Many people reduce or cut out carbs completely when trying to lose weight — but one North Carolina man was determined to shed pounds while eating pasta every single day for nearly two months.
Alan Martin, 52, is an Olive Garden superfan. In fact, he is so loyal that the chain sends him a free Never Ending Pasta Pass every year, and he makes the most of it by eating at his local franchise daily, without fail.
During the promotion this year, the 5’10” Burlington resident made a goal to drop 10lbs from his 227lb frame — and while he came up short, he did manage to end the Pasta Pass period lighter than he was when he started.
I’m on an all-carb diet! Alan Martin, 52, ate at Olive Garden every single day for eight weeks and lost 5lbs
Yum: He used his Never Ending Pasta Pass, which entitles him to unlimited bread sticks, soup, salad, pasta, and toppings (but not apps like these)
‘I’m a Southerner. We don’t eat normal,’ Alan told the Wall Street Journal, explaining his usual diet is even unhealthier than his Olive Garden one, packed with BBQ sandwiches, burgers, peanut butter, and chocolate.
Eating Olive Garden every single day isn’t exactly ‘normal,’ either, but Alan managed to do it while watching his waistline.
By now, he’s had some practice. Olive Garden’s started its Never Ending Pasta Pass promotion in 2014, offering a few lucky customers a non-transferable card that entitled them unlimited food at the restaurant for eight weeks.
The customer gets unlimited bread sticks, soup, salad, pasta, and toppings, for a price that’s a real bargain if the pass is used frequently enough.
What a deal! Alan bought his Pasta Pass in 2014 and ate at the chain every day, making headlines. Starting in 2015, the chain began sending him the $100 pass for free
Almost: He lost 4lbs the first year and set a goal for 10lbs this year, which he didn’t meet
Alan got his hands on a pass the first year the chain ran the promotion. Aiming to get the most bang for his buck, he decided to eat there as often as allowed — every day — and followed through, dining in for 115 days straight.
He set a record, and Olive Garden has thanked him for the publicity by sending him a new Pasta Pass, free of charge, every year.
This has proved especially useful given the increasing popularity of the pass, which sold out in under a second this year.
In 2015, the second year of the promotion, he was thrilled to receive the new pass int he mail the day before they went on sale.
‘I get home and there’s this box,’ he told NBC that year. ‘It is fancy, when you open it, it springs open and presents you with this card. I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy, and then I noticed it had my family on the card and thought ‘that’s probably going to be good.’
Moderation: Alan has learned some tricks, like limiting his intake to one breadstick
Double: He also takes home some of the pasta as leftovers
Unhealthy: Though there is some more moderately caloric food on the menu, much of it is high-calorie and high-fat
Despite the unlimited access, Alan didn’t exactly stuff his face. That first year with the card, he dropped 4lbs, and said his cholesterol dropped by 40 per cent.
This year, he decided to do even better, setting a 10lb. weight loss goal.
Naturally, it wasn’t easy. In addition to the high-carb content of much of the menu, Olive Garden is infamous for its big portions. And because Alan is well-known at the local restaurant, the manager brings him free sweet tea with his meal.
He’s had to employ a few tricks to ensure he lost, not gained, weight. Much as he loves bread sticks, he only allows himself one per meal. He passes on that sweet tea, and tries to fill up on salad before his pasta arrives.
He also shrinks his portions, taking some of his pasta home to have as leftovers later. According to the WSJ, his freezer is full of the take-out containers.
Pasta pals: Alan has met Jeff Berman (right), another Pasta Pass holder who eats there frequently during the promotional period
Fascinating: Jeff ate 144 meals there during the period this year but maintained a trim figure with juts 10 per cent body fat
All in all, he consumed nearly 1000,000 calories over the eight week period, getting down to 222lbs Though he feel short of his goal, he’s still certain that it’s possible to maintain a trim figure on the Olive Garden diet — and he has proof.
Jeff Berman from Inverness, Florida also has the Pasta Pass. He, too, eats at his local restaurant frequently during the promotion, and had 144 meals during 56 days there this time around.
At 5’10”, he weighs just 152lbs and has 10 per cent body fat, which he maintains through exercise. He lost 2.2lbs during the promotion this year.