Just how big is your burger? Dieticians recommend 85 to 115 grams per serving; restaurants often serve 170 or more grams.
Beef Ostrich Lamb Pork
Pork mince doesn’t always have its fat percentage labelled, but it ranges from 72 to 96 per cent lean. Loin is your best bet if you can get it, with just seven grams of fat per 115-gram serving.
Beef mince is a great source of iron, selenium, and B vitamins. Lean mince is better for you – though the leaner the meat, the less juicy and flavourful your burger. Regardless of cut, you’ll get about 20 grams of protein, says Dr Christine Rosenbloom, a sports nutrition expert. A 70 per cent 115-gram serving has 20 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, and 880 kilojoules, compared with six grams of fat and 630 kilojoules for 95 per cent.
Any salmon you buy in SA (besides Cape/ geelbek) is probably imported; ‘ fresh’ usually means frozen, then thawed. Thanks to farms we do have trout (very similar to salmon) yearround. Wild, farmed and tinned are all excellent sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but wild is leaner and higher in zinc, calcium, and endurance-boosting iron.
110 grams of chicken mince has 24 grams of protein and just 3 grams of fat. It uses dark and light meat, which adds some fat but also more iron and zinc – two nutrients runners need for a healthy immune system. (Avoid minced chicken breast, which has almost zero fat, making for a very dry burger.)
A tad sweeter than beef with a slightly gamey flavour, ostrich is very lean with less than 2 per cent fat per 100 grams. Nutrient-wise, it’s rich in protein and iron. Iron plays a key role in the production of healthy, oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
Rich in protein, zinc, iron, and vitamin B12, it also has five times more inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids and alpha linoleic acid (ALA) than beef. Can’t find packaged lamb mince? Ask the butcher for minced lamb shoulder.
Frozen veggie burgers are ideal for a quick meal, says Rosenbloom. But if you have time, make your own and pack them with fresh vegetables, herbs, and whole grains. Veggie burgers made with mushrooms offer the meatiest texture and flavour, while beanbased patties (like black and soya) pack plenty of protein. You can also toss in nuts for extra plant protein and healthy fat.
The other white meat is an excellent source of selenium, to help protect against oxidative stress, as well as B vitamins, essential for metabolising carbs, protein, and fats.