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Calories in Pizza? How Does Pizza Make You Fat?

Calories in Pizza How Does Pizza Make You Fat

We often hear people ask how many calories in pizza , but this really depends on the pizza brand and the type of pizza you’re talking about. There’s no single overarching answer—every pizza is going to be different based on the ingredients used.

Pizza is a favorite food for many of us. But what if you’re trying to lose weight or improve your eating habits? Is pizza healthy? And how many calories are in a slice of pizza? A few simple tips can help you boost the nutrition in pizza to keep your healthy eating program on track.

Pizza can get such an unfair rap. It’s almost always used as an example of unhealthy indulging or culinary laziness. Just think of all the times you’ve heard or said the sentence, “I was too exhausted to cook so I just ordered a pizza.”

One thing’s for sure: Americans love their pizza. On any given day, 12.5 percent of people eat a slice of ‘za, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Among boys aged 12 to 19, that percentage climbs to 26 percent!).

Who doesn’t love pizza? I bet it hits the top ten list for many of you! It’s a quick, delicious and inexpensive meal. And so many varieties – thin crust, thick crust, deep dish, whole wheat, topped with veggies, meat or extra cheese. But is it a healthy option and can you fit it into your eating plan if you are watching your weight and carbs?  I believe that all foods fit and pizza certainly can fit into a healthy diet. But I often get asked about the carbs and calories in pizza by many of my clients. I tend to be skeptical about the nutritional content  posted online so decided to do a little investigative work.

Understandably then, man has made valiant efforts to hack pizza, to whittle it down to some pizza-like formation that still resembles pizza without actually conferring pizza’s dark, gut-bomb-y downsides. You know, going meatless, cheeseless, sauceless and carb-less — taking out everything actually good and replacing it with a genuinely lesser substitute. No judgment, but that’s not for everyone.

Surely there’s a better way. Take crusts. Pizza crusts, as essential as they may be to the pizza experience, are, in fact, optional. You can restrict your consumption to all the other pizza parts and still experience Total Pizza without ever biting into that hard, bone-dry, paltry excuse for a breadstick, and even technically reduce its nefarious powers.

“I’d say that not eating the crust off pizza might save you about 50 to 75 calories per slice and perhaps 5 to 10 grams of carbohydrate,” explains Dana Hunnes, a clinical dietician at UCLA. “If you’re someone who can eat half a pizza in one sitting, that might mean saving yourself 200 to 300 calories and 20 to 40 grams of carbohydrate (depending on the size and thickness of the pizza).”

Of course, pizza isn’t exactly known as a health food, and while we’re proud to offer our frozen pizzas to a wide range of retailers and customers, we also aim to be as transparent as possible about the nutritional information in every pizza we offer.

We often hear people ask how many calories in pizza has, but this really depends on the pizza brand and the type of pizza you’re talking about. There’s no single overarching answer—every pizza is going to be different based on the ingredients used.

Calories in Pizza and Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for one slice (107g) of regular cheese pizza from a typical fast-food pizza chain.

  • Calories: 285
  • Fat: 10.4g
  • Sodium: 640mg
  • Carbohydrates: 35.7g
  • Fiber: 2.5g
  • Sugars: 3.8g
  • Protein: 12.2g

Pizza calories and nutrition can vary substantially based on the toppings, the cooking method, the crust, and the size of the pizza slice. A very small slice (1/8th of the whole pizza or 80 grams) of cheese pizza is likely to provide only 200 calories. Other types of cheese pizza, depending on the serving size and where you find them, might have 235 calories a serving or more.

But a typical slice of cheese pizza from many popular pizza chains like Pizza Hut (1/5th of the pie or 105 grams) is more likely to provide 300 calories or more. A single 10-ounce slice of Costco cheese pizza provides over 700 calories.

The following table is a breakdown of the nutrition facts for different toppings and various styles of pizza, according to USDA data. Note that these numbers can also vary depending on where the pizza is made—whether it’s served at a restaurant or fast-food establishment or pre-made, packaged, and sold at a grocery store.

How Many Calories Are in a Slice of Pizza?

Mmkay, here’s the first roadblock: There’s no such thing as a “typical” slice of this cheesy pie.

The nutritional values of pizza slices vary widely based on the thickness of the crust, the toppings, the amount of cheese, and the size of the slice. And then there are the more innovative variations like crust stuffed with more cheese or even hot dogs (yep).

