Pritikin Diet Review: Benefits, Downsides, and More

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The Pritikin Diet and Exercise program, also called the Pritikin Program or Pritikin Principle, was a prime promoting weight-reduction plan e-book within the late 1970s, and it’s nonetheless well-liked in the present day.

The foundation of this system is a low fats, excessive fiber weight-reduction plan together with a each day train routine. It guarantees that can assist you handle your weight, cut back — and even reverse — your danger of coronary heart illness, and make you are feeling youthful than ever.

While advising dietary and train modifications for illness prevention is normal in the present day, this philosophy was controversial within the 1970s and 1980s, when weight-reduction plan and train weren’t believed to be the primary trigger or approach to stop coronary heart illness and poor well being.

This article opinions the Pritikin Diet, together with its weight reduction effectiveness, different advantages, and downsides.

weight-reduction plan evaluate scorecard

  • Overall rating: three.46
  • Weight loss: 2
  • Healthy consuming: four
  • Sustainability: three.5
  • Whole physique well being: four.5
  • Nutrition high quality: four
  • Evidence-based: 2.75

BOTTOM LINE: The Pritikin Program promotes an unprocessed, low fats, and excessive fiber weight-reduction plan together with each day train and stress administration. Still, it’s very low in fats and has an extended checklist of restrictions, which can make it troublesome to comply with long run.

The Pritikin Program was developed within the 1970s by Nathan Pritikin as a wholesome life-style to assist weight reduction and enhance coronary heart well being. The weight-reduction plan emphasizes consuming unprocessed, low fats, and excessive fiber meals together with getting each day train.

Though Pritikin wasn’t a medical physician or well being skilled, his ardour for a wholesome life-style stemmed from his observations on public well being throughout World War 2, in addition to his personal well being points.

Originally, it was believed that coronary heart illness was associated to extended stress, with remedy involving treatment and a low stress life-style. However, coronary heart illness charges decreased post-war regardless of being a time inundated with excessive stress ranges.

Therefore, Pritikin grew curious concerning the true origin of those illnesses. He additionally noticed a key distinction within the dietary high quality of wartime meals rationings — they have been low in fats and ldl cholesterol and excessive in fiber.

To take a look at his principle, he ignored his physician’s recommendation and handled his coronary heart illness with weight-reduction plan and train and with out treatment or relaxation. After reversing his coronary heart illness, he continued his analysis and revealed dozens of profitable ends in famend medical journals.

Until his dying in 1985, Pritikin revealed quite a few weight-reduction plan books, akin to “The Pritikin Program For Diet and Exercise” and “The Pritikin Permanent Weight Loss Manual.” Furthermore, he opened the Pritikin Longevity Center in California, which continues to be in operation in the present day.

Claiming to be the healthiest weight-reduction plan on Earth, the Pritikin model encourages complete, unprocessed meals with an emphasis on low fats varieties, common train, and sustaining a wholesome mind-body connection via journaling, laughing, and different wholesome habits.


The Pritikin Diet was developed by Nathan Pritikin within the 1970s. The weight-reduction plan guarantees to decrease your danger of coronary heart illness and different power illnesses by specializing in consuming a low fats, excessive fiber weight-reduction plan comprising largely unprocessed meals.

The Pritikin Program is predicated on three major classes — the Pritikin Diet, the Exercise Plan, and Healthy Mind and Body.

The Pritikin Diet

The Pritikin Diet emphasizes complete, unprocessed meals which might be low in fats and excessive in fiber. Approximately 10–15% of energy ought to come from fats, 15–20% from protein, and 65–75% from advanced carbs.

The plan is predicated on a stoplight system with a listing of “go,” “caution,” and “stop” meals.

“Go” meals embody fruits, greens, complete grains, starchy greens, legumes, fish, lean protein, and low fats, calcium-rich meals like fat-free yogurt.

“Caution” meals ought to be restricted, however you’ll be able to nonetheless eat them from time to time. These embody oils, refined sugars (e.g., syrups and fruit juices), and refined grains (e.g., white bread, pasta, and rice).

