The Unhealthiest Pizzas on the Planet
"I tried it and survived," wrote one taste-tester online. This, about a food our Italian ancestors imagined would be a low-cal appetizer.
Unfortunately, Pizza Hut isn't alone in offering pies that better resemble manhole covers than Neapolitan delicacies. At most popular restaurants and in frozen food aisles, thin, healthy crusts have gotten thicker, more bloated with cheap carb calories. Toppings have gotten gimmicky, so healthy mozzarella and tomato sauces are sometimes replaced with things like burger meat, ziti or chicken fingers. And serving sizes—especially for "individual" pizzas—have taken these pies to a new level of caloric callousness.
How bad is it? The editors of Eat This, Not That! researched every pie in America and determined the absolute worst for your health and waistline.
Worst Pizza Slice
Sbarro Stuffed Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza (1 slice)
810 calories, 40 g fat (15 g saturated fat), 2,180 mg sodium, 73 g carbohydrate, 36 g protein
That's the Fat Equivalent of: 10 slices of pan-fried bacon!
The architecture of this thing makes it less like a slice of pizza and more like a pizza inspired Chipotle Burrito. It relies on an oversize shell of oily bread to hold together a gooey wad of cheese, sausage and pepperoni. The net result is a pizza pocket with two-thirds of your day's fat and more than a day's worth of sodium. And the traditional pizza slices aren't much better; few fall below 600 calories. If you want to do well at Sbarro, think thin crust with nothing but produce on top. (And go from thin crust to a thinner you: Slim down—fast—with these essential 14 Ways to Lose Your Belly in 14 Days!)
Eat This Instead!
Sbarro New York Style Fresh Tomato Pizza (1 slice)
410 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 790 mg sodium, 53 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein
Worst Novelty Pizza
Pizza Hut Hot Dog Bites Pizza
Estimated per slice: 460 calories, 30 g fat, 9.9 g saturated fat, 32.7 g carbohydrates
That's the Fat Equivalent of: 7.5 Taco Bell Soft Fresco Steak Tacos!
We've seen Pizza Hut do some kooky things in the past to try to woo new fans—remember the Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza, with 16 crust pockets of five totally different cheeses? Their latest monster mashup is Hot Dog Bites Pizza—a cheesy, pepperoni pizza surrounded by pigs in a blanket instead of the standard crust. Combining two fattening, calorie-dense, all-American foods is a lose-lose situation (though you won't lose weight)—there's a whopping 3,680 calories in a typical, 8-slice pie, to be exact. Oh, and it's served with French's mustard—for dipping all those hot dogs, of course. Yum?
Eat This Instead!
Pizza Hut Skinny Beach Pizza, 1 slice, 14" large skinny slice
400 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated), 880 mg sodium, 56 g carbohydrates
And burn off this and every high-cal restaurant meal—melting up to 10 pounds of fat in one week!— with our brand new weight-loss plan, The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Diet and Cleanse!
Worst Pizza Wannabe
Romano's Macaroni Grill Smashed Meatball Fatbread
1,420 calories, 59 g fat, 28 g saturated fat, 2,970 sodium, 149 g carbohydrates
That's the Calorie Equivalent of: Almost 17 Eggo Confetti Waffles!
That is not a typo: Romano's loudly advertises their "fatbread"—baked dough smothered with cheese and toppings—as being "fat on crust, fat on toppings and fat on flavor" but they should have added "fat on you." Consuming more than half of your daily calories in one sitting is just asking for a 3 P.M. desktop snooze and a fatter tummy. Skip them and choose a simpler pasta instead. (But beware: Ravioli alla Vodka and the Penne Arrabbiata are 2 of only 4 lunchtime pastas with fewer than 1,000 calories.)
Eat This Instead!
Ravioli alla Vodka
660 calories, 37 g fat, 20 g saturated fat, 1,440 sodium, 50 g carbohydrates
And fill up, but don't fill out: Use these Eat This, Not That!-recommended 10 Daily Habits That Blast Belly Fat!
Worst Pizza for Kids
CiCi's Pizza Buffet Mac & Cheese (two 12" Buffet Pizza Slices)
380 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 880 mg sodium, 60 g carbohydrates
That's the Carb Equivalent of: Shotgunning more than 4 slices of Wonder bread!
