Bacon nutrition facts are helpful to keep in mind so we can responsibly enjoy our favorite meaty treat. “Moderation in all things” is great advice, but how does it apply to temptingly crispy, insanely delicious bacon?
Depending on who you ask, bacon is either a nutritious food that can help with weight loss or the absolute scourge of a healthy diet. That’s because dietary recommendations vary so much and are constantly changing.
So let’s take a deep dive into everything related to bacon nutrition and uncover the facts.
How Many Calories in Bacon?
Because it’s a natural product, determining exact bacon calories and other nutritional info can vary depending on the size and thickness of the bacon slice, the bacon brand, the cooking method, and how much fat remains after cooking. (By the way, we love to cook bacon in the oven.)
Because we can never eat just one slice of bacon, here’s the makeup of two average* pan-fried bacon strips:
- 82 calories
- .2 grams of carbohydrates
- 6.2 grams of fat
- 2 grams of saturated fat
- 30 mg of cholesterol
- 6 grams of protein
*Note: We’ve never had bacon that was average.
Cut matters, too. Center cut bacon, which is generally leaner, tends to be lower in fat and saturated fat than traditional cuts of bacon.
For facts about specific brands, most bacon makers publish their bacon nutritional data on their websites (and of course the information is required on their packaging).
The Salty Lowdown on Bacon Sodium Content
Because salt is used in processing, most bacon has a high sodium content. You probably already knew that.
Two average slices of pan-fried bacon contain 376 mg of sodium. To put this number in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day, with an ideal target of 1500 mg of sodium per day.
We’ll wait here quietly while you do the math. That’s right, two slices of delicious bacon could represent more than 20 percent of our daily sodium allotment. We are personally fine with eating plain popcorn, garbanzo beans and low-sodium vegetable broth for the rest of the day in order to enjoy our bacon, but that’s us.
If you’re watching your sodium intake, The Kitchn has a lovely recipe for make-your-own low-sodium bacon.
Is Bacon Keto Friendly?
Do you ever wonder if the trendiness of the Keto diet is largely due to BACON? Wildly popular for many ketogenic, paleo and low carb diets, bacon is enjoyed and employed for everything from bacon taco shells to chips for guacamole.
The standard Keto diet recommends 20 to 50 grams of daily carbohydrates, and since bacon has only .2 grams of carbs per slice you can usually eat it in moderation.
Just be sure the bacon you buy doesn’t have added sugar, which contains carbohydrates. (Keto dieting or not, it’s always fun to know how to make wavy bacon.)
Is Bacon Gluten Free?
If you’re allergic or highly sensitive to gluten, it pays to read bacon labels.
While some brands may claim that no gluten ingredients are added, trace amounts may remain if the bacon is processed in a facility using shared equipment.
Very Well Fit compiled a comprehensive list of gluten-free U.S. bacon brands.
Be careful with packaged bacon bits, too as some brands contain gluten. Look for “wheat gluten” in the ingredients list. Urban Tastebuds compiled a gluten-free bacon guide which includes many gluten free bacon bits.
Is Nitrate Free Bacon Healthier?
Nitrates and nitrites are compounds used during the curing process to preserve meat, keep it fresher longer, and prevent harmful bacteria. Curing also adds flavor.
Perhaps at the store you’ve seen packaged marked “uncured” or “no nitrates added.” Are these bacons healthier? The answer is murky.
All bacon is cured and preserved with smoke and/or salt, so “uncured” may not be exactly accurate.
While “nitrate free” bacon hasn’t been cured with sodium nitrites, it can still contain nitrites from non-synthetic sources like celery powder which may have its own health risks.
What About Turkey Bacon Nutrition Facts?
Since you’re reading a bacon blog, you likely know that turkey bacon isn’t technically bacon at all since it’s made from seasoned, chopped turkey formed into bacon-like strips.
Healthline compared the nutrient content of pork bacon vs. turkey bacon, and these are the highlights:
- Turkey bacon is lower in calories. Two cooked slices have 62 calories, as opposed to 82 calories for two pork bacon slices.
- Pork bacon is lower in carbohydrates, with .2 grams in two strips versus .5 grams of carbs in two turkey bacon strips.
- Both turkey and pork bacon have about equal sodium content.
- Turkey bacon has less total fat with 4.5 grams in two slices, versus 6.2 grams in two slices of pork bacon.
- Pork bacon is higher in vitamins and nutrients than turkey bacon.
Like so many things in life, there isn’t really a definitive answer about whether turkey bacon is healthier than pork bacon or vice versa. Both types have pros and cons.
Given the choice, we’ll take pork bacon any day of the week!
Bacon Wrap Up (Get It?)
So there you have it! We enjoy bacon in moderation, and know that BENSA members are an intelligent bunch who weigh facts and make thoughtful dietary choices.
Do you have any questions about bacon nutritional facts, or any additional data to share? Drop us a comment!
~ Your friends at BENSA
P.S. We know you know this, but we’re going to drop a little disclaimer here because our favorite thing besides eating bacon is not getting sued.
You should always follow your qualified healthcare professional’s advice about eating bacon, especially if you have a medical condition or any type of dietary restriction. We tend to give really bad advice when it comes to bacon.