Finally, “stop” meals ought to be eaten not more than as soon as per thirty days and embody animal fat (e.g., butter), tropical oils (e.g., coconut oil), processed oils (e.g., hydrogenated margarine), organ and processed meats, complete fats dairy, and processed treats.

To aid you along with your new weight-reduction plan, Pritikin provides a meal supply service referred to as Pritikin Foods.

The Exercise Plan

The Pritikin Exercise Plan focuses on three major areas — cardiovascular conditioning (cardio train), energy coaching, and flexibility (stretching).

Though you’re anticipated to be taught the main points of the plan on the Pritikin Longevity Center, a number of normal ideas are recommended, together with:

  • Cardiovascular conditioning: 30–90 minutes every day no less than 6 days per week (7 days per week in case you have diabetes)
  • Strength coaching: two or three 20-minute coaching periods per week
  • Stretching: stretch for 10 minutes every day for no less than 10–30 seconds per stretch

For customized suggestions, this system recommends visiting the Pritikin Longevity Center for a full evaluation and custom-made train plans.

Healthy Mind and Body

Managing power stress and anxiousness are key parts of the Pritikin Program, as extended stress can have detrimental results in your bodily and psychological well-being.

The program’s wellness middle — The Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa — is a well being resort situated in Miami, Florida that gives wellness retreats.

It additionally provides numerous cognitive and behavioral practices, akin to leisure coaching and cognitive behavioral remedy, to realize “stress hardiness,” which is believed to assist enhance your capability to deal with stress.

It’s primarily based on 4 major character traits which you can obtain:

  1. Commitment: an total dedication and curiosity about your self, your work, and these round you
  2. Control: an inside perception which you can management the way you reply to any state of affairs or life change
  3. Challenge: a constructive angle towards change and development
  4. Connection: an unwavering perception that these closest to you worth and perceive you

Along with this, this system encourages creating a robust social assist system of associates and household, each day journaling, laughing frequently, consuming nutritious meals, and exercising every day to handle stress.


The three major parts of the Pritikin Program embody consuming a low fats, excessive fiber weight-reduction plan, exercising each day, and studying to raised handle your stress ranges.

The Pritikin Diet has a transparent and organized checklist of meals to eat, restrict, or keep away from. Foods to eat are labeled “go” meals, whereas meals that ought to be restricted or averted are “caution” and “stop” meals.

Foods to eat

Foods on the “go” checklist embody:

  • Fruits and greens (four–5 servings of every per day): purpose for quite a lot of colours and sorts; eat them of their complete kind both recent, frozen, or canned with out syrup
  • Complex carbs (5 or extra servings per day): complete grains (complete wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, oatmeal, rye, quinoa, barley, millet, and so on.), starchy greens (potatoes, candy potato, yams, winter squashes, and so on.), and legumes (black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, and so on.)
  • Nuts and seeds: restrict servings to not more than 1 ounce (28 grams) per day
  • Dairy (2 servings per day): nonfat cow’s milk, nonfat yogurt, and fortified soymilk
  • Lean protein (no a couple of serving per day): skinless white rooster or turkey, lean pink meat (bison, venison), and a big emphasis on plant-based proteins, akin to legumes and soy merchandise (tofu, edamame)
  • Fish (no a couple of serving per day): recent or canned (unsalted) fatty fish, akin to salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and trout
  • Eggs: as much as two servings of egg whites per day (no yolks); you might have greater than two servings if this replaces different animal proteins
  • Beverages: water as your major beverage; not more than 400 mg of caffeine per day from unsweetened tea (ideally inexperienced or natural tea) or filtered espresso (removes diterpenes that will enhance LDL (unhealthy) ldl cholesterol)
  • Artificial sweeteners: not more than 10–12 packets of Splenda or Stevia every day
  • Herbs, spices: all herbs and spices are allowed and ought to exchange added sugar, fats, and salt

You’re additionally inspired to get most of your protein from plant-based meals, akin to tofu, edamame, beans, peas, and lentils.

Furthermore, when you’re making an attempt to shed weight, you’re suggested to eat limitless greens and excessive fiber meals (e.g., cooked oatmeal, brown rice) and restrict greater calorie meals, akin to nuts, seeds, breads, and crackers.

