The Pizza Diet: Yes, it is a thing.

Pizza is one of the world’s most craved comfort foods. With its wheaty, carby base, savory sauce, and dairy-heavy cheese topping, pizza is a common binge food—something few people can stop eating once they start. (Some of the strongest cravings humans have are for foods that contain wheat and dairy.)

Unfortunately, pizza is high in carbohydrates, calories and fat— meaning that for most people, frequent indulges translate to extra pounds, disruptions in blood sugar, bloating, and rebound cravings.

Which is what makes pizza maker Pasquale Cozzolino so unusual.

Originally from Naples, Italy (home of the pizza!), Cozzolino moved to NYC to work in the restaurant industry. Within a year, his weight had increased more than 100 pounds. Having difficulty moving, picking up his toddler son, and finding clothes to fit him—as well as being admonished about his weight by his doctor—Cozzolino decided to lose weight. The only problem: He couldn’t give up his beloved pizza. After much experimentation, he decided to keep the pizza—with some guidelines.

He would eat fruit, whole grain cereal and fruit for breakfast, an apple for a midmorning snack, and at lunch, allow himself an entire 12-inch pizza.

But not any type of pizza: Cozzolino opted for a very thin-crust pizza made with fermented dough, topped with smashed tomatoes and a small bit of fresh mozzarella. For dinner, he enjoyed fresh veggies and a serving of beans or fish.

In all, Cozzolino consumed between 2,400 to 2,700 calories a day, which worked for his large (6-foot 6-inch) frame. He also began attending rigorous kickboxing classes two or three times a week.

The weight began dropping gradually, but steadily, until after a year, he’d lost almost 100 pounds—which he has kept off for two years. He writes about his diet in The Pizza Diet: How I Lost 100 Pounds Eating My Favorite Food — and You Can, Too!

So could this diet work for you?

Maybe. With a few tweaks:

—For most of us shorter folk, Cozzolino’s 2400 to 2700 is way more calories than our bodies can use. The average middle-aged man needs to reduce calorie consumption to 1800 to 2200 calories to lose weight. Women need to shoot for a lower number, such as 1400 to 1800. )

—To lose weight, most people need to move more often than two or three times a week. Try to exercise daily for 20+ minutes, even if you’re doing something easy, like taking a walk, dancing to your favorite music, or following along to a yoga video on YouTube.

—Add a green drink to your breakfast to alkalize the body and prevent the carb cravings that often occur when eating a lot of wheat and dairy.

—Instead of an entire 12-inch pizza for lunch, have two slices and a salad or bowl of veggie soup.

—Snack on low-sugar veggies.

—Enjoy veggies and lean protein for dinner.

—Drink 8 or more glasses of water a day to help reduce the bloat that can occur after eating wheat and dairy.

Pizza Diet Resources

The Pizza Diet: How I Lost 100 Pounds Eating My Favorite Food — and You Can, Too! This is Chef Cozzolino’s book, which outlines how he lost weight without giving up his daily pizza habit.

Pizza, Pizza! The Health Benefits of Pizza!

Paleo Pizza Cookbook: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Love.

Paleo Pizza Recipes: 23 Recipes & 7 Creative Crusts.

The Contrarian Diet: Lose Weight Eating Ice Cream, Pizza, & Candy.

Healthy Fast Food. For Big and Small Fast Food Lovers. Burgers, Pizzas, Sandwiches and Hot Dogs.

Skinny Pizzas: Over 100 Healthy Low-Fat Recipes for America’s Favorite Fun Food

Pizza Cookbook: Mastering Art of Making Weight Loss Pizza Recipes

The Healthiest Diet on the Planet: Why the Foods You Love-Pizza, Pancakes, Potatoes, Pasta, and More-Are the Solution to Preventing Disease and Looking and Feeling Your Best

The Beer and Pizza Diet: A Quick Start Guide

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