Pizza topics are one of the hottest trends online, and while pizza itself is a food with a lot of history and staying power, it seems that in the past few years, interest in all things pizza is growing at an alarming rate! Of course, since we here at pizzaovenreview.com are all over anything related to pizza, we’re good with that, and we’re here to answer your questions. In this article, we’ll discuss the answer to “will eating pizza make me fat?”
In our eternal quest to find more and more useful, yet digestible information that won’t bog you down mentally or kill your schedule for the day, we’ve stumbled across a whole pile of questions that YOU have probably Googled at one time or another.
It seems there exists a list of about 150 questions to which people are terribly curious about finding an answer.
We’re here to help! We’ve heard many of these questions ourselves, so we want to find answers too! We have consultants and researchers which make the job easier to compile that information into a readable, digestible, short(ish) format that we hope will be FUN to read!
Will Eating Pizza Make me Fat?
Yes. Next Question! Okay, that’s not a really good answer, so let’s unpack that one! We like what Nutritionist Sonya Angelone, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has revealed about exactly what happens in your gut (and beyond) after you inhale a big slice of pepperoni pizza. Let’s break it down by time, and then we’ll summarize things for you so (hopefully) you don’t feel too bad about your pizza habit! This can sound a bit technical and extensive, but we like every second of the information!
The second your chompers clamp down on the ‘za, your brain’s pleasure center is activated. For most people, the closer your bites come to the crust, the LESS you enjoy it – interesting! Digestive enzymes are activated when you drool over each bite. Those enzymes start to break down the abundant carbohydrates into mostly simple sugars (glucose), which your body uses for energy and fuel.
Aside from giving you a sugar spike (which is bad), the other downside to this process is that the more pizza you eat, the less pleasure that pizza will give you in the long run. Of course, that’s the same with any food.
15 Minute Mark
About 15 minutes after to chow down a pizza, the fat in the cheese and pepperoni will begin to slow down the process of the carb breakdown and glucose uptake into your bloodstream. The principle here is that your body will burn through carbs quickly, but if you combine the carbs with fat, the fat will slow down the carb-burning process, and that gives the pizza a more “sustainable” energy quality for your body.
This is also the point at which you may feel bloated and gassy as your body digests the food and releases gas.
After a few more minutes, something really interesting happens and here’s the rub! Levels of Leptin (the hormone that tells you to stop eating) rise steadily as your cells absorb glucose from your bloodstream. If your Leptin levels are low or you ignore the sensation they give, you’ll keep eating.
That means your cells will reject the extra food (fuel) and send it to your liver to be turned into …. FAAAAATTT!!
This, of course, is what happens if you don’t have diabetes, which complicates things even more. We won’t get into that just now, but if you have diabetes, please eat pizza with caution! If you’re wondering “will eating pizza make me fat?”, you may have other issues more pressing than being a bit overweight! Proceed with caution!
30 Minutes Later
Around 30 minutes after eating, you should be feeling “fueled up” and ready to continue your activities. Of course, if you’ve overindulged, you’ll still feel sluggish and sleepy. If you’ve eaten an appropriate amount of food, you’ll stop being hungry (your hunger sensation hormone ghrelin has stopped being active).
The acids in your stomach are working hard to digest the fat, and once that’s done it’s ready to be absorbed into your bloodstream and delivered to your muscles for fuel. Once again, if your muscles have enough fuel from sugar and fat, any excess fat gets sent to your liver to be made into FAAAATTTT! If you’re still following this bio/techno jargon, here’s another caution.
The fat in your blood (aka triglycerides) which happens after you eat lots of cheesy, pepperoni-ish pizza, can displace your blood’s good cholesterol, and that leads to hardening of arteries, clogging of arteries, and if you have a family history of circulatory diseases, it can increase your likelihood of a stroke or heart attack!
So, if you’re not so healthy, have a bad genealogy of health, and eat lots of pizza, you’ll notice not only an increase in your body fat but also a host of other diseases.
That’s, of course, a worst-case scenario. If you’re in fairly good shape, you’ll be okay. In fact, within six hours or so, your triglyceride levels will steady out and decline.
1 Hour Later
Closer to an hour after the pizza meal, you SHOULD NOT feel super sluggish and sleepy. That’s noteworthy because if you trashed the cheese and pepperoni, your body would produce lots of serotonin (the sleepiness hormone) which flows freely after a meal of mostly carbohydrates. The cheese and pepperoni help to stop the rise in serotonin levels.
3-4 Hours After
Three or fours hours later, nearly everything is back to normal (hopefully your blood sugar levels too), and you might even be interested in a snack since most of the food has left your stomach. The only thing is, your triglyceride levels are still fairly high (remember, that’s the condition of having fat in your blood).
This is a good point to have a small, healthy snack to keep your hunger hormone (ghrelin) in check. Otherwise, you may just run right back into the arms of that leftover piece of pie!
Here’s a good place to note that eating vegetables won’t cause your triglyceride levels to rise much, and that’s a very good thing.
So, will eating pizza make me fat? Well, we hope you have a better idea of the answer now, but in case you need us to spell it out, we’re happy to oblige!
If you have conditions like insulin resistance, heart disease, weight issues or many other physical conditions, you might want to lay off fat pizza.
Choose a veggie-heavy pizza with a thin, whole wheat crust as a better option. If you’re relatively healthy, then eating pizza will absolutely NOT make you fatter in the short-term. Only if you make greasy pepperoni pizza on super-white crust, into a regular meal (several times a week) will you start to see a difference in your waistline.
