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Is pork tenderloin OK for IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by chronic abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation. Many different foods can trigger IBS symptoms, so following an elimination diet is often recommended to identify problem foods. Pork is one meat that some people with IBS may need to avoid, but pork tenderloin is often well tolerated. Here’s a detailed look at whether pork tenderloin is OK for people with IBS.

What is Pork Tenderloin?

Pork tenderloin is a lean, tender cut of meat that comes from the loin section of the pig. It’s an elongated, tube-shaped muscle that runs along the spine.

Compared to other cuts of pork, pork tenderloin is very low in fat. A 3-ounce (85 gram) serving contains (1):

Calories 122
Protein 22 grams
Fat 3 grams
Saturated fat 1 gram

As you can see, pork tenderloin is high in protein and low in fat, especially saturated fat. It’s considered a lean source of meat.

FODMAPs in Pork

The low-FODMAP diet is commonly recommended for managing IBS symptoms. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that can be hard to digest and absorb.

Many IBS patients are sensitive to high-FODMAP foods like wheat, onions, beans, dairy and certain fruits. Avoiding sources of FODMAPs is thought to improve gut symptoms in over 70% of IBS patients (2).

Fresh pork is not considered a significant source of FODMAPs (3). Therefore, tenderloin and other fresh cuts of pork are allowed on the low-FODMAP diet.

However, some processed pork products do contain FODMAPs and should be avoided by those following the diet strictly:

– Cured, smoked or salted pork products: These can contain FODMAPs from garlic, onion or other ingredients.

– Sausage: The high-fat content and added ingredients may be problematic.

As long as fresh, plain pork tenderloin is consumed, FODMAPs are not a concern.

Fat Content

The high saturated fat content of some cuts of pork may contribute to IBS symptoms in some people.

Fat can stimulate the gut and increase intestinal contractions, leading to abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea in sensitive individuals (4).

Pork tenderloin is significantly lower in fat than other cuts of pork:

Cut of pork Total fat (g per 3-oz serving) Saturated fat (g per 3-oz serving)
Pork tenderloin 3 1
Pork chops 5–8 2–3
Pork sausage 16 5
Bacon 9 3

The low amounts of total and saturated fat in pork tenderloin make it less likely to stimulate the gut or worsen diarrhea than fattier cuts of pork.

Protein and IBS

Pork tenderloin is an excellent source of protein. A 3-ounce serving provides 22 grams of protein, which represents 44% of the recommended daily intake (1).

There are some controversies surrounding protein and IBS. Although protein is essential in the diet, some research shows that consuming high amounts of protein may worsen gut symptoms like pain, bloating and gas (5).

On the other hand, protein may help with constipation by increasing stool bulk and softness. This may be beneficial for those who struggle with hard, difficult-to-pass stools (6).

Overall, moderate amounts of protein from lean sources like pork tenderloin are unlikely to aggravate symptoms in most IBS patients.

Other Components of Pork

In addition to fat, FODMAPs and protein, other components of pork may impact digestive health:


Fresh pork tenderloin is low in sodium. However, many processed pork products are high in added salt, which could stimulate the gut in salt-sensitive individuals.


Pork contains more cholesterol than other meats — about 73 mg per 3-ounce serving (1).

In some sensitive people, high dietary cholesterol intake can increase bile acid secretion, which may worsen diarrhea (7).


Histamine intolerance related to pork consumption has been reported in isolated cases (8).

However, histamine is generally not a concern with fresh cuts like tenderloin. It’s more likely an issue with cured, aged or leftover pork.

Fatty acids

Fresh pork contains small amounts of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. For most people with IBS, these are well tolerated in moderation.

However, for those with severe fat malabsorption, fatty acids could exacerbate diarrhea.

Cooking and Preparation Methods

The way pork tenderloin is prepared may also impact someone with IBS:

Spices and seasonings

Fresh pork tenderloin is very mild in flavor. Strong spices like chili powder or pepper could irritate the gut in those sensitive to them.

Cooking method

Fried and fatty cooking methods like pan frying should be avoided. Healthier options include baking, broiling, grilling or roasting pork tenderloin.


Raw or undercooked pork may contain harmful bacteria or parasites. Ensure pork reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C).


Freshness declines in leftovers, and histamine content may rise. Eat leftovers within 3–4 days and reheat thoroughly.


For most people with IBS, fresh, properly prepared pork tenderloin is likely safe to eat in moderation.

Its low fat content makes it less likely to stimulate the gut than fattier cuts of pork. It also contains no FODMAPs, which are problematic for many with IBS.

Potential downsides of pork tenderloin include its high protein and cholesterol content. Some people may need to limit intake of these.

Additionally, any pork can cause symptoms if an individual is sensitive or allergic to specific components.

Overall though, pork tenderloin is one of the best-tolerated cuts of pork for people with irritable bowel syndrome.