Pritikin diet pros and cons

The Pritikin Principle

The late nutritionist Nathan Pritikin first introduced his low-fat Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise in 1979, a plan he originally developed for himself to combat heart disease. Robert Pritikin continues his father’s work through his own books including , The New Pritikin Program and The Pritikin Weight Loss Breakthrough.

How the Pritikin Principle Works

“The Pritikin Principle is a super-low-fat diet,” explains Molly Kimball, RD, a sports and lifestyle nutritionist and program coordinator at the Ochsner Health System’s Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans.

“In a traditionally healthy diet, fat makes up 20 to 30 percent of what you eat. The Pritikin weight-loss program keeps fat under 10 percent. The idea behind this diet is that if you stick to it, you can eat as much as you want and still lose weight.”

In addition to being very low in fat, the Pritikin Principle is very high in carbohydrates. You are encouraged to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber grains frequently during the day, an approach that lets you lose weight because you’re lowering your calorie intake and reducing your appetite with filling foods. The Pritikin Principle also encourages stress reduction, exercise, and strong social support.

The Pritikin Principle: Sample Menu

This weight-loss program gets most of its calories from carbohydrates and restricts processed foods, fats, caffeine, sweets, and alcohol. This sample menu contains about 1,200 calories, which break down to 20 percent protein, 70 percent carbohydrates, and less than 10 percent fat:

  • Breakfast: one-half cup of oatmeal with some jam, one cup of nonfat yogurt, one cup of nonfat milk, and one cup of caffeine-free chicory coffee
  • Morning snack: one-half of a whole-wheat bagel and one-half of a cantaloupe
  • Lunch: one baked potato with one-half cup of marinara sauce, mixed greens salad, fresh fruit, and a whole-wheat roll
  • Afternoon snack: one-half cup of raw broccoli, one-half cup of cauliflower, and two tablespoons of ranch dressing
  • Dinner: chicken curry, one cup of asparagus, mixed salad greens, one-half cup of wild rice, one-half cup of skim milk, and one tablespoon of chutney

The Pritikin Principle: Pros and Cons

“Because the media have largely focused on the low-fat aspects of his diet, most people don’t realize that Pritikin also said no to sugar, white flour, and all processed foods, and yes to fresh raw foods, whole grains, and vigorous exercise,” notes Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, a board-certified clinical nutritionist and author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food. A diet low in fat may also protect you from heart disease and some types of cancer. According to Pritikin, you can lose one to two pounds per week if you exercise and follow his diet.

“Disadvantages to the Pritikin Principle are that it is very regimented and may be hard to follow. Also the absence of fat can lead to not getting enough essential fatty acids,” says Kimball.

Other possible disadvantages include:

  • This plan may be short on vitamins D, E, and B12.
  • High-fiber foods can cause digestive disturbance in some people.
  • The absence of sugar, salt, and fat can make this diet too bland for some people.
  • This diet may lower your good cholesterol.

The Pritikin Principle: Short-Term and Long-Term Effects

Daniel says that adopting the diet changes suggested by the Pritikin Principle would certainly cause improvements in the short run for people switching from a standard American diet. “But in the long run, extreme low-fat diets create many problems, not the least of which is the fact that most people can’t stay on them. Those with enough willpower to stick with them are highly likely to develop health problems including low energy, inability to concentrate, depression, immune system breakdown, and even weight gain,” warns Daniel.

Says Kimball, “Like most diet plans, there are some good things to take from the Pritikin Principle, but there is no substitute for educating yourself about nutrition and making good choices that you can live with for a lifetime.”

Pritikin diet revisited

At a health farm in the 1980s, I counted, with horrified fascination, the number of ways the chef served raw carrot. Grated, sliced, shredded, diced, whole, juiced, julienned …Compiling this catalogue helped keep my mind off the more onerous aspects of the menu, such as no salt, sugar, alcohol or caffeine and, according to the notes a friend scrawled for me during a workshop I missed (I was nursing detox nausea), “definitely no nuts: too oily”.

It was my first encounter with the Pritikin Program, founded by Nathan Pritikin, an engineer who, after suffering a heart attack in his 40s, refused to accept the prevailing view that heart disease could not be prevented. He studied cultures around the world that had low incidences of heart disease and adapted their dietary principles to create the 1980 book, The Pritikin Program For Diet And Exercise (Bantam Books), the centrepiece of which was a high-fibre diet, low in protein and fat.

