Many of our Singapore personal training clients have been asking about the “man-made meats” (plant-based meat substitutes) that have been in the news recently.
Products like “beyond meat” and the “impossible burger” are being talked about by people who have an interest in health and fitness.
The companies making these products are having very high stock valuations at the moment (overvalued like most IPOs in my opinion). Somewhere in the region of 50x price to earnings!
But let’s see if the nutrition and health value matches the stock price…
So the price for these beyond meat burgers is expensive.
About 14 SGD for 2 patties of about 120g per patty.
Lean, grass-fed mince beef is about 5 SGD for 250g.
So the beyond meat patties are almost 3x more expensive. And this is the “DIY” cook for yourself version. No restaurant prices involved (which would be even higher)
Ok, so it’s not cheap. That’s fine. Maybe it tastes amazing?
So I actually made homemade patties from ground beef. And cooked them exactly the same way as a set of beyond meat plant-based patties. No extra seasoning, just salt, pepper and garlic powder.
It would probably be hard to tell the difference if there was cheese, mayo, ketchup and other condiments added to the test.
I also gave the burgers to my kids to eat and to get their opinion. Could they tell the difference? Which burger did they like?
“Is it close to the taste of meat?”
Um… in my opinion, not even close. Meat is meat. These burgers are oily, meat flavored bean patties. Kind of like oily tempeh. The texture is like corned beef.
My kids could easily tell the difference. Taste is a personal preference and the beyond meat patties taste ok. However, they are not close to meat in taste when eaten “naked”. With melted cheese and sauces, I think the difference would be less obvious.
Nutrition value (5/10)
Ok, sometimes things that are expensive, and taste average might be really healthy and nutritious… But is that the case?
In terms of nutrition content
Here are the comparisons between good quality, grass-fed beef (GB) and the beyond meat patty. (BM) The serving size is standardized at 120g.
- GB – 240
- BM – 270
- GB – 24g
- BM – 20g
- GB – 0g
- BM – 5g
- GB – 17g
- BM – 20g
The numbers are not far off. The calories are quite close. But the slightly higher fat content of the beyond meat burger makes it higher in calories.
But health and diet are not just about calories. There is a quality aspect of this comparison as well.
The protein from beef is a complete protein that has all the amino acids which your body cannot produce naturally. But the plant-based proteins are incomplete and you will need other plant sources, or diary/animal sources to get a good blend of amino acids. Beyond meat is mostly pea protein. A good plant protein. But still incomplete. So beef wins here.
In terms of carbohydrates, there is not much to discuss. The beef has none. And the beyond meat patty has a few grams but they are mostly fiber which can be helpful if the rest of your diet has low fiber. But has little impact positively or negatively otherwise.
For fat, there is a major advantage to beef. The fat in grass-fed beef is mostly saturated just like the fat from animals with more than one stomach i.e. chew the cud (beef, mutton, goat etc). While in the beyond meat patty the fat is mostly unsaturated plant-based oil from canola (rapeseed).
The problem of unsaturated fat is that it’s easily oxidized (rots) and goes bad easily at the high temperature of the human body (about 37C). This “rotting” fat is a major additional stress on your body and needs extra resources to combat.
One final issue that I have with beyond meat is the high iron content. It’s double that of beef.
Iron is needed in small amounts for healthy blood. But most people have too much as its found in common foods like egg, pasta, flour, cereal, olives, vegetables as well as most multivitamin supplements. It speeds oxidation of unsaturated fat so adds to our total stress burden.
So overall I would eat beyond meat as a novelty to say you have tried it. It’s like visiting the Singapore flyer. Go once to say you have done it. But it’s not exactly the most exciting tourist attraction!
But if you do eat it often here are my suggestions…
- Add vitamin E – this supplement is an antioxidant for unsaturated fat. About 400IU would be a good amount.
- Have a coffee with your beyond meat burger. Caffeine has been shown to reduce iron absorption. In some studies by up to 39%. So this can lower the excess iron levels.
- Eat dairy or other animal proteins in the same day to have a more balanced amino acid profile for the day.
Ok, that’s my thoughts on beyond meat and other man-made meats. Some people may agree, and others may disagree about taste or value for money. That is fine. Those are subjective things.
But what I’m trying to show in this article is the kind of thought that I suggest you put into the foods you choose and the lifestyle choices you make. Because when you know more, and think more, you can make better choices.
This is the kind of though the Genesis Gym Singapore personal training team put into each client’s diet, training and lifestyle plan. So that we can help our personal training gym clients get the best possible results in the healthiest possible way. If you have been looking for a team to help you achieve your fitness goals, I welcome you to schedule a consultation with us.