Before Spanish explorers arrived in Mexico in the 1500s, tamales were already a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. Consisting of corn dough wrapped around a filling, then steamed in a corn husk wrapper, tamales can contain fruit, beans, cheese, fish, poultry or meat. Pork tamales are a popular option for home cooks or as a refrigerated, restaurant or frozen entree. Enjoy pork tamales in moderation: Most are high in saturated fat and sodium.
Calories in Restaurant Tamales
A typical restaurant-style pork tamale without added sauce contains around 250 calories. Of this number, 90 calories or approximately 36 percent of the dish's total caloric content, are supplied by the tamale's 10 grams of total fat, 4 grams of which come from saturated fat. A restaurant pork tamale gets 48 percent of its calories, or 120 calories, from 30 grams of carbohydrates. Protein supplies 40 calories per pork tamale, which is 16 percent of the total number of calories.
Calories in Frozen Tamales
A 5-ounce commercially available frozen pork tamale contains 270 total calories. The manufacturers say that frozen pork tamales get 120 of these calories from 13 grams of fat, including 4.5 grams of saturated fat -- which means that 44 percent of the entree's calories are fat calories. Carbohydrates contribute around 34 percent of the calories in a frozen pork tamale, with 23 grams per serving, while the 14 grams of protein in each supplies approximately 56 calories, or nearly 21 percent of the overall total number of calories.
Calories in Refrigerated Tamales
Brands of refrigerated pork tamales contain a similar calorie count to frozen or restaurant-style tamales, with 260 calories per serving. With 14 grams of fat, 5 grams of which are saturated fat, a refrigerated pork tamale contains approximately 120 calories from fat, according to the manufacturers. This number is 46 percent of the tamale's total number of calories. Carbohydrates account for about 40 percent of the calories in refrigerated pork tamales, and protein is responsible for 12 percent of the caloric content.
Calories in Homemade Tamales
For a pork tamale with the fewest number of total calories per serving, try preparing your own at home. A homemade pork tamale made from a typical recipe contains 190 calories and 13 grams of fat. To get a leaner version, “Cooking Light” suggests that you use pork tenderloin instead of pork shoulder and only a small amount of vegetable oil to prepare the dough. Most pork tamales made at home are lower in carbohydrates than frozen, refrigerated or restaurant options. Typically, each contains 9 grams of carbohydrates, or almost 19 percent of the total calories. Protein supplies 18 percent of caloric content, with 9 grams per tamale.