Pork is an excellent source of protein that can be included in breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. The variety of cuts gives pork diversity at meals while contributing to your overall protein intake. Some cuts are lean, and some are fatty, but they all contain high-quality protein and no carbohydrates. One ounce of a protein-rich food like pork generally contains 7 grams of protein, so one 3-ounce serving contains 21 grams of protein.
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Protein is the building block of muscles. Made up of amino acids, protein is found in meats, eggs, nuts, legumes and dairy products. There are 20 amino acids that are essential for life, and meats, including pork, are complete proteins containing substantial amounts of all of these amino acids.
The nutritional profile of pork varies greatly depending upon the cut of meat. For example, bacon has less protein and more fat than pork loin, which is a lean cut. One slice of baked bacon contains 44 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and almost 3 grams of protein. In contrast, one 3-ounce serving of lean pork loin contains 163 calories, 22 grams protein and about 7 grams of fat. The National Pork Board notes that any cuts from the loin of the pig are leaner than skinless chicken thigh and most cuts of beef. Baked ham in a cold cut sandwich will provide 21 grams of protein. You can also add protein into your breakfast meal with pork by choosing Canadian bacon. A single 1-ounce slice of Canadian bacon provides 43 calories and 6 grams of protein.
Cuts of Pork
The fattier cuts of pork include bacon, ribs and butt. Choose these cuts less often and opt for the leaner loin, chops and ham. Pork is known as the other white meat because of its lean, high-protein nature. In the richer cuts, you can remove visible fat and thereby cut calorie and fat content, as well as bake, broil or grill the meat. In 3 ounces of pork ribs, there are 232 calories, 22 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat.
Pork can be made into jerky, a dried meat product that is shelf-stable and doesn’t require refrigeration. The raw meat is often cut very lean before marinating and drying it, making it low in fat. One ounce of the portable snack provides 70 calories, 2 grams of fat and 8 grams of protein. Jerky is commonly made from beef, but pork, turkey meats, and other game can also be used.
Protein can help you feel satiated at a meal, and it is recommended to consume a variety of sources of protein in a healthy diet. A 3-ounce piece of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards. The American Heart Association recommends you do not exceed this serving size at meals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adult women consume 46 grams of protein per day and adult men 56 grams.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Pork, Cured, Bacon, Cooked, Baked
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Pork, Fresh, Loin, Top Loin (Roasts), Boneless, Separable Lean and Fat, Cooked, Roasted
- National Pork Board: Compare Pork
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Pork, Cured, Canadian-style Bacon, Grilled
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Pork, Fresh, Loin, Country-Style Ribs, Separable Lean and Fat, Cooked, Braised
- Krave Jerky: Grilled Sweet Teriyaki Pork Jerky – 3.25 oz
- American Heart Association: Protein and Heart Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein