Thursday, May 27, 2010

Turkey Burgers Can Make You Fat

You have just sat down at a restaurant with some friends for a quick bite to eat, and you are determined not to let you diet slide by caving into that big bowl of french fries or over sized portion of creamy pasta, so you peruse the menu looking for some healthy options that wont see you overdose on nasty fat or bad carbs. You check out the salads, but they seem boring and don't want to warrant any catty comments from your friends. The kid's menu? Hmmm, the portions are smaller but there is something about getting a toy with your meal that isn't going to impress that hottie across the table from you. All the fish items are beer battered and deep fried so those are not an option. Hmmm... Ahh, you spot the turkey burger. Perfect. You get your burger fix but without any of the fat or calories because turkey burgers are healthier than beef burgers. Right? Wrong.

Turns out turkey burgers aren't always the healthier option, and some can pack more calories than two Big Macs or four pieces of carrot cake, and more artery clogging fat than two cups of Haagen Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip ice cream or five snickers bars!

Over recent years we have been led to believe that the consumption of red meat is bad for us because it raises our blood pressure and cholesterol, and white meats such as chicken, fish and turkey are the better options for our waistline and overall health. And they can be, but not always. You see the determining factor here is how "lean" the meat is. It's an indication of how much fat there is marbled through out the meat or contained in the meat product. When it comes to beef for example, tenderloin, fillet mignon and flank steaks are the leanest cuts and aren't swimming in as much saturated fat as other cuts such as cuts from the rib section or ground beef. But just like there is lean and fatty cuts of beef, there are also lean and fatty cuts of turkey. Turkey breast is the leanest cut of the the turkey, but ground turkey, the turkey that gets thrown together and formed into burger patties, is normally made from the dark meat of the turkey, so can be just as fattening and greasy as ground beef.

Restaurants have caught onto out recent fear of consuming fatty red meat products so nearly every one you go to these days offers a turkey burger on their menu. Some are made from the leaner turkey breast but most are made from the dark ground, and cheaper, turkey. Not only that but they slather it in full fat mayonnaise and toppings, and throw in more than a day's worth of sodium in some cases, turning potentially healthy meal into one of the worst options on the menu. Lets take a look at a couple of the worst offenders:

The Cheesecake Factory Grilled Turkey Burger

1373 Calories
32 gram of fat
1628 mg of Sodium

We all know The Cheesecake Factory is not the best restaurant to go to if you are watching your waistline. I mean come on, they named their franchise after one of the most fattening cakes available. But their entree are some of the worst out there, with their oversized portions and abundance of bad fats and refined carbohydrates.

But make the mistake of consuming one of their turkey burgers, thinking you are eating a healthier option, and you could be wondering why you aren't squeezing into those jeans of yours as well as you used to. Just one of their burgers has more calories than six krispy kremes and more fat than three orders of french fries.

Ruby Tuesday Bella Turkey Burger 

1145 calories
71 grams of Fat
2760 mg of sodium

Recently featured on Men's Health as America's worst "healthy" burger, although I think The Cheesecake Factory turkey burger may give it a run for its money, this burger has over half of your recommended calories in one sitting, and that doesn't factor in the soda or fries!

This Bella Burger will set you back the equivalent in calories of nearly four Burger King Cheeseburgers, more fat than two Cinnabon rolls, and more than a day's worth of salt intake in one sitting. You would need to do close to an hour of running on the treadmill to get even close to burning off this fatty.

These are of course extreme cases, and not every turkey burger is going to send you knocking on Jenny Craig's door so fast. You will be surprised to know that most turkey burgers at restaurants only marginally differ in calories to their beef counterparts, sometimes only by 30 - 40 calories. So it might be worth considering whether that "healthy" turkey burger is indeed the better option over the traditional beef burger. Most chain restaurants now offer nutritional information on their menus or their website, so always check it out before diving into what you may think is a wiser choice.

Check out Healthy Boy tomorrow when I post my own healthy turkey burger recipe that you can make at home and is low in calories and fat, but high in taste, and can satiate those burger cravings and without causing your waistline to expand.

Healthy Boy x

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