8 Reasons Why the Pritikin Diet Stinks

When I wrote my last blog post called “Protein without Breakfast Stinks“, I received an email from a former client of mine who disagreed with me completely. She didn’t want to go against me by posting a comment so she sent me a private email outlining why she thought I was wrong.

Controversy is good because it stimulates interesting debates, gets my clients and followers to think, and it’s one of the reasons I love blogging. While I will keep her privacy of course, I’ve decided to post her comment to me right here:

Hey,

I didn’t want to post this to your blog and openly contradict you but there are some all carb breakfasts that are healthy, filling and won’t create those spikes that you were talking about for instance – whole grain oatmeal with fresh fruit.

Pritikin recommends this highly and feels that the protein craze is overrated – we as a nation are consuming far too much protein (even the lean chicken and fish options). They deal with (even specialize with) diabetics check it out…let me know what you think. I’d be happy to get you more info and share details if you have the interest and the open mind to learn… All the best,

My turn:

Yes, there are carbs that absorb slower, keep you more full and are more healthy for you, and yes, diets like Atkins have pushed protein so hard that some have a diet that is way too high in protein, but Pritikin has major drawbacks.

8 Reasons Why the Pritikin Diet Stinks

1. The Pritikin diet is severely low in total calories aiming at 1000-1200 calories for women and men respectively. I would never recommend anyone going on a diet this low.

2. The Pritikin diet calls for an extremely low-fat intake (10% of total calories). This is an inadequate amount of essential fatty acids according to current research.

3. The Pritikin diet does not work in the “real” world. Who can keep this kind or unrealistic total fat and total calorie range for more than a few weeks. If anyone goes out to eat 2-3 times per week for dinner – they would never be able to follow the rules. That’s not a life. Sounds like torture to me.

4. Caffeine and alcohol are restricted. Come on – are you serious? I love my coffee, and while I choose not to drink – people don’t want to hear the word restricted. I see no reason why someone can’t enjoy their morning “joe”, have a glass of wine from time to time AND still lose body-fat. This diet sounds like torture if you ask me.

5. This diet calls for a 60% or greater carb intake – way too high for people interesting in fat-loss. I don’t know anyone (including my clients, friends, family, gym buddies) who look lean, tight and fit with a carb intake that high. It just can’t happen.

6. Since this diet is so high in carbs, it’s too low in protein. Protein is crucial for suppressing appetite, controlling calories and cravings, bumping up your metabolism, and supported muscle tissue. The research is so vast – this will have to be another post.

7. This diet is like most others: It focuses on a thread of the truth – part of the story – and then blows it out of proportion because that what sells – that’s what people buy into. There is more to the fat loss/weight loss/obesity epidemic than just total calories.

8. Robert Pritikin is the son of Nathan Pritikin, the founder of the original Pritikin program (founded in 1974). Robert is carrying on his father’s legacy but has no formal training in nutrition. That always scares me and should scare you too.

Don’t believe me? Here is what Dr. Arthur Agatston, M.D., author of “The South Beach Diet” (a diet with much more success) said about The Pritikin Diet:

“The regimen requires severe total fat restriction. In recent years, Pritikin has liberalized its view of nonsaturated fats. The problem with the Pritikin Diet, which its proponents acknowledge, is that it is hard to follow and requires a tremendous commitment on the part of the patient. Also, the high carbohydrate content of the diet can worsen cholesterol and TG’s in certain patients. It definitely is not a diet for the general public.” pg. 21 of his book

Take home message – This is not a long-term solution diet. The “high carb, low-fat” fad has been dead for years.

Even if people go to the Pritikin center and initially lose weight – this proves nothing to me because it’s not the real world. These centers are like scientific experiments keeping you in a bubble – an air-tight environment. One problem – we don’t live our lives in a bubble.

When we get home from our stress-free “vacation”, we’re not going to have chefs cooking our meals, trainers teaching classes every hour, and we have to go back to work and our very busy lives. The Pritikin Diet gets 2 big thumbs down from me.