Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: June 14, 2022

Pork ribs are a delicious and hearty dish that is a favorite of grillmasters and home chefs alike. Whether smoking or grilling, spareribs are a classic staple of BBQ culture. And as a dedicated carnivore, I have eaten my fair share.

However, pork ribs are not a lean cut of meat. So I have done some research to determine how many calories are found in pork ribs. Here are my findings.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • A pork rib contains 125 calories before adding any sauces or rubs
  • A 1/2 rack of ribs can have 1,800 calories
  • Barbecued pork spareribs are high in fat, cholesterol, and protein

Calories In Pork Ribs

Top view of cooked pork ribs on a wooden board

There is no getting around the fact that pork ribs are not a low-calorie cut of meat. A four-pound rack of barbecued pork spareribs can be over 3,500 calories between the meat, fat, and sauces.

But to compare apples to apples, let's look at the calories in a single pork rib bone. The average rib weighs a little more than an ounce and contains 125 calories. Note that this calorie count is for the rib alone and does not include any sauces or rubs that you might add.

Also, recognize that very few people only eat a single rib. Given that a serving size of meat is considered to be 3 ounces, a serving of spareribs will have 375 calories.

Net Carbs, Fat, And Protein In Pork Ribs

Pork ribs have a significant amount of fat marbling throughout the muscle meat. This fat helps keep the pork spareribs moist and flavorful as they cook. The single rib I described above has 11 grams of total fat, of which 3.2 grams is saturated fat.

That means there are 97 calories from fat and 27 calories from saturated fat which can raise cholesterol.

From the carnivore perspective, pork spareribs bring 7.3 grams of protein per rib bone. This means you can get nearly 22 grams of protein in a three-ounce serving of pork ribs and 88 calories from the protein.

Further, a 3-ounce serving size has 0 g of net carbs except those found in the sauce. The sauce’s ingredient calories vary depending on what type of sauce you use.

Nutrition Facts

Close up shot of cooked pork ribs

Pork ribs are a good source of B vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, and vitamin B6 - with over 10% of the recommended daily value. These nutrients are essential for energy metabolism and help keep our nervous system functioning correctly.

Pork spareribs also contain minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Finally, ribs are a great way to get your daily value of riboflavin - a critical nutrient for metabolizing food [1].

That said, portions of this food do not contain much selenium, sodium, vitamin C, or fiber.

Alternatives

Given the caloric and fat content of pork spareribs, you might be feeling a little discouraged about eating them. But there are lean cuts of pork that can still provide the flavor you crave.

For example, a three-ounce serving size of pork tenderloin has just 122 calories and 3 grams of fat. This cut is taken from the muscle that runs along the pig's back - a very lean part of the hog.

"Barbecue" originated with French-speaking pirates, who called their Caribbean pork feast "de barbe et queue." Translated, it means "from beard to tail," reflecting the fact that the hog could be consumed from head to toe."

- National Pork Board

Another option is shifting to another type of meat like beef short ribs. This food has slightly more calories and has more total fat than its pork counterpart, but you get significantly more meat along each rib bone.

FAQs

Are Pork Ribs Unhealthy to Eat?

No, pork ribs are not unhealthy. However, they are a relatively high-calorie and high-fat cut of meat. If you are trying to watch your calorie or fat intake, you should moderate your consumption of spareribs.

Are Pork Ribs Good for Weight Loss?

No, ribs are not good for weight loss. As mentioned above, they are relatively high in calories from fat. If you are trying to lose weight, you should focus on leaner cuts of meat and vegetables.

What Is the Difference Between Baby Back Ribs and Spareribs?

The difference between baby back ribs and spareribs is that baby back ribs come from the upper part of the pig's back and are shorter and more curved than spareribs. Spareribs are found in the lower part of the pig's back and are longer and flatter [2].

Why Are Pork Ribs So High in Calories?

Ribs are high in calories because they contain a high percentage of fat. The fat helps give spareribs their texture and flavor, but it also adds a significant amount of calories to the food.

Know the Calories in Pork Ribs

As you can see, pork ribs are not a lean, low-calorie food, particularly with added sauces or rubs. However, they are a good source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals.

Overall, it would be best to make ribs a special treat rather than a daily meal. But if you are interested in a meat delivery service that will send baby back ribs and St. Louis ribs directly to your door, you should look into ButcherBox. For more information, click here.


References:

  1. https://pork.org/nutrition/pork-nutrition/
  2. https://www.myfearlesskitchen.com/difference-beef-and-pork-ribs/

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