Pritikin® diet


The Pritikin® diet is a low calorie, high bulk, low fat and low cholesterol diet. People who follow the Pritikin® diet generally eat foods that have an average of less than ten percent of daily calories from fat. It is almost entirely vegetarian, and those who adhere to this diet avoid processed and fatty foods. Regular exercise is also incorporated into the lifestyle modifications advocated by the Pritikin® diet.
Advocates of the Pritikin® diet claim that the eating plain will help people achieve a more optimal state of health. Weight loss is a secondary goal.
Nathan Pritikin created his diet plan after personal experiences following many different diets to treat his heart disease. Pritikin combined this eating plan with what he considered the best aspects of all the many diets he tried to lose weight and fight his heart disease. Anecdotal sources claim that Pritikin cured his health problems and was thus motivated to open the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa® in 1976.
Today, some people choose the Pritikin® diet because it does not restrict the amount of food that may be consumed in one sitting. Rather, the diet restricts the types of foods that may be consumed. For instance, an unlimited amount of broccoli may be consumed in a setting because this food has a low number of calories per pound. In contrast, a person who chooses to follow the diet may only eat a bite or two of a chocolate chip cookie at a meal because this food has an extraordinarily high number of calories per pound. Food restrictions are not based on fat or calories, but the average calories per pound for the ingredients of every meal must be less than 400. To achieve this, a vast majority of foods in every meal are generally very low in calories and fat.
Although some articles about the Pritikin® diet were published in peer-reviewed medical journals up to the late 1980's, no recent research has been conducted to evaluate the Pritikin® diet as a means of improving a person's health profile. However, the Pritikin Longevity Center® cites more recent research showing the benefit of lower fat diets to boost the perceived legitimacy of this eating plan.
The Pritikin® diet is a relatively well known diet that has been in existence since 1976. A research organization started by Nathan Pritikin and carried on by his son, Robert, after Nathan's death continues to actively promote the eating plan originally outlined by its founder.

Related Terms

Calorie Density Solution, hunger satisfaction theory.


The foundation of the Pritikin® diet is consumption of foods that are the least "dense" with calories; these foods tend to be high in bulk but low in calories. Therefore, people who choose to follow the diet tend to eat more fruits and vegetables than anything else. Some breads and pastas are acceptable, provided that they are not refined and do not contain any artificial ingredients. This diet encourages people to consume fresh food whenever possible. Consumption of processed foods is strongly discouraged.
Some followers of this eating plan choose to investigate the caloric content of everything they consume using the many charts created by Nathan Pritikin. However, most people simply follow the general premise that the caloric profile of a meal should always be on the very low end of the caloric spectrum. Very small amounts of a higher calorie food, such as a donut, are acceptable from time to time provided that all of the ingredients in a meal average out to less than 400 calories per pound. In general, though, the Pritikin® diet is centered on very low calorie food.
Because fats are dense with calories, they are consumed in very small amounts. Cooking oils are used sparingly, if at all. High fat meats are not consumed, though one serving of chicken or shellfish may be consumed per day.
Because the Pritikin® diet requires that foods be low fat and low calorie, the vast majority of the foods consumed are whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These foods are inherently high in fiber, which Pritikin® proponents claim will offer further health benefits. Secondary to these foods are dairy and other low fat proteins, such as tofu.
In general, the Pritikin® diet encourages readers to consume three full meals per day, in addition to three or four very low fat snacks.
Exercise is a central aspect of the Pritikin® diet. Individuals who choose the Pritikin® diet are encouraged to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
Although not necessary, followers of the Pritikin® diet may purchase books and food products branded by this institution. A resort and spa founded by Nathan Pritikin offers complete immersion into the diet and exercise regimen of the Pritikin® lifestyle.
The Pritikin® diet does not offer certification for healthcare practitioners.