Introduction To Pritikin Diet; The Ultimate Way To Healthy Eating

What Is The Pritikin Diet?

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American nutritionist Nathan Pritikin came up with the idea of Pritikin diet in the 70’s, mainly to combat his own cardiovascular ailment. This is why the diet mainly focuses on the consumption of unprocessed food groups, low in protein and fat, but rich in complex carbohydrates.

The Pritikin principle can be thought of as a super-low-fat-diet. While any healthy, balanced diet recommends putting fat at 20-30% of what you eat. The Pritikin weight loss program, on the other hand, keeps it under 10%. By keeping the fat consumption at an all-time low, the diet claims to help you lose weight while eating as much as you want.

The Pritikin principle is not only low in fat, it is loaded with complex carbohydrates as well. This diet encourages you to eat plenty if high-fiber grains, vegetables, and fruits frequently during the day. This approach helps you lose weight since you are curbing appetite by loading up on filling foods through the day and lowering your calorie intake. The Pritikin diet works best when you pair it with exercise and physical activity, as well as a strong social support and a stress-free life.

So, What Would You Eat In The Pritikin Diet?

 pritikin diet

The Pritikin diet focuses on healthy eating more than anything else. These food groups are allowed in the diet:

Unrefined Complex Carbohydrates

When on the Pritikin diet, it is recommended to consume 5 or more servings daily of:

  • whole grains, such as millet, quinoa, barley, brown rice, rye, oats, and whole wheat
  • starchy vegetables such as winter squashes, yams, and potatoes
  • legumes, such as lentils, peas, and beans
  • chestnuts

A serving means 1/2 cup cooked. As for whole-grain bread products such as crackers, bagels, and breads, one serving is 1 ounce. You must have noticed that the Pritikin diet doesn’t encourage much white, but white doesn’t always translate to unhealthy. For instance, non-fat yogurt, jicama, white potatoes, and cauliflower are all perfectly healthy foods.


The Pritikin diet recommends 5 servings of vegetables daily. A serving means ½ cup uncooked or 1 cup cooked. Mix in a wide variety of colors, like orange, red, yellow, green, purple. No need to count calories or your servings when you are consuming low-calorie-dense foods. You will shed off those extra pounds just by taking in less calories.


You should take in at least four servings of fresh fruits daily on the Pritikin diet. A serving of fruit is anything that can fit in your hand. Try to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits, as well as canned fruits without added sugar. Don’t let anyone tell you that fruit is fattening. People lose over 100 pounds over fruit-rich diets like Pritikin.

Dairy and/or Dairy Substitutes

2 servings of dairy foods daily. 1 serving constitutes a half cup of nonfat varieties of cottage cheese and ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup of nonfat yogurt or 1 cup of nonfat milk. Choose plain nonfat milk, not sugar-laden flavored varieties like chocolate. You can also opt for nonfat Lactaid. You can also consume dairy milk substitutes that resemble the nutritional goodness of nonfat cow’s milk in terms of protein, B-12, Vitamins D, and calcium. Fortified soymilks are the best choice here. Rice and Almond milks are also preferable, since they are rich in B-12, calcium, and Vitamin D.

However, since they are a poor source of protein, so for every cup of rice or almond milk you drink, be sure to add a lean, protein-rich food such as 2 egg whites or a half cup of cooked legumes. Coconut milk is a big no, since it is a rich source of saturated fat.  Make sure that all dairy milk substitutes are devoid of saturated fats, sodium, and sugars. On a side note, we have many plant-based calcium sources as well, such as tempeh, tofu, and green leafy vegetables such as kale, turnip greens, and collard greens.

Protein-Rich Foods

Being one of the healthiest diets you can follow, Pritikin advocates both animal and plant protein sources.

  • Protein-Rich Animal Foods:

Consume no more than 1 serving (3½ to 4 ounces cooked) of Lean meat, Poultry, and Fish. Best protein sources include grass-fed and free-range elk, Venison, and bison, skinless white poultry, and omega-3-rich fish, such as Omega-3-rich fish, mackerel, sardines, and salmons at least twice daily. If you are a canned variety, choose a low sodium variety. Shelled mollusks, such as scallops, mussels, oysters and clams are also good, but don’t eat much of crustaceans like lobster, crab, and shrimp. Steer clear of red meet, like goat, lamb, veal, pork, and beef, and select cuts that are under 30% fat. For optimal heart-health, don’t eat red meat more than once a month.

