Building Lean Muscle, Part 7: My Top 5 Quick + Easy Snacks

If you're a student gearing up to gain some muscle by changing your diet, you might feel as though your biggest obstacle is your class schedule. There's no denying the fact that as a busy student, it can be hard for you to find times during the day when you can get the right nutritional nourishment -- and when you do manage to scrape together a few minutes between classes, your only options are often Doritos and Milky Ways: not exactly quality calories. But if you want to succeed at building lean muscle, nutrition has to play a big role. And when it comes to school day snacks, the healthier and more calorie-dense, the better. 

Here are my top 5, all-time favorite snack ideas for sticking to your diet goals away from home.


1. Bagel + Peanut Butter

Quick, easy, and delicious. Grab a bagel in the morning, smear some natural peanut or almond butter on both halves, and you've got yourself a calorie-dense snack that does more for you than those gummy bears will. The bagel will provide you with a good source of complex carbohydrates, while the nut butter will give you healthy fats and a bit of protein to even out your blood sugar levels. Try 100% whole wheat bagels for an even better carbohydrate source, or use mini bagels instead of full-size to help you stay within your daily calorie needs.

2. Tuna Pocket

You've never heard of a tuna pocket?! This is another great snack option and tends to transport very well as you move throughout your busy day. Combine some canned tuna with some lower-fat mayonnaise, mustard, or cottage cheese. Add some diced onion or pickles -- whatever you like in your tuna salad. Spoon this into a 100% whole wheat pita pocket along with a drizzle of olive oil dressing and some spinach leaves, then wrap and go! You'll be set with a protein-packed snack that will help you reach your muscle-building goals.


3. Beef Jerky + Orange

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Beef jerky and orange are a perfect pairing (and no, you don't have to eat them both in the same bite). The vitamin C in the orange will actually help boost the absorption of the iron from the beef jerky -- and getting enough iron in your diet is crucial for building lean muscle tissue. When selecting your beef jerky, aim for a lower-sodium variety in order to keep it as healthy as possible. Fortunately, it’s naturally lower in fat, so will be a great protein source mid-day.

4. Apple + Cheese

Going for an apple with some cheese is another smart snack to consider as you work through your diet to put on muscle. Cheese is a good source of protein, and while it does contain some saturated fats, smaller doses of saturated fat will help to keep your overall testosterone levels higher, so this isn't a bad thing. The apple will provide some crunch, fiber, and the sweet taste you may be craving, making this a great snack pairing.


5. Protein Powder + Oats

Finally, for those rushed mornings when you simply didn’t have time to prepare a snack, grab some protein powder and oats. Oats are a great source of complex carbs, and you can easily mix them with protein powder in a water bottle along with some water (or milk purchased at the cafeteria or vending machine). Choose a high-quality whey protein for your protein powder, and simply toss a scoop into a Nalgene with a 1/2 or a full cup of oats and you've got yourself a seriously nutritious snack in seconds.

This is a far better option than some of the commercial weight gainers that you might otherwise purchase as well.

The Takeaway

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So there you have my top quick and easy snacks to help you along your diet to build muscle. Bonus: all these options are much cheaper than snacking on vending machine treats or fast food. Pack these healthy snacks and eat between classes (or sport practices) to see results faster!


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Mike Bewley, MA, CSCS, C-SPN, USAW-I is a guest contributor to the Volt blog. He is a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Clemson University, a specalist in sports nutrition, and the founder of online nutrition platform NutraCarina.