Food & Nutrition

Let’s Go Out For… Pizza

What To Know


In its melty, crusty glory, pizza satisfies many cravings. So it’s no surprise that one in eight of us eats it on any given day, according to new USDA data. But few people stop at just one slice: The average pizza meal consists of 744 calories (about two to three pieces) — eating up about 37 percent of the average woman’s daily energy need in one sitting. Turn your slice into a nutritious meal with these tips.

The Slice is Right

Going out for a specialty pie? Use this guide for smart ordering.

New York-Style

New Yorkers do everything big. Pizza is no exception: Typical NYC-style slices are cut from an extra-large 18-inch pie, making a slice the equivalent of two-plus regular ones. (14 to 16 SmartPoints value)

Nicer slice: Provide your brain with a visual cue more satisfying than a slice: Cut a piece into threes. Then eat slowly and savor. Or split a slice and a salad with a pal.


A deep-dish pie can tower up to 3 inches high, and the crust may be stuffed with cheese. It’s traditionally topped heavily with both cheese and meat. (11 to 15 SmartPoints value)

Nicer Slice: Order Chicago’s other signature pie, the thin crust. If you go deep dish, plan other meals of the day accordingly. Then request half the meat and choose a lean protein (such as ham) over pepperoni.


The same toppings that make gourmet pizza unique (bacon, potatoes, fried eggs, 17 different cheeses…) also drive up the calorie and saturated fat content (5 to 9 SmartPoints value).

Nicer Slice: Pass on cheese, creamy or pesto sauces; choose a slice with marinara. Order a veggie-centric specialty pie (like wild mushroom or squash), then boost flavor with herbs and skip the olive oil drizzle.

Don’t pay the price for ordering in — dig into these calorie-saving tips.

Phone it in. People tend to request double toppings and other high-calorie add-ons when ordering online versus dialing in or ordering in person. The online order results in a pizza with 3 percent more calories, a recent preliminary University of Toronto study found.

Don’t fall for the extras. Instead of buffalo wings or pasta, tack on a side of steamed veggies or a vegetable-only salad — greens will help keep you full. 

Decide based on hunger, not coupons. You’re only saving money if you don’t order more than you would without the coupon. Skip it if you’ll end up with free soda, breadsticks, dessert pizza or a larger pie that you wouldn’t normally request.

EXPERT: Heather Mangieri, MS, a Pittsburgh dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


What To Eat


Cheesy, delicious pizza doesn’t have to be an indulgent splurge. The trick is in knowing what to order.

One slice of… SmartPoints value
"Regular" cheese and medium crust: your typical pizza-parlor slice 9
Thin crust cheese pizza: crisper and thinner than regular slices 8
Thick crust cheese pizza: doughy and chewier than regular slices, but not as thick as deep-dish pizza 10
Sicilian: thick-crust cheese pizza cut into squares 9-13
Deep dish: served in hot pans, with the thickest crust of all, with one meat topping, 1 small slice 10-13

Got a favorite pizza place? Keep these best slices in mind.*

Godfather’s Pizza Gluten-Free Cheese: SmartPoints value:  7
California Pizza Kitchen Crispy Thin Crust Margherita SmartPoints® value:  8
Domino’s Pizza Crunchy Thin Crust Ham SmartPoints value:  10
Papa John’s Original Crust Garden Fresh Pizza SmartPoints value:  10

*All nutrition information based on 1⁄4 of a small (10–13") pizza.

Pass on the white pizza 
White all-cheese pizza slices aren't healthier; you're giving up the tomato sauce, which packs the antioxidant lycopene which may lower risk of certain types of cancers, and often adding more cheese, which packs on more calories. The garlic oil, which many pizza chains brush on, ups the calories. A typical 8-inch white slice at a chain like Sbarros packs 570 calories, 23 grams of fat and 15 SmartPoints values.

Practice piling on 
Go for colorful toppings of fresh vegetables such as green, red or yellow peppers, broccoli, tomato slices — even if you're already putting pepperoni or sausage on the pie. "They'll improve the nutritional profile of the pizza and add volume to fill you up," says Andrea Giancoli, RD, a dietician in Los Angeles. But remember, some pizza restaurants sauté their vegetable toppings in oil. Make sure to ask and add any extra SmartPoints values for the oil, if necessary.

Toss the crust 
The crust-leavers of the world have the right idea. "Most regular pizza crusts are made of enriched white flour," says Bethany Thayer, RD, a dietician in Detroit and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. That's just basic white bread. If your local pizzeria offers a whole-grain crust, it's a better choice.