Macaroni and cheese pizza? While it might seem like the best idea ever to kids the world over, this cute concept is potentially disastrous for your health—and your children's. Why top an already carbohydrate-heavy dish with more carbs, not to mention fat? While the calorie count doesn't register as high as most problematic pies on this list, that's only because the slices are tiny; believe us, in CiCi's all-you-can-eat environment, the damage can add up quickly. But if you bring one of their pizzas home, celebrate their smaller slices as built-in portion control—and go with flatbread. The kids will love the crunch.
Eat This Instead!
Cheese Flatbread (2 slices)
200 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrates
Worst Seafood Pizza
Red Lobster Lobster Pizza
680 calories, 31 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 1,740 mg sodium, 66 g carbohydrates
That's the Fat Equivalent of: 442 large shrimp! Really.
Fare from the sea is typically a healthy way to go, but sprinkle it over a bed of starchy dough and fatty cheese and you have a different story altogether. Billed as a starter, this Lobster Pizza is the only pizza on Red Lobster's menu—luckily it shares space with one of the world's greatest appetizers: shrimp cocktail. Make sure to also sidestep the seafood diet saboteurs in our exclusive Eat This, Not That! report on the 6 Fish That Make You Fat.
Eat This Instead!
Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail
120 calories, 1 g fat, 590 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrates
Worst Mashup Pizza
Papa John's Fritos Chili Pizza (2 slices)
720 calories, 30 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 1,400 mg sodium
That's the Sodium Equivalent of: Dumping 5 salt packets into your mouth!
Papa John's seasonal concoction of pizza, beef chili and yes, Fritos is an insult to almost every cuisine known to man. By our estimates, a whole pie would come salted up with nearly 6,000 mg of sodium! A better defense is a good offense, so start your meal off here with a few pieces of belly-filling protein in the form of wings or chicken strips. Consider it insurance against scarfing too many slices later on.
Eat This Instead!
The Works Original Crust Pizza (1 slice, large pie) and Chickenstrips (3) with Cheese Dipping Sauce
400 calories, 26 g fat (8.5 g saturated fat), 1,060 sodium
Worst Restaurant Pizza on the Planet
Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Classic Deep Dish Individual Pizza
2,300 calories, 164 g fat (53 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 4,910 mg sodium, 119 g carbohydrates
That's the Sodium Equivalent of: 27 small bags of Lays Potato Chips!
The problem with deep dish pizza (which Uno's knows a thing or two about since they invented it back in 1943) is not just the extra empty calories and carbs from the crust, it's that the thick doughy base provides the structural integrity to house extra heaps of cheese, sauce, and greasy toppings. The result is an individual pizza with more calories than you should eat in a day. Oh, did we mention it has nearly 3 days' worth of saturated fat, too? The key to (relative) success at Uno's lies in their flatbread pies—and share them!
Eat This Instead!
Cheese and Tomato Flatbread Pizza (1⁄2 pizza)
490 calories, 23.5 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 1,290 mg sodium, 48 g carbohydrates
Worst Frozen Pizzas
Whether you're a die-hard BBQ chicken fan or you're looking for a quick fix after a late night in the office, we've found the pick that's sure to hit the spot without throwing a ratchet in your weight loss journey. Stock your freezer with a few of these frozen, tasty options (while steering clear of their diet-derailing alternatives) so you'll always be prepared with something waistline-friendly whenever a pizza craving strikes. Curious why you get these taste bud urges? Find out What Your Cravings Say About You!
Eat This! Amy's Cheese
Nutrition (⅓ pizza, 123 g): 290 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 590 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 12 g protein
Amy's pizza is made with organic tomatoes, which is important as scientists have found this pesticide-free version of the red fruit actually has higher levels of cancer-fighting lycopene. Bonus: There's no refined wheat or sugar, which means this pie offers more nutritional bang for your buck. Curious about carbs? Check out these 50 Questions About Carbohydrates—Answered In 5 Words or Less.
Not That! Red Baron Classic Crust 4 Cheese
Nutrition (¼ pizza, 149 g): 390 calories, 17 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 750 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 16 g protein
If we were to ask you to guess the ingredients in pizza, you'd probably say cheese, tomatoes, and a wheat-yeast crust. We'd bet you wouldn't guess "L-Cysteine hydrochloride" (a salt used to treat overdoses) and "ammonium sulfate" (a commonly-used lawn fertilizer), which are two ingredients found in this franken-pizza. Oh, and did we mention the calorie, fat, and sodium contents are some of the highest on the market?
