​Vegan burgers make men feel fuller than beef, study finds

As plant-based burgers get tastier and the health benefits become clearer, we might soon see more carnivores go meatless.

​Vegan burgers make men feel fuller than beef, study finds
Impossible Foods
  • A recent study compared mens' physiological responses after eating beef and plant-based burgers.
  • All men said they felt fuller after eating the plant-based burger.
  • Vegan burgers are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. and abroad, likely due to their health and environmental benefits.

Which do you think would leave you feeling more satiated: a cheeseburger made of good ol'-fashioned meat and cheese, or a vegan burger with tofu? The likely answer is the vegan burger, according to new research.

In a 2018 study — it was published in the journal Nutrients on December 6 — researchers asked a group of participants to eat both of these meals on separate days. The group comprised 60 men — 20 healthy, 20 obese, 20 with type 2 diabetes — all of whom had their physiological responses recorded after each meal.

The results surprised the researchers: All of the men, including healthy participants, reported feeling fuller after eating the vegan burger. Why? It seems to be that vegan meals produce higher levels of beneficial gastrointestinal hormones that are involved in the "regulation of glucose metabolism, energy homeostasis, satiety, and weight management," the researchers wrote.

Although it's still unclear exactly what they do, these hormones have been a focus of study among scientists looking for ways to treat obesity and diabetes. According to the new study's researchers:

"Our results indicate there is an increase in gut hormones and satiety, following consumption of a single plant-based meal with tofu when compared with an energy- and macronutrient-matched processed-meat meat and cheese meal, in healthy, obese and diabetic men..."

Another factor might be the high fiber content of the vegan burger, though the researchers noted that "most acute studies of meals differing in fibre consumption did not demonstrate enhanced satiety."

The study had several limitations, namely that it examined a small test sample of only men, and it only examined physiological responses after two specific meals — not a habitual diet. Still, the researchers suggested plant-based diets could be useful in treatments for diabetes and obesity.

"Our findings indicate that plant-based meals with tofu may be an effective tool to increase postprandial secretion of gastrointestinal hormones, as well as promote satiety, compared to processed meat and cheese, in healthy, obese, and diabetic men," they wrote. "These positive properties may have practical implications for the prevention of type 2 diabetes."

Vegan burgers begin to dominate menus

Veggie and vegan burgers are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., with restaurants such as McDonald's, Red Robin, Denny's, The Cheesecake Factory and even White Castle all now offering meatless sandwich options.

One of the biggest commercial successes in the industry comes from Impossible Foods, a San Francisco-based company that makes the much-talked-about Impossible Burger that browns and bleeds like real red meat. This convincing feature has won over even some dedicated carnivores, many of whom also probably appreciate the health benefits of going meatless: The newest Impossible Burger, for example, contains zero cholesterol, half the fat and fewer calories than a beef burger.

It's also easy to see how the environmental benefits of plant-based burgers might convince some people to make the switch, considering that raising cattle and other livestock is a major contributor to global emissions.

Beyond Meat

A 2018 study from the University of Michigan, commissioned by the plant-based burger company Beyond Meat, compared the environmental costs of producing meatless and traditional beef burgers, finding that producing meatless burgers takes:

  • 99 percent less water
  • 93 percent less land
  • 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions
  • Nearly 50 percent less energy

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

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