Chef Pasquale Cozzolino says he lost almost 100 lbs. while eating a pizza every single day for lunch.
The Naples native says the lean and clean Neapolitan-style pies from his New York City restaurant Ribalta are actually the perfect meal for losing weight.
“It lets you feel satisfied, and because it’s only 540 to 570 calories, it’s a perfect and fast solution for a lunch or dinner,” Cozzolino tells the New York Post.
Take note though — these pizzas aren’t your typical greasy corner slice. While Cozzolino ate the entire 12-inch pie, it’s made with very good 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.
Though a pizza diet seems questionable, it’s a major improvement for Cozzolino, who swelled to 370 lbs. soon after he moved to the U.S. in 2011, all from eating his way around the city and pounding back soda and Oreos.
“I’d eat 10 or 12 [Oreos],” Cozzolino says. “One time I even ate the whole box. It was like a drug for me.”
Of course, Cozzolino did more than just eat pizza to drop 94 lbs. He also cut out his sugar and soda vices, and followed the guidelines of a Mediterranean diet, focusing on vegetables and lean proteins. He also took kickboxing classes two to three times a week, says the Post.
And having pizza for lunch made sticking to his diet much easier.
“It helps you to stay away from junk food,” he says. “When you eat a pizza, you don’t need anything else.”
Cozzolino now weighs 276 lbs. and hopes to lose another 22 lbs. to hit his goal weight of 254, his size when he stepped off the plane back in 2011.
“I’m ecstatic,” he says. “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.”
—Julie Mazziotta, @julietmazz