How many times have you looked at a burger, and longed for it to be good for you? Imagine you could actually lose weight, or your health gets better every time you chomp down on your meaty sandwich.
Well, while you might not win any weight watchers competitions any time soon, there still could be hope for you to live if you can’t forgo the carnivore within. One nutritionist believes they have the answer to all our prayers.
Consider this: instead of adding fries to your burger order, you might be better off adding a second burger. While conventional wisdom might tell you that eating a second anything is a bad choice from a nutritional perspective, there’s something more important to consider: balance.
This way of thinking comes from the registered dietician and nutritionist Emily Field, She encourages her clients to think about the word “balance” before every meal. This is rather than labeling foods bad or good.
To do this, she encourages people to think about three components of food – fat, carbohydrates and proteins. Protein fuels your muscles and keeps you feeling full, carbohydrates provide energy, and fat helps us absorb vitamins and minerals while keeping cells healthy.
If you manage to keep those nutrients roughly even, you’ll end up having fewer cravings, less desire to binge and more control when you do eat. So, if a meal has a good balance of those three things, it’s an okay choice.
Speaking to Insider, Field said: “I want people to be able to approach any food, any situation, and know that they can still make a responsible choice for their body.” Her way of thinking is backed by a recent study published in the Journal of Nutritional Metabolism.
The study suggests balance is important because of the role different macronutrients play in regulating our blood sugar levels (this is the energy our cells carry and distribute throughout the body after a meal).
In the body, fats and proteins slow the breakdown of carbs into sugar, acting as a sort of buffer against sharp dips and spikes in insulin levels. So when you eat a meal that’s high in carbs and low in protein, like a bowl of cereal for example, you’re more likely to see rapid spikes and falls in blood sugar.
This logic can translate into short-lived bursts of energy, followed by hanger and fatigue, symptoms that typically manifest between meals. Protein-rich foods at mealtime like Greek yogurt and nuts can help avoid this crash.
But how do you apply this thinking to your life? Field says you ask yourself the question: “How am I going to feel two hours after I eat that?” When you apply this wisdom to fast food, more often than not you’ll find yourself wanting two burgers instead of an order of fries.
Your typical fast food burger has two small pieces of bread, plus a slab of the juicy stuff. Without any cheese or sauce, a burger ranges from 300-400 calories. Broken down, that’s roughly 40 grams of carbs, 17 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat. Your typical order of fries is the same number of calories, but you lose the protein to just fat and carbs.
The solution? Make your meal balanced by forgoing the fries and just having the burger, or by adding another burger entirely. You’re adding more fats and carbs, but the total calories come in at far less than the total calories of a burger and fries meal. You also double the protein, which means you feel fuller for longer and keeps your blood sugar levels steady. Awesome.
This is math almost everyone can agree on. Don’t take my word for it though: Field suggests you “try it out and see how you feel”. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have two bacon double cheeseburgers: something I never thought I would ever say in my life.