A diet where you eat pizza all day and lose weight sounds like one of those hilarious Someecards. But for Florida cyclist Matt McClellan, he's proven that a pizza diet can help you lose weight. A longtime cyclist and owner of Tour de Pizza in St. Petersburg, FL, Matt wanted his diet to be about flexibility and moderation, and he wanted it to not be so restrictive. So the "pizza diet" was born!
It's based on the "flexible diet" approach designed by nutritionist and bodybuilder Layne Norton, PhD, who's all about eating a balance of macronutrients: fats, carbs, protein, and fiber. Matt said, "Under the flexible dieting concept, there is no such thing as a 'good' or 'bad' food," and that keeping track of your macronutrients can encourage a healthier relationship with food. Layne said that the pizza diet is so successful and sustainable because "instead of diets that encourage extremism," incorporating your favorite foods into a healthy overall diet prevents cravings and feeling like you're missing out.
Here's the breakdown of the diet: He ate 2,400 calories a day and included six total slices, which was equal to one extralarge pizza. But he didn't eat sausage and pepperoni pizza with extra cheese. On no! He chose the healthiest toppings possible to maximize nutrition. We're talking less cheese and high-fat meats and more antioxidant-rich veggies, good fats, and lean protein. Every two hours, he'd eat one slice. He also included one hour of exercise a day five times a week, alternating between cycling, swimming, and running.
After four weeks, Matt had lost 24 pounds, miraculously lowered his cholesterol from 243 to 157, and his body fat percentage reduced from almost 20 percent to nine percent. That wasn't all! He felt more powerful on his rides, had better endurance, and had faster recovery. He said, "The healthier I felt, the more inclined I was to stay active and cycle more." Matt even took his pizza diet on the road and pedaled 1,300 miles over 30 days from his Florida store to Times Square in New York, speaking to people along the way about his experiences. He said, "My intent is for people to change their perception of pizza as junk food," and here are some tips he shared on how to make your slices the healthiest possible, as he told Bicycling magazine.
Crust: Go for whole-wheat and make it thin. "It gives you the fiber you need with some carbs for energy, but without having to worry about overindulging," Matt said.
Sauce: Add chopped garlic and olive oil to a traditional marinara sauce. Matt said, "Garlic is a great immunity-booster and the olive oil is rich with antioxidants."
Cheese: Keep it very light and minimal, like skim-milk mozzarella. "Less is more. You don't need a lot for flavor or texture," he said.
Toppings: Include toppings that mix protein such as lean chicken, with high amounts of antioxidant-rich green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, and finish up with slices of avocado for healthy fats.
The radical pizza diet basically encourages portion control, eating a healthy balance of protein, carbs, fiber, and healthy fats, and including regular daily exercise. And it helps you lose weight?!