Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Balls

Looking for great recipes for snack time or breakfast? These chocolate almond butter protein balls are perfect. The energy bites offer plenty of protein, fiber, and healthy fat to keep you fuller for longer.

For just 180 calories, each of these oatmeal protein balls offers 6 grams of protein, as well as 5 grams fiber due to the almond butter, pistachios, and chia seeds.

Plus, the healthy energy bites are totally delish and don’t require any equipment like a food processor! Healthy snacking, here we come.

The ingredient list to make these protein balls is super short!

Oats: The chocolate almond balls contain 1 ½ cups of oats, which add filling fiber to the recipe.

Almond butter: These are a wonderful source of heart-healthy fats.

Chia seeds: These boast filling protein and fiber, as well as good-for-your-heart monounsaturated fats.

Unsweetened cocoa powder: This is a favorite ingredient to sweeten recipes with, as it doesn’t contain any added sugar but does boast lots of health-helping polyphenols.

Pistachios: These add some nice crunch to the balls, as well as protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Vanilla extract: This is another wonderful way to sweeten recipes without the need for added sugar.

Each bite contains 13 grams fat, but almost all of that is the heart-healthy poly- and monounsaturated varieties. Now go ahead and pick up the ingredients from the grocery store!

Why protein bites are a great snack

I love snack foods almost more than meals. So I often look for ways to incorporate said snacks into my meals. This is how I got to thinking up these delicious almond butter protein balls! Plus, who can say no to that delicious chocolate almond butter taste? 

I can pair a couple of these almond butter balls with a banana or peach for breakfast or have one of the balls for a snack. And the crushed pistachio adds such a delicious crunch.

Step-by-step instructions

Part of what I love about being a registered dietitian nutritionist is spending time in the kitchen creating healthy, yummy recipes. I’ve been really into super-quick snack recipes lately. I’m talking the ready-in-five-minutes-or-less kind. 

How to make these quick oatmeal energy balls? To make them, all you have to do is combine the oats, almond butter, chia seeds, cocoa powder, pistachios, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl.

Then, you roll the mixture into balls and place them on top of parchment paper.

You’ll see that the directions for this almond butter protein balls recipe calls for letting these harden in the fridge or freezer, atop parchment paper in an air-tight container. After a few hours or overnight, the balls will be ready to eat!

Now, go ahead and enjoy these snack balls! You don’t even need any roasted almonds or olive oil to make them!

Why eating fat can be good for you 

Throughout my day, I purposefully eat fat. This is why I like to nosh on these almond butter chocolate protein balls for snack time.

Healthy fats such as the almond butter in these almond butter chocolate balls contain monounsaturated fats, linked with heart health. Other sources of heart-healthy fats include natural peanut butter, flax seeds, and even dark chocolate chips.

But a study suggests that most dietary fat—even saturated fat, associated with heart disease and other health problems—may be helpful for weight loss when eaten in a diet that’s low in carbs. 

In the study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers looked at 148 women and men who were racially diverse, as well as who had overweight or obesity.

These people were assigned either a low-fat (less than 30 percent daily calorie intake from total fat, with less than 7 percent from saturated fat, plus 55 percent from carbohydrates) or a low-carb (less than 40 grams daily) diet. They were not asked to limit overall calories.

The results are exciting. After a year, the low-carb group lost significantly more weight: about 12 pounds, versus about 4 for the low-fat group. 

They also lost more body fat and gained more muscle—and had a much greater decrease in estimated 10-year risk for heart disease. So you can see why eating snacks full of healthy fats, like these almond butter protein balls, can be beneficial.

However, the study was small, and researchers followed participants for just a year. So long-term effects of the low-carb diet studied are unknown. Because this study was preliminary, more research needs to be done to confirm the findings.

The low-carb group ended up eating significantly more total fat––including both saturated fat and monounsaturated fat––than the low-fat group, as well as fewer calories.

The total fat was about double what’s recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the saturated fat was more than twice the 5 to 6 percent of daily calories recommended by the American Heart Association.

So does this mean you should cut back on carbs and eat more fat? Maybe.

It might be helpful for weight loss and heart health, but as with any diet that’s low in a particular nutrient and/or higher in another, you should speak with a doctor or dietitian about changing your dietary habits.

This is particularly the case if you have diabetes or a kidney condition.

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