July 4, 2012:
Americans eat more
meat than any other country in the world, and studies show that collectively we
scarf down over 14 billion burgers a year (that’s about 150 annual patties per person!).
all hamburgers are not
created equal. The type of meat,
portion size, choice of bun and toppings can mean the difference between a
relatively harmless lunch and a nutritional nightmare.
The Bright Side
doesn’t have to be a nutritional disaster. If we’re talking about a standard
backyard BBQ burger on a classic bun, topped with some lettuce and tomato,
ketchup and mustard, your sandwich should run you between 300 and 500 calories.
Not too bad.
So why do burgers get such a
have morphed basic burgers into toxic monstrosities …from supersized buns
toasted in butter and slathered with mayonnaise or “special sauce” to calorific
toppers like cheese, bacon and fried onions.
A loaded version will sock your waistline more than 1,200 calories and
over 70 grams of fat, including more than a day’s worth of artery-clogging saturated
fat. Even restaurant-crafted turkey and chicken burgers, which sound like a
harmless choice, can top 1,000 calories — and that’s before you
factor in the fries and other gut-busting sides.
So what’s a burger
lover to do?
In the perfect world, you’ll hit the grocery store, power up the grill,
and make it yourself at home. This way you have full control over the
ingredients and portion size. I prefer to make patties out of ground turkey or
chicken (at least 90% lean), but you can also make a healthier burger using lean
red meat like bison or sirloin. By choosing a lean base, you’ll automatically
cut back on artery-clogging fat and calories and boost the amount of filling
protein. Then, choose fab fixins’ like whole-grain buns, sandwich thins or
English muffins, reduced-fat cheese slices, lettuce, tomato, onion, roasted
peppers…even sliced avocado. When it comes to the spread, mustard, ketchup,
low-fat mayo and salsa are all slimming options.
If you feel like ordering a burger out, here are a few pointers:
the top half of the bun and eat your burger open-faced to save about 100
calories. Or, follow Hollywood’s lead and enjoy your burger “protein style”…
ditch the bun altogether and wrap it in a lettuce leaf. About 200 calories
another 100-200 calories by simply nixing the cheese (it’s guaranteed to be
full-fat at restaurants). The bacon’s gotta go, too — sorry.
pile your burger high with vegetables like lettuce, tomato, onions, sliced
pickles, and hot peppers (in this case, a towering burger is a good thing). Go
for avocado when you have the option, but stick to a single slice —
it’s heart-healthy but very calorie-dense, and restaurants can get carried away
with the amount.
the mayo to erase another 100+ calories, and instead opt for low-cal mustard
about those fries…since you’re splurging on the burger, it’s a good compromise
to swap greasy potatoes for a side salad or vegetables. Another 500 calories
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