There is a lot of hype around one breakfast food– bacon. From all the different information you have seen and heard, you are most likely left with one major question, is bacon healthy for weight loss? Well, to answer your question– it is complicated. As it boils down to the type of diet you want to follow. Bacon is a low-carbohydrate food, making it appropriate for moderate consumption on the Atkins and ketogenic diets. These diets focus on eliminating as many carbohydrates as possible from the consumer’s daily intake. However, it is not a free-for-all when it comes down to eating bacon, since it is not the healthiest fat source out there. This read will focus on whether bacon is healthy for weight loss, including its pros and cons. It will also discuss turkey bacon and eggs and bacon for breakfast, as well as the worst breakfast foods. Read on to learn everything you need to know about bacon.
Is Bacon Healthy For Weight Loss?
Bacon is one of those meats that take center stage when considering low-carb options like the ketogenic diet. It has almost no carbs and offers a bevy of fats, which is ideal for that diet, at least on the surface (9). However, if you are not trying to eliminate all carbs and boost your fat intake, bacon may not be the go-to option for your dinner meat. Although it does offer some nutritional benefits, it also comes with many negatives.
Let’s take a look, so you can decide if a bacon diet is for you.
Fats And Cholesterol
Bacon contains some healthy unsaturated fats, including the same type of fat you can find in olive oil (oleic acid). However, this benefit often gets overshadowed by its massive amount of saturated fats, coming in at 40%.
It also has a relatively high amount of dietary cholesterol, but experts no longer believe that there is a significant correlation for most people between dietary cholesterol and increased blood cholesterol levels. Instead, saturated fat content increases LDL cholesterol, which is the kind that we try to keep as low as possible. This increase in blood cholesterol can be a severe problem, leading to cardiovascular health issues.
The recommended daily intake of saturated fat is only 6 to 7% of the total calories consumed. This would round out to 13-15 grams of saturated fat per day for a person consuming 2000 calories daily. Now consider that there are approximately 3.53 grams of saturated fat in one slice of bacon. This serving is a significant portion of the daily allowance (3, 8).
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Another positive aspect of bacon is that it is high in nutrients. You will receive 37 grams of protein, numerous vitamins, and several minerals in one cooked serving. However, you can obtain these same nutrients from other meat products, including pork, which is not as heavily processed as bacon (8). Processed meats like bacon have been linked to certain health conditions, such as colorectal cancer.
When bacon is cured, a significant amount of salt is used, raising the salt content of the meat. Gastric cancer and a high salt diet directly correlate, as suggested by a review published in Cancer Treatment and Research. Reducing the amount of bacon consumed while reducing other sources of salt may reduce this risk (4). Those with salt sensitivities or high blood pressure should also avoid or limit eating bacon to prevent complications from the increased salt content (8).
Nitrates and nitrites are additives frequently put into processed meats during their creation. When they are cooked at high temperatures, they form nitrosamines. These compounds are known carcinogens, meaning that eating a lot of bacon over time could contribute to the development of cancer down the road (8).
If you are not on a low carbohydrate diet and instead are cutting back on calories, you should probably moderate your bacon intake. It is a calorie-dense food, coming in at approximately 110 calories per slice when uncooked. With the calories being this high, one serving could be a significant portion of your daily intake (3).
Does Bacon Increase Belly Fat?
Unless you are losing weight on a strict low-carbohydrate diet, such as the ketogenic or Atkins diet, eating too much bacon may lead to a growing midsection. It is high in saturated fat, which can contribute to weight gain when not consumed in moderation. Eating extra fats will increase caloric intake, as fats have more than twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates and proteins (6, 13).
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What Is The Healthiest Way To Eat Bacon?
The healthiest way to eat bacon is by pairing it with a healthier option. For example, if you just want a small taste of bacon, you can use it as a salad topping, also getting a healthy dose of vegetables. When you eat bacon in the morning, you can balance it out during the rest of your day by choosing lighter fare with lower saturated fat content (12).
When preparing your bacon, it’s better to cook it until it is crispy so that as much fat cooks out of it as possible. Then, when you remove it from the pan, let it rest on paper towels or a brown paper bag until the remaining grease soaks off, removing as much of the excess fat as possible.
What Is The Healthiest Breakfast Meat?
The healthiest breakfast meats are lean meats. These options include ham, poultry, or lean homemade sausage. Poultry can be anything from chicken to sliced turkey. Leftover lean meat or fish can also be great options. These healthy meats make great alternatives to bacon, providing the same satiety but without all the downsides. Using any of these meats, you can make an excellent omelet for weight loss (7).
Is Turkey Bacon Healthy For Weight Loss?
While many swap out their traditional bacon for turkey bacon in hopes of being healthier, there isn’t much difference between the two. Even though turkey bacon generally has less fat than traditional pork bacon, they are both high in sodium and are processed meats.
