The Dr. Perricone Diet, developed by dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone, was not originally designed with the goal of weight loss. Weight loss was presented as only one result of the diet, along with increased energy and youthful skin. Perricone put weight loss in the spotlight in his 2007 book, “The Perricone Weight‑loss Diet: A Simple 3‑part Program To Lose The Fat, The Wrinkles, And The Years.”
The Premise: Dr. Perricone argues that micro-inflammation, a layer of invisible inflammation beneath the skin, interferes with the body’s ability to get rid of stored fat. It also increases water retention and contributes to many other health problems. Perricone promises that a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, complemented by a number of dietary supplements, will reduce this micro-inflammation. This will produce weight loss along with improving your overall health.
The Diet: Dr. Perricone places a great deal of emphasis on what to eat, as well as what not to eat. Main components of the diet include high-quality protein sources such as fish, poultry and tofu; low-glycemic carbohydrates; healthy fats, including those found in nuts, olive oil, and cold-water fish; green tea and other anti-oxidant beverages; and 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. Consuming these natural anti-inflammatories will help to maintain normal blood sugar and insulin levels, along with producing visible improvements in appearance in as little as three days.
In addition to these general categories of desirable food, Perricone particularly praises the “Top 10 Superfoods.” These are: 1. wild salmon, 2. members of the allium family such as onions and garlic, 3. old-fashioned oatmeal, 4. blueberries, 5. ginger root and the spice turmeric, 6. extra-virgin olive oil, 7. nuts and seeds, 8. brightly colored vegetables and fruits, or “rainbow foods,” 9. sprouts, and 10. yogurt and kefir. Eating these foods will supposedly promote digestive health, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, adjust your metabolism to increase the burning of body fat, and reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. Foods to avoid include coffee, beef, fruit juice, bananas, oranges, pasta, rice, potatoes, carrots, and almost all bread.
The order in which you consume the foods is also important. Perricone advises eating protein first, followed by fiber, and lastly foods containing sugar, in order to decrease the rate at which the body absorbs and uses sugars.
Perricone also promotes 12 nutritional supplements that he says have an anti-inflammatory effect. He particularly touts omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil. The other “Super Supplements” are ALA, or alpha lipoic acid; astaxanthin; carnitine; ALCAR, or acetyl L‑carnitine; CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid; CoQ10, or coenzyme Q10; chromium; GLA, or gamma linolenic acid; and DMAE, or Dimethlaminoethanol.
He suggests behavioral changes to achieve an “anti-inflammatory lifestyle.” These include reducing stress and exercising. He recommends exercising 5 days a week, for at least 30 minutes. You should gradually increase the time and intensity level of your workouts and always incorporate stretching into your routine. And finally, he presents a 14-day weight loss program made up of sample menus.
What to get excited over: There are no calories to count or portions to measure. Many of the recommended foods are extremely appealing, and tasty recipes are provided for innovative meals.
Things to consider: The diet has long list of foods to avoid that many people would find hard to give up. It requires a lot of cooking because nearly all prepared foods contain prohibited ingredients. You may get sick of fish, and even begin to smell like fish, after consuming a large amount of fish and fish oil. Perhaps the greatest drawback is cost. Many of the allowed foods are expensive, and the prescribed supplements are even pricier.
Verdict: Use this diet as a resource. Most people would find it difficult to follow rigidly, or they couldn’t afford to. However, many elements of this diet are supported by research and would be beneficial alone. Try as many suggestions as you are comfortable with, and find out what works for you.