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Can you eat pork tenderloin on a low fat diet?

Quick Answer

Yes, pork tenderloin can be included as part of a low fat diet. A 3 ounce serving of pork tenderloin contains only 3 grams of fat, with 1 gram being saturated fat. This is considered a lean cut of pork. When choosing pork tenderloin, opt for the leanest option and trim any visible fat before cooking. Pork tenderloin is a versatile, low fat protein that can be prepared using various healthy cooking methods like baking, grilling, roasting, or sautéing in broth or nonstick pans. It provides an excellent source of protein with minimal fat.

Nutrition Facts for Pork Tenderloin

Here are the nutrition facts for a 3 ounce serving of raw pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 122
Fat 3 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Protein 22 g
Carbohydrates 0 g

As you can see, pork tenderloin is very low in fat, especially saturated fat, while still providing a good amount of protein. This makes it an excellent lean protein source for a low fat diet.

Comparing Pork Tenderloin to Other Lean Proteins

How does pork tenderloin compare to other popular lean protein choices? Here is a comparison of the fat and protein content in a 3 ounce serving of various cooked lean meats:

Food Fat (g) Protein (g)
Pork Tenderloin 2 22
Chicken Breast 3 28
Sirloin Steak 5 25
Tilapia Fillet 3 22
Shrimp 1 17

Pork tenderloin is comparable to other popular low fat proteins like chicken breast, fish, and shrimp when it comes to fat and protein content. It provides an excellent source of lean protein for low fat diets.

Choosing and Preparing Lean Pork Tenderloin

When selecting pork tenderloin for a low fat diet, follow these tips:

  • Choose tenderloin over loin cuts which tend to be fattier
  • Opt for cuts labeled “loin” or “tenderloin” rather than just “pork”
  • Look for the leanest option with minimal marbling or fat caps
  • Trim any visible fat before cooking
  • Watch portion sizes and stick to 3-4 ounce cooked servings

Some healthy cooking methods for pork tenderloin include:

  • Roasting – cook at 400°F until internal temperature reaches 145°F
  • Baking – bake in oven at 375°F until internal temperature reaches 145°F
  • Grilling – grill over medium heat until internal temperature reaches 145°F
  • Sautéing – cook in broth or nonstick pan over medium-high heat until cooked through
  • Slow cooking – add to slow cooker with spices and low sodium broth

Avoid deep frying or cooking with added oils or fatty sauces. Stick to spice rubs, fresh herbs, citrus, mustard, or other low fat marinades and sauces.

Health Benefits of Pork Tenderloin

Along with being low in fat, pork tenderloin provides several health benefits:

  • High in Protein – Great source of lean protein to promote muscle growth and satisfaction.
  • B Vitamins – Contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and B12.
  • Selenium – Provides selenium which supports thyroid and immune function.
  • Phosphorus – Good source of phosphorus for bone health.
  • Potassium – Provides some potassium to support blood pressure.
  • Iron – Contains heme-iron which is more easily absorbed than plant sources.
  • Zinc – Provides zinc which aids immunity and cell growth.

As part of a balanced diet, pork tenderloin can be enjoyed as a regular protein source on a low fat diet.

Sample Low Fat Pork Tenderloin Recipes

Here are some delicious and nutritious recipes for preparing pork tenderloin on a low fat diet:

Baked Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 3 cups mixed vegetables (carrots, brussels sprouts, potatoes, etc)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Toss vegetables in 1 tbsp olive oil, garlic, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper.

3. Spread on baking sheet and roast 20 minutes.

4. Rub pork tenderloin with remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

5. Roast tenderloin 15-20 minutes until 145°F internal temperature.

6. Let meat rest 5 minutes before slicing.

7. Serve roasted pork tenderloin with vegetables.

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Pat tenderloin dry and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sear pork 2-3 minutes per side until browned.

3. Transfer to 300°F oven and roast 10-15 minutes until 145°F.

4. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

5. Make sauce by whisking broth, mustard, maple syrup and thyme in skillet.

6. Simmer until reduced by half.

7. Serve sliced pork with mustard sauce.

Slow Cooker Chili Lime Pork

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

1. Cut tenderloin into 1 inch pieces.

2. In slow cooker, stir together pork, chili powder, cumin, oregano, lime juice, broth, onion and garlic.

3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

4. Add bell pepper during last 30 minutes.

5. Serve pork and peppers in broth or over rice.

These recipes highlight delicious ways to cook pork tenderloin for a low fat diet by using lean cuts, healthy cooking methods and fresh, antioxidant-rich ingredients.

Tips for Adding Pork Tenderloin to a Low Fat Diet

Here are some additional tips for enjoying pork tenderloin as part of a healthy, low fat diet:

– Stick to recommended 3-4 ounce portion sizes per serving.

– Balance with plenty of non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.

– Avoid frying or breading tenderloin to keep fat low.

– Remove skin before cooking to reduce fat intake.

– Combine with nutrient-dense ingredients like veggies, beans, tomatoes, whole grains.

– Use healthy marinades and rubs focused on herbs, spices, citrus instead of oils or creamy sauces.

– Read labels and opt for “loin” cuts which are leaner.

– Compare brands and select the leanest options when shopping.

– Trim off any excess fat or connective tissue before cooking.

– Roast, bake or grill using racks to allow fat to drip away.

– Use broth or nonstick pans instead of adding oil when sautéing.

– Let meat rest before slicing for juicier, tender results.

With smart choices and preparation methods, pork tenderloin can be a regular part of your rotation for lean protein meals and snacks.

Potential Concerns

While pork tenderloin is very lean, there are some potential concerns to keep in mind:

  • Food safety – Always cook pork thoroughly to an internal temperature of 145°F to kill any bacteria or parasites.
  • Portion size – It’s easy to overeat protein sources, so stick within the recommended 3-4 ounce serving size.
  • Nitrates/nitrites – Some processed pork products contain these preservatives which have health risks when eaten in excess.
  • Intensive farming – Most pork comes from animals raised in crowded conditions, which raises ethical concerns for some.
  • Sustainability – Pork has greater environmental impact than plant-based proteins in terms of land usage and waste outputs.

These concerns can be reduced by choosing organic, sustainably raised pork, watching portion sizes, and diversifying protein sources in your diet.

The Bottom Line

Pork tenderloin is considered a lean cut of meat that can be included as part of a healthy low fat diet. With only 2-3 grams of fat per serving when trimmed, it provides an excellent source of high-quality protein. Pork tenderloin compares favorably to other lean proteins like chicken breast for its low fat content. Choosing organic, sustainably raised options when possible can help minimize any potential downsides.

When prepared using healthy cooking methods like baking, grilling or roasting without added oils or fats, pork tenderloin can be enjoyed regularly as part of a low fat meal plan. Just be mindful of portion sizes, combine it with plenty of vegetables and whole grains, and use fresh ingredients and spices to keep flavors delicious yet light. This allows you to benefit from the nutrition of pork tenderloin while maintaining a low fat diet.


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. FDC ID: 174345
  • Harvard Health Publishing: “Rethinking Pork’s Reputation as an Unhealthy Meat”
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “The Skinny on Lean Pork”
  • Obesity Action Coalition: “Pork: The Forgotten Protein”
  • American Heart Association: “Fish, Poultry and Meat: Picking Healthy Proteins”