Burger Showdown: Beyond vs. Beef

There’s lots of hype about the new Beyond MeatTM products, so naturally, we should make sure we’re making informed decisions about what we’re eating! Let’s take a look:

Ingredient Comparison

Beyond BurgerTM Ingredients:

  • Water, pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, rice protein, natural flavours, cocoa butter, mung bean protein, methylcellulose, potato starch, apple extract, salt, potassium chloride, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, sunflower lecithin, pomegranate fruit powder, beet juice extract (for color).

Breakdown of the Beyond BurgerTM ingredients

  • These ingredients are free from the top preservatives, thickeners, and other “junk” that are often found in “alternative” products.
  • I’m impressed they used natural extracts for colouring instead of the cheaper and more common route of using red dye #4, which is found in many pre-made beef burgers and sausages.
  • I never love the words “natural flavours”, and canola oil isn’t the healthiest choice, but I understand the need to create a similar texture to beef using fats.
  • Overall, it’s better than most pre-made burgers on the market, but not as great as a home-made beef burger (*insert plug for turkey burgers here*).

Nutrition info comparison

Beyond BurgerTM, 4oz

  • Calories 250
  • Total fat 18g
    • Saturated fat 6g
    • Trans fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 390mg
  • Total Carb 3g
    • Fiber 2g
    • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 20g
  • Calcium 8%
  • Iron 25%

Comparison #1: Lean Ground Beef*, 4oz

*NOTE: Most burgers aren’t made of just 4oz of lean ground beef! If you buy pre-made burgers, please read the label and see Comparison #2 below.

  • Calories 284
  • Total fat 17.5g
    • Saturated fat 7g
    • Trans fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 102mg
  • Sodium 82mg
  • Total carb 0g
    • Fibre 0g
    • Sugar 0g
  • Protein 29g
  • Calcium 2%
  • Iron 16%

Comparison #2: PC Thick and Juicy Beef Burgers (note, this is 6oz… most burgers are bigger than the 4oz in Beyond BurgersTM!)

  • Calories 441
  • Total fat 17g
    • Saturated fat 7g
    • Trans fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 105mg
  • Sodium 547mg
  • Carbs 0g
    • Fibre 0g
    • Sugar 0g
  • Calcium 3%
  • Iron 16%

Breakdown of the nutritional information:

  • Typically, we don’t make just plain lean ground beef into burgers, and if we do, we consume more than 4oz. So total calories tend to be higher for beef than Beyond.
  • Total protein of the real stuff is higher than its plant counterpart, but both meet my minimum requirement for most people of 20g of protein per meal.
  • The biggest shock is that they’re comparable in fat profiles, so if you’re think you’re cutting down on fats, think again. However, I can’t stress enough that as long as there are no trans fats, I’m okay on the amount and type of fat in both product options. Fat doesn’t make us fat!
  • A huge win for Beyond is that it is significantly lower in cholesterol when compared with beef burgers. If you have cholesterol concerns, consider choosing Beyond more often.
  • One thing that may be misleading is the amount of iron and calcium. I love that Beyond has fortified their product so that we can eat it without missing out on some key nutrients. However, nutrition labels don’t have to list things like B vitamins (most v/veg are deficient in vitamin B12) and most minerals, all of which are most likely much higher in beef burgers than Beyond.
  • Bottom line: it’s not a perfect match to the nutrients we get from animal proteins, but they’ve done a great job of creating a comparable product to beef, and a far superior job when compared with most other v/veg “burger” patties on the market.

Other considerations in favour of the Beyond Burger TM

  • More environmentally sustainable than a beef burger
  • It’s gluten-free and soy-free, and is verified non-GMO
  • The high protein content makes it leaps and bounds better than most other v/veg “burger” replacement products.
  • A healthier decision for people with high cholesterol, heart disease risk, and gout.
  • I think it tastes pretty darn good!

Is this really helping our vegan/vegetarian friends?

  • V/veg often don’t want something that looks and has the texture of meat
  • My guess is that it has a lower B12 and mineral content compared with beef, so we need to continue to remind ourselves this is not a perfect substitute, and v/veg need to eat a wide variety of protein sources
  • Often prepared on the same grill as meat products, so many v/veg and people who don’t eat beef for religious reasons may choose to abstain

Dr. Chambers’ overall assessment:

  • I think the media attention and wide availability of Beyond Meat is spearheading a cultural shift toward healthier and more sustainable food choices becoming more accessible and accepted by the general population.
  • Although it isn’t a perfect match for animal-protein, it is the closest thing to a healthy meat-less alternative that meat-eaters can embrace without too much upset to their regular mealtime routines.
  • This product gets my stamp of approval as part of a healthy diet for meat-lovers and v/veg alike.

