When you're talking ribs, the leanest and most tender cuts of them all are pork baby back ribs, or back ribs. Most slabs of pork back ribs weigh between 1.5 and 2 pounds and contain 11 to 13 bones. Since a slab is more bone than meat, some people are able to eat an entire slab by themselves, though you might want to think twice before trying: Pork ribs are high in fat and calories. It's best to enjoy pork back ribs only occasionally, and in moderation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that a 12-inch long, approximately 2-pound rack of cooked pork back ribs contains 2,564 calories. The average woman between 19 and 30 years old needs approximately 2,000 calories a day; an entire slab of ribs far exceeds that, especially if the pork ribs are prepared and served covered in a sugar-rich barbecue sauce and paired with high-calorie side dishes.
Calories From Fat
A slab of cooked pork back ribs contains 188.8 total grams of fat. Since each gram of fat contributes 9 calories, the amount of calories supplied by fat in a slab of ribs is approximately 1,700, or nearly 68 percent of the total caloric value of the slab. Of the ribs' fat content, 68 grams are saturated fat. According to the American Heart Association, a woman on a 2,000-calorie diet should have less than 80 grams of total fat and 15 grams of saturated fat a day.
Calories from Protein
Pork back ribs have 202 grams of protein per slab. Protein supplies 4 calories per gram, so the protein in a slab of ribs provides about 32 percent of the total calories. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that most people should get 10 to 35 percent of their daily calories from protein, which, for the average woman, is about 46 grams. A slab of ribs contains significantly more than she needs per day.
Calories from Carbohydrates
Pork back ribs, like all other types of meat, seafood and poultry, don't contain any detectable amount of carbohydrates. However, if you brush the ribs with barbecue sauce while they're roasting or grilling, you can add a significant amount of carbohydrates to the prepared slab. A typical pork back ribs slab recipe calls for 2 cups of barbecue sauce. The USDA says that commercially bottled barbecue sauce may contain as much as 227 grams of carbohydrates -- made up mostly of sugar -- in every 2 cups. That's 908 calories from carbs.
- Amazing Ribs.com: Unfuddling the Different Cuts of Pork and Ribs
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Data for 10193, Pork, Fresh, Backribs, Separable Lean and Fat, Cooked, Roasted
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Calories - How Many Can I Have?
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Data for 06150, Sauce, Barbecue
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.