The Pritikin Program was often described by Nathan Pritikin, its creator, as “mankind’s original meal plan.” That’s because the focus of the Pritikin diet is unprocessed or minimally processed straight-from-nature foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes (such as black beans and pinto beans), whole grains such as brown rice, starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams, lean meat, and seafood.
The Pritikin Program also emphasizes another key characteristic of: plenty of daily exercise, including at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise like brisk walking, weight training two to three times weekly, and stretching, optimally every day.
In several studies published since 1975, scientists at UCLA and other research institutions have found the Pritikin Program effective in preventing the major diseases that afflict modern society, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. The Pritikin Program has been documented to improve cholesterol profiles better than cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins, and has also been found to lower blood sugars, normalize blood pressure, and shed excess weight.
The Pritikin Principle is a super-low-fat diet. In a traditionally healthy diet, fat makes up 20 to 30 percent of what you eat. The Pritikin weight-loss program keeps fat under 10 percent. The idea behind this diet is that if you stick to it, you can eat as much as you want and still lose weight.
In addition to being very low in fat, the Pritikin Principle is very high in carbohydrates. You are encouraged to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber grains frequently during the day, an approach that lets you lose weight because you’re lowering your calorie intake and reducing your appetite with filling foods.
This weight-loss program gets most of its calories from carbohydrates and restricts processed foods, fats, caffeine, sweets, and alcohol.
Because the media have largely focused on the low-fat aspects of his diet, Pritikin also said no to sugar, white flour, and all processed foods, and yes to fresh raw foods, whole grains, and vigorous exercise.
A diet low in fat may also protect you from heart disease and some types of cancer. According to Pritikin, you can lose one to two pounds per week if you exercise and follow his diet.
Disadvantages to the Pritikin Principle are that it is very regimented and may be hard to follow. Also the absence of fat can lead to not getting enough essential fatty acids.
Adopting the diet changes suggested by the Pritikin Principle would certainly cause improvements in the short run for people switching from a standard American diet. “But in the long run, extreme low-fat diets create many problems, not the least of which is the fact that most people can’t stay on them.
See also: “Diuretics“
Other possible disadvantages include:
The Pritikin Diet has been categorized as a fad diet with possible disadvantages including a boring food choice, flatulence, and the risk of feeling too hungry.