February 3, 2016
Chef Loses 100 Pounds On Pizza Diet

A New York City pizza chef claims he lost about 100 pounds, so far, by eating one of his creations every day for lunch.

The Neapolitan-style pie that became his daily staple clocks in at about 600 calories.

When Chef Pasquale Cozzolino arrived in New York from Italy in 2011, at the time he said he weighed about 254 pounds.

The six-foot-six Oreos and soda addict, who by virtue of his profession spent a lot of time eating at many of the city's restaurants, ballooned up to 370 pounds by the following year.

Developing sore knees, a bad back, and ulcers from too much snacking and overeating, the chef learned from his doctor in June 2015 that he was a candidate for heart attack if he didn't slim down. That's when he decided to make a dramatic change in his diet, including steering clear of junk food, the New York Post reported. Based on his BMI, he also determined that he needed to limit his calorie intake to less than 2,700 per day to make progress in the battle of the bulge.

"Cozzolino cut out sweets and soda entirely, started eating half of his usual portions, focused on a Mediterranean diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables ­— and looked to his restaurant's menu. For lunch nearly every day, he eats an entire pizza margherita. While that might not seem like diet-friendly fare, Cozzolino explains that his Neapolitan-style pies are not your typical New York slices. The dough is made from just water, flour, yeast and salt — no butter or lard — and the toppings are light — fresh tomato sauce, a thin layer of mozzarella cheese and basil. Plus his dough ferments for 36 hours, a process that eats away much of the natural sugars and leaves healthier complex carbs, which are easier to digest and help keep you feeling full."
Now the executive chef at Ribalta pizzeria in Greenwich Village, Cozzolino, who also started taking kickboxing classes, lost 40 pounds in three months, followed by another 54 pounds. He is targeting an additional 22 pound loss to reach his target weight of 254 pounds, which is what he weighed when first arrived in New York City from Naples. "I changed my face. I have much more energy. My digestion is beautiful. I don't have any more ulcers. My back and knees don't hurt anymore," he explained.

It's worth noting that pizza diet pizzas are made with healthy ingredients "like crushed San Marzano tomatoes (no overly-sugared tomato sauce here), thin slices of fresh mozzarella, basil, and a little bit of olive oil. That's all placed on their simple pizza dough, made with just special '00 flour,' water, sea salt, and yeast, and the mixture is left to ferment for 36 hours, which effectively eats away at the sugar, leaving just healthy, complex carbohydrates," People explained.

"So before your buddy ditches their personal trainer for Papa John, remind them that eating healthy starts with healthy ingredients. And skip delivery, you could probably use a walk to the pizzeria anyway," Food and Wine observed about the pizza diet.

Almost the entire U.S. population eats pizza regularly, and about three billion pies are sold each year in America, according to the Visually website's top ten listing of American's favorite foods.

If you needed to lose a substantial amount of weight, would you try the pizza diet? Do you think that pizza can be a primary component of a healthy diet?

[Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for NYCWFF]