Below is a quick summary of the Pritikin Diet. For all the details, scroll down to the section entitled “Food Choices For a Lifetime Of Good Health.”
The Pritikin Diet focuses on a wide variety of whole (unprocessed) or minimally processed foods. Click on the “GO” tab for these foods.
“CAUTION” and “STOP” foods on the Pritikin Diet are those that have been proven to increase the risk of obesity and/or multiple health concerns, including high blood cholesterol, high blood sugar, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers.
“GO” Foods on the Pritikin Diet include:
- Whole Grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and oatmeal
- Starchy Vegetables like potatoes, corn, and yams
- Legumes such as beans (like black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzo beans); peas; and lentils
- Lean Calcium-Rich Foods such as nonfat dairy milk, nonfat yogurt, and fortified soymilk
- Fish (a rich source of omega-3-fatty acids)
- Lean Sources of Protein (very low in saturated fat) such as skinless white poultry; lean red meat like bison and venison; and plant sources of protein, such as legumes and soy-based foods like tofu and edamame (soybeans)
“CAUTION” (less is better) foods include:
- Refined Sweeteners such as sugar, corn syrup, and honey
- Refined Grains such as white bread, white pasta, and white rice
“STOP” (none is optimal) foods include:
- Saturated-Fat-Rich Foods such as butter; tropical oils like coconut oil; fatty meats; and dairy foods like cheese, cream, and whole/low-fat milk
- Organ Meats
- Processed Meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and bologna
- Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils
- Cholesterol-Rich Foods like egg yolks
Food Choices For a Lifetime Of Good Health
Unrefined Complex Carbohydrates
5 or more servings daily of whole grains (such as whole wheat, oats, rye, brown rice, barley, quinoa, and millet); starchy vegetables (like potatoes, yams, and winter squashes); chestnuts; and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils). A serving is 1/2 cup cooked. For whole-grain bread products (like breads, bagels, and crackers), a serving is 1 ounce, which is generally half a common portion.
Limit refined grains (like white bread, white rice, and white pasta) as much as possible. But keep in mind that “white” does not necessarily mean “unhealthy.” There are many healthy foods that are white, such as cauliflower, white potatoes, jicama, and nonfat yogurt.
5 (preferably more) servings daily. A serving is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked. Enjoy a variety of colors, like dark green, yellow, red, and orange vegetables. The more vegetables and other low-calorie-dense foods you eat, the less need there is for counting calories. You’ll just naturally eat fewer calories, and shed excess weight.
4 or more servings of whole fruits daily. For most fruits, a serving fits in your hand. Examples include all fresh and raw fruits, and frozen and canned fruits without added sugar. Enjoy whole fruit, not fruit juices. And don’t believe silly science that says fruit is fattening. To the contrary! People have shed 100 pounds and more with Pritikin’s fruit-rich diet.
Dairy and/or Dairy Substitutes
2 servings daily of dairy foods and/or dairy substitutes.
For dairy foods, choose from nonfat milk (1 cup), nonfat yogurt (3/4 cup), and nonfat varieties of ricotta and cottage cheese (1/2 cup). Choose plain nonfat milk, not flavored varieties like chocolate. Nonfat Lactaid is also acceptable.
For dairy milk substitutes, choose those that closely match the nutritional richness of nonfat cow’s milk for calcium, vitamins D and B-12, and protein. Optimal choices tend to be fortified soymilks (original or unsweetened). Almond and rice milks usually score well for calcium, D, and B-12, but poorly for protein. So if you drink a cup of almond or rice milk, add to your daily diet a lean, protein-rich food like 1/2 cup cooked legumes (beans) or 2 egg whites. Steer clear of coconut milk because it contains saturated fat.
For all dairy milk substitutes, make sure they contain very little or no added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat.
Note: Many plant foods are rich sources of calcium, such as leafy greens like collard greens, turnip greens and kale, as well as tofu and tempeh.
Protein-Rich Animal Foods:
Fish, White Poultry, Lean Meat
No more than 1 serving per day. A serving is about 3½ to 4 ounces cooked (the size of a deck of cards).
