You fight for your fitness….
Whether you’re an everyday exercise enthusiast, early morning riser, after-work weightlifting warrior, or all of the above, we know it takes self-discipline, determination, and drive to drag yourself to the gym, despite whatever other stuff you’ve got going on in your life, and get in a training sesh.
It takes a lot, so it’s totally understandable when you’re out of energy and motivation to make the classic bodybuilder’s meal of grilled chicken, white rice, and vegetables and, instead, reach for the takeout menu to order a pizza.
Who could blame you? Pizza is delicious; but is it totally sabotaging your fitness progress?
As with all things regarding fitness and nutrition, the answer is complicated, but the short answer is no. No, pizza is not that bad for you!
Also, crust doughs made from sourdough starters have healthy probiotics and cheese has a good amount of protein in it. You can even order a vegetable pizza for added nutrients. Pizza is filling, so one or two slices is actually not an unhealthy meal.
How Many Calories Are in a Slice of Pizza?
Many fitness-focused individuals like to boil down their nutrition to a simple “calorie in, calorie out” formula to stay on track with their goals, whether they’re looking to gain strength, lose weight, build muscle, or improve overall health and well-being.
So, how many calories are you consuming when you grab a slice of that tasty, cheesy goodness from your favorite local pizza parlor?
Well, the good news is there aren’t really a lot of calories in one slice of pizza.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one slice of cheese pizza from your standard 14” pie clocks in at around 266 calories, featuring 11 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and 33 grams of carbohydrates.
Stop Beating Yourself Up Over Pizza!
We’d never make an absurd claim, like saying “pizza is nutritionally superior to chicken breast and vegetables,” but having an occasional slice is absolutely not going to derail your progress or ruin everything!
In fact, a little pizza might actually contribute to your fitness goals, if you could believe it.
Your body is very adaptive. If you’re eating clean every day, your metabolism will begin to expect what kinds of foods you’re eating, the amount of calories you’re consuming, and it will adjust the rate of your metabolism to account for it.
That means, if you’re eating reduced calories every day, expecting your body to burn those calories and then some, it won’t. Your metabolism will slow down to retain the calories you are putting in because your body knows it will not be consuming more.
A slice of pizza, or other unexpected treats during a cheat meal, confuses your metabolism and inspires it to speed up to burn off this sudden increase in calories. That calorie-burning effect will carry on into the next day, sometimes even the day after that too, so your body will be back to burning fat and calories at an increased rate long after you’ve had your pizza.
Not All Carbs Are Bad
One of the reasons people think pizza is so bad is because of the high carb content.
Sure, Atkins probably won’t appreciate those macros, but runners and other endurance athletes will most definitely appreciate the pizza carbs to fuel their performance.
In fact, ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes famously ordered a pizza in the middle of a marathon and ate the whole thing without breaking his stride! What a legend!
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up between 45% and 65% of your total diet. That leaves plenty of wiggle room for a tasty slice!
Plus, pizza is categorized as a high glycemic index food, meaning it is digested quickly by the body and causes a spike in blood sugar after it’s eaten. Since a workout depletes your reserves of energy and sugar, high GI foods like pizza make a great post-exercise meal.
Studies show that high GI foods consumed after exercise improve sleep quality too!
Low Calorie Pizza
Still not sold that it’s okay to eat pizza every now and then?
No worries. There are ways you can tweak this tasty dish to make it even more conducive to success regarding your health and fitness goals.
Here are a few ways to make pizza healthier:
- Order thin crust. There tend to be less calories in thin crust pizza.
- Go light on the cheese, or use low fat or fat-free cheese.
- Look for vegetable-based crusts, like cauliflower crust pizza.
A few simple adjustments such as these will reduce the pizza calories per slice while adding in valuable nutrients, making the meal healthier overall and allowing you to eat your pizza guilt-free, or close to it.
There are not that many calories in a piece of pizza. After all, it’s just dough, sauce, and cheese.
It’s the toppings. That’s where they get you.
There are more calories in a slice of pepperoni pizza than your standard cheese slice. In fact, one slice from a 14” pepperoni pizza buffs up the calorie count to 282 calories, including 11 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat, and 32 grams of carbohydrates.
While pepperoni is a classic addition and the undisputed most popular topping, choosing veggies like peppers, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, and more will not only keep the calories down, but add in extra nutrients for a more well-rounded diet.
Hey, as long as we’re getting our veggies in somehow, right?
Comparing Calories in a Slice of Cheese Pizza From Popular Chains
We’ve laid down the baseline for how many calories are in your standard slice, but those numbers can vary based on where you’re getting the pizza from.
Here are some figures for calories in some of the most popular pizzas available.
Costco Pizza Calories
Grabbing a slice of ‘za to nosh on while you stock up on all the essentials at Costco?
A slice of cheese pizza from the popular wholesaler’s food court is in line with your standard pizza parlor slice, containing 260 calories, 12 grams of protein, 11 grams of fat, and a modest 22 grams of carbohydrates.
Selecting one of their frozen pizzas to make at home will yield similar results, as the serving size contains 280 calories, 13 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat, and 35 grams of carbohydrates.
Domino’s Pizza Calories
Domino’s topped the charts for highest performing pizza chains in 2022, grossing a whopping $13.5 billion in global sales. It’s safe to say that people love their pizza!
Are you curious about Domino’s nutrition facts though?
One slice from a 14” Domino’s cheese pizza delivers 257 calories, 11 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and 33 grams of carbohydrates.
“No one out pizzas the Hut,” except for Domino’s, apparently, since Pizza Hut finished 2022 in a respectable second place with just shy of $13 billion in global sales.
But let’s forget about their sales and talk about Pizza Hut nutrition facts instead.
Grabbing a “second-place” slice from a 14” Pizza Hut cheese pizza will run you 276 calories, 11 grams of protein, 11 grams of fat, and 32 grams of carbohydrates.
Papa John’s Calories
They boast better ingredients, better pizza, but is it nutritionally superior to other fast food pizza chains? Do Papa John’s nutrition facts prove it’s healthier by comparison?
A slice from a 14” Papa John’s pizza contains 260 calories, 11 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and 32 grams of carbohydrate.
You should definitely be careful with those Papa John’s dipping sauces though. Those tiny containers can tack on up to 100 calories! We’re looking at you, Ranch!
Little Caesars Pizza Calories
Grabbing a slice from a 14” Little Caesars cheese pizza will provide you with 265 calories, 13 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and 31 grams of carbohydrates.
Pass the Pie!
Next time you want to indulge, don’t be afraid to ask someone to pass a slice of the pie instead of passing on it altogether. You work hard to stay in shape, so when you allow treats and a cheat meal from time to time, and you’re craving a piece or two of pizza, let yourself be happy and enjoy that tasty, satisfying bite.
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