Take a look at how much these pizza slices can vary, and pay careful attention to portion sizes:

  • A slice of four-cheese pizza with “crispy thin” crust at California Pizza Kitchen is 155 calories. One slice is one-sixth of the pizza.
  • A slice of four-cheese pizza by DiGiorno is 160 calories. One slice is one-eighth of the pizza.
  • A slice of New York-style cheese pizza is 190 calories. One slice is one-eighth the pizza (but they’re big, 18-inch pies).
  • A slice of cheese pizza with “hand-tossed” crust at Pizza Hut is 289 calories. One slice is one-eighth of the pizza.
  • A slice of cheese pizza in U.S. school lunches is 303 calories. One slice is a 4×6-inch rectangle (you know the ones).
  • A slice of Chicago-style deep dish cheese pizza from Uno Pizzeria & Grill is 640 calories. (Whoa.) One slice is one-eighth of a large pizza.

Even among cheese-only pizzas, it’s tough to compare due to all the different slice sizes. Still, the obvious takeaway: Crust thickness has a big impact on calorie content.

Most of the time when people are asking this, they’re referring to delivery pizza. Let’s take a look at some of the big-time delivery chains and see what you can expect nutritionally out of an average slice of their cheese pizzas, before adding other toppings:

  • Pizza Hut: According to the nutritional information provided by Pizza Hut, a slice of medium hand-tossed cheese pizza (which is essentially the “basic” slice of pizza from the chain) will contain 220 calories. In terms of nutrients, you can expect 26 grams of carbohydrates, eight grams of fat, 10 grams of protein, 25 milligrams of cholesterol and four grams of saturated fats.
  • Domino’s: A slice of a medium hand-tossed cheese pizza from Domino’s comes in at slightly fewer calories than what you’d get from Pizza Hut: 200 in total. It also has 25 grams of carbs, nine grams of protein and eight grams of fat. However, with thin crust the calorie count increases to 290, versus the 190 calories for thin crust at Pizza Hut.
  • Papa John’s: A slice of a medium original crust cheese pizza from Papa John’s splits the difference between Domino’s and Pizza Hut, coming in at 210 calories. There isn’t a comparable thin crust, as the thin crust only comes in larger sizes. But a slice of the large thin crust pizza will set you back 215 calories, which indicates the thin crust averages fewer calories than the company’s original crust.
  • DiGiorno: Perhaps the biggest name in the frozen pizza market, a slice of DiGiorno rising crust four cheese pizza contains 290 calories, with 36 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 14 grams of protein.

Again, every pizza is different, but based on this information you can at least get a general idea of what you’re putting into your body when you’re enjoying a pizza. Keep in mind that the average female adult should consume 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day, and the average male adult should consume between 2,000 and 3,000 calories (specific recommendations vary based on metabolism and activity level).

Pizza With the Highest Calories

Pizza that is loaded with meat will not only add calories, but will increase your intake of saturated fat.6 For this reason, a pizza loaded with processed meats is generally going to be some of the unhealthiest pizza you can eat. The style of pizza (thin or thick crust, deep dish, etc.) also makes a difference in the calorie count. Here’s a look at how different toppings and preparation styles can increase your calories per slice.

  • Processed meat: A typical slice of sausage or pepperoni pizza contains between 250–300 calories.
  • Extra cheese: A slice of plain cheese pizza is one of the lowest-calorie options you can choose from, but when you double the cheese you ramp up your calorie intake to 312 or more per 100-gram serving.
  • Fast-food pizzas: A slice of cheese pizza from a fast-food chain is 285 calories.
  • Frozen pizzas: Frozen pizzas, while not fresh, are slightly lower in calories. A 100-gram serving of store-bought frozen pizza contains around 268 calories.
  • Deep dish: A slice of deep dish pizza from fast-food chains like Domino’s contain 313 calories. But other deep dish pizzas can be much lower at 282 calories in a single serving.

For the sake of counting calories, assume that each type of meat that you add to your pizza adds about 40 calories per slice. Of course, that number can vary quite a bit. Your pizza chef might be heavy-handed and adds a lot of sausage or pepperoni, or maybe they go lighter on the toppings depending on their style. If exact nutrition information isn’t readily available, it’s a good estimate.

How To Determine The Calories In A Slice Of Pizza

If you REALLY want to know, the best way to get a ballpark idea of the calories in pizza is to weigh the cheese and bread separately. You will need a food scale. In general:

– Mozzarella cheese has 80 calories per ounce. Most of the pizza I analyzed was not heavy on the cheese
– Bread has about 80 calories and 15 grams of carbs per ounce
– Fatty meat (pepperoni, sausage or fried chicken cutlet) contains 75 – 125 calories when added to a slice
– Sauce tends to be quite low in calories. Most of slices I analyzed contained minimal sauce

Can Pizza Fit in a Healthy Diet?

