- August 13, 2008

To Your Health column: Naked and topless — the un-burger trend

by Yvonne Tally

Long before The Counter came to Palo Alto, my burgers were naked and topless — that is, bun-less. The Counter features an endless variety of burgers, including the salad-burger: a custom blend of greens and toppings stacked high around a perfectly symmetrical patty — an un-burger, naked and proud.

To some, this trend may seem a culinary crime, a taste transgression, a complete disregard for condiments, fries, onion rings, and yes, the bun. But going naked and topless (as in bun-less) may be just the way to save a few pounds and, in the long run, reclaim your waistline.

Grabbing a booth at Jeffrey's or throwing back a hard cider with a burger at the Dutch Goose is now a safe practice for us "no bun, please" kind of gals. And the only reason I say gals is that I have yet to meet a man who eats his burger bun-less.

And just as buns are no longer a must, ordering a burger no longer has to mean beef. In fact, beef is moving over to make room for the topless big bird as turkey burgers gobble up restaurant menu space. Why? Turkey offers a good source of lean protein and about half the saturated fat of red meat, making it a much more healthful, figure-friendly choice. Even at the Oasis — a long-standing institution for after-game beers, where you can measure your sobriety by the mugs lined up on the bar and the pile of peanut shells at your feet — I would without shame order my turkey burger, naked.

Although a typical bun adds only about 200 calories and 3 grams of fat, it's the double-digit carbohydrates that produce the muffin-top cascading over the waistband of our jeans. It's no wonder (no bun-pun intended) this no-bun change can make a big difference.

Cutting just 200 calories a day, especially empty carbohydrate found in white bread, can lead to a loss of 1 pound of pure fat in just over two weeks. So the next time you sit down beside a quarter-pounder-carnivore, do it without conflict, without judgment, and without a bun!

True or False: Does turkey make you sleepy? False. Tryptophan, the "sleepy" enzyme found in turkey, is far too low for any effect and doesn't activate unless the stomach is empty. The sleepy feeling many have after a holiday dinner is more likely the wine and pumpkin pie, or the turkey sitting next to you, not the one in your tummy.

A Bit of History: Put the meat cleaver away, throw out the tenderizer and hop on the nearest horse, for this bit of history is a kick in the "arse." Around 1209, when Genghis Khan was busy waging war in Asia, he and his men would spend days on their horses, many times never dismounting (yuck!). This gave them little opportunity to stop by the nearest Wendy's for a quick bite to eat.

Being a resourceful cavalry, Khan and his men devised a way to fight and feed at the same time. They stuffed bits of lamb and mutton in a pouch and stuck it under their saddle. The constant riding and bouncing tenderized the raw meat, making it easy to grab and eat while riding into battle. Sounds like the modern-day morning commute.

Yvonne Tally of Menlo Park is a food coach and certified nutrition specialist, a professional private chef, and a certified fitness and Pilates trainer. She is co-owner of Poised, a personal training and whole-life consulting company in Menlo Park. You can contact her at


Posted by stacey, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 15, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Oh my gosh- I love this writer! I barely have time to eat much less read an article about eating. But your style and factoids made it impossible to put down. Guilt free leisure. I love it! Now off to cut 200 calories from my day...

Posted by Ann Ryals, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 15, 2008 at 7:32 pm

How great is it to be entertained and educated at the same time! I was just going to glance at this article, but found myself immediately engaged. Such a refreshing change also for a nutritionist to be standing next to me--as I try and make my way healthfully through the challenges of scheduling and food fortification--instead of over me yanking my guilt chain as if I were some recalcitrant ass (the four-legged kind). I wouldn't have expected this quality of writing and expertise in a local paper. I hope Ms. Tally's column is a regular addition. I could use advice like hers on a daily basis.

Posted by Mary Ruth, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2008 at 12:56 pm

This writer is witty, wily and wise. Thanks for her great column. I, too, was going to skim the article, and found myself sitting down, reading and enjoying it, an act unusual for me regarding food and nuitrition!

Kudos to the Almanac and to the writer. And now I am off to have a bunless burger and a long walk outside in this gorgeous weather.

Posted by Sandra Schlotter, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Sep 7, 2008 at 8:56 am

I think this column is a great plus to the Almanac. She is a very knowledgeable writer and we can all learn from her wisdom and insight on improving our health and lives.

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