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Pizza - And Deliveries From Evil... Oh, Man

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

Pizza is one of the football fan's favorite foods, yet I fumbled the ball by failing to round up any info on this popular meal in a box.

Sure, we all know pizza can be good or bad for a diet. OK, so maybe you don't know it can be part of a balanced diet. But for all you detractors who love to deep dish the criticism on my featured foods, I have this to say: Yes, many of the foods spotlighted week in and week out in this column are "no-brainers" when it comes to what's bad for a diet. However, you are missing the point. I aim to let readers know just how bad some of these products are. Whether it's denial or what have you, many of us underestimate the nutritional knockout punch thrown by some of our beloved grub.

Whoa... I nearly slipped off my soapbox there. That's a clear sign it's time to get back to today's topic: delivery pizza.

No matter how you slice it, most of our "usuals" are topping-heavy artery cloggers. While one piece here or there won't derail your diet, having Pizza Hut or Domino's on your speed dial is a sure sign you'll soon be singing bye-bye miss (or mister) American thigh!

A recent eDiets feature noted: According to a recent survey by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a typical serving of plain cheese pizza (two to three slices, depending on the size of the pie) has 600 calories and 25 grams of fat (10 of which are saturated).

If you like toppings, the numbers are a lot worse. A two-slice serving of Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Crust Meat Lover’s pizza -- it's what eDiets "model" Rob Novello chowed down on for the photo that appears on today's newsletter -- has 840 calories and 42 grams of fat, including 20 grams of saturated fat. Two slices of Domino’s hand-tossed pepperoni can tally 429 calories and 20 grams of fat.

But it’s not just the delivered pizzas that are loaded with the fattening stuff: A Celeste sausage pizza for one packs 530 calories, 27 grams of fat -- six saturated -- and a whopping 1,400 milligrams of sodium!

And dough it goes... so come with me, papa John (couldn't resist), as I deliver the news about your home-delivered favorites.

Let's start with America's red-roofed favorite, Pizza Hut. A word of warning -- sidestep the Stuffed Crust. A medium slice of the stuffed stuff will sock you with a minimum of 405 calories (ham) and 17 grams of fat (chicken supreme and veggie lovers in a tie). And have you seen how small a "medium" is these days?

A great choice is The Edge style. Basically a pizza without crust, this baby comes in Chicken Veggie and Taco flavors. According to the Doctor's Pocket Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter, a one-slice serving of the chicken choice has just 120 calories and 3 grams of fat. The nutrition guide says the taco slice has 140 calories and 5 grams of fat.

If ya like a little crust with your toppings, opt for the Thin 'n' Crispy selections. From ham to meat lovers, the choices will have you chowing on a range of 210 calories and 7 grams of fat to 340 calories and 19 grams of fat.

Like any food, a little here and there ain't gonna kill ya. So if you go to the local pizza palace once a month and enjoy TWO slices of your favorite style, don't sweat it. Just stick to your diet for the majority of the time and you'll do just fine.

But if you pig out on a pan per week, you got diet troubles my friend.

For more Pizza Hut info, go to their website www.pizzahut.com.

Much of the same awaits you just down the road at Domino's. Mr. Bad Food did a double take when gazing at the nutrition numbers provided by the delivery specialists. It seems Domino's knows most people aren't gonna stop at one slice. Thus their numbers are for two slices!

Eat two slices of a 14" hand-tossed cheese pizza and you'll wolf down 515 calories and 15 grams of fat. Choose the thin crust style and those numbers plummet to 385 calories and 17 grams of fat. Yes friends, when it comes to pizzas that won't leave you stuffed, thin is definitely in!

And by the way, don't even consider a 6" deep dish style. Not unless you don't want less than 600 calories and 27 grams of fat!

Because Little Caesar's offers little pizzas (they have a 12" size), you can enjoy pizza, pizza without feeling like a decadent Roman emperor. Single slices range from 120 to 180 calories and 6 to 8 grams of fat!

The square cuts are relatively low too. In fact, to my untrained eye it appears Little Caesar's serves the leanest slices around. However, keep in mind that this supremacy is probably due to the slices being the smallest among the major makers.

Across town at Papa John's, they offer up nutritional info for both the original and thin crust pizzas at www.papajohns.com. A serving there equates to a 1/8 slice of a 14" pizza. Health-conscious diners can dig into either the cheese or garden special. Both pack 240 calories and 12 grams of fat.

When it comes right down to it, you should always go for the thinner, smaller cuts and limit toppings to veggies and cheese. If ya need meat to make it right, opt for ham.

Bet ya didn't know October is National Pizza Month. In honor of this illustrious "holiday" here's a little pizza trivia:

-- Field of Screams: Americans eat 100 ACRES of pizza each day. That's about 50 slices per second.

-- Pizza is a $32 BILLION per year industry.

-- There are more than 61,000 pizzerias in the U.S. alone. And pizzerias represent 17% of all restaurants.

-- 93% of Americans eat at least one pizza per month.

-- Every man, woman and child in America eats and average of 46 slices (23 pounds) of pizza per year.