Below are fish/poultry/meat choices rated from “Best” to “Poor”:
- Best: Omega-3-rich fish (such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and trout). Choose at least 2 times weekly. If you’re using canned fish, such as canned sardines, select very-low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties.
- Good: Most other fish, plus shelled mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels, scallops).
- Satisfactory: Crustaceans (shrimp, crab, lobster),
Poultry (white meat, skinless),
Game meat (bison, venison, elk), optimally free-range and grass-fed.
- Poor: Red meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, goat). For all red meat choices, select cuts that are under 30% fat.
For optimal heart-health results, limit “Satisfactory” choices to no more than 1 serving per week and “Poor” choices to no more than 1 serving per month.
Up to 2 daily. If you prefer egg whites instead of other land-based animal foods like white poultry and lean meat, you may eat more. About 7 egg whites is the protein equivalent of 1 serving of poultry or meat. Steer clear of egg yolks and their high dietary cholesterol.
Protein-Rich Plant Foods:
Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils
Soy products like tofu and edamame
For maximum cholesterol reduction and giving yourself the best chance at reversing atherosclerosis (heart disease), choose on most days protein-rich plant foods like beans instead of land-based animal foods like poultry and meat. And yes, you can get plenty of protein with a plant-based diet.
Scientifically Proven Results
More than 100 studies in prestigious medical journals have documented Pritikin's extraordinary success in helping thousands worldwide. What can Pritikin do for you?
Water (plain, bottled, low-sodium, mineral); hot grain beverages (coffee substitutes); non-medicinal herbal teas (such as peppermint, rosehips, and chamomile); and cocoa – up to 2 tablespoons per day (use non-alkali processed cocoa). You do not have to drink large amounts of water daily. Simply drink when thirsty.
If you choose to drink caffeinated beverages, we recommend green or black tea over coffee because of tea’s many health benefits. We also recommend moderation: no more than 400 mg of caffeine daily (the amount in about 4 eight-ounce cups of coffee or 8 eight-ounce cups of tea).
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.
Use in moderation or not at all. For women, up to 4 drinks per week, with no more than 1/2 to 1 drink per day. For men, up to 7 drinks per week, with no more than 1 to 2 drinks per day. A drink is approximately 5 oz of wine, 12 oz of beer, or 1½ oz of 80 proof liquor. Choose red wine over white wine, wine over beer, and either over liquor.
Culinary herbs are rich sources of many beneficial phytonutrients, and are a good way to add flavor without extra calories, fat, or salt. Include at least 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herbs or 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs each day.
While artificial sweeteners have not been proven to aid weight loss, they may be of benefit to people with diabetes, elevated triglycerides, and those following the Pritikin Eating Plan to lose weight. Limit intake to no more than 10 to 12 packets per day. Sucralose (Splenda) and stevia (brand names include SweetLeaf and Truvia) appear to be the safest choices.
If You Want To Lose Weight
Go wild on vegetables. The more vegetables, including dark green, yellow, red, or orange vegetables, the better! They’re among the best foods for weight loss.
Limit calorie-dense foods such as dried grains (breads, crackers, cold cereals), dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. Avoid refined or concentrated sweeteners. They all pack a lot of calories into very small amounts of food. You’ll find it much easier to feel full and satisfied – and curb hunger – if you focus instead on high-water, high-fiber foods like cooked grains (such as oatmeal and brown rice), vegetables, and whole fruits. These foods are low in calorie density. You’ll eat more – and weigh less.
Steer clear of fruit and vegetable juices because they provide less satiety than whole fruits and vegetables.
If Your Weight Is Fine
Celebrate! Eat as many whole grains, vegetables, legumes (such as beans and peas), and fruits as you want. Enjoy more calorie-dense foods such as avocados and nuts, but limit them to keep your weight under control. Limit avocado intake to no more than 2 ounces per day. Limit walnuts, flaxseeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, filberts (hazelnuts), peanuts, cashews, and macadamia nuts to no more than 1 ounce per day.
While “Caution” foods are not recommended, this list provides direction when food choices are limited.
Refined Fats & Oils
Limit the consumption of ALL oils to no more than 1 teaspoon per 1000 calories consumed, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, because oils have the highest calorie density of any food or ingredient.
