Pick & Pass: Eat Pizza But Still Cut Fat

May 12, 2011

Not all foods are created equal, especially if you're an athlete. If you eat a cream-filled donut before a workout, you won't perform as well as if you had eaten a banana [learn more about banana's benefits for athletes]. That said, healthy alternatives do exist for many junk foods—even for a dish as frowned upon as pizza.

Pizza's [and Cheese's] Bad Rep
Pizza is generally considered a poor choice when it comes to healthy eating and losing weight. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, on average, two slices contain half of the recommended daily amount of saturated fat. Fat, however, plays a major role in satiety [the feeling of being completely full]. The combination of protein and fat in full-fat cheese topping can keep your hunger at bay.

Furthermore, cheese contains a naturally-occurring trans fat called trans-palmitoleate—the same kind contained in whole milk—which may help boost metabolism by turning off the liver’s fat production and boosting muscles’ ability to manage glucose. According to a study published the Annals of Internal Medicine, people with higher trans-palmitoleate levels reduced their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 60 percent.

Still, almost any food eaten in excess will inhibit weight loss. For dairy products, the recommended daily amount is two to three servings.

In the video above, sports nutritionist Cheryl Zonkowski explains why pizza is actually a fairly balanced food and advises how much to eat.

Make Good Choices When Ordering Out
If you're ordering delivery pizza, take a couple of minutes to research the nutritional content of your options. Avoiding any "Pan" or "Deep Dish" crusts can make a huge difference in calories and fat content. Choose "thin crust" if possible. Papa John’s offers whole-wheat crust, a great option.

Toppings are important to consider when you're counting calories. By skipping pepperoni and sausage, you can save 100 to 250 calories per slice.

If you're not aware of the nutritional facts, you can easily end up overindulging with dishes like Pizza Hut's Supreme Pan Pizza [two slices = 620 calories, 32 grams of fat, 1440 mg of sodium] or Papa John’s Pan Crust Cheese Pizza [two slices = 720 calories, 30 grams of fat, 1960 mg of sodium].

Likewise, frozen pizzas vary tremendously in calories and nutritional value. Check the nutrition label. Look for fat content of 15 grams or less and sodium content under 700 mg. For a good place to start, check out Kashi brand pizzas.

Make Your Own Pizza
You have the most control over what goes into your body when you prepare your own food.

Choose a crust, preferably whole-grain, and top it with a sauce [watch the added sugar content], cheeses and vegetables.  In the video below, STACK expert Chris Mohr shows you how to make your own pizza using a pita as the crust, which can knock out a few more calories.

Source:  Livestrong.com, theheart.org, EatthisNotthat, Mohrresults.com

Maddy Lucier
- As an associate editor for STACK, Maddy creates lifestyle, social media, gear and nutrition content for our audience of athletes. She played volleyball and basketball...
Maddy Lucier
- As an associate editor for STACK, Maddy creates lifestyle, social media, gear and nutrition content for our audience of athletes. She played volleyball and basketball...
Must See
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 4,943,275
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,225,973
Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes
Views: 4,501,997

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 69,482
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 10,771
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 135,797
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,963
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,300
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,698
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,804
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,942

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

The Boston Cannons'

The Case for Red Meat

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

Why You Should Always Say No to Diet Foods

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid