When pizza was first invented, back in some long forgotten Italian village, it was a nearly perfect slice of nutrition: A thin crust of carbohydrates for energy, slathered with tomato sauce for vitamins and minerals, and topped with calcium-rich, protein-boosting mozzarella. It was like a food pyramid in pie form!So what happened? How did this healthy Italian invention acquire a reputation for being so terribly unhealthy? Well, to start, American food manufacturers got their greedy little hands on it. As we began researching the Eat This, Not That! book series, we discovered marketers were up to all sorts of mischief that has made it easier for Americans to gain weight—doing creepy things like loading the top up with fatty meats, infusing the crust with hidden cheeses, and otherwise turning the healthy pizza pie into a Big Mac with crust. Mama Mia!
It’s too bad, too, because pizza is a staple of American life. During last year’s Super Bowl, Papa Johns sold more pies than there are people in Delaware. And it’s only the third-biggest pizza chain (Papa Johns, not Delaware). So if you want the best of both worlds—the health benefits of the Italian style and the football-rooting fun of the American way of life, then you need to know which pizzas should be showing up at your door at halftime—and which should get called for a 15-pound penalty. (And for more of the best health, fitness, nutrition and weight-loss tips that will improve your life instantly, make sure you follow me here on Twitter.)
#7: Worst Supermarket Pizza DiGiorno For One Traditional Crust Supreme Pizza 790 calories 36 g fat (14 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fats) 1,460 mg sodium
No, it’s not delivery, but it is dangerous. This is how DiGiorno handles the personal pie: with 60 percent of your day’s sodium, 70 percent of your saturated fat, and more trans fat than you should consume in an entire day. If your heart had a voice box, it would be screaming in outrage.
Eat This Instead! Stouffer’s French Bread Deluxe Pizza (1 pizza) 430 calories 21 g fat (7 g saturated) 820 mg sodium
#6: Worst Multi-National Pizza California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak (1/2 pie) 840 calories 16 g saturated fat 1,649 mg sodium
With a caloric heft like this, you’d expect this Tex-Mex pie to be massively portioned. It’s not. The big fatty price tag draws not from size, but from the combo effect of tortilla chips and ranch dressing. Switch to the equally interesting Four Seasons Pizza, which carries artichoke hearts, salami, mushroom, tomatoes, onions, and two cheeses, and you drop nearly 400 calories per half-pie serving.
Eat This Instead! Thin Crust Four Seasons Pizza 480 calories 9 g saturated fat 1,567 mg sodium
Bonus Tip: Take a look at the weapons of mass inflation being whipped up in the labs of the mad fast-food scientists: The 20 Scariest New Restaurant Foods! Be afraid—be very afraid!
#5: Worst Single Slice Sbarro Stuffed Pepperoni Pizza 960 calories 42 g fat 3,200 mg sodium
Sbarro serves up elephantine slices, so you should know better than to order one that essentially consists of two of those slices folded one atop another. In this one wedge of pizza, Sbarro manages to pack in nearly as many calories as you’d find in four pepperoni slices from Pizza Hut! You want to survive the Sbarro super-slice challenge? Stick to a regular pie, nix the pepperoni and sausage, and limit yourself to one slice.
Eat This Instead! Fresh Tomato Pizza 450 calories 14 g fat 1,040 mg sodium
Bonus Tip: Sure, pizza has the potential to inflate, but it’s certainly not the only food to cause widespread weight gain. Case in point: The 15 Worst Burgers in America. You’ll also learn which burgers to eat instead, so you can enjoy your favorite foods and still lose weight—without ever dieting.
#4: Worst Specialty Crust Pizza Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Meat Lover’s Pizza (2 slices, 14” pie) 960 calories 52 g fat (24 g saturated, 1 g trans) 2,780 mg sodium Around the perimeter of this pie is what essentially amounts to a hula-hoop ring of cheese. Gross, right? But it’s not just cheese. Also inside that ring: two types of sausage, ham, beef, and bacon. The impact of all those salt-cured meats is more than a day’s worth of sodium in each two-slice serving—oh, and as much saturated fat as a dozen Extra Crispy Drumsticks from KFC! Here’s a simple mnemonic device: Stuffed pizza = stuffed potbelly. Stick to thin crust and lean meats and you’ll live to eat well another day.
Eat This Instead! 2 Slices Thin ‘N Crispy Ham & Pineapple Pizza (2 slices, 12” pie) 360 calories 12 g fat (6 g saturated) 1,080 mg sodium
Bonus Tip: To see more proof of how wayward beverages can utterly destroy your diet, check out the 20 Worst Drinks in America. Many of these disastrous drinks contain more than a day’s worth of calories, sugar, and fat!
#3: Worst Flatbread Cosi Chicken Gorgonzola with Fig Flatbread with Traditional Crust 1,073 calories 41 g fat (9 g saturated) 1,057 mg sodium
At first blush, flatbread seems like a healthy version of pizza—especially when it comes adorned with fanciful toppings like Gorgonzola and figs. But let this be a lesson: Just because it’s fancy doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Cosi’s traditional crust is essentially the same carpet of bread you might find underneath a circular pie. The rules of pizza selection apply to flatbreads as well: Lean toppings, light cheese, and thin crust.
Eat This Instead! Margherita Flatbread with Thin Crust 451 calories 26 g fat (13 g saturated) 328 mg sodium
#2: Worst Thin Crust Pizza Domino’s Brooklyn Style ExtravaganZZa Feast Pizza (2 slices 16” pie) 1,180 calories 60 g fat (27 g saturated) 3,420 mg sodium
To be fair, Domino’s Brooklyn Style isn’t promoted as thin crust, but it was created with fold-ability in mind. That requires slices that are soft, thin, and—in Domino’s case—massive. The typical Domino’s pie comes sliced into eighths, but order the Brooklyn-inspired pie and you’ll get only six slices. What happened to the other two slices? They were absorbed—along with their calories, fat, and sodium—into the other slices. Your better option is to build your own pie on a legitimate thin crust. Top that pie chicken and chorizo and you cut out 730 calories. Do that a couple times a week and you’ll cut close to two pounds of flab per month.
Eat This Instead! Thin Crust Grilled Chicken and Chorizo (2 slices, 14” pie) 450 calories 20 g fat (7 g saturated) 1,030 mg sodium Bonus Tip: Eating healthy on the go is far easier than it sounds. Check out these 9 Ways to Lose Weight Eating Fast-Food for body slimming tips that don’t cost a minute of your time.
#1: Worst Pizza in America Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza (Individual) 2,310 calories 162 g fat (54 g saturated fat) 4,920 mg sodium
Wait, wait, wait. This is a one-person pizza? Yup. All 2,310 calories are destined for one soon-to-be expanding belly. This pie has been a perennial pick for us over the past three years, and the reason is simple: No other personal pizza in the country even begins to approach these numbers. It breaks every single caloric recommendation on the books, and it does it under the guise of a must-have “classic” dish. With the country being plagued by obesity, Uno should have the decency to banish—or significantly improve—this dish.
Eat This Instead! Cheese and Tomato Thin Crust Pizza (Individual) 840 calories 33 g fat (15 g saturated fat) 1,770 mg sodium
Bonus Tip: Improve the way you look and feel—fast and forever—with these 25 Best Nutrition Secrets Ever! They’ve helped people lose 10, 20, 30 pounds or more in record time!