By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
There’s a difference between indulging and over-indulging. It can be a difficult balance to handle when building your best body, but it’s a skill you’ll have to master in order to keep your sanity and ensure that you keep making progress. Even the fittest of the fit have cravings, and at the top of most people’s hit list is a high-quality burger. A perfect burger is a work of art; it’s juicy, savory—and has the potential to absolutely wreck your macros. Fortunately, there are ways to make this “cheat meal” a lot more guilt-free, so that you can have your burger and still crush your goals. As a starting point, rather than a trip to Burger King or In-N-Out Burger, try a healthier homemade burger recipe instead.
Whether you are grilling at home or heading out to a bbq, you will probably come across some type of burger. Here are 5 ways that to make this American favorite healthier and more guilt-free, to keep those good vibes going strong.
(I love the Hamilton Beach electric indoor seating grill. If you’re looking for that summer grill taste all year round, you should check it out here.)
Switching up the traditional bun can be an easy way to both cut down on calories and pack some more nutrients into your burger. Whole wheat buns are fiber dense, so they slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream and keep you fuller for longer. Some healthier bun options are veggie-based. I love serving burgers between slices of sweet potatoes, portobello mushroom caps, and zucchini. If you want to ditch the idea of a bun completely, you could be creative with the burger ingredients by serving them in a lettuce/collard green wrap, or by serving the burger over a bed of salad.
While it may not seem like a healthy ingredient, fat is an important macronutrient. It provides us with a great source of energy and allows our bodies to produce important hormones that are essential to operating at our best. At the same time, dietary fats are also calorically dense, so it’s still important to control your consumption. Adding some avocado to your homemade burger can be a great way to sneak in some monounsaturated fat which has been shown to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. When it comes to dietary intake, not all fats are considered equal. Fats exist more on a good to bad continuum. While saturated fats aren’t as bad as once thought, they still aren’t as healthy as some of their other counterparts. A quick way to cut your saturated fat intake is to opt for a leaner cut of meat.
Improve the nutrient quality of your burger by using it as a vehicle to get more vegetables and fruit into your diet. This is a great time to add more veggies like kale, onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, etc. Don’t be afraid to experiment with some out-of-the-box add-ons such as apple, pineapple, mango, and peach slices to add a little sweet kick to your burger.
Instead of going with mayo, use plain Greek yogurt, which is rich in protein, hummus, or mustard. This is an easy way to cut out some empty calories and add some unique flavor to your burger experience.
Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to making your burger. Skip the double burger patty route if possible, and opt for taking in the right quantity of protein and eating slowly instead. For ladies, a protein serving should be about the size of your fist. For the fellas, opt for a fist to a fist and a half. Focus on enjoying each bite of the burger and chewing slowly. You may even be mindful about eating, and set a 10-15 minute timer. It takes time for your brain and your stomach to get on the same frequency, so eating this way will make skipping seconds becomes much easier.
Mindful eating is a great way to eat more intuitively and to develop a deeper connection to your body. It’s an effective strategy to employ if you are looking to lose weight and keep it off. Looking for more strategies to jumpstart your fat loss? Dive into this awesome article while you enjoy your burger.