Pork, belly fat, and belly fat causes are all in the topic of today’s e-learner article. But before we can understand pork and belly fat, we have to learn a little about carbs and proteins.
In biology, students learn there are three main nutrient classes: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. And they’re split up into numerous subclasses such as simple versus complex carbohydrates and saturated versus unsaturated fats.
To make things even more confusing is the fact carbs, fats, and proteins can get split up even further into subgroups as well. Not to mention these nutrient groups get broken down into numerous more categories when you start to focus on just one specific food type.
If the last time you read a nutrition article led you to believe that carbs are bad, proteins would turn you into the hulk, and eating fat will give you a heart attack – then this is the post for you.
We’re going to learn what carbs, fats, and proteins are and how they affect our bodies. And, of course, we’ll finish off by answering the question: does pork cause belly fat?
What Types of Foods Are Carbs, Fat, and Protein?
Carbs, fats, and proteins are all macronutrients.
If macronutrients are new to you, you may be wondering what that even means. Macronutrients are simply large nutrient groups, as opposed to micronutrients, which are nutrients that our bodies need in small quantities.
Macros make up the bulk of a typical diet, so knowing what makes up these categories is important to understanding a balanced diet.
The three types of nutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and protein. They all have different functions.
Carbohydrates include sugars, starches, and fibers. These foods are the main sources of energy for your body. They also provide some vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Proteins are found in many foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks for muscles and other tissues that help your body function properly.
Fats come from animal products such as meat, milk, and butter or from plants like nuts and oils. Fat is broken down into fatty acids, which can be used by cells to make energy or stored in fat tissue for later use.
How Are Carbs, Fats, and Protein Linked to Belly Fat?
While your body does need carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to survive, there are still big differences between them. Carbohydrates can be broken down into glucose—that’s why we use the word “sugar” for sweet carbs.
Your body needs glucose to function properly. However, it doesn’t need that much of it. When you consume too many carbs, your body won’t have enough insulin to process all the glucose, so it will convert what you don’t need into fat. Excess fat is stored in your body as belly fat.
Defined as “stored energy,” fat comes in three forms: saturated (found in animal products), trans (not naturally found in foods but created during food processing), and unsaturated (mono- and poly-).
Unsaturated fat is found in plant-based foods like nuts and avocados, and vegetable oils. Fat that has been linked to increased belly fat is saturated fat, which comes from sources like fatty meats and full-fat dairy products. If you’re trying to reduce your intake of fats, check the labels on everything you buy—even things like yogurt may contain full-fat milk or cream!
Fat isn’t the only culprit for belly fat, though—the others are protein and carbohydrates. Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of muscle. When you consume protein, it breaks down into these amino acids, which can be used as energy or stored as body fat. Protein that is digested slowly has been linked to reduced hunger levels and better weight management.
Carbohydrates, found in bread and pasta, are another common source of belly fat. When you eat carbs, your body converts them into glucose—a simple sugar that acts as energy for your body. If you consume too many carbs at once or over time, however, there won’t be enough for your body to use as fuel. Instead, it stores the excess sugar as fat.
Which of These Foods Is the Most Fattening?
Have you ever heard that carbohydrates are the most fattening of the three macronutrients? You may have even heard that your body stores extra carbohydrates as fat.
Neither of these statements is true. In fact, it’s the protein that’s the most fattening macronutrient out of the three. Here we’ll compare fat, protein, and carbohydrates to see which one really is the most fattening.
Let’s start by looking at how each macronutrient impacts your metabolism: protein takes four calories to break down into amino acids, and carbohydrates take three calories. Fats, on the other hand, take nine calories to break down into free fatty acids and glycerol.
So, while it’s true that fats contain more calories per gram than both protein and carbohydrates, this doesn’t mean that they will be stored as body fat easier than either of them.
In fact, a study published in Behavioral Neuroscience found that when rats were given a combination of fats, proteins, and carbs (each with a different number of calories), they gained weight equally regardless of what they were fed.
The researchers concluded that “the gross energy content [of food] was not an important determinant in body-weight changes.”
