Is Cheese Pizza Bad for You? What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Pizza

No matter how you slice it, pizza is arguably one of the worst foods for your body. As pizza lovers, learning what happens to your body when you eat pizza is a harsh reality we don’t want to face. However, those with high cholesterol or at risk of heart disease can seriously benefit from cutting out the perceived junk food.

From sodium to saturated fat, one large slice of pepperoni pizza amounts to an average of 311 calories — and let’s be honest: We never go for just one slice. Up ahead, we take a closer look at exactly what happens to your body when you eat pizza.

margarita pizza top view

Cheese pizza is high in unhealthy saturated fats and can impact previous health conditions. | iStock.com/erkanatbas

What happens to your body when you eat pizza

In the United States, there is no shortage of pizzerias. From Pizza Hut to Papa John’s to Domino’s and Little Caesar’s, fast food pizza chains has become a staple in many diets. But, unfortunately, it’s the ultimate indulgence. According to Eat This, Not That, pizza is one of the biggest culprits of saturated fat in the American diet. Saturated fats are dangerous to the heart, as they can clog arteries and put you at risk of heart disease among other ailments.

Curious to know what happens to your body when you eat pizza? We break it down for you, below.

The first 10 minutes after eating

Believe it or not, drooling over a greasy pizza can actually be good for you. The first bite alone can activate feelings of pleasure in the brain. Not to mention: Salvitating helps kick-start the digestion process. Saliva causes certain digestive enzymes to trigger in the mouth, which helps to break down carbs into sugar so the body can eventually use it for energy.

After 15 minutes

As the carbs begin to break down and turn into sugar, the fat from cheese, pepperoni, and other toppings help slow things down. Because the body goes through carbs ultra fast, these fats pump more sustainable energy into the body.

For those with a gluten or lactose sensitivity, the first 15 minutes after eating a slice of pizza can be uncomfortable. During this time, bloating is common as the body is working extra hard to digest food and release gas.

After 20 minutes

At this point, the carbs — aka sugars — have made their way into the bloodstream and the pancreas releases insulin to help cells soak up the sugar. That said if you’re on your third or fourth slice of pizza, cells might not want the sugar, which causes the blood sugar levels to spike for longer. If you eat pizza regularly — or other similar foods — that experience can have a lasting impact on the body.

High blood sugar often results in inflammation, which can create a host of issues like nerve damage, poor circulation, cardiovascular disease, and more. However, high blood sugar isn’t permanent, and the sugars eventually make their way to the liver and are turned into fat.

The 20-minute mark is usually about the time when the leptin hormone halts hunger to avoid overeating.

After 30 minutes

When it comes to pizza, overeating is easy — It’s just so dang good! That can often lead to sluggish, “food coma” feelings. However, if you happened to practice some self-control, you should feel fueled about 30 minutes after eating. During this time, your stomach acids get ahold of the pizza and digest the fat. Once that’s taken care of, the fat goes on a ride through the bloodstream to the liver. From there, the liver decides its fate, and it can be used in the muscles as fuel or turned into fat cells, aka fat storage.

At this point, the triglyceride — aka, fat in your blood — is ultra high but only temporarily. However, diets high in unhealthy fats, sugar, and alcohol can have a lasting impact on health, and chronic high triglyceride levels can lead to clogged or hardened arteries. While it doesn’t typically impact those with a healthy diet (and body) as much, it can increase the chance of heart attack or stroke in those with a family history of circulatory diseases and obesity.

Triglyceride levels typically drop after six hours for those on the healthier side of the spectrum. However, if you go for one more slice, it could last longer.

After 1 hours

The good news about pizza: If you don’t overdo it, cheese and pepperoni can help prevent sluggish feelings. Unlike carbs — which can boost serotonin and cause feelings of sleepiness — fats help center serotonin levels, as they are turned into fuel. However, the fat on pizza isn’t exactly healthy. And while some might not be impacted, others with pre-existing heart conditions or risk factors should exercise caution when ordering a Domino’s Pizza.

After 4 hours

You might forget about your Domino’s indulgence after four hours of eating pizza, but your body hasn’t. At this point, the fat in blood levels are still high (and could remain like that for another two hours). However, your blood sugar levels have most-likely lowered, and the food has entered the digestive tract. At this point, you might want to consider a healthy snack or meal — such as a salad or plate of veggies — to counter the saturated fats and carbs consumed earlier. Fueling up on healthy food post-pizza can also help you avoid the inevitable: leftovers.

Is cheese pizza bad for you?

For those that lead relatively healthy lifestyles (and diets), ordering a slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza won’t do much damage. And, in the short term, it won’t cause you to gain weight. However, if pizza becomes a regular staple in your diet — or if you have any conditions or risk factors impacted by saturated fats — it could have a detrimental impact on your body’s overall health. If you must indulge, consider ordering a vegetable pizza or a slice that is light on the cheese.

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