A Pizza a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

One of America’s favorite foods can actually help you slim down. His Pizza Diet helped New York pizzaiolo Pasquale Cozzolino drop nearly 100 pounds and reclaim good health.

The New York Post reports the 30-year-old Italy native, who is executive chef at Rivalta Pizzeria in New York’s East Village, shed the pounds on a diet mostly of pizza and red wine. After he moved to New York in 2011 to open a pizzeria, Cozzolino pursued his dream of becoming an accomplished Big Apple pizza chef with single-minded ferocity, working long hours and neglecting balanced meals. Cozzolino managed to maintain his weight at first. But only four years later, his doctor shocked him with a wake-up call that the food-loving Italian could die at any moment of a heart attack.

Cozzolino, who has a young son, knew he must make a drastic lifestyle change. The chef immediately cut out all soda and candy and begin eating half his original portions. His breakfast included a small portion of oatmeal and some fruit. His lunch every day featured a Neapolitan pizza of his own making, more fruit and one glass of wine. Dinner would be some seafood, beans, fruit and another glass of wine. After all, you wouldn’t expect an Italian chef to cut out his red wine.

Chef Cozzolino has lost about a quarter of his body weight in seven months and still sticks to his diet. He says he feels better than ever today.

PMQ’s test chef Brian Hernandez has learned about the healthy benefits of a pizza diet on his own. He followed a pizza plan modeled on Florida pizzeria owner Matt McClellan’s 30-day regime. Starting in January 2015, Hernandez ate only slices of pizza with different toppings to achieve his nutritional goals. The coordinator of the Groupon U.S. Pizza Team was motivated by a Spring 2015 competition in Italy.  “I wanted to make sure I fit in my plane seat without being uncomfortable for nine hours,” he said. When asked about his biggest challenge, Hernandez responded, “portion control.” He added, “Honestly eating pizza every day for four months, I thought I was going to get tired of it but I was able to vary it up.”

Hernandez lost 31 pounds before his trip. Today he’s no longer eating just pizza, but the Oxford, Mississippi, resident practices a healthy lifestyle with exercise and a balanced diet. He believes what he learned on his pizza diet helps him make good decisions when choosing meals today.