Fad Diet or For Real: What is The Pritikin Diet?

Pritikin DietThe book, The Pritikin Edge, is a bestseller. The internet is buzzing with Pritikin Diet how-tos. But what is it exactly? Is it a fad diet or a solid plan for healthy eating? 

Here are some facts, you decide:


The Pritikin Diet, according to the WebMD, is a low-fat diet based on vegetable, grains and fruits. It emphasizes whole foods and advises staying away from more processed stuff. We are supposed to eat healthy, prepare low-fat meals and snacks while increasing exercise and using stress-reduction techniques.

  • It started with Nathan Pritikin in 1976 when he opened the Pritikin Longevity Centers due to his own health issues. Now his son Robert has taken over and updated the ideas. It's largely based on something he calls The Calorie Density Solution with fat and calorie contents about as low as you can safely go.
  • We are supposed to fill up on foods that have relatively few calories per pound to lose the excess body fat that threatens our health. So we'd choose apples and oatmeal over cereal in a box. You get "the freedom to eat until you are full and never limit your portions or be hungry in order to lose weight." A pound of broccoli, for instance, has just 130 calories raw and unbuttered while a pound of chocolate chip cookies has 2,140 calories.
  • We know that we should eat the broccoli. This diet just seems to remind us that we need to eat fewer calories than we burn in order to lose weight. We can do that with their food charts. Pritikin wants us eating fiber, water, veggies, fruits, beans and natural, unprocessed grains. We can have small portions of lean beef, chicken, low-fat dairy, and fish. Walking is the recommended exercise, at least 30 minutes per day.

Similar diets are Ornish Diet and Volumetrics (which Jenny Craig is currently advertising).

What do you think? Would you try eating more veggies and whole grains while reducing processed foods and meat? I think I would. Wait, I think I already do.

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