Eat This: Trader Joe's Wood Fired Uncured Pepperoni Pizza
Nutrition (⅓ pizza, 144 g): 390 calories, 19 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 840 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 16 g protein
When nabbing a good ol' pepperoni pizza, we'd recommend a pie that uses uncured pepperoni. Uncured just means the meat is free from chemical nitrates, which have been known to form carcinogenic compounds under conditions of high heat (like, say, a 400-degree oven).
Not That!: Tombstone Original Pepperoni
Nutrition (¼ pizza, 153 g): 390 calories, 20 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 880 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 18 g protein
Along with containing two, pesticide-ridden, genetically-modified oils (corn and soybean), this pizza adds nitrates and other dangerous preservatives to their pepperoni, namely BHA and BHT. Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) are both already banned in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and much of Europe because they are thought to be carcinogenic. Don't miss these 23 Worst Food Additives in America.
Eat This: Newman's Own Thin & Crispy Pepperoni
Nutrition (⅓ pie, 125 g): 320 calories, 16 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 800 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (2 g fiber, ), 15 g protein
Newman's also skips out on the pepperoni laced with nitrates—which, besides serving as a precursor for carcinogenic compounds, also may interfere with the body's natural ability to process sugar and increase the risk for diabetes. Those who have had the pleasure of tasting this "better than takeout" pizza love that the crust is crispy and thin without tasting crackery and is full of grains and flax seed.
Not That!: Red Baron Thin & Crispy Pepperoni Pizza
Nutrition (⅓ pie, 149 g): 390 calories, 19 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 1,010 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (2 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 14 g protein
Even the Baron's thin crust pies pack too much of all the bad stuff, including fat, saturated fat, sodium, and MSG in disguise–hydrolyzed soy protein. This appetitive-revving additive may interfere with your hunger hormones, causing you to eat beyond your fill.
Eat This: Newman's Own Thin & Crispy Roasted Vegetable
Nutrition (⅓ pizza, 135 g): 240 calories, 9 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 550 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 11 g protein
A fire-roasted trio of bell peppers, mushrooms, and red onions top this multi-grain thin and crispy crust pizza. It's also higher in fiber and lower in sugar than its alternative.
Not That!: Bon Appetit Roasted Vegetable
Nutrition (⅓ pizza, 136 g): 300 calories, 13 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 12 g protein
It might have the same veggies, but where Bon Appetit goes awry is in the additives, using vegetable oils, MSG derivatives, and preservatives. All three have been known to contribute to chronic inflammation, a common culprit of weight gain. Find out how in these 14 Foods That Cause Inflammation and Are Making You Fat.
Eat This: Digiorno Italian Sausage
Nutrition (⅙ pizza, 143 g): 330 calories, 14 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 760 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 15 g protein
We don't typically recommend grabbing a slice with an equivalent amount of calories as a personal pie, but in this category, we'd rather you go with Digiorno than the alternatives. This pie has better nutritionals and better ingredients than the one listed below. (And we hear it tastes pretty good, too.)
Not That!: Freschetta Old Fashioned Sausage
Nutrition (⅙ pizza, 134 g): 340 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 840 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 14 g protein
This smaller serving size still manages to pack in more sodium, carbs, and sugar than the Eat This option. Even worse is the inclusion of hydrogenated soybean oil, which isn't as dangerous as partially hydrogenated, but may still contain remnants of artery-clogging trans fats from the chemical process used to make it. Don't worry, not all fats are bad. Read about these 20 Healthy Fats That Make You Thin.
Eat This: It's a Tie! Smart Flour Classic Cheese
Nutrition (½ pizza, 143 g): 350 calories, 14 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 850 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 13 g protein
This thin-crusted pie is the real deal; you won't even realize it's gluten free! Smart Flour has their own proprietary blend of nutrient-dense ancient grains, including sorghum, teff, and amaranth. They were a little heavy-handed on the sodium, though, so be sure to drink water while you're eating a slice.
Eat This: It's a TIE! Udi's GF Three Cheese Pizza
Nutrition (½ pizza, 142 g): 360 calories, 15 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 570 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 12 g protein
Udi's pie has similar nutritionals to Smart Flour, but it's lower in sodium. Pick up this GF standard, made with brown rice flour, and a blend of mozzarella, fontina, and romano cheeses.
Not That!: Glutino GF Duo Cheese
Nutrition (1 pizza, 175 g): 410 calories, 19 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 660 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 12 g protein
Don't be a glutton with this personal pizza. Glutino's pies are consistently high in calories and fat–and a Not That!