Weight Loss Guide
Everything you need to lose weight permanently. Ultimate Guide For Healthy Weight Loss
14-Day Pritikin Diet
Includes shopping list, recipes and more! Get the 14-Day Healthy Meal Plan
Refined or Concentrated Sweeteners
For healthy individuals who choose to use sweeteners, a suggested rule of thumb is a maximum of 2 tablespoons of fruit juice concentrate or 1 tablespoon of other refined sweeteners (such as barley malt, corn syrup, rice syrup) per 1000 calories consumed. None is optimal. Avoid fructose and high fructose corn syrup.
Salt and High-Sodium Foods, Condiments
Avoid added salt, and highly salted, pickled, and smoked foods. Limit foods that have more than 1 mg of sodium per calorie so as not to exceed 1200 to 1500 mg of sodium per day, depending on age. It’s one of the most important things you can do to lower blood pressure.
Limit as much as possible foods containing refined grains (such as white pasta, white bread, and white rice).
When faced with foods in the “Stop” category, search for choices in the “Go,” and, if necessary, “Caution” foods. “Stop” foods, due to their high content of saturated fat, hydrogenated fat, cholesterol, and/or sodium, may significantly compromise your personal health goals. Be wary of headline-grabbing media stories that suggest otherwise. Unfortunately, the typical American diet is largely made up of “Caution” and “Stop” foods.
Limit the following choices to less than once per month. None is optimal.
Animal Fats, Tropical Oils, and Processed Refined Oils
Such as butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, lard, chicken fat, palm oil, cocoa butter, chocolate, margarine, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and shortenings.
Such as fatty meats, organ meats, and processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, and bologna).
Whole and Low-Fat Dairy
All cheese, cream, cream cheese, half-and-half, ice cream, milk, sour cream, and yogurt, unless fat-free and low in sodium.
Potassium chloride. Learn more about salt substitutes.
Egg yolks, deep-fried foods, non-dairy whipped toppings, rich desserts and pastries, and salty snack foods.
Food Education at the Pritikin Longevity Center
Five bountiful meals and snacks are served daily at the Pritikin Longevity Center. The Pritikin Diet works in part “because you aren’t losing your mind while you’re losing weight,” notes comedian and actress Caroline Rhea, first host of The Biggest Loser. There’s no calorie counting, no deprivation, and no hunger.
Instead, the focus is a lot of good food that is low in calorie density, naturally high in nutrients, and delicious. “The food tastes great, and that’s saying something from a steakhouse guy like me,” says John Timothy Gannon, cofounder of Outback Steakhouse Restaurants.
- Eating On the Go
- Restaurant Dining
- Smart Supermarket Shopping
- Healthy No-Cook Recipes
- Gourmet Entertaining
Healthy Recipes, Healthy Foods
“Healthy” does not have to mean “blah!” The award-winning chefs at Pritikin are masters at showing people how delicious healthy eating can be. Get a taste of Pritikin deliciousness with this Carrot and Pineapple Salad. It’s a favorite among guests at the Pritikin health resort.
More Articles About the Pritikin Diet and Eating Healthy
- What To Do After a Thanksgiving Binge
- Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes and Menu
- How does a vegetarian get omega 3?
- I don’t need to lose weight, so is olive oil okay?
- Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally – 7 Tips
- Are canned beans healthy?
- Is Himalayan salt healthy? Or at least better than ionized table salt?
- Healthy Halloween Treats
- Healthy Ice Cream Cake Recipe
- Why Brown Rice Is Better Than White Rice
- Controlling Blood Sugar With Food Sequencing
- Healthiest Foods For Weight Loss
- 10 Tips For Dining Out Healthy
- How To Dine Out and Lose Weight
- GMO Facts
- What Are Good Carbs?
- Bottled Water Facts
- Stop Fearing Fat?
- Shopping List For Lowering Cholesterol
- Best Ever Mango Recipes
- Are Potatoes Good For You?
- How One Bad Meal Affects Your Body
- Sugary Drinks and Diabetes
- Can One Fatty Meal Increase Your Risk of a Heart Attack?
