The Perricone Diet

The main theory behind Dr Nicholas Perricone’s weight-loss diet is that anti-inflammatory properties in some foods can bring about significant weight loss.

According to Perricone, pro-inflammatory foods, on the other hand, cause weight gain, interfering with the body’s natural ability to metabolise foods and therefore making it more and more difficult to lose weight.

The diet also claims to control blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as maintain and increase muscle mass.

The programme aims to reduce saturated fats, refined sugars, and other high glycaemic carbohydrates (pro-inflammatory foods) and increase proteins.

Food eaten should be natural and unprocessed. Proteins should be "pure" - recommendations include fresh fish and other seafood, and free range chicken and turkey (hormone and antibiotic-free); carbohydrates should come from fresh fruit and vegetables, preferably organic; and fats should be the ‘good’ ones such as those found in salmon, sardines etc, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and avocado.

Every meal must include protein, low-glycaemic index carbohydrates and essential fatty acids.

Perricone stresses to always eat protein first, and to have fruit at the end of the meal.


  • The diet is not an extremely low-kilojoule diet
  • It involves a very low carbohydrate intake – most of the carbohydrates coming from fruit
  • Because of the low carbohydrate intake, the fibre intake is very low
  • There is a moderate to high protein intake – this can lead to a high fat and cholesterol intake
  • The fat intake is very high – about 40%, though mostly monounsaturated fat
  • There is a selected list of foods that you need to make your choices from – this makes sticking to the programme more difficult
  • Many of the types of food that are to be consumed (chemical-free etc.) are not readily available and are expensive

The focus on natural and unprocessed food is not a bad habit to have. But when lists start to form of foods that may have a negative effect on the body, we should become a bit suspicious.

We do not classify food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. What is more important is how we combine food into a daily dietary intake – this could then be classified as a ‘good’ or ‘poor’ eating plan.

The Perricone Diet is too low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the most important part of our daily intake as these are the foods that give us energy and allow us to perform our daily activities.

Along with the carbohydrates, proteins and fats are also important, but not in the quantities given in this diet. Proteins are needed for growth and repair of our muscles, but our bodies can only use a limited amount of protein in a day.

Also remember that muscle mass can only be increased by incorporating weight-bearing exercise into your daily routine. Any protein consumed above our requirements will get converted into energy and used or stored as fat, depending on the total calorie intake for the day.

Although the fat intake is high, the type of fat included in this diet is healthy, unsaturated fat. However, if you are striving for weight loss, then the amount of fat ingested needs to be controlled.

Remember that weight loss need not be a complicated issue, and going back to the basics of eating regularly, making the healthier choices, and focusing on a high carbohydrate, moderate protein and low fat intake will get you on the right path.

- (Health24, updated April 2011)

This article was written by Kim Hofmann, registered dietician of The Lean Aubergine Dietetic Services.
To sign up for the monthly Lean Aubergine Dietetic Services newsletter, send an e-mail to Kim Hofmann.

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