Foods to keep away from

Foods that ought to be averted fully or restricted to as soon as per thirty days embody:

  • Animal fat and processed oils: butter, rooster fats, chocolate, coconut oil, cocoa butter, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, lard, margarine, palm oil, palm kernel oil, shortenings, and so on.
  • Processed and excessive fats meats: organ meats and processed meats (e.g., bacon, sausage, ham, bologna)
  • Whole fats dairy: all cheeses, cream cheese and different processed varieties, complete fats milk, complete fats yogurt, bitter cream, and so on.
  • Nuts: solely coconuts ought to be averted as a result of their excessive saturated fats content material
  • Other meals: egg yolks, fried meals or meals cooked in oil, nondairy whipped toppings, excessive fats pastries and desserts, salty snack meals, and so on.

In addition to following the model’s meals checklist, it’s really helpful to enroll in this system’s wellness workshops and cooking courses to learn to put together wholesome meals, grocery store, and order wholesome gadgets at eating places.


Approved “go” meals embody unprocessed greens, fruit, complete grains, and largely plant-based proteins. Off-limit or restricted meals embody extremely processed meats, complete fats dairy, and different excessive fats meals.

Though weight reduction is just not the first objective, you’ll be able to simply shed weight on this system.

The Pritikin Diet focuses on complete, unprocessed meals and emphasizes meals excessive in protein and fiber. Foods excessive in protein and fiber take longer to digest, which helps promote emotions of fullness and reduces starvation (1, 2, three, four).

The weight-reduction plan additionally strictly limits meals excessive in fats, sugar, and salt, which are usually greater in energy (5).

Along with this, it encourages each day train and stress-reducing actions. Combined, these behaviors are linked to raised weight administration (6, 7, eight).

Overall, this system encourages a excessive quantity of each day train paired with complete, low calorie meals. This will probably create a calorie deficit and in the end result in weight reduction.


The Pritikin Diet focuses on low calorie meals which might be excessive in fiber and protein, which can assist curb your urge for food. In addition, common train and stress administration paired with a nutritious diet have been linked to profitable weight reduction.

Along with weight reduction, there are different potential advantages to the Pritikin Program.

Backed by science

The Pritikin Program is among the few branded diets with analysis to again its advantages. Still, most analysis research have been revealed between the 1970s and 1990s. However, a couple of trendy analysis research can be found.

In a 2007 examine, 67 members attended the Pritikin Longevity Center for 12–15 days and skilled a median three% lower of their physique mass index (BMI), in addition to a 10–15% lower in blood strain and levels of cholesterol (9).

In one other 14-day examine, 21 kids with obese or weight problems with a median age of 13 on the Pritikin Diet and Exercise program skilled considerably decrease markers of irritation and a 7.eight% and common lower in systolic and diastolic blood strain, respectively (10).

Interestingly, the load of the members didn’t considerably change, however their danger of coronary heart illness decreased. This means that the Pritikin Program could also be efficient amongst those that aren’t seeking to shed weight (10).

In a 2014 evaluate, the authors famous that following a largely plant-based, low fats, and excessive fiber weight-reduction plan, such because the Pritikin Diet, is related to higher coronary heart well being, because it lowers levels of cholesterol (11).

In specific, the Pritikin Diet discourages animal and plant fat excessive in saturated fat, that are linked to poorer coronary heart well being in some research. Still, the weight-reduction plan encourages meals excessive in omega-3s, that are a kind of unsaturated fats linked to improved coronary heart and mind well being (12).

Despite these outcomes, all research happened on the Pritikin Longevity Center, which calls into query whether or not the Pritikin Program is as efficient with out entry to the well being specialists and wellness retreats the middle provides.

No calorie counting

The Pritikin Diet emphasizes dietary high quality over energy.

Instead of sticking to a set calorie objective, the weight-reduction plan focuses on consuming fiber- and protein-rich meals that promote fullness and are naturally decrease in energy.

This might aid you grow to be extra in tune along with your starvation and fullness indicators and really feel extra glad on the weight-reduction plan.