 

*Dr. Chambers is in no way affiliated with Beyond or any aspect of the food industry.

Benefits of Vitamin B12

As we wade-through the winter months, many people get tired and bogged down. Energy and mood can be low, and stress levels can become more difficult to manage. Vitamin B12 injections are something that I love to use to help my patients (and myself!) cope with stress, low energy, and a whole host of other concerns.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient called cobalamin that your body cannot produce on its own. Typically we get B12 from foods; the richest sources being clams, mussels, salmon, beef and eggs. Vitamin B12 is necessary for many crucial functions in our bodies. It is used to convert food to energy, make red blood cells to carry oxygen around our bodies, make DNA and nerve cells, balance hormones, detoxify, and fight infection. It’s amazing to think that this little nutrient is so important, and yet many of us are deficient.

Who benefits from B12 injections?

B12 deficiency causes fatigue, depression, mood swings, poor circulation, poor memory, brain fog, muscle weakness, and/or tingling in the fingers and toes. People with a B12 deficiency often have difficulty coping with stress, have low energy, and have symptoms of excess estrogen. Most people with these symptoms can benefit from B12 injections, and it’s not toxic at moderately high levels.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is very common, especially in people under stress, people over 50 years of age, and vegetarians or vegans. We often don’t get enough B12 from our diet, so B12 injections provide a boost of B12 into the body, and then in most cases you can take a supplement to keep your levels high.

Some people have a condition called pernicious anemia. These people produce less intrinsic factor, which is needed in the stomach to absorb B12. Moreover, if you are over 50, or taking proton pump inhibitors or antacids, you are also likely not absorbing B12. For these people, B12 injections are necessary to ensure your body is getting enough of this essential nutrient.

Energy Production and Stress Management

Vitamin B12 is an essential for converting food into energy, or ATP, and without it the process slows down dramatically. People who feel sluggish, or low in energy even with adequate sleep and a good diet, would likely benefit from B12 injections. The injection gets that pathway working efficiently and gives you a boost of energy.

Stress takes both an emotional and a physical toll on our bodies. Vitamin B12 helps us to cope with stress by balancing our brain chemistry, sharpening our cognitive abilities, and improving our memory. It also reduces physical stress in the liver by methylating and detoxifying hormones and toxins.

Brain Function – Depression and Alzheimer’s disease

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of monoamine transmitters, which are deficient in people suffering from depression. Research shows that B12 injections improve mood in some depressed patients without the use of antidepressants.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency such as memory loss and reduced mental state are also found in dementia. There is growing evidence that many people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia are actually overlooked cases of B12 deficiency. Studies show that the progression of Alzheimer’s can be prevented if treated early with B12.

Infertility and Hormone Health

B12 deficiency is also often overlooked in cases of infertility and irregular hormone patterns. Vitamin B12 it is used to break down estrogen so that it can be excreted from the body. As a result, women with B12 deficiency may experience infertility or irregular cycles because high estrogen levels can cause lack of ovulation, embryo implantation failure, and difficulty maintaining pregnancy. Low B12 can also cause hypercoagulability, which is a cause of early recurrent miscarriage.

Testing and Treatment

I recommend annual B12 testing every 6-12 months, with regular monitoring of your levels if you are receiving B12 injections to improve your mood, memory, energy, immune system or balance hormones.

If you and your ND decide that vitamin B12 injections would be beneficial for you, we are pleased to provide B12 injections at our clinic. Please contact our office for more information.

References

Bennett M. Vitamin B12 deficiency, infertility and recurrent fetal loss. J Reprod Med. 2001;46(3):209-12.

Dubey RK, Jackson EK, Gilespie DG, Zacharia LC, Imthurn B. Catecholamines block the antimitogenic effect of estradiol on human coronary artery smooth muscle cells.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004;89(8):3922-31.

Ellinson M, Thomas J, Patterson A. A critical evaluation of the relationship between serum vitamin B, folate and total homocysteine with cognitive impairment in the elderly. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2004;17(4):371-83.

Quadri P, Fragiacomo C, Pezzati R, Zanda E, Forloni G, Tettamanti M, Lucca U. Homocysteine, folate, and vitamin B-12 in mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer disease, and vascular dementia. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80(1):114-22.

Reznikoff-Etievant MF, Zittoun J, Vaylet C, Pernet P, Milliez J. Low Vitamin B12 level as a risk factor for very early recurrent abortion. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Repord Biol. 2002;104(2):156-9.

Tiemeir H, Ruud van Tuijl H, Hofman A, Meijer J, Killaan AJ, Breteler M. Vitamin B12, Folate, and Homocysteine in Depression: The Rotterdam Study. Am J Psychiatry 2002;159:2099-2101.