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The Amazing Alt(ernate) Burger

Nutrition for prime-time bodybuilders is a bit different from that for younger athletes. Many studies have shown that we need more protein as we get older and that the need to remain lean (no “bulking up”) becomes more important too.

Still, if you’ve ever been on a so-called cutting diet, you know two things: 1) It was about as boring as kissing your sister, and 2) it was expensive.

Lean ground beef is a great protein source and is inexpensive, but burgers made from it can be dry and tasteless. I call this recipe the “Alternate Burger” because its ingredients solve both of those problems.

In a bowl combine two pounds of 93 percent lean beef, two cups of cooked brown rice, two chopped scallions, two tablespoons of minced garlic, two tablespoons of liquid amino acids (or Thai fish sauce, if you can find it) and three tablespoons of chopped cilantro. Add pepper to taste.

Make four patties.

Fry the burgers in a heavy pan on medium-high heat in one to two tablespoons of grape-seed oil. They will cook a little faster than a regular burger, so be careful not to overcook them.

To serve on a bed of spinach (as shown), make the spinach before you fry the patties. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in the frying pan, and then add two tablespoons of minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for about a minute. Add one pound of cleaned fresh spinach, and sauté, stirring gently, until the spinach is wilted. Put the spinach aside in a separate bowl, wipe out pan, and cook burgers as described.

Nutritional info per patty: Calories, 418; protein, 46 grams; carb, 22.5; fat, 16 grams; fiber, 1.75 grams. The sautéed spinach will add about four grams of carb, three of grams protein and six grams of fat, for 82 additional calories.

This recipe has enough slow-digesting fats and carbs to hold off any kind of insulin spike, so it is unlikely it will be stored as fat. It’s also gluten-free.

—Tony DiCosta


Editor’s note: Tony DiCosta is a former restaurant owner and a successful masters bodybuilder.

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