Can I Eat Pizza on a Diet

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Preparing pizza

Most people wouldn't say pizza is a diet food, as it can be extremely high in calories in some cases but don't rule out pizza just yet. Some pizza recipes are actually pretty healthy, and overall calorie intake is what counts to shed pounds effectively. You can indeed include pizza while dieting.

Which Diets Allow Pizza?

Many types of weight loss diets allow you to indulge in pizza as long as you don't exceed your weight loss calorie allotment. For example:

  • Reduced-calorie diets (lowering your daily intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day, which amounts to 1,200 to 1,600 calories for many people) encourage healthy foods but don't necessarily restrict pizza.
  • Lower-carb pizzas can generally be included in low-carb weight loss diets such as Atkins, South Beach and Zone diets.
  • You're allowed to eat pizza on the Weight Watchers diet, just be sure to work pizza points into your plan.
  • Pizza is included in vegetarian (and vegan if you use plant-based vegan cheese substitutes) meal plans, as long as you skip the meat.
  • Several raw pizza recipes can be included in raw food diets, but regular cooked pizza isn't.
  • Pizza can be a part of Mediterranean diets as long as you don't add processed or red meats.
  • Gluten-free pizza is okay to eat when following a gluten-free diet.

Which Diets Nix Pizza?

Some diets don't allow pizza.

  • Because ketogenic diets are so low in carbs (often containing just 5 to 10 grams of carbs daily), pizza isn't generally a good fit with this type of meal plan.
  • Pizza isn't on the Paleo diet food list, as grains and dairy foods are a no-no when following this type of meal plan.

Diet Pizza Recipes

Choosing the right pizza recipe can make or break your diet's success. The following healthy pizza recipes will get you headed in the right direction when you're trying to shed pounds.

1. Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Cauliflower Crusted Pesto Pizza

This pizza recipe works for a variety of different diets, including gluten-free, low-carb, reduced-calorie, vegetarian, and Mediterranean but won't work when following a ketogenic or raw food diet. It's as delicious as it is healthy for you.

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, washed and broken into florets
  • 1 cup Italian cheese blend
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup store-bought pesto
  • 1/2 cup Italian cheese blend
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  • 10 yellow mini tomatoes, sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place cauliflower in a food processor until it reaches a rice-like consistency.
  3. Put mixture in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave for about 4 minutes.
  4. Let mixture cool and squeeze out as much liquid as possible with a paper towel.
  5. Place blended cauliflower in a bowl with egg, 1 cup of cheese, seasonings and 2 tablespoons pesto -- mix well.
  6. Press "dough" ball onto a round pizza stone lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes (or until crust is crispy).
  8. Top with 1/2 cup of pesto mixed with 1/2 cup cheese, tomatoes and zucchini.
  9. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

2. Zucchini Crusted Mozzarella and Pepper Pizza

Another option for low-carb, reduced-calorie, vegetarian, vegan and Mediterranean meal plans is a delicious mozzarella and pepper pizza with zucchini crust!

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • Cauliflower pizza
    1 1/2 zucchini, shredded
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mozzarella balls
  • 1/2 cup spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup Canadian bacon
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine zucchini, eggs, flour and salt in a large bowl, and stir in crust cheeses.
  3. Place crust mixture on a pizza pan coated with cooking spray, and bake about 15 minutes (or until golden brown).
  4. Set oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Spread pizza sauce onto crust.
  6. Top with mozzarella cheese, veggies and seasonings.
  7. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

3. Gluten-Free Grilled Chicken Spinach Pizza

While this pizza isn't low in carbs, it is gluten-free and loaded with nutrients.

Ingredients

For the crust:

Follow this gluten-free pizza crust recipe, containing the following ingredients:

  • Chicken and Roasted Pepper Pizza
    1 cup rice flour
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
  • 3/4 cup very warm water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 2 cups grilled chicken strips
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Follow instructions for the gluten-free pizza crust, and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes on a pizza stone.
  2. Remove crust from oven, and top with oil and other topping ingredients.
  3. Bake an additional 12 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Choosing Pizza

Just because you're on a diet doesn't mean you have to avoid pizza. Choose healthy pizzas appropriate for the diet you're following -- and limit your overall calorie intake to recommended allotments based on gender and activity levels.

Can I Eat Pizza on a Diet