While the diet has evolved (some say softened) a little under the leadership of Pritikin’s son Robert (for instance, it is less strict about nuts and seeds now) its principles remain the same. Research published in journals such as Prevention and Journal Of The CardioMetabolic Syndrome has found that following the diet lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, reverses metabolic syndrome, cuts the risk of heart attacks and can also lead to dramatic weight loss.

80s fad

Many premises of the diet, such as lots of fruit and vegetables and daily exercise, are now commonsense. Still, like the Atkins, Scarsdale and other diet heavyweights of the era, the Pritikin Program went the way of big hair, shoulder pads and Duran Duran. There’s good reason for that, says Dr Katrina Giskes, a health lecturer at Queensland University of Technology. “I wouldn’t recommend over the short, or the long, term,” she says.

Dr Giskes argues that while reducing fat intake may well lead to weight loss, it may also result in dieters missing key essential fatty acids, such as omega-3, essential for optimal brain functioning. Judy Davie, founder of The Food Coach training service, agrees. “Good fats help provide feelings of fullness, or satiety,” she says, adding that foods such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds are also rich in nutrients.

But she does give the diet points for its other initiatives. “Anything that promotes the consumption of mostly vegetable-based, low-glycaemic index carbohydrates, and a minimal amount of processed, refined foods, is good advice. The increase in fibre and the reduction of saturated fat will certainly help weight loss and reduce the risk of chronic disease.”

That said, the diet’s restrictions make it a difficult one to follow long term, says Peter Rule, naturopath at The Golden Door health retreat.”The diet still involves some kilojoule counting, it is low in calcium, and some people complain that the high fibre content causes flatulence and bloating,” he says. “Others find the diet bland despite the range of recipes suggested.”

Pros and cons

But Rule likes Pritikin’s emphasis on daily exercise, including at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, daily stretching and weight training two to three times a week. Also, there are no portion restrictions applied to certain foods and it is a suitable diet for vegetarians.

“Processed foods are eliminated in favour of wholegrains, while most fats are exchanged for fruits and vegetables,” he says. ” a healthy range of foods and generous portions that fill you up without danger of weight gain.” Rule adds that, with statistics showing that heart diseases affects one in two men and one in three women in Australia, you would think that the Pritikin Program would be more popular.

However, he suspects busy lifestyles are to blame for its current lack of popularity, with people more likely to pick up convenience foods. He also says many people may find it difficult to cut out salt, sugar, fat, coffee, tea or alcohol. This is one of the reasons Davie says she avoids “branded” diets. “They suggest a phase, rather than a way of life. A good diet should consist of many of the elements of Pritikin and, along with regular exercise, some treats as well.”

The original Pritikin diet

Eat

  • All fresh fruits, but no juices, jams or jellies with added sugar.
  • Vegetables (except avocados and olives).
  • Vegetable juices.
  • Legumes, such as beans.
  • Wholegrains, including rice, barley, buckwheat and millet.

Restrict

  • Eggwhites.
  • Lean meat, including poultry, fish, meat and seafood.
  • Skim-milk dairy such as yoghurt and cottage cheese.
  • Refined grains, including white flour, rice and pasta.
  • Salt.
  • Dry white wine for cooking.

Eliminate

  • Egg yolks.
  • Butter, margarine and oils.
  • Extracted sugars, including syrups, molasses, honey, sucrose, fructose.
  • Nuts (except chestnuts).
  • Alcohol.
  • Caffeinated drinks.
  • Artificial sweeteners.

Adapted from The Pritikin Program For Diet And Exercise by Nathan Pritikin (Bantam Books)

The Pritikin Principle Diet

Updated on June 19, 2013

With so many diets out there today, the search for the right one can be frustrating. For this reason, doing some research on diets before you get involved is an excellent idea. Why? Well, because you can learn all the basics, as well as the pros and cons, before you even start on the Pritikin Principle Diet.

One diet out there that many people have heard of and tried is Pritikin Principle Diet. Not sure whether or not this could be the right diet for you? Well, let’s take a closer look at the diet to figure out whether or not it will really work well for you.

Review of the Pritikin Principle Diet

The Pritikin Principle Diet is one that was developed by Nathan Pritikin and it has been around for more than 30 years now. The Pritikin eating plan is very low fat, and while is mostly based on eating vegetables, fruits, and grains, it is not totally a vegetarian diet.

