The Pritikin Diet Program
In the late 1950s, Nathan Pritikin was diagnosed with heart disease. Soon after, he adopted a low-fat,
high-fiber diet and began a moderate exercise program. Subsequent medical examinations
revealed dramatic improvements in his health. Mr. Pritikin developed the Pritikin Diet Program
based on his experience and opened the first Pritikin Longevity Center in 1976 so that he
could help other people with similar medical problems restore their health.
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. Individuals following the diet are encouraged to eat six or
seven meals each day, and are not required to restrict portion sizes. The diet excludes nearly
all processed grains and sources of animal protein. 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.
Why do people follow this diet?
Many individuals follow this diet to help prevent the onset or progression of various
medical conditions, most notably heart disease. Although not principally a weight loss diet, many people follow the Pritikin Diet
Program to shed unwanted pounds.
What do the advocates say?
Proponents of the Pritikin Diet point to the large body of scientific literature that
demonstrates the benefits of a low-fat, high-fiber diet in the prevention of many
degenerative diseases, including cancer and heart disease. In addition, 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.
What do the critics say?
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.
Are there any groups or books associated with this diet?
The New Pritikin Program: The Easy and Delicious Way to Shed Fat,
Lower Your Cholesterol, and Stay Fit by Robert Pritikin, New York: Pocket Books,
Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise by Nathan Pritikin
and Patrick McGrady, New York: Bantam Books, 1987.
Pritikin Diet Program website