How Can I Make My Pizza Healthier?
If you can’t live without pizza (kinda like me) but you REALLY don’t want to add an extra inch your gut (also like me), then I do have some good news for you! “Healthy Pizza” doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. You see, I love pizza, but my whole life is about healthy choices. Here’s a secret; I HAVE DIABETES! Ya, a guy who loves pizza, and has diabetes!
Isn’t that playing with fire? Maybe, but that’s why I have to be really careful about my health, and that’s why I feel at least a little qualified to offer some advice! Here’s what you can do to enjoy pizza (even regularly) while minimizing any detrimental health side effects.
Choose a thin crust, since many of pizza’s “bad” qualities rest in the crust. Most crusts are full of calories, and all but a very few, deliberately created crusts, are void of any serious nutrients. There may be a time and place for a good, traditional, mouth-watering white pizza crust, but if you eat pizza more than a few times a month, I’d suggest making an alternative, healthier crust as your “go-to”.
White, processed flour is the main ingredient for most crusts and that will spike your insulin levels like nearly nothing else on planet earth! That means the less crust that exists in each mouthful, the better. Stay away from deep-dish or thick, rising crusts.
If you can order (or make) whole wheat crust, go for that. Why? Well, it digests slower than white flour, and that helps with insulin/blood sugar levels, along with offering nutritional benefits.
A REALLY great option to inject some health into the white, nutrition-less crust we talked about earlier is to use coconut flour which has more than ten times the fiber content. I’m sensing a gluten-free pizza crust article on the horizon! Better yet, try some options that are totally FLOUR-LESS! What? Is that an option?
You’ve got a number of options here like sweet potatoes, Portobello mushrooms, quinoa, cauliflower, eggs, zucchini or spaghetti squash. I know they don’t sound as satisfying as a deep-dish pizza, but I’d encourage you to weigh the options. Does a shorter, more miserable quality of life justify the “yum” factor of deep dish pepperoni pie? Well, that’s up to you.
I hate this one in practice, but I love it in theory! It’s the simple concept of eating a salad (even a chicken salad for example) which will leave less room for greasy pepperoni, and offer you an infinitely higher level of nutrition!
Mop the Sop
If you see diving pools of grease sitting in your curled up pepperoni or on top of your cheese, grab a paper napkin and slap it on top, press down gently, then chuck it in the trash! That simple act (of avoiding up to 50 calories) will go a long way when combined with other health-enhancing, pizza-eating techniques.
Stick with Healthier Proteins
Ya, I know, pepperoni REALLY tastes great (along with sausage and bacon), but to optimize your pizza-eating experience for maximum health, stick with good proteins which will make you more full, help feed your muscles and not clog your arteries.
Good options would include chicken or anchovies. These options have healthy fats.
Oh, the Psychology!
Official research (so I’m told) shows that people will eat way more from a larger serving plate. They’re subconsciously given the go-ahead to eat as much as is on a plate that is given to them. If you present a plate of pizza with 4 slices stacked up, it sends the signal
“hey, this is normal. We always eat this much and so do most people. I’m the authority since I’m the one making the plate, so eat up! You look so thin!”
The takeaway? Slap one or two slices on a small plate and you’re good to go!
People who make pizza sauces from the supermarket have this insatiable appetite for loading up their product with sugar. I’m not sure how that even makes sense other than using sugar because of its addictive properties. Any homemade sauce that does NOT use sugar is best.
We never add any type of sweetener to ours. Tomato sauce should taste like tomatoes, not sugar!
While we’re on the topic of DIY, I’d suggest chucking a handful of fiber-rich toppings to your pizza (which is, of course, home-made pizza right?). Go heavy on lean meats and raw veggies. This will kill cravings and satisfy hunger without killing your health!
Before we leave the sauce topic, I absolutely MUST tell you that one of the biggest secrets to a great pizza is making your own sauce.
We’re talking uncooked, unsweetened pure tomato goodness. Most of the time, when we opt for a “healthy” alternative to something, it’s a given that we’re sacrificing flavor or some other appetizing quality. In this case, it’s the OPPOSITE. In this case, making a home-made sauce with just tomatoes and organic spices, not only increases nutrition by a mile, but it also tastes way better.
If you have the option of deep-dish or cheese-filled crusts, just say no! Seriously, we should have a healthy pizza version of MADD. Maybe something like PAGALSP (people against greasy and life-sucking pizza) – okay, maybe not. But the idea is there!
Not so Obviously
We just told you to go heavy on veggies. However, one caution is in order for eggplant. Much of the time (at a pizzeria or gourmet restaurant typically) eggplant will come breaded and fried, which pretty much kills any real value.
What’s the takeaway? Ultimately, you can decide on the small, baby-steps to take in order to wean yourself away from fat-causing and health-depleting pizzas out there. If you’re a “cold-turkey” hardcore user, here’s what I’d suggest in order to make the perfect pizza (or close);
Use coconut flour quinoa flour to make a crust, then add home-made, organic, unsweetened tomato sauce with organic spices. Add some shredded lean chicken or anchovies, and top with tomato slices, basil, thinly sliced red, yellow or green peppers, with a light sprinkle of parmesan cheese and red chili flakes (boosts metabolism).
Finally, drizzle a bit of extra-virgin olive oil on top and you’re good! There’s no “negative” in this option. With head held high, you can take this right to your nutritionist or doctor!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and we’d be thrilled to know your thoughts. If you hate something we’ve said, don’t be mean! If you like it, don’t be shy!