What is the Pritikin diet?


In this episode, Katrina Mills and I discuss the Pritikin diet. It’s a diet made popular in the 1980’s. It was created by Nathan Pritikin, an engineer that suffered from a heart attack and wrote a diet book in order to prevent further heart events. The diet has been extensively studied, scrutinised and followed. Join us to explore the pro’s and con’s of the Pritikin diet. Make sure you leave us a comment if you enjoyed the podcast.
Check out this episode!


What is the Pritikin Diet?

With Katrina Mills

  • Developed in the 1980’s and it’s the opposite of the ketogenic diet. Nathan Pritikin was an engineer who had a heart attack in his 40’s so he studied a few different cultures from around the world and looked at their eating patterns and lifestyles. He then developed a book, which involved exercise and diet advice, and it’s based around high fibre, low in protein and very low in fat.
  • Recent research found this the Pritikin diet lowers cholesterol and blood pressure (risk factors for heart disease) and slightly reverses symptoms of metabolic syndrome including excess weight around the mid-section and insulin resistance.
  • The Pritikin diet was created as a diet for heart disease, although not completely advocated by medical professionals.
  • The diet involves some good principles that are even seen in the current dietary guidelines, including high fibre.
  • The diet includes 5 serves of starches, grains or legumes/day (similar to current guidelines) and they need to be wholegrain not refined. Starchy vegetables are also included in this group.
  • The Pritikin diet recommends at least 5 serves of vegetables per day.
  • The Pritikin diet recommends 4 pieces of fruit per day and points out that fruit isn’t fattening (as long as you’re eating a healthy balanced diet).
  • The Pritikin diet recommends 2 serves of low-fat dairy per day and encourages only one serving of animal-based protein per day that is the size of your palm.
  • The Pritikin diet recommends omega 3-rich fish twice per week.
  • Graded protein in 3 levels: best, satisfactory and don’t have very often at all. Best= fish, satisfactory= prawns and poultry (chicken and turkey) and game meat (kangaroo) and poor= red meat.
  • The Pritikin diet recommends limiting the poor protein options to no more than once a month.
  • More of a vegetarian-based plan and encourages the non-meat protein sources such as legumes and tofu to make up the rest of your diet.
  • The Pritikin diet totally avoids most fat and recommends limiting fat to 1 teaspoon serving per day including oil or butter.
  • Intake of nuts is limited to 30g per day on the Pritikin diet.
  • Biggest limitation of the Pritikin diet is the avoidance of healthy fats.
  • The Pritikin diet might be too high in starch for someone who has insulin resistance.
  • Take the positive messages out of different styles of diets and modify them for individual needs. The best way to find out how you should be eating for your needs is to see a dietitian.
  • Can take some of the principles of the Pritikin diet such as high vegetable intake and modify it to your needs to improve your heart health and reduce cholesterol (due to the low fat nature of the diet and high fibre intake).
  • Intake of fibre should be 20-30grams per day. A piece of fruit has approximately 4 grams.
  • You don’t need to follow a strict dietary regime to get health benefits.
  • If your diet is low in vegetables you won’t reach this fibre intake. This is why so many people have issues with constipation.
  • Parents: try and encourage vegetable intake with your kids and don’t reward them with dessert or snack foods.
  • Families should also try to model vegetable-eating behaviours because kids are copycats and will copy them!
  • Don’t bring unhealthy snack foods into the house so they are not available to eat in the first place. These types of foods should be seen as ‘sometimes’ foods to set up good eating habits.

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