The Pritikin diet

The Pritikin diet

This is a health and weight loss diet invented in the 1950s by Dr Pritikin. He devised a diet to follow because his arteries were clogged with cholesterol. The Pritikin Diet and Exercise Plan advocates a low-fat diet and exercise régime. It was published in 1976 and has sold millions of copies.
How it works

The Pritikin dietWe all have a survival mechanism, dubbed our ‘fatinstinct,’ which makes us eat more than we need to, particularly fat; it also makes us stock fat and reduceexercise 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 fiber we eat at the same time. The Pritikin diet suggests adopting healthy eating habits alongside an exercise programme.

The diet is low in fat and high in fiber 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 sufficient quantities of protein, so it makes you feel full.


The very low quantity of fat can lead to slightly dry and unsatisfying meals which can become unpleasant.
It’s difficult to eat out on this diet.
The very limited amount of fat consumed can lead to deficiencies. In addition to this, carotenoids (which are powerful antioxidants) and numerous vitamins are better absorbed by the body in the presence of some fat.
In the short term, the Pritikin diet can irritate the intestines because it is very high in fibre. This side-effect should disappear with time.

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


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