Is Regular Bacon Better Than Turkey Bacon?

A couple of weeks ago Oprah did a segment on a new set of books out called Eat this, Not That!.  The books are written by David Zinczenko and they attempt to “educate” people on making better food choices.

At first glance the intentions of the author seem genuine, and it seems like he’s trying to help people make better food choices, but after watching the segment I personally think that it’s just another clever marketing gimmick to sell books.

One of the segments in the show, also repeated again on Ellen compares Regular Bacon to Turkey Bacon.  David asks Oprah and her audience “Which is better?  Regular Bacon or Turkey Bacon?” and of course most of the audience thinks it’s Turkey Bacon.  Then he shows that the Turkey Bacon and the Regular Bacon have the same amount of Calories and Fat Grams but the Turkey Bacon has a bit more sodium compared to the Regular Bacon, and the audience is shocked to hear that Regular Bacon is better than Turkey Bacon.

Is Regular Bacon Really Better Than Turkey Bacon?

Although it makes for a really controversial Oprah show and I’ve heard a lot of people talking about it just when I’m out and about, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

In reality, there are MANY different brands of Turkey Bacon out there, and there are MANY different brands of Regular Bacon.  There are also MANY different CUTS of Regular Bacon coming from different sources.  All the different brands of bacon have different nutritional stats.

The problem is that people watch a show like Oprah and they hear that this particular brand of Turkey Bacon is actually nutritionally not as good as that particular brand of Regular Bacon, and from that point forward they assume that all regular bacon is better than turkey bacon.  That is simply not true!

After watching that segment, I went to the supermarket and had a look at all the different types of bacon they sell there.  What did I find?  I randomly picked up five different brands and types of Regular Bacon and compared to it to Turkey Bacon.  All five Regular Bacon packages were nutritionally WORSE than the Turkey Bacon.

Most of the Regular Bacon packages I picked up had way more Calories per strip of bacon, some had more fat, some even had more sodium.  So comparing the different types of Regular Bacon at the supermarket I was at to Turkey Bacon showed that Regular Bacon is worse for you nutritionally than Turkey Bacon.

Was David Zinczenko Lying on Oprah?

No, David Zinczenko isn’t a liar.  He is a clever marketer.  He knows that most people believe that Turkey Bacon is better than Regular Bacon, so he simply went out and found a specific brand and type of Regular Bacon that is actually better than a specific brand and type of Turkey Bacon and then compared those two brands to show that in that specific case the Regular Bacon was actually better than the Turkey Bacon.  Controversy gets people to watch the show and to buy books. 

However, when you watch the show the sentiment that comes across is not:

“There are certain types of Regular Bacon that are better than Turkey Bacon.”

The sentiment that comes across is:

“Keep eating Regular Bacon, it’s good for you.  Forget Turkey Bacon.”

In my opinion that is a very ignorant way of looking at things and it will do more harm than good.

The reality is that people need to learn how to read nutritional labels, and compare products properly, and not generalize that ALL Turkey Bacon is BAD FOR YOU and ALL Regular Bacon is GOOD FOR YOU, because that is not true.

The only way you’ll know which product is better for you is to turn the package over and compare the nutritional information on the back the next time you’re at the supermarket. 

The same goes for all the other foods that were compared on the show, like muffins vs. bagels, etc.  Some bagels are better than muffins, and some muffins are better than bagels.  The only way to know which is better is to specifically compare the two.  Don’t generalize.

14 Responses to Is Regular Bacon Better Than Turkey Bacon?

  • LJ says:

    Good post….I have seen that book before. It just shows how a tiny cupcake can have like as many calories as 10 apples. It is totally true, that it is way dependent on what brand you buy and how you prepare your food. mmmmmm bacon!

  • Melissa says:

    I was somewhat disappointed in some of the comparisons in “Eat This, Not That” too. There were some in which I thought “Well, I’d eat neither!” It seems, like you said above, they’re comparing two specific brands and one happens to beat the other. Sure I can eat a 100 calorie pack of Cheezits and it has less calories than a fresh mango, but the mango packs MUCH more nutritional value.

    And, also, like you said, if you read the nutritional label, some of the “good” foods in the ‘Eat This, Not That’ mentality aren’t really good. Many are still processed and contain high fructose corn syrup and other suspect ingredients.

