How many carbs are in a whole pepperoni pizza?

Pizza is a beloved food for many people. The tasty combination of bread, sauce, cheese and toppings makes it a convenient and customizable meal or snack. However, pizza is also known for being high in carbohydrates, especially from the dough. People watching their carb intake may wonder just how many carbs are in a popular pizza choice like pepperoni pizza.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates, or carbs, are one of the main macronutrients found in food, along with protein and fat. Carbs are the main source of energy for the body and brain. There are three main types of carbs:

  • Sugars: Includes naturally occurring sugars like fructose in fruit or lactose in milk, along with added sugars like sucrose, glucose or high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Starches: Found in grains, starchy vegetables and legumes. Starches are long chains of glucose molecules.
  • Fiber: Indigestible carbs from plant foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and nuts. Fiber passes through the body undigested.

When looking at nutrition information, total carbohydrates includes all three types. However, guidelines often recommend focusing on net carbs, which is total carbs minus fiber, since fiber is not digested and absorbed.

Carbs in pizza crust

One of the main sources of carbohydrates in pizza is the crust. Traditional pizza crust is made from wheat flour, which contains starch and protein. There are about 22 grams of total carbs in one slice of a large 14” thin pizza crust:

  • 19 g starch
  • 2 g fiber
  • 1 g sugars

After subtracting fiber, there are about 20 g of net carbs in a slice of thin pizza crust. Thicker, doughier crusts or those made with added sugar can have even more carbs per slice.

Low-carb crust alternatives

For lower carb options, there are alternatives to traditional wheat crusts:

  • Cauliflower crust: Made by pulsing riced cauliflower and binding it with eggs and cheese for 6-8 g net carbs per thin crust
  • Chicken crust: Using cooked, shredded chicken baked into a crust for 0 g net carbs
  • Nut flour crust: Made with almond flour, coconut flour or other nut flours for around 5 g net carbs
  • Palmini noodles: Using thin, sliced hearts of palm in place of crust for 4 g net carbs

Carbs in pizza sauce

In moderation, the sauce on pizza adds minimal extra carbs:

  • 1⁄4 cup pizza sauce: Around 5 g carbs, including 2 g sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup marinara sauce: Around 3 g net carbs

Some jars of pasta sauce can have 15 g carbs or more per 1⁄4 cup, so check labels and opt for simpler, less sugary sauces to keep carbs down.

Carbs in pepperoni

Pepperoni is a popular pizza topping. While it contains protein and fat, it has minimal carbs:

  • 2 ounces pepperoni: Less than 1 g net carbs

So pepperoni can be enjoyed liberally on low-carb pizzas without adding more than a trace amount of carbs.

Carbs in cheese

Another ingredient in most pizzas is cheese. Many types of cheese commonly used on pizza also contain no significant carbs:

  • 1⁄4 cup shredded mozzarella: Less than 1 g net carbs
  • 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan: Less than 1 g net carbs
  • 1 ounce Cheddar cheese: 0 g net carbs

Cheese can be a tasty, low-carb way to add flavor, protein and fat. Just watch portions, as cheese is high in calories.

Carbs in other toppings

Veggies, meats and other pizza toppings can increase the carb counts:

Topping Serving Size Net Carbs
Tomatoes 10 cherry tomatoes 5 g
Onions 1⁄4 cup 3 g
Bell peppers 1⁄4 cup 2 g
Mushrooms 1⁄4 cup 1 g
Pepperoni 2 ounces 0 g
Bacon 2 slices 0 g
Sausage 1 ounce 0 g
Chicken 1 ounce, diced 0 g

Veggies, even non-starchy ones, add a small amount of carbs. Track servings of onions, tomatoes, peppers and other toppings to keep net carbs in check.

Whole 14” pepperoni pizza

Now that we’ve looked at the carb counts for individual ingredients, here is an estimate of the net carbs in a whole 14” pepperoni pizza:

  • Crust: About 160 g net carbs (8 slices at 20 g each)
  • Sauce: Around 20 g net carbs (for 1 cup)
  • Cheese: Around 8 g net carbs (for 2 cups)
  • Pepperoni: Trace net carbs
  • Onions, peppers, etc.: Variable for toppings

So in total, a whole 14” pepperoni pizza may have around 200 g of net carbs. Amounts can vary based on the specific ingredients, crust thickness, and serving sizes.

Carbs per slice

Here is the net carb count per average slice of a whole pepperoni pizza:

  • 1 slice (1/8th of pizza): Around 25 g net carbs

Again, this estimate can vary based on the specific pizza. Extremely thick, bready crusts could be higher carb, while thin, vegetable-topped pizzas may be lower.

Ways to reduce carbs in pizza

If you’re limiting carbs, there are ways to still enjoy pizza while keeping net carbs in check:

  • Choose thin crust instead of pan or deep dish
  • Opt for lighter sauce with less sugar
  • Load up on low-carb toppings like meat, veggies and cheese
  • Stick to 1-2 slices and add salad for a meal
  • Make mini pizzas on low-carb tortillas or muffin cups
  • Use a lower-carb alternative crust

Should you avoid pizza on a low-carb diet?

Pizza can absolutely be part of a low-carb eating pattern. While very low carb and keto diets often avoid grains, there are still options to fit pizza in. Here are some tips:

  • Measure portions and count net carbs to fit it in your daily allotment
  • Opt for low-carb crusts and load up on meat and veggies
  • Eat the toppings off and skip the crust if needed to reduce carbs
  • Make pizza lettuce wraps instead of eating the crust
  • Consider cauliflower pizza crust or chicken crust to reduce carbs substantially

With smart adjustments and portion control, pizza can definitely be enjoyed as part of an overall low-carb or moderate-carb diet without derailing progress.

The bottom line

Here are some key takeaways on the carbohydrate content of pepperoni pizza:

  • A 14” pepperoni pizza can have around 200 g total net carbs
  • Each slice may have about 25 g net carbs on average
  • The crust contributes the most carbs, around 20 g per slice
  • Sauce, cheese and veggie toppings add some extra carbs
  • There are ways to reduce carbs by choosing thin crust, limiting toppings and portions
  • Low-carb alternative crusts like cauliflower or chicken can reduce carb counts substantially

While pizza is high in carbs, it can still be enjoyed occasionally on a low-carb diet by making smart adjustments to ingredients and portions. With some modifications like alternative crusts or low-carb toppings, pizza can be a tasty option that fits into a healthy carb-conscious eating plan.

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