nine essential amino acids. Your body needs them to function properly. If you're not eating a complete protein, you're not meeting your protein needs.

The Nine Essential Amino Acids:

  1. Histidine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. Leucine
  4. Lysine
  5. Methionine
  6. Phenylalanine
  7. Threonine
  8. Tryptophan
  9. Valine

How about peanuts? They are a complete protein but, peanut butter contains more energy from fat per gram than protein by far.

For every 50 grams of peanut butter you eat, you'll get:

  • 294 calories
  • 12.5 grams of protein
  • 10 grams of carbohydrate
  • 25 grams of fat

Only 50 of those 294 calories are coming from protein. This food is more of a fat source and even somewhat of a carbohydrate source than a good protein source.

We can establish a simple rule here; If you're eating a snack for protein, most of it should be protein.

What if you don't have access to a refrigerator? You need some foods that are refrigerator free.

Try These 5 Fridge Free Protein Sources When You Travel

Here are some fridge free proteins that you can grab on the go:

  1. Canned Fish like tuna, sardines and salmon
  2. DIY Protein Bars - these can be as simple as oats, a nut butter, protein powder and water
  3. Jerky - beef, turkey, bison, salmon (yes, it's a thing)
  4. Canned Chicken
  5. Protein Powders like whey, casein, or soy and water

I haven't had the chance to make this myself but, you can follow this recipe and make homemade jerky in the oven.

Did all this protein talk make you hungry for more? If you would like to read all you ever wanted to know about protein, and likely much more, check out this resource.

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Steven Mack is founder and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at the private training studio, Simple Solutions Fitness. He consults for Stronger by Science, a leader in fitness research dissemination, and is a former Mizzou football walk-on. Steven dedicates his professional life to helping people through his writing, speaking, and role as a personal trainer.