Hamburger helper

Why eat a hamburger when you can have a steak? Well, I’ve got one good reason for you.

As part of a recent study, researchers gave ten older men with an average age of 74 either five ounces of minced beef or the same amount of steak. They also assessed the rates of protein digestion and absorption, as well as whole-body protein balance and muscle protein synthesis that accompanied each meal.

Results showed that protein-derived amino acids showed up in circulation faster after a meal of minced beef than they did after eating steak. And this superior availability lasted a good six hours after eating, too.

What’s more, subjects’ whole-body protein balance–that is, their body’s ability to preserve lean tissue–was also more positive after a meal of minced beef.

In other words, hamburger may be better at helping you keep your muscle mass intact. And for older men, who typically see steep declines in that department after the age of 40, this is a pretty major perk.

Just make sure you hold the sesame seed bun.

Minced beef is more rapidly digested and absorbed than beef steak, resulting in greater postprandial protein retention in older men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jul;98(1):121-8.