  • Egg Whites

Try to consume up to 2 egg whites a day. You can eat even more egg whites instead of land-based animal foods like meat and poultry. 1 serving of poultry or meat equals about 7 egg whites. However, try to avoid egg yolks since they are high in dietary cholesterol.

  • Protein-Rich Plant Foods

Legumes such as lentils, peas, beans, and soy products like edamame and tofu. If your goal is to reverse atherosclerosis or reduce your cholesterol levels, try to eat more of protein-rich plant foods instead of animal sources.


While you are advised to get your recommended fill of water, you can enjoy herbal teas, such as chamomile, rosehips, peppermint, and green tea, coffee substitutes, and non-alkali processed hot cocoa. If you must have caffeinated beverages, we recommend that you drink black tea over coffee. Moderation is the key with this diet.

Drink up no more than 400 mg of caffeine daily, which comes down to 8 eight-ounce cups of tea or 4 eight-ounce cups of coffee. Be it decaf or regular, certain chemicals in coffee are known to raise the LDL cholesterol. However, you can mostly eliminate this chemical by brewing with paper filters.

Coffee, both regular and decaf, does contain chemicals (diterpenes) that may modestly raise LDL cholesterol. However, by brewing with paper filters like paper cones or capsule filters like Keurig, the diterpenes are largely eliminated.

Alcoholic Beverages

Better to avoid all alcoholic beverages or consume in moderation. Up to 4 drinks are allowed in a day, but not more than 1 drink a day. A drink approximates 1½ oz of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 5 oz. of wine. Red wine is the most suitable choice over other liquor types.


Incorporate a wide array of herbs while on the Pritikin diet, since they are a rich source of phytonutrients, and add flavor to your food in place of salt and fat. Be sure to add at least 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs each day to your diet.

Artificial Sweeteners

Swap all sugar intake with artificial sweeteners. While they have no connection to weight loss, they are a great alternative for people on the Pritikin weight loss Plan, or even those with elevated triglycerides or diabetes. However, take no more than 10 to 12 packets per day. Two of the safest choices in this regard are stevia and sucralose.

What To Avoid On The Pritikin Diet?

These foods fall in the “stop” category. Every time you are faced with one of these foods, run. All items belonging to this category are notorious for their high content of sodium, cholesterol, hydrogenated fat, and saturated fat, and can compromise your personal health goals. Sadly, most foods in an average American diet fit this description. Here’s what to avoid while on the Pritikin Diet.

  • The Typical American Unhealthy Diet

Steer far away from the typical American Diet, brimming over deep-fried foods, egg yolks, unhealthy oils, and fatty meats. Such an unhealthy diet is the root cause of heart ailments, high-cholesterol, obesity, hypertension, and type-. diabetes

  • Animal Fats, Processed Refined Oils and Tropical Oils

This includes margarine, chocolate, cocoa butter, chicken fat, lard, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, butter, shortenings, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

  • Meats

Such as processed meats, organ meats, and fatty meats.

  • Whole and Low-Fat Dairy

All cheese, sour cream, milk, ice cream, half and half, cream cheese, cream, and yogurt, unless fat-free and low in sodium.

  • Nuts
  • Salt Substitutes
  • Miscellaneous

Egg yolks, deep-fried foods, non-dairy whipped toppings, rich desserts and pastries, and salty snack foods.

Sample Pritikin Menu For 1 Week

Day 1

Breakfast: ½ cup whole-grain oats, cooked in low-fat milk, topped with sliced strawberries and bananas

Midmorning Snack: 1 large tangerine, 1 steamed corn tortilla with fresh or grilled vegetables, one slice of fat free cheese, and salsa

Lunch: Toss together 2 cups mixed greens with 1 cup of any other veggies, dressed with a dash of canola oil and aged balsamic vinegar. Serve with one ear of corn, and black Lentil soup.