The short answer: Nearly any food can fit in a healthy diet when it’s done mindfully.

“For me, ‘healthy’ is defined as eating a variety of foods, and that includes pizza,” says Mindu Lu MS, CN, and owner of Sunrise Nutrition. “I would encourage people to practice giving themselves permission to eat foods that they find enjoyable and satisfying—and to not beat themselves up over it.”

Balancing satisfaction and mindfulness can help make a healthy diet more sustainable. Want that pizza? Enjoy it, and see what tweaks you can make to your pizza to make it a little healthier without ruining the pleasure for you.

Where you get your pizza can also have an impact. “Pizza eaten as a snack or from fast-food restaurants had the greatest negative impact on calorie intake,” says Fitzgibbon. If you eat your pizza leisurely, as though it is part of a sit-down dinner, you will be more likely to eat mindfully, slowly, and feel full on fewer calories. Here are more health benefits of eating slowly.

DIY pizza may sound like a day-long chore, but it doesn’t have to be. “A healthier version would be making it at home using healthier ingredients, such as whole-wheat English muffins, park-skim mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce without added salt,” says Fitzgibbon. Whole-wheat pita can also make a quick and easy pizza crust. “And don’t forget to top it with lots of vegetables!”

And if you want a sausage pizza with a thicker crust? Just be mindful of portions and consider the meal as a whole. “Eating a few slices as a meal can rack up the calories rather quickly,” says Amidor, “but if you complement it with the right foods, you can have a nicely balanced meal.”

Tips to Reduce the Calories in Pizza

So what’s the easiest way to cut calories in a slice of pizza? Reducing the cheese by half will save calories, saturated fat, and sodium. You will probably be pleasantly surprised at how much cheese is still left on your pizza after cutting it by half. If you don’t want to reduce the amount of cheese on your pizza, request part-skim cheese instead of whole-fat cheese, if possible.

For the lowest-calorie pizza choices, go cheese-free. Order no cheese on your pizza and then dust each slice lightly with grated Parmesan. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top to add extra zip if you need it. Other lower-calorie options include extra lean ground beef, ground turkey breast, and grilled or roasted chicken.

If you can’t order a leaner meat, you can still cut calories from your pepperoni or sausage pizza. Use an absorbent paper towel or several paper napkins to soak up some of the grease from your slice. The amount of calories you save will be tricky to calculate and will vary based on how much grease you dab. But you might remove anywhere from 15–40 calories.

At home or in a restaurant, use these additional tips to enjoy lower-calorie, healthier pizza:

  • Order thin crust pizza to consume fewer carbs, calories, fat, and sodium.
  • Replace regular crust with a whole-wheat crust to get nearly 20% of your fiber needs for the day.
  • Swap the toppings. Instead of pepperoni or sausage, try Canadian bacon or chorizo—a spicy Mexican smoked sausage variety—which will save you a few calories per serving while still providing a smoky flavor.
  • Avoid dipping sauce like garlic butter or ranch to save hundreds of calories (especially if you double or triple dip your slices).
  • Skip the breadsticks. Indulging in just one large breadstick will add almost 200 calories to your meal.
  • White pizza can be higher in calories than traditional pizza because pesto, extra cheese, or olive oil is used in place of low-calorie tomato sauce. With just one vegetable topping, a typical slice of white pizza with a thick crust provides close to 300 calories. Order regular or thin crust to save on the calories.
  • Visit a locally owned pizzeria. A small restaurant may offer a greater variety of healthy toppings and options for customization than chain restaurants. Options might include grilled shrimp, green peas, asparagus spears, artichoke hearts, black beans, corn, spicy fajita chicken, lemon grilled chicken, or fresh minced garlic.
  • Choosing veggie toppings like green peppers, tomatoes, and onions will also add diet-friendly fiber and antioxidants while cutting calories. You might even try spinach or broccoli. Eventually, you may find you prefer veggies like bell peppers and mushrooms on your pizza instead of heavier meat toppings.

Pizza of any kind can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet in moderation. But making healthier choices about toppings and watching portion sizes can help ensure that you can savor every bite of your pizza pie without consuming too many extra calories.

While many people have advocated for a “pizza diet” to lose weight, nutrition and health experts don’t recommend it. As always, the best diet is one that is nutrient-dense and well-balanced and suits your individual lifestyle.

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