The Pritikin Diet – Duration, Pros and Cons

The Pritikin diet is a heart-friendly diet that requires consuming high-carb, low-fat foods. It also requires a moderate level of exercise.

Losing weight with the Pritikin diet means switching to a mostly vegetarian diet. There is little protein and fat, but high carbohydrates and fiber. The focus of the diet is on cereal products, pasta, rice, fruit, vegetables, and fat-free dairy products.


The Pritikin diet was developed in the 1950s by the American nutritionist Nathan Pritikin after he was diagnosed with heart disease. Shortly afterward, he put himself on a low-fat, high-fiber diet and began a light exercise program. His health improved and Pritikin developed the Pritikin diet program based on his experience. In 1976 he opened the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Florida.

Nathan Pritikin’s son Robert Pritikin further developed the concept. By the way, besides the Pritikin diet books, there are also Pritikin diet ready meals, an online diet program, and Pritikin vitamins.


The Pritikin Diet originally had the intention of preventing diseases or supporting their healing. It was not originally a weight loss program. It is primarily designed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, and optimize blood sugar levels.

In addition to nutrition, similar to the Ornish diet, the emphasis is placed on stress management, quitting smoking, and exercise.

The Pritikin Diet requires some at discipline because it requires completely vegetarian food. You should also consume natural food as much as possible. You must also avoid fat. The Pritikin diet is low in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats, but also low in unsaturated fats, salt. But the diet is rich in carbohydrates and fiber.

High-calorie, energy-dense, and highly processed foods are in the banned list. But there are large quantities of whole-grain products, vegetables, fruit, beans, peas, starchy foods such as potatoes and yam roots, lean protein products from fat-free milk, soy and fish. White flour products such as white rice or white bread are not allowed. Instead of using fat or salt as flavor enhancers, only herbs should be used.

The fat content in the Pritikin diet is less than 10% of the daily nutrient intake and is therefore extremely low. The rest of the nutrients consist of 15-20% protein and 70% carbohydrates. Daily calorie intake is limited to 1,000 kcal for women and 1,200 kcal/day for men to lose weight.

Those who want to lose weight with the Pritikin diet are recommended to eat more vegetables and less whole grain products. The vegetables should be as colorful as possible (dark green, yellow, red or orange) — the more colorful, the better. 

Water- and fiber-rich foods are at the top of the agenda. Whole grains (oat flakes, brown rice), fruit (whole fruit instead of fruit juice is better) and of course vegetables.

Foods with a high-calorie density such as dry cereal products (bread, crackers, cornflakes), dried fruit, nuts, and seeds should be reduced. Refined or concentrated sweeteners should be avoided to lose weight.

There are six to seven meals a day. The regular meals should satisfy you and not make you hungry. Drinks include water and herbal or fruit teas. Basis of the nutrition according to the Pritikin diet are these three categories of food:


“Go” food = recommended food

The general guidelines for the Pritikin diet are as follows: Five portions of whole grain products, at least five portions of vegetables and 3 portions of fruit daily. Food rich in calcium should be eaten twice a day: fat-free milk (1 cup), fat-free yogurt (¾ cup), fat-free ricotta (1/2 cup) or fat-free soy milk (1 cup).

There is animal protein only once a day, with fish or poultry being preferred. There may be fish or seafood once a day, poultry if possible only once a week. Red meat may only be eaten once a month.

“Caution” food = here applies: the less the better

 These foods are not recommended, but there are tips on how to behave if they cannot be avoided. This category includes oils, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, salt, and high-salt foods and flavorings.

“Stop” food = if possible do not eat

 None of these foods is optimal according to the Pritikin concept and should be eaten at most once a month. Foods not allowed during the Pritikin diet are all animal fats, highly processed or refined oils (e.g. trans fats), tropical oils, meat (more than once a month), normal and low-fat dairy products, coconut, egg yolk, fried foods, rich and high-fat desserts, salty snacks (salt sticks, pretzels, chips) and of course alcohol.


