February 24, 2024

Have you ever noticed feeling different throughout the day based on what you ate for breakfast? More specifically, based on whether your breakfast contained a significant source of protein? It turns out protein can play an influential role in hunger and cravings and is important to prioritize not only at breakfast but at meals and snacks throughout the day to support weight management goals and an overall healthy lifestyle.

Why is protein all the rage? Protein is one of three essential macronutrients. Every cell in the body contains protein. Your body uses protein to repair cells, to make new cells and for growth and development. There is research to support the idea that our bodies will continue to feel hungry until we eat enough protein in a day even after we have eaten enough calories for the day. The trouble is we don’t always listen to our hunger and satiety cues – nor do we necessarily crave something high in protein. We just feel hungry and often seek out the closest snack – typically high in starch or sugar unless we have a plan. It is easy to see how this cycle could contribute to overeating, hunger and cravings until enough protein has been consumed.

To stop this cycle in its tracks, use science in your favor and aim to include a source of protein at breakfast and at meals and snacks throughout the day. A very general recommendation is to aim for around 30 grams of protein at breakfast and at meals – though exact protein needs will vary from person to person. One way to estimate this amount of protein, is to fill a quarter of your plate with protein foods at each meal. This should be similar to the size of your palm or slightly larger than a deck of cards. For snacks, try combining protein with fiber such as nut butter (protein) and apple slices (fiber) or a hard-boiled egg (protein) and veggies or a piece of fruit (fiber).

You can get protein both from animal sources and from plant-based sources. Meat such as beef, pork, poultry and fish will have about 7 grams of protein per ounce. Eggs have around 6-8 grams of protein each. A 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt has around 15 grams of protein. Half a cup of cooked beans has around 7 grams of protein. An ounce of nuts has around 3-7 grams of protein per ounce. Protein shakes will vary but often contain around 15-30 grams of protein per serving.

Your Hy-Vee dietitian can help review your current intake and make recommendations based on your individual needs. If you are ready to get started on your health and wellness journey, schedule a complimentary Discovery Session today by contacting our Discovery Call Center via email nutritionservices@hy-vee.com or calling (515) 695-3121.

I highly recommend trying this recipe for Ahi Tuna Burger Wraps with 34 grams of protein per serving to help start reaching your daily protein goals!

Ahi Tuna Burger Wraps
Serves 4 (2 wraps each)

All You Need:
2 Hy-Vee large eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb Fish Market skinless yellowfin ahi tuna steaks, finely chopped
1 cup Hy-Vee plain panko bread crumbs
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped green onions
3 tbsp Hy-Vee Select Sriracha Mayo Sandwich Spread, plus additional for serving
1 tbsp refrigerated ginger paste
4 tbsp Gustare Vita olive oil, divided
16 butterhead lettuce leaves
8 (¼-inch-thick) slices Hy-Vee Short Cuts cored pineapple
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
3 large red radishes, thinly sliced
¼ small red onion, thinly sliced

All you do:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir together eggs, tuna, bread crumbs, bell pepper, green onions, 3 tablespoons Sriracha spread and ginger paste in a medium bowl until well combined.
  2. Form mixture into 8 (1-inch-thick) patties, using about 1/3 cup for each. Place on prepared baking sheet; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet. Cook 4 patties over medium-high heat for 2 to 4 minutes or until burgers reach 165 degrees and are lightly browned, turning halfway through. Repeat cooking remaining 4 patties with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
  4. To serve, layer 2 lettuce leaves together and top with 1 pineapple slice; place a burger on top. Repeat with remaining lettuce leaves, pineapple slices and burgers. Top burgers with Sriracha spread, cucumber, radishes and red onion. Serve with additional Sriracha spread, if desired.

Recipe source: January/February 2024 Hy-Vee Seasons magazine https://www.hy-vee.com/recipes-ideas/recipes/ahi-tuna-burger-wraps. The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.