The Pritikin Principle

The Pritikin Principle, also known as the Pritikin Program, was created by Nathan Pritikin in 1979. The Pritikin Principle provides both a fitness routine and diet plan and promises to help strengthen the heart while helping individuals lose fat. This diet is designed to provide dieters with lifestyle changes to help them lose weight, build muscle, prevent or reverse heart disease, lower cholesterol levels and help diabetics normalize insulin levels without medication.

The Premise

Nathan Pritikin founded the Pritikin Longevity Center in California where thousands of individuals have sought out help to learn healthy eating habits, exercise routines and stress reduction techniques. The healthy eating habits that Pritikin advocates focus on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. Unlike other low-fat diets, the Pritikin Principle was extremely low-fat, with less than 10% of the diet being composed of fat. While Pritikin does not specifically advocate calorie counting, he does promote the Pritikin Calorie Density Solution. This solution involves counting the calories of the entire meal instead of each individual item. The aim is to combine as many low-calorie items, such as vegetables, fruit and lean proteins together, with only a small amount of fat.

The Pritikin Principle is not exclusively vegetarian, but it definitely focuses on eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Dieters are advised to choose low-calorie foods, which can be eaten without limits until the dieter feels full.

The Diet

When on the Pritikin Principle, individuals will focus on eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, beans and unprocessed, natural whole grains. The diet allows for three meals a day and two low-calorie snacks. Suggested foods include brown rice, onions, potatoes, squash, spinach, pears, strawberries, oats, beans and apples. Dieters are allowed to eat small portions of lean poultry, beef and fish.

The Pritikin Principle is based upon the scientifically supported belief that weight loss is achieved by eating fewer calories per day than your body burns.

While the Pritikin Principle states that it does not require calorie counting, individuals will have to possess a basic understand of calorie counts and be able to calculate the average calories in a meal to stay under the recommended meal calorie number. If you do not enjoy calorie counting, then this may not be the diet for you. Also, some nutritionist state that the Pritikin Principle is too low in fats, which are needed to absorb vitamins, promote healthy skin, growth and development.


The Pritikin Principle strongly recommends exercise, specifically speed walking. Pritikin suggests that for obese individuals looking to lose weight and keep it off long term, then they need to aim to walk 30 miles per week, which equals approximately a one hour walk per day. For non-obese individuals looking to lose weight, Pritikin recommends 12 to 15 miles per week, which equals approximately one 30-minute walk per day.


Highly Recommended! This scientifically supported diet incorporates a diet focused on sensible eating and incorporates an extensive exercise routine. Pritikin tells people to stay active and to eat fresh, natural foods and to avoid processed, artificial and salty foods.


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