When you're trying to lose weight, tiny hunger cues can make a small craving seem like a giant temptation. Transitioning into a healthy eating style isn't about total avoidance—in fact, completely disallowing your favorite foods can make it highly unlikely that you'll stick to a weight loss plan over the long term.
Typical restaurant or fast food burgers are a common diet no-no if you're trying to trim your waistline, but most of us simply can't resist indulging from time to time. Not to worry! If you must sink your teeth into a juicy, delicious burger, there are plenty of healthy burger options and healthy toppings to please your palate.
Alternatives to Red Meat
Poultry is often healthier than beef burgers in terms of calories and saturated fat. Ground turkey provides a taste similar to ground beef with much less guilt. Your best bet is to look for ground turkey that is labeled as lean (93%) or extra-lean (99%). As ground turkey breast contains very little fat, it can sometimes taste dry. Keep it moist and tender by adding diced veggies like celery, green pepper and onion into the burger recipe. The high water content of the veggies will keep your turkey burger patties juicy. Or if turkey isn’t your preference, a chicken burger is another healthy burger option if you are looking to cut the calories and fat.
Black bean burgers
Whether you're vegetarian or not, it's difficult not to like the taste of a well-made black bean patty. Bonus? Black beans are loaded with fiber, low in cholesterol and contain protein. Just stick to a homemade version so you can control the ingredients, or check out the nutrition facts on store-bought brands and ask your server about the ingredients in restaurants to keep your burger consistent with your weight loss plan. Next time you are craving a juicy hamburger, grab a veggie burger instead!
Portobello Mushroom Burgers
You know those giant 'shrooms that span the width of a burger bun? Those are Portobello mushrooms, and they are surprisingly delicious! They have a meaty texture, which substitutes well for a burger. They are uniquely delectable. The best part is that a large one is only 30 calories and contains no fat or cholesterol!
Healthy Burger Bun Options
Regularly consuming hamburger buns served in restaurants is akin to sabotaging your weight loss plan. Buns are often drenched in butter, salt and artificial flavors, not to mention the size is often HUGE.
A great way to cut calories is substituting a lettuce wrap for your bun—try Bibb or Boston lettuce (also known as butter lettuce) which is large and sturdy enough to use as a wrap. For another fun and healthy way to enjoy your burger, toss the bun and instead deconstruct your burger and turn it into a salad.
If you are preparing your own burger at home, look for a smaller-sized whole-grain bun, or try a whole-grain, low-fat flatbread. You can even skip a ‘holder’ and enjoy your burger with a fork and knife.
Top it off: Healthy Burger Toppings
Burgers can be delicious on their own, but it seems like they always come dripping with toppings these days. From fried eggs to sauces, adding on the toppings can also add on the calories. The always popular topping of bacon is laden with saturated fat. The all-American favorite, regular mayonnaise, can be just as bad since it’s typically made with eggs and oil. Even a topping as simple as ketchup or barbecue sauce contains added sugars. Consider these weight-loss friendly topping alternatives to finish off your healthy creation:
- Pickles, cucumbers, jalapeños or pineapple
- Tomatoes, roasted red peppers or grilled yellow or red onions
- Spinach or watercress—while traditional iceberg lettuce certainly isn't calorie-dense, it isn't nutrient-dense either. Sub in some spinach or watercress for beneficial vitamins and minerals.
- Chipotle mayo substitute—rather than fatty mayo, create a delicious Tex Mex burger by blending a half cup of Greek yogurt with two chipotle chilis.
- Avocado or turkey bacon
- Mustard, chutney, or salsa
Don’t Forget About The Healthy Sides
When most of us think about burger’s we automatically think of french fries too. But, these delicious potatoes are fried in fatty oil and are usually loaded with salt, creating quite the unhealthy dish. If you are craving a side dish for your burger, swap the traditional french fries with bell pepper sticks, green beans sticks, sweet potato fries, carrot fries, or zucchini chips. These healthy alternatives will give you the crunch you are looking for without the heavy calories.
By using some of the hamburger alternatives above, you can satisfy your burger craving with much healthier ingredients. When chosen wisely, indulging in a burger won’t derail your diet.
Jenny Craig members can enjoy perfectly portioned versions of their favorite foods such as a delicious classic cheeseburger without the high calorie and fat content found in typical fast food. Are you ready to start losing weight? Contact us for your free appointment today to get started!