Perricone Diet

The Promise

It's a win-win. With this diet, you get to lose weight and have great-looking skin. What's not to love?

In The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet, author Nicholas Perricone, MD, says eating anti-inflammatory foods that are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids will help you lose pounds and keep your skin looking younger.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

You'll be eating lots of fish and fish oil supplements to get the omega-3 fatty acids.

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You also will eat salmon and lots of fruits and vegetables, like apples, pears, spinach, kale, cauliflower, avocados, and chili peppers; flaxseeds, sesame seeds, almonds, and walnuts; beans and lentils; low-fat dairy; and buckwheat and oats.

On this plan, fish is the protein of choice because it's high in omega-3 fatty acids. You can also have chicken and red meat (preferably organic).

Perricone considers any food made with flour, sugar, or other sweetener inflammatory. As a result, the do-not-eat list is long. It includes breads, cereals, crackers, fried foods, fruit juice, jelly, pasta, pizza, potatoes, rice, snack foods (pretzels and chips), soda, tortillas, tacos, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbets.

Each meal or snack should include a protein (always eaten first to suppress appetite), a carb that's not on the don't-eat list, and essential fatty acids. You can have up to 2 ounces of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate a day.

Level of Effort: Medium

You have lots of delicious foods to eat, but you will have to give up many foods you may be used to.

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Limitations: This diet may be a big change for you, considering you're giving up so many foods -- basically, anything made with flour or sugar.

Cooking and shopping: Perricone wants you to buy organic as much as possible. This can cost more. Keeping fresh produce and seafood on hand may mean more trips to the grocery store.

Packaged foods or meals: None, except for Perricone’s brand of supplements. Supplements are an important part of Perricone’s plan. You have to take a packet of eight supplements, plus an extra omega-3 supplement, an hour before every meal. That’s 27 supplements a day.

In-person meetings: None.

Exercise: You'll do at least 30 to 45 minutes of physical activity three times a week.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

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Vegetarians and vegans: Vegetarians and vegans can get omega-3 from sources other than fish, such as walnuts, flaxseed, soybeans, canola or soybean oil, or vegetarian omega-3 supplements.

Gluten-free: Wheat and other high-gluten grains are on the do-not-eat list. Instead, Perricone prefers gluten-free buckwheat and oats. Still, you'll need to check food labels to avoid gluten completely.

What Else You Should Know

Costs: If you decide to get Perricone’s supplement packets, a 30-day supply costs $210. A 30-day supply of Skin & Total Body supplements cost $155 . Shipping is free.

Support: None.

What Dr. Brunilda Nazario Says:

Getting to a healthy weight, and keeping it, is important to help prevent chronic disease. We need to feed our bodies, but eating too much can lead to inflammation. So why not try a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids? This diet seems to have the ingredients for a healthy diet and can be a good fit for those with heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Exactly how inflammation relates to chronic conditions or extra weight is not exactly known, but weight loss does lower inflammation.

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Does It Work?

While this is not for everyone, it does work. A diet high in fiber can help keep you full, yet the emphasis on fish as the "go-to" protein source isn’t easy. Fish is a major source of healthy fats, vitamin D, and selenium, but some people shy away from it, either because of its taste or they just aren’t confident in how to cook it.

Remember, weight loss comes down to how many calories you take in and how many you burn off.

Going for the types of foods that Perricone recommends is good for you, but to lose weight, you'll probably also need to be more active and limit your portion sizes and calories.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

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As with any diet, it’s vitally important to get the right amount of protein. People with conditions that affect the kidneys, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, may need to be careful that they don't get too much protein. So discuss this with your doctor.

The diet takes into account vegetarians and others that avoid animal-based proteins, but it may still be a bit restrictive for this group. Fish is an important part of a healthy diet and gives you high-quality protein, essential nutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids. But fish also can contain mercury. The FDA advises some groups to limit some types of fish that can be high in contaminants.

The Final Word

This program challenges you to eat healthy foods and restore the nutritional value of foods. It represents a lifelong change in eating, so it may be appropriate for weight loss and weight maintenance.

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