This means that all macronutrients can be used for energy, even if they contain a different number of calories. So, while a low-carb diet may promote weight loss because it reduces calories, that doesn’t mean that low-fat diets are ineffective.
As long as you’re eating fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight, you will lose weight regardless of where those calories come from.
How Many Calories Do Carbs, Fat, and Protein Have?
Related: How to Use Our Calorie Calculator
If you’re trying to figure out how many calories are in a serving of carbs, fats, or protein, you might be surprised to learn that a cup of fat has more calories than a cup of carbs!
We all know that fats have more calories per gram than carbs or proteins—nine versus four or five. But when you measure them in cups, proteins (of which there are only three in one cup) can outweigh carbs by as much as 50 grams!
::: Let’s talk numbers :::
So how many calories does a cup of each macronutrient really have? Remember, these are rough averages for the most common sources of these macronuts:
- Carbohydrates: 453 cal
- Fats: 882 cal
- Proteins: 456 cal
These numbers aren’t perfect. There are lots of factors that change the number of calories in these foods—for example, what kind of meat were you using as an example for protein, and how was it prepared? Did you eat the skin on your potato? How about your olive oil?
But if you’re looking at bars and labels and figuring out how much you can eat if you’re watching your weight, it’s better to go by the averages. As long as you don’t exceed your daily calorie limit, it will all work out!
Does Eating Pork Cause Belly Fat or Weight Gain?
Pork belly, a fatty cut taken from the pig’s abdomen, is a succulent choice for those looking to add flavor and substance to their meals.
It is often used in Asian cuisine, where it is lightly seared and served with rice, vegetables, and a variety of sauces. It can also be thinly sliced and pan-fried until crisp—a delicious treat that is easy to make at home!
However, there are concerns about the pork belly diet among some people. Is the pork belly diet safe? Will eating pork cause belly fat or weight gain?
In the Western world, jelly-bellied hogs have become synonymous with gluttony and laziness. In Asian countries such as China and Japan, however, ham hocks are an economical alternative to beef or chicken—the pork fat helps keep them tender and flavorful during cooking.
But while many people think of pork as a red meat substitute that can be swapped out for beef or chicken at little cost to their health and waistline, others suspect that pork belly might be just as bad for you as its swine counterparts.
While it’s true that pork belly is high in calories compared to other cuts from the pig, it’s also rich in protein (about 27 grams per 100 grams), providing your body with all the amino acids it needs to build muscle.
In addition, pork belly is rich in B vitamins and potassium, which help regulate blood pressure and promote heart health.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you should try to avoid all types of processed meats, including both Canadian bacon and regular bacon. Processed meats and other fatty foods can lead to obesity and other health problems.
But again, this doesn’t mean you should avoid all types of pork; it just means you should eat healthy portions of lean meat like pork tenderloin or top sirloin instead of fatty cuts like pork chops or ribs.
Should I Be Worried About Eating Bacon or Sausages?
With the current trendiness of all things bacon, it’s not just vegetarians who are questioning the amount of pork belly fat in their diets. People who’ve been eating meat for years are starting to feel a bit wary about how much of it they’re consuming.
However, it’s important to consider that eating pork is no more dangerous than eating any other meat.
In fact, when considering the amount of fat in a single serving of bacon or sausages, a person would have to eat an unreasonable quantity to really worry about it.
According to the USDA, one slice of bacon contains 3 grams of fat—this means that in order to reach the daily recommended daily allowance (DRA) of fat (30 gm), you would have to eat around 8 slices at once! In terms of whole sausages, you’d have to eat around 7 or 8 at once to get enough fat for an entire day.
The truth is that as long as you don’t go overboard, eating bacon and sausages is fine and won’t cause your cholesterol levels to skyrocket or anything like that.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting your saturated fat intake to no more than 10% per day, but the average person gets 12-15%, and even the maximum limit they recommend is no more than 20%.
So as long as you don’t go overboard and eat an extra-large amount of bacon at once, it’s not going to cause any harm.
How Can I Enjoy Pork Without Gaining Weight?
Every serving of pork is about 100 calories, with between 5 and 10 grams of fat and 35 to 50 milligrams of cholesterol. That’s on par with the fat content in your average serving of chicken or turkey breast (though those options have less cholesterol).