Only 10% of this diet is fat. Nathan’s son, Robert, has now taken over this concept and has added to it and tweaked it just a bit. He stresses that you should choose foods that have low calories for their density and then you should fill up on them, since you’ll feel really full but won’t be consuming as many calories.

People It Works For Best

This diet is one that is a great fit for those who want to change their entire eating habits to lose some weight over time slowly. Also those who want to start using vegetarian principles in their diet will find that this is a great diet to check out as well.

Instead of just being a diet, it focuses on becoming an entire lifestyle, so it is great for people who want an entire change of life. However, those who love their meats and sweets from time to time may not find this diet to be the right fit.

Pros and Cons to Consider

As with any diet, Pritikin Principle Diet has both pros and cons that you should take into consideration. Here are a few of the most common pros and cons that you may want to think about before you decide this is the right diet for you.

– Pro #1 – Focuses on Healthy Eating – One of the key pros of the Pritikin Principle Diet is that it really focuses on healthy eating. The foods allowed in the diet are foods that are full of great vitamins and minerals, so you really get the important nutrients that help to keep your body healthy. Also, the foods that you eat make you feel full as well, which means you don’t constantly have to deal with cravings.

– Pro #2 – Allows a Variety of Foods – There are a variety of different foods that you are allowed to eat as well. This makes it a better diet than some diets that are extremely restrictive. When you have a variety of foods to eat, you are less likely to get bored.

– Pro #3 – Starch is Allowed in Moderation – While there are some diets that totally get rid of carbs, this diet allows you to have some carbs as long as it is done in moderation. This is a healthier choice than just totally getting rid of the carbohydrates in your diet.

– Pro #4 – Doesn’t Go Crazy with Excessive Calorie Counting – You really don’t have to stress about excessively having to count the calories that you eat. It can be a pain to count every calorie, but with this diet you’ll know that the foods you are eating are low calorie.

– Con #1 – Large Amounts of High Fibre Foods – One of the main cons to this diet is that you eat many foods that are high in fibre, since it helps to make you feel full and improve the way the digestive system works. However, over time this can cause swelling and bloating and you may not be able to eat enough in one meal to feel satisfied. (1)

– Con #2 – No Cheat Days Available – Many people find that the fact there are no cheat days to this diet to be a huge con. So, some people may find that this diet is really hard to stick to all the time, since they don’t get some of their favourite foods.

– Con #3 – Not Enough Healthy Fats – This is a diet that is low in fat, and it can be a con since you may not be getting the healthy fats that your body really does need to be healthy.

Food Do’s and Don’ts

The foods that are supposed to be eaten on Pritikin Principle diet plan include foods that have very few calories per pound. So, you are to avoid foods that have high calorie content and stick to grains, fruits, and vegetables that allow you to eat large quantities for relatively few calories.

Doing this allows you to fill your stomach so you won’t feel hungry and consume high calorie foods. Some of the foods that are really preferred in the Pritikin principle diet include oats, brown rice, apples, squash, onions, millet, potatoes, barley, bananas, pears, beans, dark green lettuces, and strawberries.

Opinions from the Medical Community

While the medical community tends to be quite happy about all the nutrients that you’ll be getting from the diet, the one problem that they have is that the fat in the diet is extremely low and may be a problem for your health. Fat soluble vitamins are also limited in this diet as well.

This means that you may have problems with skin health, proper growth, and normal cell functions because you are not getting enough fat in the diet.

Disclaimer: Always consult your doctor before starting a diet program. Pritikin website – See the Pritikin diet menu here. It is a plan that seems attainable and achievable to many.

The Pritikin Diet – Eliminating High Blood Pressure

There are so many diets advertised that promise amazing results with no effort. I want to tell you an important truth and it goes far beyond dieting, it affects your whole life. “No Effort Equals No Results”. Any diet that requires nothing from you is not based on science.

It is based on somebody finding a way to make money. So I want to start looking at some different programs that are considered healthy. “The “Cabbage Soup Diet” will not be among them.

The criteria that I will be considering is the effectiveness supported by science. Also, that does not cause harm to the delicate system inside the human body.

Some diets do provide dramatic results, but some can overtax the delicate balance as well. So we will avoid discussing these. In the end, it is up to you the reader to decide what to do.

This information is here to educate you on what is out there. But of course, there are more than the four I will be considering.

The Pritikin Diet

I believe if I am going to write about something I need to own and read the book first. So I did. The Pritikin Diet and Exercise program, which hit the best-seller list in 1979, is the granddaddy of diet books.