Eat This! Amy's Light & Lean Cheese Pizza
Nutrition (1 pizza, 142 g): 270 calories, 6 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 14 g protein
One of the best frozen pies on the market, Amy's lightens up a classic pizza by using a low-fat mozzarella but still keeps all the flavor you know and love.
Not That!: Digiorno Small-Sized, Four-Cheese Traditional
Nutrition (1 pizza, 260 g): 710 calories, 29 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 1,190 mg sodium, 88 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 25 g protein
If you're going to market a pizza as being "personal sized," you can't fault us for providing nutritional information for the whole pie—even though Digiorno deceptively calls the serving size half a pie. It's one of the reasons they're on our list of 14 Sneaky Types of Food With Bogus Serving Sizes.
Eat This: Amy's Pesto Pizza
Nutrition (⅓ pizza, 128 g): 310 calories, 12 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 12 g protein
Organic basil and pine nuts make up the traditional pesto that flavors up this pie. Meanwhile, all of the nutritional safe reasonable and allow you to responsibly indulge.
Not That!: Bon Appetit Mozzarella & Pesto
Nutrition (⅓ pizza, 125 g): 310 calories, 14 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 410 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 12 g protein
Don't be fooled into thinking this pie is healthy because the brand's name is wishing you good eating. Bon Appetit's pizza may look similar in nutritionals to Amy's at first glance, but there's no reason this pie should have 5 more grams of sugar. There's also no need to compile a list of 37 ingredients, many of which are artificial flavors, preservatives, and trans fats in disguise (mono and diglycerides and hydrogenated cottonseed oil).
Eat This: American Flatbread Tomato Sauce & Three Cheese
Nutrition (½ pizza, 128 g): 300 calories, 10 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 700 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 15 g protein
If you want a farm-fresh pie without stepping in manure, pick up this pie in the frozen food section. American Flatbread uses mostly organic ingredients as well as sources cheese from Vermont which is made with milk from Jersey cows. If you want something closer to the real thing, here are The Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants in Every State.
Not That!: Digiorno Pizzeria! Four Cheese
Nutrition (¼ pizza, 130 g): 310 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 700 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 12 g protein
Another Digiorno don't. And in this case, more cheese means more sodium and fat, with none of the extra protein.
Eat This: Newman's Own Thin & Crispy BBQ Recipe Chicken
Nutrition (⅓ pizza, 133 g): 290 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 750 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 17 g protein
Newman's Own uses real diced white chicken meat (instead of the rib meat you'll find in CPK's version). They also use an actual barbeque sauce rather than a mixture of molasses and food dye.
Not That: California Pizza Kitchen Crispy Thin Crust BBQ Chicken
Nutrition (⅓ pizza, 139 g): 300 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 640 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 16 g protein
California Pizza Kitchen somehow managed to compile the longest ingredient list of all the frozen pizzas on the market. Among the 50+ items is caramel color, an ingredient known to be contaminated by carcinogens.
Mini Pizza Bagels
Eat This: Annie's Mini Pizza Bagels Uncured Pepperoni
Nutrition (4 pieces, 84 g): 200 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 500 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 10 g protein
Pepperoni pizza bagels are genius; they combine three culinary favorites that are often considered to be diet no-no's to create a tasty snack that's fairly easy on the waistline. They're even more so when they're made without nitrates like in this version. Kids and adults alike are sure to love their compact, portion-controlled size and big flavor.
Not That!: Bagel Bites Cheese & Pepperoni
Nutrition (4 bites, 88 g): 200 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 7 g protein
They may be the original, but now that there's a better option with cleaner ingredients, you can leave Bagel Bites in the past.
Eat This: Newman's Own Thin & Crispy Supreme
Nutrition (⅓ pie, 139 g): 320 calories, 15 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 750 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 14 g protein
When going deluxe, you have to be willing to sacrifice something if you want to stick to your body goals. Luckily, this pie subs out an unnecessary carb-laden crust for a crispy base, allowing you to indulge in the extra meat and veggies, guilt free.
Not That!: Red Baron Classic Crust Special Deluxe
Nutrition (⅕ pizza, 130 g): 310 calories, 14 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 670 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 12 g protein
Even though the nutritional counts aren't dramatically different between this slice and the Eat This! recommendation, this Red Baron option is actually only about a fifth of the pie (and 130 g) as opposed to a third (and 139 g). And like many of its siblings, this guy's also loaded with extra ingredients and preservatives that aren't necessary. Psst! Now that you know your best and worst frozen pizza choices, don't miss these 22 Best & Worst Frozen Dinners!
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