  • RT says:

    I just got this book, and like most diet/exercise books, I take it with a grain of salt and a LOT of common sense. The book has been useful for me, because even though I do read food labels most of the time, it pointed out healthier choices I’ve been overlooking but I assumed were the same thing.

    The problem is when someone buys a diet book and assumes it’s the ultimate authority – there are always other opinions, other alternatives.

  • Shannon says:

    I heard Turkey bacon is worse because it contains a certain chemical in it that is bad for you.

  • Mike says:

    Thank you for posting this. I don’t watch Oprah, but for some reason had the TV tuned to the station while this episode was playing. The first thing I did was compare packages since we happened to have both in our house at the time. Turkey bacon came out the winner. I did the same at the grocery store with the same results as you did regarding sodium, fat and calories.

    What I think irritated me the most is that Oprah simply took their comments as facts. She didn’t even ask questions and probably agreed not to in the first place.

    Every time I eat turkey bacon I think of Oprah and I’d rather not.

  • andrew says:

    since being ret. I have set and listen to all the talk show that want your money bottom line,and the one that are so large in life that you believe what every they got to said are who every they have on there show,and the bottom line it is what you got in your pocket, information is out for free,cost nothing,just stop being lazy and read,if you stop and think,how the people get so big on t.v the answer you,no body watch the show rating go down no money is to be take off the air,look back on how many talk show did not make it because no veiwing no body want to hear what they were saiding,again bottom line you read,this way you paid yourself in the long run and you keep the brain working allot longer hopfuly.

  • Andrew says:

    ALL bacon is bad for you! :)

  • Jules says:

    I know I’m like a year late posting this!! But I remember this show… He was referring to the sodium content. He said that Turkey bacon and MUCH more sodium than regular bacon because turkey was never meant to be bacon. Look up the sodium content in Turkey Bacon.. 195mg vs 85mg in Regular Bacon. And yes… all bacon is bad for you lol


  • kp says:

    I know 3 people who use this book and not for very long and they have all lost over 15 pounds each. That is proof for me!

  • dude says:

    There’s nothing wrong with regular bacon in moderation. Read Good Calories, Bad Calories and open your eyes. Don’t be an FDA dependent sheeple. The need to avoid fat that they advocate is a lie. Both turkey and regular bacon are fine, it’s depends on which one you like the taste of. Just quit overloading on carbs and sugar and you will feel tons better.

    • skinnymini says:

      I agree. For the most part I avoid white foods: bread, rice, pasta, potatoes in favor of whole grains, brown rice and sweet potatoes which have more fiber and nutrients. I also eat lots of fruits and vegetables daily. I also avoid processed meats, bacon turkey or otherwise.

      Slowly but surely I have convinced my husband away from crackers, tortilla chips, pretzels, goldfish, etc. in favor of nuts, popcorn and fruit for snacks. I went from 170 lbs to 120 lbs in six months with just moderate exercise. I am 5’4″. So bad carbs and sugar reduction/avoidance as well as portion control is key.

  • Paul Piotrowski says:

    @Melissa: To be honest, in my opinion the books are useless. I think they are an insult to the intelligence of American people. Instead of encouraging them to learn how to read food labels, which is NOT a very difficult thing to learn, so that people can make their own educated choices, the book basically says “You’re stupid, so let me tell you which of these two specific items in these specific quantities is better.”

    Like you said above, a book that makes you feel good about eating “Cheezits” but makes you feel bad about eating a fruit is going to do more harm than good. What about the fiber content of the fruit? So what it has more calories? Calories are not the only indicator of food quality. Instead, what the book SHOULD say is “Don’t Eat Cheezits, Eat Half a Mango Instead” for example, or whatever amount of Mango is 100 Calories. Or replace the Mango with another fruit that has less calories.

    Anyway, I won’t go on and on, but I just think the books are going to do more harm by making people even less willing to read labels properly and more confused than ever. They’re going to see the comparison between a Big Mac and a Whopper and since the book says that a Big Mac is better, they’re going to go out and eat 5 of them.

    Oprah should have just spent the show teaching people how to read nutritional labels. It would have helped a lot more people in my opinion. Then they can figure out their own foods.

  • Paul Piotrowski says:

    @Shannon: Which chemical is that?

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