If you’ve been trying to lose weight forever, you’re definitely going to be interested in how this New York chef shed a whopping 101 pounds eating pizza every day for seven months. It probably goes against every single bit of dieting advice you’ve ever been given, but hey, the proof is right there in the pudding. Or in this case, the pizza.
Chef Pasquale Cozzolino revealed that he put on a colossal 370 pounds after he moved to the US from Italy. “I discovered the Oreo, which we never had in Italy,” he confessed. “It was like an addiction. I’d eat 10 or 12 Oreos, one time I even ate the whole box. It was like a drug for me.” He was also drinking two to three cans of soda a day at one point.
These habits made Cozzolino so overweight that he could no longer do the things he loved, like playing with his son in the park. He was wearing pants with a 48-inch waist and his doctors warned him that he was at high risk for heart disease. “I had knee problems, back problems, three ulcers in the stomach,” he said. The time was ripe for him to shed the excess pounds.
Photo: Pasquale Cozzolino/Facebook
So Cozzolino decided to do something about his situation, by giving up on soda and sweets and going back to the Mediterranean diet that he grew up on in Naples. And that meant lots of pizza. He started making traditional margherita pizza at home every day for lunch, using a 300-year-old family recipe. The dough contains only four ingredients – unbleached flour, water, sea salt, and yeast; no butter or lard that is typically found in New York pizzas. “We mix everything together,” he explained. “Settle there for 36 hours and then the gluten doesn’t have any more heaviness.” He tops the 12-inch pizza with tomato sauce, basil, and fresh mozzarella, taking the total calorie count to 600.
With lunch taken care of, he then started to think about breakfast and dinner. And he’s done pretty well with those too, choosing a big breakfast of multigrain cereal, fruit, orange juice, and coffee. His dinner is relatively smaller, consisting of a small salad with a side of protein, mostly sea food, and a glass of wine. His overall calorie intake is now about 2,700 a day.
Photo via SI24
Cozzolino’s diet sounds like a breeze, but he admits that cutting back on sugar and calories wasn’t easy. He suffered headaches and moodiness all the time in the first few months. But then his body started to settle down and started to let go of the weight. He lost 40 pounds in three months, and after a brief trip to Naples, where he saw fit men on the beach, he was inspired to lose more.
Eating pizza every day helped him stay away from junk food, and with Oreo cookies out of the picture, Cozzolino got a good balance of protein, carbs, and fats in his diet. In less than a year, he’s managed to lose 101 pounds – he weighs 270 pounds and his waist size is down to 36. He now believes that the secret to his weight loss lies in switching to natural ingredients. “I can tell you, when I go to the grocery store I always look at the label,” he said. “If they have more than 10 ingredients, I give up.”
Photo: Pasquale Cozzolino/Facebook
Believe it or not, nutrition experts approve of Cozzolino’s dietary changes. “It needs to be safe, it needs to be simple, and it needs to be sustainable,” said Dr. Jennifer Aston, Chief Women’s Health Correspondent for ABC News. “The other thing, and Pasquale is a perfect example of this, especially with ethnic backgrounds, foods should be pleasure. It should be nutritious and delicious.”
“Your body breaks [long-fermented bread] down more efficiently,” NYC nutritionist Amy Shapiro told New York Post. “People who don’t have adequate bacteria have a harder time losing weight.”
“I’m ecstatic,” 38-year-old Cozzolino says, adding that his goal is to reach 254 pounds. “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.” Business is great too – his customers at East Village’s Ribalta pizzeria, where he’s the executive chef, are delighted with his transformation. “They tell me, ‘You look great, you look fantastic’ – that motivates you even more,” he said. “I’m very happy if my experience can help someone to have a better life.”