It’s safe to say that there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of choosing a Netflix movie, pouring yourself a glass of wine, and ordering a piping hot, cheesy pizza to be delivered straight to your door. Or, perhaps you’re more of a “go to the restaurant to sit and eat your pizza” type of person. Regardless, satisfying your cravings with freshly made pizza is always a win. And while it’s no secret that pizza isn’t considered healthy, some slices are far unhealthier than others.
Pizza is usually made with the same type of ingredients: some sort of dough, cheese, sauce, vegetables, and meat. When you make pizza at home, you can use fresh ingredients and keep an eye on how much of everything you use, giving you more control of your calorie, fat, and sodium intake. Unfortunately, when it comes to the comfort of having someone else prepare your pizza, you lose this level of control. And oftentimes, especially at pizza chain restaurants, the nutritional value is less than ideal.
To help you have some more confidence when it comes to choosing your ideal slice, we talked with Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Medical Expert Board, about some of the unhealthiest pizza slices in America. These are ranked from bad to the absolute worst based on calories, sodium, total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat. However, many of these slices are almost tied when it comes to their nutritional value, so it’s important to remember that every slice on this list is less than ideal when it comes to nutrition.
Don’t let the vegetables on this pizza fool you. “It’s still sandwiched between two layers of cheese and four different types of meats, including pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage and beef,” says Goodson.
If you’re looking for something decadent but a bit lighter, Goodson suggests “opting for the Domino’s Pacific Veggie Pizza if you like a little veggie on your pie while eating fewer calories, saturated fat, and sodium.”
“This pizza features five different types of meats, but it still packs in more fat than protein and has over 1,000 milligrams of sodium per slice, which is almost half the recommended daily maximum allowance for sodium per the American Heart Association,” says Goodson.
This is especially scary if you consider how many slices you’ll most likely consume because let’s be honest, how many of us are actually limiting ourselves to just one slice? Two slices in and you’ve already eaten your day’s worth of sodium in one sitting.
“As the name implies, this pizza features a more-than-generous helping of cheese, and the six-cheese blend packs on additional sodium and calories from fat,” says Goodson. However, this slice is farther up on the list of unhealthiest pizzas because—shockingly—many slices have even more saturated fat, total fat, and calories in one slice than this one.
As far as nutrition goes, this pizza is comparable to the Papa Johns Pepperoni, Sausage & Six Cheese. However, the extra calories and grams of total fat pushed it down a notch on our list.
“This chicken bacon ranch pizza clocks in at over 400 calories and 8 grams of saturated fat,” says Goodson. “Although chicken is a leaner meat that could be a good option for those hoping to cut back on their saturated fat intake, when paired with bacon and creamy white sauce, it may push this pizza past your fat and calorie budget.”
The Pepperoni Lovers’ slice is close to identical in nutrition to the Domino’s Cali Chicken Bacon Ranch, but we scored this one one step lower because of the trans fat. The World Health Organization suggests limiting your consumption to less than 2.2 grams per day, and you’ll get close to that in just one sitting if you have more than one slice.
“Loaded with 50% more pepperoni than the classic, this Pepperoni Lover’s Pizza packs on an additional 70 calories and 5 grams of fat in each singular slice, so try opting for regular pepperoni pizza to reduce overall calories and fat,” says Goodson.
“The deep dish pizza from Little Caesar’s comes in at over 400 calories and contains both saturated and trans fats,” says Goodson. “Excessive intakes of these fats has been associated with increased risk for development of cardiovascular disease, and trans fat specifically can raise LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) while reducing HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol).”