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Is Bacon Good for Weight Loss? (Science-Based)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 18, 2022

Many of my fitness clients come to me with frustrations early on in their new weight loss routine. Often, these conversations focus on giving up foods they love.

Forfeiting bacon is a hot topic for these discussions, so our dietician came on board to help me do thorough research for my clients.

Whether you are trying to lose weight or just curious about bacon and your health, read on to find out what a week of research yielded.

Quick Summary

  • The key to any healthy diet, including weight loss, is moderation; occasionally enjoying bacon at the proper serving size isn’t likely to hinder fat loss efforts.
  • Bacon is a sugar-free, high-fat food not generally prohibited if you are following a low-carb diet.
  • Fatty foods, like bacon, are not necessarily a deal breaker for weight loss; we need a certain amount of fat in our diet, but the type of fat plays a major role.

Should You Be Eating Bacon When Trying to Lose Fat?

Crispy bacons close up image

You should be eating bacon when trying to lose fat; you just need not overdo it and be more careful when choosing the cut.

Center-cut bacon can be a great occasional treat that won’t derail your weight loss efforts. Remember, moderation is the key to any healthy diet.

Exercise regularly, consume fewer calories than you expend, and have a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein,

Do all this, and an occasional slice (or two) of bacon won’t sabotage your efforts to lose body fat or cause you to gain weight.

Bacon Facts

The USDA gives the following nutrition facts for a single slice, approximately 6.3 grams of cooked, cured bacon [1]:

  • Calories: 32
  • Protein: 2.6 g
  • Total Fat: 2.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.79 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.13 g
  • Sodium: 115 mg
  • Sugar: 0.20 g

How Is Bacon Made?

Bacon is processed meat made from pork and cured in a solution that includes nitrates, salt, and at times, sugar.

Commonly, the next step in the process after curation is smoking. Curating and smoking help preserve the meat and give bacon its distinctive taste [2].

“Uncured bacon is bacon that hasn’t been cured with sodium nitrites. Usually, it’s cured with a form of celery, which contains natural nitrites, along with plain old sea salt and other flavorings like parsley and beet extracts.”

-Natalie Olsen, R.D., L.D., ACSM EP-C.

Is It Nutritious?

Bacon is reasonably nutritious as it is low in carbs and high in protein but should be an occasional treat because of its high sodium and fat content. Let’s take a quick look at the “bad” of bacon.

Bacon Fat

A plate with a bacon strip

Bacon is high in fat, specifically saturated fat, which is traditionally considered an unhealthy fat that can contribute to heart disease and weight gain.

Our bodies require a certain amount of fat for energy, but some studies suggest saturated fat may lead to cholesterol build-up in the arteries [3].

However, there are some metastudies that suggest there is no connection between saturated fat consumption and heart disease whatsoever [4].

Some new research that contradicts the long-standing belief that saturated fat is detrimental to health is emerging as well, so we should keep an eye on new scientific developments as the matter is much more nuanced than thought before.

Following a low-fat diet would likely discourage bacon eating because of the saturated fat content, but as we’ve mentioned, the jury is still out on this one, and our bodies require some for fuel [5].  

I always remind my clients that it all comes back to everything in moderation for a healthy lifestyle.

Salt

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 2500 mg of sodium but sets an ideal limit of 1500 mg per day, and one serving of bacon can be as much as a third of the amount you should consume over an entire day [6].

Many people consume more sodium than they should, usually from processed food or many restaurant foods, but surprisingly not necessarily from the table shaker.

Too much salt in your diet may cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease or even stroke [7].

Top view of diet suggestions

Countless diets promote their method as the best for losing weight. Finding the right diet that yields the best results can be tricky. Here are a couple of options where bacon isn’t banned.

Keto Diet

The ratio of nutrients consumed in a ketogenic diet should consist of 60–80% fat, 10–30% protein, and no more than 5–10% carbs per day [8].

The Keto diet is one of the low-carb diets for weight loss that focus on meat, vegetables, and dairy, which have fewer carbohydrates and high protein while including sugar-free beverages. On this diet, you should limit highly processed foods, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy bacon occasionally.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a trending diet regimen that cycles between periods of food abstinence and unrestricted eating. There is some flexibility in the schedule from hours to alternating days or more extended periods [9].

Although intermittent fasting has its benefits, speaking to your doctor and dietitian to evaluate what is best for your overall health before implementing a fasting schedule is the best practice.

FAQs

Is Crispy Bacon Healthier?

Crispy bacon might be healthier because the fat melts (renders) during the cooking process, so the overall fat content of the piece decreases. Cook until crisp but not burnt to reduce calories and fat and the potential for weight gain.

Is There Healthy Bacon?

There is healthier bacon out there; you just need to know what to look for; uncured, center-cut, low-sodium, or turkey bacon are all better options.

Eat Bacon, Burn Fat. Is It Possible?

Breakfast is my favorite meal, and crunchy bacon beside a couple of eggs now and then doesn’t break any fitness rules.

At the beginning of my career as a fitness coach, I learned three pillars when trying to lose body fat, and I continue to encourage my clients to implement them.

Proper diet, regular exercise, and a supplement like a high-quality fat burner make the whole process easier and more effective. You can check out our articles to find the best fat-burning options in the market today.

I have seen hundreds of clients succeed with this formula over the years, and I”m confident you can too.


References:

  1. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-bacon-bad-or-good
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000838.htm
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824152/
  5. https://www.verywellhealth.com/low-fat-diets-and-the-heart-1746349
  6. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-day
  7. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/sodium.htm
  8. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/keto-diet-meal-plan-and-menu
  9. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/intermittent-fasting/

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