The idea behind the Pritikin Diet is that eating low-fat, high-fiber foods and getting regular exercise can stave off or even reverse heart disease. It can also help people stay at a healthy weight. These thoughts were considered downright shocking. Now, those ideas are considered standard.

Today, no other diet-and-exercise program has been more highly praised by the scientific community. More than 100 studies in top medical journals have found that people who adopt the Pritikin Diet achieve dramatic results in just a few weeks, with more benefits long-term.

The World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have determined the same thing.

They all determined that the healthiest, most effective diet for fighting the obesity epidemic and building long-term health is a diet that closely mirrors the Pritikin Diet.

The Pritikin Story

According to Nathan Pritikin”, “All I’m trying to do is wipe out heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.” That would be a miracle for anyone to complete, being as these three diseases are the three major killers of Americans.

Nathan Pritikin had a passion for both research and a desire to cure himself of his heart disease. He developed a low-fat, low-cholesterol, high-carbohydrate diet, which he credits for saving his life.

Pritikin’s cholesterol fell below the safe 150 mg/dL to approximately 100 mg/dL. This happened, after eliminating all animal products from his diet

His research led him to the conclusion that most illnesses seen in older patients were not due to the natural inevitable consequence of aging, but due to diets. Diets rich in saturated fats and animal products.

His desire was to not only treat his own heart disease but also to eradicate typical Western illnesses caused by the rich Western diet.

Michael Greger M.D shares the story of his grandmother, who inspired him to go into medicine:

What Does The Pritikin Diet Entail?

There is nothing extreme about the Pritikin Diet except that it is extremely healthy. In more than 100 studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals, the Pritikin Diet and Exercise program has been found highly effective.

Not only does the regime promote weight loss, but it also prevents and control many of the world’s leading killers, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

The plan includes “Go Foods”, “Caution Foods”, and “Stop Foods”.
Go Foods

These foods are the ones recommended to improve your overall health, help you lose weight and reverse disease processes. Such foods such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and oatmeal
  • Starchy Vegetables like potatoes, corn, and yams
  • Legumes such as beans (like black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzo beans); peas; and lentils
  • Lean Calcium-Rich Foods such as nonfat dairy milk, nonfat yogurt, and fortified soymilk
  • Fish (a rich source of omega-3-fatty acids)
  • Lean Sources of Protein (very low in saturated fat) such as skinless white poultry; lean red meat like bison and venison
  • Also plant sources of protein, such as legumes and soy-based foods like tofu and edamame (soybeans).
Caution Foods

“CAUTION” foods on the Pritikin Diet are those that have been proven to increase the risk of obesity and/or multiple health concerns. These include high blood cholesterol, high blood sugar, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers.

Such foods and condiments as:

  • Oils
  • Refined Sweeteners such as corn syrup, and honey
  • Salt
  • Refined Grains such as white bread, white pasta, and white rice
Stop Foods

“STOP” foods on the Pritikin Diet are those that have been proven to substantially increase the risk of obesity and/or multiple health concerns. Including high blood cholesterol, high blood sugar, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers.

Such foods as:

  • Saturated-Fat-Rich Foods such as butter; tropical oils like coconut oil, fatty meats; and dairy foods like cheese, cream, and whole/low-fat milk
  • Organ Meats
  • Processed Meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and bologna
  • Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils
  • Cholesterol rich foods like egg yolks

Advertisement Watch How Mark Lowered His Blood Pressure Naturally. It was 150/100, this morning it was 110/79 Learn More…

Exercise For Weight Loss

Weight loss does not happen overnight. It takes a great deal of dedication to lose weight, usually by changing eating habits and exercising regularly.

This two-step approach to weight loss may not produce the miraculous effects found in a “magic pill,” but it does guarantee long-lasting results.

The dietary changes restrict calorie intake while exercising boosts the body’s metabolic rate.

When used in combination, a calorie-burning effect occurs that leads to weight loss. In general, every exercise routine burns calories; however, aerobic exercises tend to produce the best results.

Aerobic Exercise Trumps Resistance Training for Weight and Fat Loss: According to Duke researchers, aerobic exercise trumps resistance training for weight and fat loss.

Exercise to Lose Weight

WebMD defends aerobic exercise as the outlet for achieved fat loss.

Exercise and Activity for Weight Loss: MedlinePlus shares basic exercises and activities that anyone can do around the house to promote weight loss.

