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The Pritikin diet

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The Pritikin diet

The Pritikin Diet is a weight loss and health diet that was invented by, you guessed it, Dr Pritikin.

The Pritikin diet

His arteries were clogged with cholesterol (mmm lovely) so in the seventies he wrote The Pritikin Diet and Exercise Plan. It advocates a low-fat diet and a specific exercise regime and has sold millions of copies.

How it works

We all have a survival mechanism, dubbed our 'fat instinct,' which makes us eat more than we need to, particularly fat; it also makes us stock fat and reduce exercise to conserve our resources.

According to Pritikin, we can fool this instinct by limiting the fat we eat as much as possible and increasing the amount of complex carbohydrates and fibre we eat at the same time.

The Pritikin diet is all about adopting healthy eating habits alongside an exercise programme.

The diet is low in fat and high in fibre and complex carbs, which makes it ideal for reducing cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular illness. Still, the Pritikin diet is much higher in complex carbohydrates (75% - 80%) and much lower in fat (5% - 10%) than standard recommendations, and none of the recipes contain any oil.

Fruit, vegetables, pulses, wholegrain cereals, milk, fat-free yoghurt and fromage frais, herbs and spices, non-salted nuts and seeds, tea and coffee, cooked egg white, fish and seafood, lean meat.

As little as possible:

Plant oils, refined sugar, artificial sugar, salt, condiments, alcohol.

Not allowed:

Tropical oils (coconut, palm kernel and palm oils), butter, animal fat, cacao butter, chocolate, margarine, hydrogenated oils (found in processed foods), fatty meat, dairy products containing more than 1% fat, coconut, egg yolk, fried food, cakes, pastries, sugary foods and fatty sauces.

A typical day
Breakfast: Orange, wholegrain cereal, wheat bran, skimmed natural yoghurt
Lunch : Lentils, vegetables, salad, broccoli, wholegrain bread, skimmed milk
Snack: Raw carrots and celery
Dinner: Brown rice, prawns, scallops, steamed vegetables, tea, apple

This diet leads to weight loss and can also help prevent cardiovascular illness, limit type 2 diabetes, reduce blood pressure and prevent cancer.

It’s high in fibre and contains enough protein to make you feel full.


The very low quantity of fat can make meals a bit dry and not very tasty.

It’s difficult to eat out at restaurants on this diet.

The very limited amount of fat consumed can lead to deficiencies. Also, carotenoids (which are powerful antioxidants) and lots of vitamins are better absorbed by the body when you're eating the recommended allowance of saturated fat.

In the short term, the Pritikin diet can irritate the intestines because it's very high in fibre, but this side-effect should disappear with time.

As with any diet, there is a risk of nutritional deficiency. Take advice from your doctor.

More Information:
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