The Pritikin Diet – Duration, Pros and Cons

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

The Pritikin Diet

ORIGIN OF THE DIET

The Pritikin diet was developed in the 1950s by the American nutritionist Nathan Pritikin after he was diagnosed with heart disease. Shortly afterwards, 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. Meanwhile, besides the Pritikin diet books and the Pritikin department, there are also Pritikin diet ready meals, an online diet program and Pritikin vitamins (except for the diet books everything is only available in the USA).

NUTRITION IN DETAIL

The Pritikin Diet was originally developed with the intention of preventing diseases or supporting their healing, less than 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, emphasis is placed on stress management, smoking cessation and exercise.

The German translations of the Pritikin Diet books originate from the 80’s, are from therefore not on the newest conditions. In contrast to the USA, where the Pritikin Diet is widespread. The following description of the Pritikin diet refers therefore to the information from the U.S.A. and not to that in Germany.

The Pritikin Diet requires some at discipline, since it concerns a completely vegetarian and as far as possible from natural food existing Diet programme, with which fat must be almost avoided. 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 fibre.

High-calorie, energy-dense and highly processed foods are not eaten. 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 flavour 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. A diet plan of 1,000 kcal / day is recommended for women and 1,200 kcal / day for men to lose weight.

Those who want to lose weight are recommended to eat more vegetables and less whole grain products instead. The vegetables should be eaten as colourfully as possible (dark green, yellow, red or orange). The more the better. Water- and fibre-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:

FOOD PRITIKIN DIET PLAN

“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 yoghurt (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 flavourings.

“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.

DURATION OF THE DIET

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.

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

  • 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 fibre
  • 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.

WEIGHT LOSS

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 reduction the amount of calories should not be undercut and a weight loss of 0.5 to 1 kilo per week should be aimed at.

CALORIES / POINTS COUNT

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 & EXERCISE

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

SPORT & MOVEMENT

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

NUTRIENT ASSESSMENT

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.

EXAMPLE DAY

  • 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

SIMILAR DIETS

  • Ornish diet
  • Low fat 30
  • Volumetrics

EXPERT FACITY

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%. A 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 fulfils vital functions in the body in addition to its role as a flavour 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 flavour carrier, extremely low-fat diets can quickly become bland in taste and are often not held 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 fibre, you should slowly increase the fibre 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.

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