Popular Swimming Pool Workouts

Follow these swimming pool workouts to burn calories and lose weight.

Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour: The Mayo Clinic shares a chart with calorie-burning exercises that will help shred the fat in under an hour.

Pros and Cons to Consider

Pritikin Principle Diet, as with any diet, has both pros and cons that you should take into consideration. Here are a few of the most common pros and cons that you may want to think about before you decide this is the right diet for you.

The Pros
  • Pro #1 – Focuses on Healthy Eating – One of the key pros of the Pritikin Principle Diet is that it really focuses on healthy eating. The foods allowed in the diet are foods that are full of great vitamins and minerals. So you really get the important nutrients that help to keep your body healthy. Also, the foods that you eat make you feel full as well, which means you don’t constantly have to deal with cravings.
  • Pro #2 – Allows a Variety of Foods – There are a variety of different foods that you are allowed to eat as well. This makes it a better diet than some diets that are extremely restrictive. When you have a variety of foods to eat, you are less likely to get bored.
  • Pro #3 – Starch is Allowed in Moderation – While there are some diets that totally get rid of carbs, this diet allows you to have some carbs as long as it is done in moderation. This is a healthier choice than just totally getting rid of the carbohydrates in your diet.
  • Pro #4 – Doesn’t Go Crazy with Excessive Calorie Counting – You really don’t have to stress about excessively having to count the calories that you eat. It can be a pain to count every calorie, but with this diet, you’ll know that the foods you are eating are low calorie.
The Cons
  • Con #1 – Large Amounts of High Fibre Foods – One of the main cons to this diet is that you eat many foods that are high in fiber. This helps to make you feel full and improve the way the digestive system works.
    However, over time this can cause swelling and bloating and you may not be able to eat enough in one meal to feel satisfied.
  • Con #2 – No Cheat Days Available – Many people find that the fact there are no cheat days to this diet to be a huge con. So, some people may find that this diet is really hard to stick to all the time since they don’t get some of their favorite foods.
  • Con #3 – Not Enough Healthy Fats – This is a diet that is low in fat, and it can be a con since you may not be getting the healthy fats that your body really does need to be healthy.
Who Would Benefit From This Program?

This diet is one that is a great fit for those who want to change their entire eating habits to lose some weight over time slowly. Also, those who want to start using vegetarian principles in their diet will find that this is a great diet to check out as well.

Instead of just being a diet, it focuses on becoming an entire lifestyle, so it is great for people who want an entire change of life. However, those who love their meats and sweets from time to time may not find this diet to be the right fit.

For More Information About The Pritikin Program.

Tags: heart healthy diet

The buffet lunch included a nice corn and tomatillo soup; two very pleasant salads, one with rice, the other with cucumbers; some perfectly cooked vegetables; a couple of dozen salad ingredients, and four salad dressings.

Guests may eat all they want because the food has so few calories. And that is the other significant difference between the old Pritikin regimen and the new. There is no portion control. And guests don’t count calories, fat or the percentage of calories from fat. “We try to keep it a no-brainer,” Mr. Pritikin said.

Instead, guests are taught the five, four, three, two, one plan: they choose unlimited amounts of five complex carbohydrates, four vegetables, three fruits, two servings (eight ounces each) of nonfat dairy, and one 3 1/2-ounce serving of fish, poultry or lean red meat. Fish, poultry and meat are used as condiments to flavor dishes, not served separately.

The plan calls for frequent meals — maybe six a day — 40 minutes of aerobic exercise a day — walking is fine — 10 minutes of stretching and weight training every other day. Weight-lifting increases the metabolic rate and makes weight loss easier.

“A lot of what we do is counter-intuitive,” Mr. Pritikin said. But there are scientific studies that suggest skipping meals and controlling the amount of food causes a craving for fat. There are also studies that suggest that exercise makes the body crave carbohydrates instead of fat.

After guests leave the center, their maintenance diet is also based on 10 percent of calories from fat, allowing room for slippage. Slippage is what happens in the real world.

“In the real world, the pressure is to eat high-fat food,” Mr. Pritikin said, “and you are going against society if you try to live a healthy life style. For maintenance, we shoot for 10 percent, knowing people eat out a lot and will have to compromise and get to 15 to 20 percent. We also know 30 percent doesn’t work. It’s our belief that if you get the fat down to 20 percent, that you can reduce the risk of heart disease, breast cancer and colon cancer.”

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