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The Pritikin Diet

The Pritikin Diet is almost completely vegetarian, and encourages the consumption of large amounts of whole grains and vegetables. It is high in fiber, low in cholesterol, and extremely low in saturated fat and total fat, containing less than 10 percent of total daily calories from fat.

The original Pritikin Diet was made famous on the back of international hysteria about the role of cholesterol in heart disease. Pritikin capitalized on that hysteria with his high grain diet designed to reduce cholesterol levels, reduce weight, reduce blood pressure and other heart health indicators.

There was a weakness to the anti-cholesterol hysteria, and that weakness was carried over into the anti-cholesterol diets of the era, including that promoted by Nathan Pritikin.

Cholesterol is not a poison. The human body actually requires adequate cholesterol levels for many bodily health functions.

Individuals following the diet are encouraged to eat six or seven meals each day, and are not required to restrict portion sizes.

Processed foods such as pasta and white bread, animal proteins, eggs and most types of fats are eliminated in favor of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. The revised Pritikin diet encourages the use of "healthy" fats high in omega-3 fatty acids in limited amounts.

In addition to these dietary recommendations, the Pritikin Diet Program includes regular exercise. Program participants are required to walk for at least 45 minutes each day.

According to Dr. Pritikin, "In a very short time, people on the Pritikin Program experience a significant improvement in weight, vitality, and clarity of mind. Many feel more optimistic and positive about themselves and the future. The vast majority of people with high cholesterol levels see their cholesterols fall into the healthy ranges. Immune systems become stronger. The chances of contracting a serious disease, such as heart disease, cancer, adult-onset diabetes, or high blood pressure, decrease dramatically. All of these effects radically and positively transform people's lives."

The 5 Fundamental Behaviors of the Pritikin Eating Plan

1. Exercise, which increases your craving for high-carbohydrate foods, and also improves your health and helps to lower your weight

2. Choosing the right carbohydrate-rich food, which enables you to lose weight without hunger

3. Limiting your fat intake, which keeps your fat instinct dormant and your calorie intake low, and promotes health and weight loss

4. Eating frequently, which keeps you from being hungry, prevents the triggering of your fat instinct, and keeps your body burning fat

5. Maintaining consistency over time, which changes your palate and turns the program into a way of life


A large body of scientific literature demonstrates the benefits of a low-fat, high-fiber diet in the prevention of many degenerative diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Also, numerous clinical studies conducted at the Pritikin Longevity Centers have shown that the Pritikin Diet, combined with a structured exercise program, produces weight loss, and lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

There is no calorie counting and portions are not controlled. So, there is a better chance for people to stay with the diet.


Some nutrition professionals argue that the Pritikin Diet is too low in fat. Because dietary fat is so severely restricted, Pritikin dieters may not be able to consume a sufficient amount of the healthy fats, especially the omega-3 fats. In addition, absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) may be impaired with such low intakes of dietary fat.

Diets very low in fat often are unsatisfying, leading some people to overeat. It's difficult for many people to give up animal products and dairy.



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