Review of the Perricone Diet

Dr Nicolas Perricone M.D. is probably best known for his guest appearances on television shows such as Oprah, CNN, the Today Show, and Larry King. He is a respected physician, a research scientist, and a trusted expert on health and beauty. In addition, he is also the author of three New York Times # 1 Best Sellers, “The Perricone Promise” (Warner Books 2004), “The Perricone Prescription” (HarperCollins 2002), as well as the New York Times best seller, “The Perricone Weight Loss Diet” (Random House 2005).

Perricone achieved tremendous success with his book “The Perricone Promise”, which really tapped into one of mankind’s most basic fears, that of getting old. Many customers reported that they looked and felt younger following Dr Perricone’s diet, and that it delivered an added bonus…they lost weight! Dr Perricone subsequently expanded his portfolio of programs with his anti-inflammatory weight loss program that promises to accelerate fat loss by increasing the metabolism and building and maintaining muscle mass, while at the same time making you look younger and live longer.

In his books he explains to his readers how to lose weight, rebuild muscle mass, while avoiding the haggard, aging, and drawn appearance that typically results from many of the other weight-loss programs. “Treat yourself well and the weight will come off,” he suggests. As an added bonus, Dr. Perricone’s program will help you sleep better; you will have more energy and less stress, and experience greater mental clarity. Lose the weight, the wrinkles, and the years! He goes on to promise dramatic results in as little as 14 days.

Similar to the Zone Diet, the Perricone Diet is also aimed at getting the balance between protein, low glycemic carbohydrates and healthy fats (Omega3, 6, and 9) just right. This diet is then accompanied by 8 – 10 glasses of spring water per day in addition to anti-oxidant rich beverages such as green tea. He gave the following advice: “Before you eat a meal, hold up 3 fingers and think to yourself: I need a protein, a good carbohydrate and a small amount of unsaturated fat”. These foods and beverages act as natural anti-inflammatories and help to maintain normal levels of insulin and blood sugar.

As is the case with the Zone diet, there is very little scientific support for the claims made by Dr Perricone, and the diet has many critics. The diet remains very popular however, and again, there is no shortage of success stories. The publicity generated by appearances on shows like that of Oprah Winfrey will ensure that the Perricone diet will be around for a long time. So what is our take on the diet? It appears to be a well-balanced nutritional program. We are not necessarily convinced it will drastically stop the ageing process, but we do believe you can lose weight following this approach.

The main components of the Perricone Diet are the following:

1) Protein

Protein, which according to the diet must always be eaten first, is the most important component. The human body simply can not grow or function properly without enough protein. The contemporary western diet rarely contains protein in sufficient quantity. When too little protein is consumed, the body is forced to feed upon itself, which causes both tissue and muscle to break down. Your metabolism slows down, making it even more difficult to lose weight in future. According to Dr Perricone, our bodies enter into an accelerated aging mode without adequate protein.

2) Good Carbohydrates

The Perricone approach is based on the belief that sugar and high glycemic carbohydrates create inflammation on a cellular level throughout your body. One of the keys to making a permanent change in your life, is learning how to control fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin. Increased sugar in your blood stream leads to increased insulin levels, which in turn easily results in excessive fat storage. Carbohydrates must be incorporated into your diet carefully, but it is important to note that your body needs carbohydrates to function properly. It is just a matter of choosing the right carbohydrates at the right time.

Most of us know how bad refined sugars, cake, bread, and all those other scrumptious snacks are for us, but few ever stop to take note of the sugar content of fruit and vegetables. Haven’t we always been told to eat our fruit and vegetables? The trick here is to know how to choose your fruit and vegetables correctly, taking into account their glycemic index and load.

3) Healthy Fats

We need good fats for a multitude of reasons. It helps our bodies absorb nutrients from fruit and vegetables, keeps our cells healthy, our brains focused and our moods upbeat. Dietary fat also helps those of us wanting to lose weight to burn fat. Good fats recommended by Dr Perricone include those found in salmon, sardines and other cold water fish, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado and açai (a Brazilian berry whose fatty acid ratio resembles that of olive oil).
It is important to realize that there are three types of fatty acids required for good health, namely Omega 3, 6 and 9, and they must be consumed in the right ratio. All these fats are needed to form and maintain the structural and functional integrity of cell membranes, provide fuel for cellular energy and create the necessary hormone-like messenger chemicals, called prostaglandins and the eicosanoids, which regulate many key metabolic functions. Sounds familiar to the Zone diet?

4) Water, water and more water and then some anti-oxidant rich drinks.

Pure spring water is an essential component of the Perricone anti-inflammatory diet. Approximately sixty-five to seventy percent of the human body weight is water. Water is required for almost all systems that keep your body functioning properly. Water is also a natural appetite suppressant and helps the body to get rid of stored fat. The Perricone Diet also recommends you take in plenty of anti-oxidant rich drinks every day, including green tea.

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