Why do you need to know this?
Does bacon have sugar? That is a great question and one that people ask for many reasons.
Maybe you are calorie counting. Maybe you are on a diet such as Whole30, and you want to avoid all sugar. Maybe you are on an elimination diet, and you are being very selective about what goes into your body.
Whatever the reason, it’s a question worth answering. The short answer is…
Bacon does not have sugar in its natural unprocessed form (pork belly). However, a lot of companies add sugar to the brine used in the manufacturing or curing process. Sugar is typically added in small amounts and may not be reflected in the nutritional information, but it will be listed as an ingredient.
However, this does open a small can of worms, and there are a few other questions worth exploring. Let's get into it.
Why is limiting sugar intake important?
There are a lot of reasons to minimize the amount of sugar you consume.
However, let's keep it simple for the sake of this conversation and start out by looking at what the American Heart Association recommends for daily sugar intake.
- Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day.
- For women, the number is lower: 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day.
Consider that one 12-ounce can of soda contains 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar! There goes your whole day’s allotment in one slurp.
You can see how sugar can add up fast in a standard diet. That’s not even considering any dietary restrictions you may have or if you are just trying to live a healthier lifestyle.
Is there a lot of sugar in bacon?
The amount of sugar in bacon varies by manufacturer and product. While the amount of sugar in a particular bacon product may be small, it’s still there.
You will often see this reflected in the difference between that particular product’s nutrition facts and the ingredient list.
If the amount of sugar per serving is less than .5 grams, manufacturers can legally claim their product has no sugar provided the ingredients known to be sugar are linked to a disclaimer that they contain a "trivial amount of sugar."
We pulled some common bacon brands to see whether or not they list sugar on the nutritional facts panel (NFP) or in the ingredients list:
|H‑E‑B Thick Cut Original Bacon||Oscar Mayer Thick Cut Bacon||Hill Country Fare Thick-Sliced Bacon||Kiolbassa Dry Cured Hickory Bacon Thick Sliced||Wright Brand Hickory Smoked Bacon|
|Sugar on the NFP||No||No||No||No||No|
|Sugar in the ingredients||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Again, be sure to check the ingredient information carefully to verify if sugar has been used or not.
Why does bacon have sugar?
As we mentioned above, when sugar is added it is normally done in the curing process.
A typical solution used for curing will contain water, salt, sugar, phosphates, and nitrates.
In a normal curing process, a packet of nitrite is added to the brine, which is then injected into the meat.
Sugar is often in this mix to “add” flavor; however, some say it can also aid in acting as an additional preservative. Sugar is also used to counter the salt, which tends to dry out the meat.
You will sometimes find maple syrup or other variations used as an alternative to sugar.
Even though this added sugar may be small in quantity, it’s still there. Keep in mind that this is calculated per serving, and manufacturer serving sizes are usually small.
When you eat more than the suggested serving size, the amount of sugar goes up.
Depending on your dietary needs, any amount, regardless of quantity, may be too much.
For instance, let’s look at what a diet like Whole30 says:
According to Whole30 rules, you are not allowed to consume any added sugar. This is to be verified in the ingredients list and not on the nutrition facts panel. This is an important distinction.
How are cured and uncured bacon different?
What is cured bacon?
Cured is a term that is dictated by the USDA labeling regulation, and they define synthetic curing agents as sodium and potassium salts of nitrates or nitrites.
As mentioned above, these synthetic agents are added during the curing process.
What is uncured bacon?
“Uncured” simply means that the meat was not preserved using any unnatural or synthetic forms of nitrates or nitrites.
This helps to keep the meat simple, which is what it should be. Uncured meats are still preserved but rely on natural salts and flavorings, not adding synthetic chemicals.
How is bacon made without sugar?
The process to make sugar-free bacon may look something like this.
It all starts with pork bellies, which are typically seasoned and naturally brined. After this process, it's time to go to the smoker.
You want to avoid methods that inject the meat with curing solutions and liquid smoke to simulate flavor. Natural smoke is what you're looking for.
After smoking, it's time to chill the meat and slice.
A process such as this avoids adding synthetic nitrates or nitrites, as well as sugar, to cure the meat.
Again, simpler is better!
Is sugar-free bacon healthy?
We’ve been conditioned to believe fat should be avoided at all costs.
However, fat is now being looked at differently by a lot of folks within nutritional science.
Keto and other high-fat, low-carb diets encourage increasing the amount of fat consumed and severely reducing the amount of carbohydrate-laden foods as a means of controlling weight and improving overall health.
Remember that each and every person has unique nutritional needs, and individually you need to make sure you are getting what you need out of the foods you consume.
What is sugar-free bacon?
Sugar-free bacon is any bacon that does not list sugar in the ingredients list. Do not rely on the nutritional facts panel to get this information.
Does cured bacon have sugar?
Most cured bacon has sugar listed in the ingredients list as it is commonly used in the brine.
Can I lose weight and eat bacon?
Yes, it is possible to lose weight and eat bacon. As with all things, moderation is key.
Can I eat bacon on the Whole30 diet?
Yes, as long as sugar is not listed in the ingredients list.
Can I eat bacon on a Keto diet?
Yes, bacon is Keto friendly since carbohydrates are low.
Does turkey bacon have sugar?
Like most other bacon, sugar is often added to turkey bacon during processing and can be found listed in the ingredients.
Does beef bacon have sugar?
Just like pork and turkey bacon, beef bacon often includes sugar in the ingredients list as a result of the curing process.
What brand of bacon does not have sugar?
Pederson’s Natural Farms offers sugar-free bacon with simple recognizable ingredients.
Where can I buy sugar-free bacon?
If you are looking for sugar-free bacon, you are in luck. Sugar-free bacon can be purchased on the Pederson’s Natural Farms website and shipped directly to your home.
It can also be purchased in store from these trusted retailers:
- HEB/Central Market
- Fresh Thyme
And online from the following sources:
Sugar-free bacon is a great option for those who are on specific diets, those who are looking at living a healthier lifestyle, or those on the search for simpler foods with minimal ingredients.
Make sure you are diligent about checking the ingredient list, and do not rely on the nutritional facts panel to inform you what your bacon contains.