Pritikin vs. Atkins


The “low fat vs low carb” debate has been going on for a longer time than I thought.

Nathaniel Pritikin, an inventor, did his own research and came up with the low fat diet in the mid 1950s after he was diagnosed with severe cardiovascular disease. At the time the best doctors told him to keep eating what he was eating. He also had leukemia.

The first low carb diet was written in the late 19th century by a middle aged undertaker who wanted to drop a few pounds. Since then it has come in and gone out of vogue in cycles……almost like women’s fashions.

Atkins and Pritikin debated each other throughout the 70s.

I found this article interesting as it mentioned how both men finished their lives.


  • died at 72 from slipping on ice and banging his head
  • at his death he weighed 258 pounds, making him clinically obese
  • medical examiners claimed he had a history of heart disease, congestive heart failure, and hypertension
  • Atkins’ widow threatened legal action to avoid a full autopsy.


  • died at 69, from leukemia, which he managed to live with for 35 years
  • a full autopsy revealed that there was no trace of the heart disease he was diagnosed with back in the 1950s
  • medical examiners claimed his arteries were as clean and flexible as a man decades younger.

In my opinion, you can’t blame Atkins’ obesity or heart disease on his age, as many low carb fans have tried to do. Pritikin was only 3 years younger at his death and had neither of those issues.

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2 thoughts on “Pritikin vs. Atkins”

  1. Wasn’t Atkin’s weight just a fluid retention thing from being in the hospital? I’ve seen the dude on TV, he wasn’t obese, but he did have a little bit of old age fat.

    Atkin’s heart disease is interesting….as is the fact that Pritikin managed to live 35 years with leukemia and completely abolish his heart disease.


  2. At the time I heard that the fluid retention could not explain all of the weight. However I don’t really know. If you read the article you know there was also speculation that his fall was due to a stroke rather than ice.

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