The big difference is that pork has more calories—about 200 per serving compared to 150 for both chicken and turkey.
If you’re watching your weight, you might want to opt for a lean cut like top sirloin roast instead of pork tenderloin. A 3-ounce portion of top sirloin has just 120 calories.
You can also try substituting it for some ground beef in recipes like tacos or chili—ground pork can be used in the same proportions as ground beef in most recipes without any major alterations.
Is It Possible to Lose Belly Fat Without Losing Weight?
The short answer is yes, but only if you’re talking about subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat sits just under the skin and is typically the most visible type of fat on someone’s body. It can be lost, but it takes a more concerted effort than simply cutting calories down, which will tend to come from both the subcutaneous fat and muscle mass (which we’ll get to in a minute).
The reason why you can lose subcutaneous belly fat without losing weight is that there’s a lot of subcutaneous fat under the skin. The more subcutaneous fat you have, the more likely it is for someone to see “fat” on their body.
If you’re trying to lose weight and don’t have a lot of muscle mass, cutting calories down won’t do much good if all that happens is that your body uses up its stores of glycogen (energy molecules) before switching over to burning fat instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is pork good for losing belly fat?
Although studies haven’t shown a definitive link between red meat consumption and weight gain or type 2 diabetes, there are some potential drawbacks to consuming too much pork belly (and, by extension, other varieties). Many cuts of pork tend to be high in saturated fat but low in lean protein and fiber. This combination can raise your cholesterol levels if you consume too much—and since most adults should only consume around 20 grams of saturated fat per day at most, this could be a concern for anyone trying to lose weight.
Will pork make you fat?
The short answer is no. And that’s because fat isn’t the only thing that makes you fat. If pork did make you fat, then eating a lot of other types of food would also make you fat—cereal, beans, sugar. The truth is, nothing can make you fat on its own—what really makes you gain weight is eating more calories than your body burns.
What are the disadvantages of eating pork?
In general, eating too much red meat (pork included) can change your body’s pH balance and increase your risk for heart disease. The high amounts of saturated fat found in many red meats can also lead to increased levels of cholesterol in the blood, which can have serious health implications for some people.
Is pork healthier than chicken?
The first step in figuring out which meat is healthier is to look at how much saturated fat each contains. In general, fat from land animals is saturated or monounsaturated. A small amount of animal fat may be polyunsaturated (which can be good). The former fats are bad for your health and increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other related problems. Saturated fats should generally be eaten in moderation and only come from sources like meat and dairy products.
What are the 5 foods that cause belly fat?
Here’s a list of five healthy-seeming foods that can actually cause belly fat:
1) Nuts and nut butters
2) Vegetable oils
3) Processed grains
4) Sugar-sweetened beverages
5) Artificial sweeteners
On a final note, fear of fat is an issue for most Americans. People are so afraid to enjoy any kind of food that might contain a little extra fat that they forget that the rules for a healthy diet include consuming the right types of fat.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are examples of healthy fats that we must have in our diets on a daily basis, but saturated fat can be part of a healthy diet as long as you keep it to 10%.
So while belly fat can be caused by many things, eating meat with its saturated fat content is not one of them.
In the end, you get plenty of protein and a significant amount of fat. The main concern is the high cholesterol levels.
While it may not be terrible for your health to eat pork every now and then, a more healthy solution would be to use chicken or fish in its place—which is lower in cholesterol than pork and easier on your digestion.
- What Are Macronutrients? https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/what-are-macronutrients-.h15-1593780.html
- Micronutrient Facts: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/micronutrient-malnutrition/micronutrients/index.html
- Does the Body Need Sugar? How Much to Consume: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/does-your-body-need-sugar
- Types of Fats: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=aa160619
- Fat Substitutes Promote Weight Gain in Rats Consuming High-fat Diets: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3144274/
- Nutritive Value of Foods: https://www.ars.usda.gov/is/np/NutritiveValueofFoods/NutritiveValueofFoods.pdf
- AHA Dietary Guidelines: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/01.str.31.11.2751