The low-fat and predominantly vegetarian diet according to the Pritikin principle is intended as a lifelong diet to keep the cardiovascular system healthy. There are no calorie requirements. It should be eaten in such a way that the weight remains stable. However, avocado and nuts/kernels should be eaten carefully (max. 30 g/day) due to their fat content.

If you eat according to Pritikin with the aim of losing weight, the number of calories must be reduced. Because of the small amount of fat, this should not be done for too long.


  • Focus on natural foods and lots of vegetables and fruit
  • Sport is a daily component
  • Scientific studies prove positive influence on heart health
  • Whole grain products and vegetables provide a lot of healthy fiber
  • Low calorie and protein levels can lead to hunger
  • Nothing for meat lovers
  • Very low-fat content
  • Low-salt and low-fat preparation can become monotonous in taste and difficult when eating outdoors.


Due to the rather low-calorie intake of 1,000 kcal per day, a rather rapid weight loss of 1-2 kilos per week can be expected at the beginning, depending on the initial weight. For a healthy weight reduces the number of calories should not be undercut and a weight loss of 0.5 to 1 kilo per week should be aimed at.


For those who want to lose weight with Pritikin, a daily calorie quantity of 1,000 / 1,200 kcal is recommended. So you can’t avoid counting calories here either. The choice of food is also limited and very low in fat.


Sport is an important component of the Pritikin diet. The daily program includes a minimum of 45 minutes of running (jogging, Nordic walking, etc.).


The calorie supply of 1,000 kcal per day should not be undercut in any case, because otherwise, it can come to lack of nutrients. Particularly with the demanding, daily sport workload of the Pritikin diet, physical performance can be impaired.

The low-fat content impairs the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D, and K) and the low content of meat and dairy products can lead to an insufficient supply of calcium, iron, and zinc.


  • Breakfast: Muesli with fat-free milk
  • Snack: Papaya
  • Lunchtime: Black lentil soup
  • Snack: vegetable sticks with fat-free cottage cheese
  • Evening: mashed potatoes with spinach


  • Ornish diet
  • Low fat 30
  • Volumetrics

Pritikin Diet startFood with a high energy density like many convenience foods, calorie beverages, and sweets are significantly responsible for obesity. Replacing these with low-energy, high-volume foods such as vegetables, wholemeal products, and fruit is basically a sensible dietary approach.

Critical to the Pritikin diet, however, is the very low-fat content of less than 10%. The fat content of 25 to 35 % is normally recommended as part of a balanced and heart-healthy diet. Although fat is rich in calories, it fulfills vital functions in the body in addition to its role as a flavor carrier. Particularly unsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 fats have been shown to protect the heart. In addition, many fat-soluble vitamins cannot be transported and absorbed.

Since fat is a flavor carrier, extremely low-fat diets can quickly become bland in taste and are often not hold out for long as a result. Salt is also not allowed. Although herbs are a very sensible spice alternative, they alone will not be able to replace fat and salt in the long run.

In addition to the low-fat content, the protein content of 15-20% is not very high. Protein is important during a diet to satiate and maintain muscle mass. Especially the animal proteins, which have a higher biological value, get too little weight according to Pritikin. If you are not used to a diet rich in fiber, you should slowly increase the fiber content of Pritikin, otherwise, digestive problems may occur. Besides one must pay attention to a sufficient liquid supply.

Who eats gladly meat, for that the Pritikin Diet with maximally once per week poultry and once per month red meat is not suitable. Anyone who frequently eats out, for example in a restaurant, will have problems adhering to the strict limits on fat and salt.

A positive aspect of the Pritikin diet is that not only nutrition but also sports and stress management are given very high priority. Because daily exercise and relaxation are just as important for losing weight as a healthy, balanced and calorie-conscious diet.

Fan of everything health and fitness related. My mission is to share my knowledge and experience with as many people as possible and help them to find their ideal path to perfect health.