Why Grilled Pork Chops Are a Healthier Way to Get Your Protein

Pork, sometimes referred to as "the other white meat," is a popular meat option. While it might not be the healthiest choice compared to chicken breasts or nonanimal protein, pork can have a place at most dinner tables if prepared correctly. The National Pork Board says that any cut from the loin, like pork chops, is actually leaner than skinless chicken thighs. Moreover, grilling instead of frying can help keep excess calories at bay.

Juicy grilled pork chops can be a healthy choice for people following a low-carb or keto diet. (Image: SarapulSar38/iStock/GettyImages)

Pork Chop Calories

ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends that Americans consume only 35 percent of their total calories per day from fat. This breaks down to 36 to 62 grams for women and 62 to 109 grams for men. Smithfield, a popular meat brand, produces pork chops that supply 193 calories in a 4-ounce serving or about 145 calories for 3 ounces.

Protein in Pork Chops

The protein in pork chops is one of the main draws of the meat. Pork chops have plenty of this nutrient, which is essential to a healthy diet and strong muscles and bones. Harvard Health Publishing reports that the average adult requires 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or per every 2.2 pounds.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends that the average American eating a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet get 50 grams of protein each day, give or take, depending on level of activity and age. The average amount of protein in pork chops is approximately 23 grams for a 3-ounce serving.

No Carbs in Pork Chops

If you're on a low-carb or keto diet, you'll be glad to know that there are no carbs in pork chops. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health asserts that there is evidence suggesting that low-carb diets might help people lose weight more quickly. The Atkins diet claims that limiting carbohydrates helps the body burn and convert fat to fuel. This keeps the body running and helps you lose more weight.

Don’t Forget to Factor in Fat

The amount of fat in pork chops is probably the biggest downside of eating the meat. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, Dietary Guidelines suggests that, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, most people should consume no more than 35 percent of their daily calories from fat.

At 7.8 grams of fat for a 3-ounce serving of top loin, boneless chops, pork chops can fit right in with this guideline. Thanks to changes in breeding and feeding techniques, pork is leaner than ever before. As of 2019, pork has about 16 percent less fat than it did in 1991, according to the National Pork Board.

What Other Cooking Options Exist?

Frying in heavy oil should be avoided at all costs, and while grilling is great, other cooking options can be utilized as well. The American Heart Association suggests trimming off as much fat as you can before cooking and pouring off any excess fat that may collect.

Other healthy cooking options for pork chops include baking, broiling or even cooking in a slow cooker. Reduce the amount of fat in a pork chop even more with the right cooking appliances. Don't forget to pair your protein with vegetables and carbohydrate sources like sweet potatoes for optimal nutritional benefits.

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