The Pritikin diet makes big claims. Proponents believe that this simple diet can help you lose weight and prevent health problems.1 Scientific studies have backed up some of these big promises. The lifestyle changes the Pritikin diet advocates are associated with better heart health.2
In this article, we’ll investigate the truth behind the bold claims which advocates of the Pritikin diet make. We’ll look at what the Pritikin diet involves, the science behind it, and how to best practice it.
What is the Pritikin diet?
The Pritikin diet became popular when inventor, nutritionist, and independent longevity researcher Nathan Pritikin published his book The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise.3
At the time, the programme seemed unusual. It involves eating low-fat, high-fibre foods and regularly exercising, which was controversial amongst the post-war American public. However, today, most of the eating habits that the Pritikin diet advocates are widely accepted and part of mainstream nutritional advice.4
The original Pritikin diet has been modernised by Nathan Pritikin’s son, Robert. Robert Pritikin suggests that adherents to the Pritikin diet prioritise eating foods with low calories for their size, like broccoli.
How does the Pritikin diet work?
The Pritikin diet advocates a ten-step plan for healthy eating, which is as follows5:
- Begin your meals with soup, salad, or whole grains. These foods are satisfying and can help you stop yearning for high-fat, high-calorie foods
- Avoid drinks high in sugar and calories. Instead, drink more water, and if you must indulge, choose a glass of red wine each day
- Prioritise foods of low caloric density
- Only snack at set times and only with healthy foods
- Eat whole foods which are minimally processed or entirely unprocessed. Never eat fast food
- Exercise as a habit, but prioritise walking and strength-training, for stamina concurrent to muscle development
- Avoid meat, especially red meat, choosing fish like salmon instead
- Avoid adding excess salt
- Don’t smoke
- Engage in stress-relieving practices, like self-massage, meditation, and yoga
What foods can you eat on the Pritikin diet?
Food that the Pritikin diet advocates, includes:
- Brown rice
- Leafy greens
- Root vegetables
Other recommended dietary behaviours include:
- Eating lean meat irregularly
- Consuming fish three times a week
- Avoiding deep-fat fried foodstuffs
- Eating three meals a day, every day
- Practice some kind of exercise each day
- Avoiding excess added salt
Last updated: 23 April 2021