I’ve noticed that people who are really conscious about their foods tend to classify them as either good or bad. So, in this article, I will explain and help you decide if eating pork belly is bad for you.
As a whole, pork belly is not bad because it’s protein-rich and high-satiety food. It contains several vitamins (thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, cobalamin) and minerals (selenium, zinc, phosphorus, iron), essential for the optimum function of the body.
Also, there is this strong attachment we have to the idea that foods somehow are either good or bad. In fact, if you’re aiming toward describing foods as “good” or “bad”, you’re already in trouble.
Is Pork Belly Healthy For Weight Loss?
Pork belly is healthy for weight loss, despite the high-fat content. Fat in the pork belly improves satiety, which leads to lower food intake and a higher rate of weight loss. Diets high in fat suppress the appetite and lower the hunger signals after the meal.
That’s what I know now. But I used to believe the opposite.
I used to believe in every mainstream textbook about health and nutrition and had this embedded idea that saturated fats and red meats, including pork, are bad.
And the only way to stay healthy is to reduce, or better, eliminate them from the diet.
So I did.
I would surgically remove the skin from the chicken breast because I was worried about extra fat. I would only eat egg whites because of too much cholesterol. I would only choose lean cuts of meat because I was afraid of extra calories. And guess what? I was still fat.
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That was going on for years. It’s very hard to give up the beliefs that have shaped you. Because the knowledge that people receive from textbooks is usually outdated.
And nutrition is a vastly dynamic field that is changing every decade.
It’s kind of like getting outdated advice from the overweight physiotherapist that has zero interest in fitness and still prescribes the same exercises that have been taught in school.
When I finally started to dive deeper into the actual scientific papers that are not promoted by advertisements but are done by researchers, that spend their careers studying biochemistry, physiology, and food psychology, my world flipped.
And I finally let go of this belief about classifying foods as good and bad. I started to choose more satisfying foods, therefore I was less hungry during the day (source). This allowed me to eat less food and finally, I was able to get and stay lean.
So the take-home from this is if you’re sitting there and you’re worried about pork belly fat in your diet, don’t. Saturated fat in the pork belly will give you satiety so you will be fuller with less food.
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Is Pork Belly Too Fatty?
Pork belly is not too fatty as long as you’re not overeating. Foods high in fat provide satiety faster than foods with less fat. However, too much of any food will cause excess weight. Regardless if you’re eating too many carbohydrates, too many fats, or too many proteins.
Many people are afraid of fat in pork because they think it will make them fat. This irrational belief that fatty food is bad and anything that is low-calorie will be good is exactly what holds you back from getting the results that you want.
There is no such thing as too much fat in food.
Of course, you can eat too much food to the point where you just feel like a balloon. And if you’re doing it over a period of time you will gain weight.
But the food itself cannot be too fat. Food can be either nutritious or not. Food can be tasty or not tasty. Food can be satisfying or not satisfying. But it cannot be too fat (source).
It’s like saying there is too much water in the water. Food is there to nourish and satisfy us. And we shouldn’t make any decision about what to eat and what not based on their fat or calorie content. You should decide what to eat based on what foods satisfy you.
In fact, nobody should be telling you what foods to eat either. If you like pork belly, and you believe it will satisfy you, then go ahead and eat it.
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Is Pork Belly Bad For Cholesterol
Pork belly is not bad for cholesterol. Studies show that regardless if you eat red meat (pork) or white meat (poultry), it will raise your levels of cholesterol by the same amount. Therefore, there is no evidence that pork belly is the same, better or worse, compared to other animal foods.
In a study done by Natalie Bergeron Ph.D., from Touro University in California, they compared diets high in red meat, white meat, or non-meat sources.
High-fat plant-based foods significantly lower cholesterol levels, but there was no difference between red or white meat (source).
In other words, it doesn’t matter what type of meat you eat. The cholesterol levels will be likely the same. Besides that, 75% of cholesterol is made by the body. Cholesterol is the precursor for Vitamin D, essential for bile acids, essential steroid hormones, and sex hormones. It is indispensable for human life.
People think cholesterol is bad because they confuse it with lipoproteins (LDL and HDL). Here’s how it works (see the graph below).
Cholesterol is essential for the body to function. But it is insoluble in water. So it means it doesn’t dissolve in the blood. Therefore, it needs a transporter to freely travel throughout the body. Kind of like a cargo ship at sea.
That transporter is a lipoprotein (LDL or HDL). It carries fat, cholesterol, triglycerides, vitamins, antioxidants, etc. An excess amount of LDL can form plaque and cause health issues. But many things trigger LDL to form a plague.
For instance, high chronic stress that is causing blood pressure to rise will lead to microdamage and hardening of the veins. To protect from the damage, the body uses LDL to patch the problem and form a plaque (source).
So just because food is high in saturated fat or cholesterol, it doesn’t mean it will cause problems.
Is slab bacon the same as pork belly? Slab bacon is the unsliced, smoked cut of pork belly. After it’s been sliced it’s called bacon. Pork belly is the raw cut of meat that hasn’t been processed.
What to do with pork belly fat? Pork belly fat can be used for a variety of things. It has a great flavor and is best used for pan-frying, cooking, or storing as lard. It can be used to make bakings and pastries too.
Is Pork Fat Healthy?
Pork fat is healthy because it’s saturated fat, which is essential for human health. Despite its blame for obesity, saturated fat has been responsible for healthy cell membrane production, an efficient immune system, and optimum work of the endocrine system.
Pork fat is the same fat that you can find in whole-fat dairy, unprocessed meat, and dark chocolate. They are all saturated fats.
And despite the mainstream belief, none of those foods has somehow been associated with any health risks (source).
Thanks to the marketing effort from the 1970s all over the world, everyone has been instructed that saturated fat is the enemy. However, in recent years, there has been a number of articles proofing the opposite (source).
Apart from that, saturated fat in the diet is been shown to improve satiety and regulate appetite. This means if you have a diet with some pork fat it will keep you fuller for longer. Foods that are high in satiety have a positive impact on body composition (source).
Pork is healthy because pork is one of the best protein-rich food sources. It has a variety of vitamins and minerals that are all essential for the human body. People believe that pork is unhealthy because of the exposure to conflicting information.
A study done in China documented that when people were exposed to negative information about pork, they lowered its nutritional value and reduced its consumption.
On the other hand, when people were exposed to positive information, their perception of pork has improved and increased its consumption (source).