-- According to a Gallup Poll, children between the ages of 3 and 11 prefer pizza over all other food groups for lunch and dinner.

-- 62% of Americans prefer meat toppings on their pizza, while 38% prefer vegetarian toppings. Pepperoni is America's favorite topping -- it's on 36% of all pizzas ordered. Other popular toppings: mushrooms, extra cheese, sausage, green pepper and onions.

-- Of 31,386 pizza franchise units in the United States, roughly 83% (24,381 stores) offer delivery, 91% offer takeout, and 51% offer dine-in service.

THE SLEEP DIET (A Leave 'em Laughing Special)

EDITOR'S NOTE: My buddy Bill Schweitzer penned the following essay on the temptation to pig-out at buffets. He blames dad. Who do you hold responsible for your out-of-control eating?

It's summertime and the weather is hot. Many people don't much feel like cooking this time of year. Restaurants do a booming business and buffets attract an unprecedented clientele.

John McGran and I have been buddies for a long time, and when the topic of regrettable overeating came up, I think Johnny knew he had broached the subject with a member of the Hall of Fame. The former Mr. Bad Food may have relinquished the title voluntarily, but in a court of law, I would have been awarded it hands down. Even John never considered melted cheese a food group.

I feel the need to stress that buffets are not inherently bad. The ones I'm familiar with offer a plethora of healthy food choices: large bowls of fresh fruits, steamed vegetables, and enough ingredients to build a salad that is both nutritious and appetizing. When sensibly combined with the many other offerings, anyone can put together a stick-to-your-ribs (not your belly) meal.

It's the easiest thing in the world to pick up a piece of fruit. Therein lies part of the problem. I can pick up an apple at home with close to no effort. Belgian waffles however are nearly impossible. I don't have a soft ice cream machine at home either, not to mention colorful sprinkles, chocolate chips, hot fudge and crumbled cookies. OK, I lied about the cookies, but my wife usually gives them to the dog.

The point here is that I make poor food choices, even though my initial intentions are honorable. This however is only part of the problem. Buffets by nature are " all-you-can-eat." Now maybe my interpretation of that phrase is different from yours. To me, " all-you-can-eat" is to be taken literally. If I leave a buffet under my own power, I consider that restraint. I believe this is my father's fault. Dad is to buffets what Richard Simmons is to exercise. It's all in the name of getting your money's worth. It's not a value meal to my pops unless it includes four heaped plates followed by several desserts. Remember, that fourth helping doesn't cost a dime more. Only a fool doesn't get his money's worth. Thanks Dad.

It is often said that every cloud has its silver lining and my experiences at buffets are no exception. After each epicurean excess, I generally go home and take a nap because even I can't eat while snoozing.

FEEDBACK

If some of your readers who're willing to venture into vegetarian foodland would try Worthington's Breakfast Strips (green box in the freezer case, near other breakfast foods) and toaster oven cook or microwave (or even dry-cook in an iron skillet, depending upon time available) I think they'll find, as I did, that it makes a very tasty substitute for the real thing in a BLT. I make my sandwiches with either light mayo or Nayonnaise, lots of fresh tomato and Romaine from the garden, and toasted 12-grain bread, and I find that along with good flavor, this has real stick-to-the-ribs power. One caution: don't expect the lightly cooked strips to really look or feel like bacon. The flavor's there, though, and some decent protein.
The Scallop
Sherry Ellesson

I read the suggestion one person had about substituting yogurt for mayonnaise. I found a better, yet, substitute while preparing a meal for a vegan friend: vegan mayonnaise! It's a viable tasting substitute with about half the fat and calories. You can also combine it with fresh garlic to make a yummy vegetable dip.
Joyce R. Landreth

I have a funny food story to share. Recently my sister took her two-year-old granddaughter Laila into a local Santa Fe restaurant to eat lunch. Laila could not understand the concept of the peanuts on the floor which my sister attempted to explain was okay to eat and throw there. Laila fussed at her grandma and told her that was bad because she had been taught good manners and neatness and this flew in the face of what she had been taught. Too make a long story short when her chicken strips and fries arrived they promptly hit the floor much to my sister's chagrin. How do you explain the logic in all of this that one is okay to throw on the floor and the other is not? It was hilarious.
Bobbie Lee

TOP 10 MILESTONES

Newspaper columnist Martin Sloane -- a.k.a. The Supermarket Shopper -- recently listed his top 10 milestones in grocery shopping. Without further ado:

1. The creation of the supermarket.
2. The invention of the shopping cart.
3. Manufacturer coupons.
4. Case-ready meat.
5. Bar code scanning.
6. Frequent shopper cards.
7. Prescription-dispensing pharmacies.
8. Combination store, including Wal-Mart.
9. Shopping for groceries at stores other than supermarkets.
10. Product nutrition labeling.

What breakthroughs do you consider monumental? Let me know and I may run them in a future column.

Until next week, the kitchen is closed. But if you have any questions and/or comments -- or a tasteful joke to share -- feel free to write me, eDiets editor-in-chief John McGran, at john@ediets.com.

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