Focus on life-style modifications

The Pritikin Program focuses on complete physique life-style modifications.

The program encourages its followers to deal with all areas of well being, akin to consuming a nutritious weight-reduction plan, exercising frequently, getting sufficient sleep, training mindfulness, and lowering stress.

Instead of promising a short lived repair, they give attention to modifications which you can undertake for the remainder of your life, which will increase the chance of success.


Reseaerch has proven that the Pritikin Diet decreases ldl cholesterol and different markers of coronary heart illness. What’s extra, its give attention to long-term life-style modifications and dietary high quality somewhat than energy is a profit to this system.

Though the Pritikin Program has many redeeming qualities, there are some potential downsides.

Vilifies fats

One main draw back of the Pritikin Diet is its low fats suggestions. The Pritikin Diet recommends that solely 10–15% of each day energy come from fats, in contrast with public well being suggestions of no less than 20–35% (13).

Low fats diets are extremely controversial because of the majority of analysis exhibiting advantages of fats within the weight-reduction plan — particularly these excessive in unsaturated fat (12, 14).

Interestingly, a 2016 examine discovered a 27% greater chance of metabolic illness with low fats diets that comprised lower than 15% of whole each day energy, regardless of consuming round 500 fewer energy per day, in contrast with those that ate a better fats weight-reduction plan (15).

This calls into query the healthfulness of the Pritikin Diet, particularly since a lot of the accessible research on this weight-reduction plan lasted just a few weeks. Therefore, long-term analysis is warranted.

Plus, most analysis concludes a weight-reduction plan greater in unsaturated fat and low in processed meals will probably confer probably the most well being advantages. Benefits of the Pritikin Diet probably come from consuming minimally processed meals, limiting saturated fat, and consuming a excessive fiber weight-reduction plan (16).

Finally, it ought to be famous that the Pritikin weight-reduction plan can be low in protein.

Someone following the low finish of the protein suggestion for the Pritkin Diet — 10% of whole energy — might not attain the minimal protein necessities of zero.36 grams of protein per pound (zero.eight grams per kg) of physique weight per day for sedentary folks.

Physically energetic folks have greater protein wants and might wrestle to get sufficient protein on this weight-reduction plan. Pregnant and breastfeeding girls, in addition to older adults, even have greater protein wants. Thus, the Pritikin weight-reduction plan will not be applicable for these populations (17, 18, 19, 20).


Despite having the weight-reduction plan and train tips accessible on their web site, most analysis on the advantages of the weight-reduction plan has been noticed whereas attending the Pritikin Longevity Center.

Considering most individuals do not need the time, cash, or capability to attend the middle, this makes this system largely inaccessible.

Hard to take care of

The Pritikin Diet contains a big checklist of meals to keep away from, together with many which might be usually eaten each day.

This leaves little or no room for flexibility, and some folks might discover the weight-reduction plan troublesome to comply with long run. It additionally ignores different points of consuming like custom, tradition, celebration, and enjoyment of flavors.

Positive life-style modifications are most profitable when an individual is motivated, finds enjoyment within the new behaviors, and believes they will preserve them long run (21, 22, 23).

Considering the massive variety of meals restrictions paired with the massive time dedication for train, this will not be motivating or sustainable for everybody.


Downsides of the Pritikin Diet embody its low fats suggestions, excessive price, time dedication, and lengthy checklist of meals restrictions.

The Pritikin Diet is a low fats, excessive fiber weight-reduction plan centered on minimally processed meals. Along with the weight-reduction plan, the Pritikin Program emphasizes each day train and lowering your stress ranges.

The weight-reduction plan’s emphasis on complete, unprocessed meals, each day train, and stress administration are all scientifically backed methods that can assist you shed weight in a protected, sluggish, and wholesome method.

However, it’s very low in fats and restricts an extended checklist of meals, which can be onerous to maintain long run and not present your physique with sufficient fats or protein to operate correctly.

If you’re fascinated by making an attempt the Pritikin Diet, it’s finest to talk along with your healthcare supplier and a registered dietitian to make sure you’re assembly your wants.

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