We’ve all been there! After a long day, we don’t have the energy to cook a fresh meal so we resort to frozen foods. They usually take under an hour to heat up and then they’re ready to eat. But there’s one frozen food that doctors say you should never eat: frozen pizza.
Who eats frozen pizza? The better question is, who doesn’t? Sales of frozen pizza in 2021 totaled $6 billion. Supermarkets (like Trader Joe’s!) may stock a dozen or more brands, with 25 or more varieties to choose from. The big player is DiGiorno, which makes up 11% of the frozen pizza market. Most frozen pizzas are loaded with unhealthy ingredients, including processed meats, high-fat cheeses, and sugary sauces. All of these processed ingredients are bad enough on their own because they pack in high amounts of fat and calories while offering practically no nutritional value.
To learn more, we spoke with Susan Kelly, RDN, registered dietitian and nutritionist, and Caleb Backe, certified personal trainer and health expert, to learn more about the problem with frozen pizza. They said frozen pizza could lead to weight gain, inflammation, and belly fat if eaten often or in excess.
When it comes to frozen foods, pizza is the worst offender. We all love indulging in pizza pie (check out Taco Bell’s new Mexican Pizza!), but this high-carb and high-fat food is definitely not something you should eat regularly. It's loaded with processed dough, sauce, pepperoni, and cheese which all lead to weight gain because of their fatty ingredients.
"One of the biggest culprits of frozen foods that causes weight gain is frozen pizza," Backe notes. "Delicious, easy to cook and with a very long shelf life, frozen pizzas seem to be the perfect dinner for when you can't be bothered cooking," he acknowledges. However, Backe says to "not be fooled by the seemingly simple ingredients of pizza base, sauce, and cheese." The average total calories in a serving are 400 calories, which he says accounts for "close to half of your daily sodium and saturated fats recommended intakes." Yikes!
Kelly agrees and also says to avoid anything with frozen cheese, like macaroni and cheese, if weight loss or maintaining your current weight is your ultimate goal. "Skipping macaroni and cheese frozen items is advised as a single pack of this has more than 500 calories, 50 grams carbs, 24 grams fat, 7 grams sugar, and 1300 mg sodium," she says. This can cause weight gain if a person 'isn’t mindful' of their consumption."
Overall, experts advise avoiding frozen pizza because they lead to weight gain, inflammation, and belly fat. But that doesn't mean you can't ever eat this delicious frozen treat–just don't overeat it. For a healthy alternative, try making your own cauliflower pizza crust and topping it with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes!