A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

If it ain't BEEF, It's not a Burger!

Burger King entered the Turkey "Burger" Wars this week adding a turkey sandwich to their "spring menu." According to news reports, BK is the first of the "big three fast-food chains" to start selling turkey burgers following "fast food health trends and customers’ demand for healthier options." Available for a limited time, the BK version of the turkey burger has only "530 calories and 26 grams of fat." Healthier? Seriously?
With all due respect to the Burger King, if it ain't BEEF, it's not a burger!
This is just wrong on so many levels. First, if it ain't BEEF, it's not a burger. The origin of the term burger dates back to the 1880s in Hamburg, Germany, where the locals ground up beef steak and formed it into patties they called a "Hamburg Steak." German immigrants then brought Hamburg Steak to the U.S. where enterprising Americans placed it between two pieces of bread to form the first hamburger. The exact origin of the hamburger is a subject of much debate, but there is no question that the first "burgers" were beef. 

Second, the perception that ground turkey is "healthier" than beef is a common "missed steak." We think of a turkey breast as lean (and it is). But ground turkey isn't ground turkey breast (think chicken nuggets) and it isn't necessarily leaner than ground beef. I wrote about this two years ago when Carl's Jr./Hardee's first introduced their turkey burger.

The fact is that the ground turkey (and bison) at my grocery store contained at least 15% fat while there were many ground beef choices that were less than 10% fat (90/10, 96/4, etc.). Since all ground meat is a mixture of fat and lean, the only way to determine the leanness is to READ THE LABEL!

The label on this package of ground turkey at my grocery store clearly 85/15, meaning 85% lean, 15% fat

But nutritional value is a lot more complicated than fat content. One 3 oz. serving of 90/10 cooked ground beef (85 grams) is a good (more than 10% DV) or excellent (more than 20% DV) source of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins for about 180 calories. Meanwhile, one 4 oz. serving of raw ground turkey (82 grams) is a good or excellent source of only 6 essential nutrients and vitamins for more than 190 calories. And a turkey burger is higher in cholesterol and sodium than a hamburger. So ground beef is higher in nutrients and lower in calories and cholesterol than ground turkey. So which is healthier? You decide!

This is why I choose beef for my pre- and post-race meals. My body needs the nutrients beef provides to prepare for and repair from intense physical activity . I don't really have anything against turkey. I just want more bang for my calorie buck. Beef provides fuel for the finish.

Ride on!


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