- Healthy Cooking Classes
- The Dangers of Salt:
It’s More Than Just a Blood Pressure Problem
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids | Benefits and Risks
- Shopping List for Lowering Blood Pressure
- Healthy Grocery Shopping Scavenger Hunt
- Is “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Healthy?
- 6 Secrets For Healthy Cooking:
Tips From Our Pritikin Chefs
- A Review Of the Proposed U.S. Dietary Guidelines To Drop Cholesterol Limits
- Healthy Pie Recipes | Favorite Desserts from the Pritikin Cooking School
- Foods That Promote Lung Health
- Eggs, Cholesterol, and the Proposed 2015 Dietary Guidelines
- Do Fish Oil Pills Work?
- Healthy Comfort Food Recipes
- NBC Miami Features Fabulous Foods the Pritikin Way
- Tasty, Healthy Burritos For Super Bowl Sunday
- The Truth About Counting Calories
- How To Live To 100
- The Acid Reflux Diet
- Pritikin faculty refutes Wall Street Journal low-fat diet article
- How To Live To 100 | 6 Top Foods
- The Hunger Scale: Mindful Eating for Weight Loss
- Are salt substitutes safe?
- 5 Tips for Adding More Whole Grains To Your Diet
- Healthy Thanksgiving Menu
- 9 Tips For a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving
- Reduce Sodium Intake | Cut 1,000+ Mg From Your Daily Diet
- Which Milk Is Best?
- Foods That Promote Liver Health
- Diets That Fail, Diets That Work
- Shopping List for Diabetics
- Healthy Halloween Treats & Tricks
- How To Read Nutrition Labels | Video
- How To Read Nutrition Labels Part 2 | Video
- Foods That Promote Eye Health
- Want to Live to 100? Eat More Beans!
- Healthy Picnic Food Ideas
- Are low-sodium diets unhealthy?
- The Healthier Red Meat – Bison Recipes
- Is Soy Bad For You? Good? Get the Facts
- Best Ice Creams For Weight Loss
- Healthy Brown Bag Lunch Ideas
- Healthy Shopping List
- Use Mindful Eating To Help You Reach Your Health and Weight-Loss Goals
- Can I get enough protein eating a plant-based diet?
- What are free radicals?
- Q&A: “Should I go on a gluten-free diet?”
- Cooking Video – Easy Healthy Cornish Hens + Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Top Tips For Ordering Tasty, Healthy Restaurant Food
- Healthy Meal Plans For Summer
- Do I need calcium supplements?
- 14-Day Pritikin Meal Plan
- Is the Mediterranean diet healthy?
- 6 Healthy Dinners With 6 Ingredients Or Less
- 5 Things To Ditch From Your Fridge + 5 Healthy Alternatives
- The Real Superfoods Diet
- Nutrition Tips for Healthy Weight
- Best Fruits | 12 Fruits That Just Love Improving Your Health
- Nutrition & Health Resources for Kids
- 3 Healthy Crockpot Recipes
- Should I eat breakfast if I’m not hungry?
- FAQ: High Temperature Cooking – Is It Healthy?
- FAQ: Alcoholic Beverages
- Cooking With Fresh Herbs
- Healthy Appetizers For Holiday Parties
- How To Read Food Labels – 10 Tips
- Snacks For Weight Loss: What’s Good? What Isn’t?
- Healthy Recipes Contest
- Trans Fat Ban – The Good and Bad News
- The Juice Illusion Infographic | Fruit vs Fruit Juice
- Winning Healthy Recipes From Food Blogs
- Is Coconut Water Good For You?
- Is Coconut Oil Bad For You?
- The Typical American Diet Is Our Biggest Enemy
- 3 Healthy Salad Dressing Recipes
- Is Greek Yogurt Healthy?
- Top Ten Healthy Salad Recipes
- How To Cook Fava Beans
- Chard Recipes and Nutrition
- Healthy Dinner Ideas at the Pritikin Center
- Emergency Preparedness Kit: Keep Your Heart Healthy
- Fast Healthy Meals: 5 Tips From Our Chefs
- Healthy Halloween Survival Guide
- Are Eggs Healthy? Ask the Experts
- Healthy Recipes For Fall
- Is Ben & Jerry’s frozen Greek yogurt healthy?