The risks associated with bacon are similar to turkey bacon. They are both processed meats that may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease when consumed in excess.
One of the primary issues with turkey bacon is that because people think it is a healthier option, they will consume more than regular bacon. This makes it even more problematic (9, 14).
Is Bacon And Egg Breakfast Healthy For Weight Loss?
While bacon and eggs can make a healthy breakfast when consumed in moderation, you should consider the concept of an egg and bacon diet. This type of diet would not be recommended as it lacks the nutritional benefits of a well-rounded plan that provides all the nutrients your body needs.
Eggs are a healthy and nutritious source of protein and other nutrients, but pairing them with bacon every day is probably not the best idea.
It is important to note that the combination of eggs and bacon might push you over the edge in terms of the daily suggested limit for saturated fat intake. One large egg contains 1.6 grams of saturated fat, while each slice of bacon contains about 1.1 gram. Depending on your portion sizes, this can quickly add up.
Additionally, it is best if you do not fry both of them. Consider baking the bacon on a rack in the oven and either boiling or poaching the eggs. However, if possible, it is still best to save the bacon and egg combination for a once in a while treat (5).
Read More: Baked Avocado Egg Boats: A Healthy And Delicious Way To Start Your Day
Breakfast Foods To Avoid For Weight Loss
While bacon is not necessarily the most fantastic breakfast food in the world, there are other breakfast foods you may want to avoid, especially if you are on a low carbohydrate diet. What these all have in common is their high level of carbohydrate content.
Commercially processed cereals are one of the worst breakfast foods for weight loss. They are packed with added sugars. Eating this type of food first thing in the morning may result in sugar cravings later in the day, completely derailing your diet.
Orange juice is a massive culprit for adding excessive sugar to our diets. Despite proclaiming to be the juice of a highly recommended fruit, it lacks nutritional value. Processing causes nutrients to be lost, making it a poor breakfast choice. You’re better off eating a whole orange – that way you’ll get the fiber and nutrients without any added sugar.
Even if you are in a hurry in the morning, there are better ways to satisfy your hunger than grabbing a bagel and cream cheese on the go. This calorie-dense breakfast option is nothing but simple carbohydrates that will do nothing to keep you feeling full until lunchtime. What it might do is add on some weight instead of helping you take it off. So, consider substituting a whole grain bagel to gain fiber in your breakfast and nut butter instead of cream cheese, which has very little nutritional value.
Oatmeal is a fantastic, fiber-filled breakfast option– unless you choose one of those little premixed packets. Pre-mixed packets won’t give you the full benefits of a fiber-laden meal; instead, you’ll likely get a massive dose of added sugar. If you are trying to get fruit-flavored oatmeal, prepare traditional oatmeal with freshly cut fruit instead of using one of the packets. This will provide you with the essential fiber and give you a serving of fresh fruit.
Flavored yogurt is also full of added sugars and syrups, removing any health benefits it started with. If you want yogurt, you should begin with plain and flavor it with some fresh-cut or frozen fruit for the healthiest choice for weight loss (11).
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The Bottom Line
When you are making the final decision on the question, “Is bacon healthy for weight loss?”, you must consider all the positives and negatives that come with the meat. It’s better to eat it in even more moderation if you are on a low-carbohydrate diet.
The high salt, additives, and saturated fat all potentially contribute to adverse health effects, making bacon a food best left for a once in a while treat rather than the main staple. It is best to remember that moderation is key with anything. You can enjoy bacon, just not every day with every meal. It can be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. But remember to watch your daily saturated fat and salt intake to protect your overall health and well-being.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 Absolutely Worst Foods to Eat (n.d., science.howstuffworks.com)
- Associations of Processed Meat, Unprocessed Red Meat, Poultry, or Fish Intake With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality (2020, jamanetwork.com)
- Bacon cholesterol: Does it raise cholesterol levels? (2022, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Dietary salt intake and risk of gastric cancer (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.gov)
- Eggs and Bacon Diet (n.d., livestrong.com)
- Facts about saturated fats (2022, medlineplus.gov)
- Healthy Meats to Eat for Breakfast (2019, livestrong.com)
- Is Bacon Bad for You, or Good? The Salty, Crunchy Truth (2018, healthline.com)
- Is Turkey Bacon Healthy? A Nutritionist’s Advice (2022, health.com)
- Should you try the keto diet? (2020, Harvard Health)
- The 7 worst breakfast foods for weight loss (2018, businessinsider.com)
- The Truth About Bacon (2018, webmd.com)
- Things to Not Eat When Fighting Belly Fat (2018, healthyeating.sfgate.com)
- Turkey Bacon: How Healthy Is It Really? (2021, health.clevelandclinic.org)
- Yes, You Need to Cool It On the Bacon (2017, time.com)