Midafternoon Snack: 1 apple

Dinner: A bowl of fresh salad dressed with red wine vinegar, pan seared salmon with steamed broccoli and asparagus, and 1 baked potato with a dollop of fat-free sour cream,

Day 2

Breakfast: Egg white omelet stuffed with broccoli, onions, spinach, and bell peppers, 1 bowl of fresh blueberries, and 1 cup cocoa.

Midmorning Snack: grapes

Lunch: Cream of crab and mushroom soup, A big bowl of salad tossed in with your favorite beans, and ½ whole-wheat bagel lightly buttered.

Midafternoon Snack: 1 pear, 1 bowl of plain, non-fat yogurt

Dinner: 1 cup cooked whole-wheat couscous, served with grilled herb roasted chicken, and a salad of fresh greens, avocado, and baby tomatoes.

Day 3


Midmorning Snack: ½ cup whole-grain oats, cooked in low-fat milk, topped with blueberries, strawberries, and walnuts, 1 cup tea with non-fat milk and no sugar

Midmorning Snack: 1 cup watermelon, 1 cucumber

Lunch: Papaya salad, vegetable and bean soup, and Sandwich of whole-wheat bread, fresh roasted turkey breast and assorted veggies, dressed with nonfat mayonnaise and mustard.

Midafternoon Snack: 2 cups air-popped popcorn or 1 cup fresh fruit salad

Dinner: 1 veggie burger with whole wheat bun, served with roasted baby red potatoes, and romaine lettuce salad.

Day 4

Breakfast: 1 cup low-fat yogurt mixed with 1 cup cubed fresh fruit, hash browns, with tea/coffee

Midmorning Snack: Black bean salsa, with baked tortilla chips

Lunch: A huge serving of salad incorporating mixed baby salad greens and assorted fresh veggies such as sliced jicama, tomatoes, avocados, and radishes, seasoned with red wine vinegar. A handful of strawberries. 1 serving of whole-wheat penne pasta with tomato and mushroom sauce.

Midafternoon Snack: ½ cup fat-free cottage cheese mixed in with 1 cup fresh diced fruit

Dinner: Black lentil soup, baby spinach salad dressed with balsamic red vinegar, tangy grilled chicken breast with grilled pine-apple slices and sweet potato chips.

Day 5

Breakfast: ½ cup whole-grain oats, cooked in low-fat milk, topped with sliced blueberries and bananas

Midmorning Snack: Celery sticks and carrot sticks with ½ cup red bean dip

Lunch: Salad of mixed baby romaine lettuce seasoned with shrimp-cocktail-style dressing. 1 cup melon. Cream of crab and mushroom soup with baked potato.

Midafternoon Snack: 1 pear, 1 bowl of plain, non-fat yogurt

Dinner: 1 cup steamed kale seasoned with garlic and red pepper, served with sautéed garlic shrimp. 1 cup of white bean soup, and 3 cups of mixed baby salad greens tossed in with roasted red pepper and cucumber, dressed with canola oil and balsamic red wine vinegar.

Day 6

Breakfast: Egg white omelet stuffed with mushrooms, onions, spinach, and bell peppers, 1 bowl of fresh blueberries, and 1 cup cocoa.

Midmorning Snack: Corn tortilla, served with non-fat sour cream, corn kernels, and salsa. 1 apple.

Lunch: Canned tuna or salmon, topped with crunchy spinach and non-fat mayo, served with crispbreads, 1 bowl raspberries, and 1 cup of carrot and cilantro soup.

Midafternoon Snack: 1 bowl of grapes, and 1 bowl non-fat yogurt

Dinner: 1 cup steamed asparagus, vegetable lasagna, a salad of mixed greens tossed in with cherry tomatoes and cannellini beans, dressed with canola oil and red wine vinegar.

Day 7

Breakfast: ½ cup whole-grain oats, cooked in low-fat milk, topped with sliced blueberries and bananas, 1 glass orange juice

Midmorning Snack: 6 whole-wheat low-sodium crackers with hummus dip

Lunch: 1 grilled mushroom burger, 1 cup fresh fruits, and mixed salad greens

Dinner: Cream of tomato soup, Greek-style salad with low-fat feta, and 1 cup cooked brown rice




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