- Healthy Asparagus Recipes – Easy and Delicious
- Beautiful Skin Diet
- Ask the Experts: “Are gluten-free foods healthier?”
- Special Date Night Recipes (That Also Please Your Heart)
- Salad Recipes – Tips For Tasty Toppings
- Healthy Dessert Recipes and Dinner Featured On The TODAY Show
- Reducing Sodium Intake: Pritikin Staff Speaks at FDA Meeting
- Healthy Restaurants – Top Tips For Dining Out
- Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes Featured On The TODAY Show
- No-Cook Recipes: Tasty 2-Minute Tips For Healthy Home Cooking
- Do I need probiotics?
- Arugula Recipes – Super-Easy and Healthy
- Chicken Burgers: 6 Healthy, Juicy Tips
- Healthy Party Snacks
- Healthy Grilling Recipes and Tips
- Is diet soda bad for you?
- My spouse is overweight. What do I do?
- Healthy Halloween Treats – 10 Tips
- Healthy Sauces – A “Divine” Mustard Sauce
- “I eat too much at night.” How To Stop.
- Spaghetti Squash Recipes – Healthy, Easy, Yummy
- Persimmon Recipes and Healthy, Quick-Fix Tips
- Are artificial sweeteners bad for you?
- Is caffeine good for you?
- Healthy Pizza Recipes
- Pluots Season – Easy Tips
- Red Meat Is Good For You? Baloney.
- Bring On the Bison Meat!
- Avoiding Fast Food Restaurants – 6 Tips
- Salt and High Blood Pressure
- Diet and Macular Degeneration
- Meat and the Environment
- 10 “Meaty” Red Meat Alternatives
- How To Reduce Sodium Intake Quickly and Easily
- Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs
- 12 Healthy Summer Recipes and Treats
- Olive Oil Nutrition – What’s Wrong With Olive Oil?
- Oh, What Just One High Fat Meal Can Do!
- Grilling and Cancer – 6 Tips For Safe BBQs
- Healthy Fast Food?
- Trans Fat Ban: What We Still Need To Watch Out For
- The Truth About Olive Oil
- Are Fish Oil Pills Good For You?
- Reduce Sodium Intake, CDC Urges
- Is 5 A Day Enough?
- Nutrition Facts On Menus – Why It Matters
- “I’m always hungry” – Get the #1 Solution
- Healthy Vacation Ideas – 10 Foodie Tips
- Resveratrol, Red Wine…Fountain of Youth?
- Reducing Salt Intake – “Harmful Consequences”? Phooey
- An Apple a Day Really Does Keep the Doctor Away
- Am I deficient in vitamin D?
- Leafy Greens Recipes | Go Green In 90 Seconds
- 7 Healthy Cooking Secrets From the Chefs at the Pritikin Health Resort
- The Longevity Diet
- Miracle Fruit
- Anti-Aging Foods
- Is Chocolate Good For You?
- Resveratrol and Diabetes
- Diet Pills, Diet Miracles – What To Watch Out For
- Quack Nutritionist – Is Yours?
- Fast Food and Childhood Obesity
- The Real SuperFoods Diet
- The Pritikin Eating Plan
- Salmon Benefits and Risks
- Healthy Snacks – 7 Quick and Easy Combos
- Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?
- Whole Grains and Weight Loss – Which Grains Work Best?
- Ideas for Simple, Healthy Sandwiches
- Saving Money On Food – 3 Healthy Tips
- 8 Quick & Easy Healthy Salad Dressing Tips
- Whole Grains Vs Wheat
- Bodybuilding Fruit
- Can I Eat Too Much Soy?
- How To Reduce Salt Intake – 6 Tips
- Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs – What Are You Eating?
- 9 Tips For Controlling Holiday Binge Eating
- The Best Diet For High Blood Pressure
- The Best Foods For Weight Loss (and the Worst)
- Healthy Breakfast Foods – 6 Tips
- Healthy Brown Bag Lunches
- Health Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet
- What Are Foodborne Pathogens?
- Are low-sodium diets healthy?
- FAQ: Caffeine and Health – Coffee & Tea on the Pritikin Program