The Perricone Diet is a popular 28-day eating plan said to improve health by lowering inflammation and reducing signs of aging.
The diet focuses on nutrient-dense foods and encourages adding a source of protein to meals and snacks. Although it promotes healthy eating and regular exercise, the diet has some downsides as well.
This article explains everything you need to know about the Perricone Diet, including how to follow it and whether it aids health.
Diet review scorecard
- Overall score: 2.8
- Weight loss: 3
- Healthy eating: 2.5
- Sustainability: 1.5
- Whole body health: 3.5
- Nutrition quality: 4.5
- Evidence-based: 2
BOTTOM LINE: The Perricone Diet’s 28-day program consists of healthy, nutrient-dense foods. However, it’s overly restrictive and focuses on short-term changes rather than long-term health outcomes.
Dr. Nicholas Perricone, a dermatologist who has written several books about skin care, weight loss, and wellness, runs a popular skin care company called Perricone MD.
He claims that maintaining a healthy diet promotes skin health and prevents signs of aging.
His 28-day program, officially called Dr. Perricone’s 28-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet, promises to improve mental clarity, increase energy levels, and boost overall physical health through diet, supplements, exercise, and an expensive skin care regimen.
The diet is designed to reduce chronic inflammation by eliminating bread, fried foods, fruit juice, pasta, snack foods, soda, and foods high in added sugar while increasing your intake of foods rich in protein and antioxidants.
While chronic inflammation may contribute to illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease — and diet and lifestyle factors can promote inflammation — Perricone’s recommendations have been criticized as restrictive, exaggerated, and misleading (
Some details of the diet are shared online, but Perricone urges customers to purchase “The Perricone Prescription,” a plan which claims to “describe the science” behind the diet and includes the full 28-day meal plan.
The Perricone Diet is a 28-day eating plan meant to improve health by lowering your intake of inflammatory foods and increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, but its lack of transparency and restrictions may be cause for concern.
Perricone recommends that customers start the diet with his 3-Day Diet, which is meant to jump-start the longer 28-day plan.
Perricone explains that the 3-Day Diet is much more restrictive than the 28-Day Diet but that the rapid results one is likely to experience afterward will help motivate you to stick to the monthlong regimen.
The 3-Day Diet consists of eating the same breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime snack for 3 days. Here’s the recommended menu:
- 1/2 cup (117 grams) cooked oatmeal (not instant)
- 3-egg omelet and/or 4–6 ounces (85–113 grams) grilled salmon
- a 2-inch (5–cm) wedge of cantaloupe or 1/3 cup (63 grams) fresh berries
- 8–12 ounces (240–250 mL) spring water
You’re encouraged to drink green tea instead of coffee to prevent caffeine withdrawal since green tea is lower in caffeine than your regular cup of joe.
- 4–6 ounces (85–113 grams) grilled or canned salmon
- 2 cups (28 grams) salad made with dark leafy greens like romaine dressed with olive oil and lemon juice
- 1 kiwifruit or cantaloupe and berries
- 8–12 ounces (240–250 mL) spring water
- 4–6 ounces (85–113 grams) grilled salmon
- 2 cups (28 grams) salad made with romaine lettuce or other dark, leafy green, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (80 grams) steamed, non-starchy veggies like broccoli or spinach
- 8–12 ounces (240–250 mL) spring water
- fresh cantaloupe and berries
- a 2-ounce (56-gram) slice turkey breast or 6 ounces (170 grams) plain Greek yogurt
- 1 apple
- a small handful of walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds
As you can see, Perricone is a big fan of salmon. He prioritizes this protein because it’s rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and antioxidants, though he allows those who don’t like salmon to eat poultry or tofu instead.
The 3-Day Diet is high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats and cuts out highly processed foods, added sugars, starchy vegetables, coffee, and alcohol.
After finishing the 3-Day diet, you’re meant to transition to a less restrictive diet for the following 28 days. Keep in mind that Perricone only reveals certain details of the 28-Day Diet on his website.
To gain full access to this diet, including food lists and supplement recommendations, you must purchase “The Perricone Prescription” book.
This diet consists of plenty of protein-rich foods, non-starchy veggies, fruits, nuts, yogurt, olive oil, and whole grains. You’re meant to avoid coffee, alcohol, and foods high in added sugar, plus highly processed foods and refined grains like pasta, cereals, and pizza.
The diet restricts foods high on the glycemic index (GI) — a measure of a food’s blood sugar effects — to promote blood sugar regulation. For example, white potatoes, which have a GI of 82, are considered high GI and are thus forbidden (3).
You’re encouraged to do regular exercise, including cardiovascular workouts, weight training, and flexibility training, most days of the week.
You’re also meant to drink 8–10 glasses of spring water per day, take certain supplements like omega-3s and B vitamins, and use Perricone MD skin care products.
The Perricone Diet starts with a 3-day jump-start, then transitions to a 28-day eating plan consisting of 3 meals and 2 snacks per day.
Although the only way to access the full 28-day protocol, including foods to eat and avoid, is by purchasing “The Perricone Prescription,” Perricone shares some food information on his blog (4).
Foods to eat
The Perricone Diet focuses on whole foods rich in protein, fat, and fiber, such as:
- seafood, including salmon and scallops
- poultry, such as chicken and turkey
- whole eggs and egg whites
- Greek yogurt and kefir
- non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, greens, cabbage, celery, and tomatoes
- nuts, such as macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, and almonds
- fruits like berries and cantaloupe
- beans and lentils
- healthy fat sources like olive oil and avocados
- whole grains like oats and quinoa
- green tea and spring water to drink
Foods to avoid
- highly processed foods, such as fast food and packaged snack foods
- foods high in refined carbs, such as white bread, pizza, and pasta
- high glycemic foods and beverages like potatoes and fruit juice
- fried foods
- foods and drinks high in added sugar, such as ice cream, soda, and jelly
The Perricone Diet restricts alcohol, coffee, and items high in added sugar and refined carbs. You’re encouraged to focus on meals and snacks high in protein, vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts.
Although the Perricone Diet only lasts 28 days, it likely results in at least some weight loss.
That’s because the diet eliminates numerous foods that may contribute to excessive calorie intake and weight gain, including highly processed items, fried foods, and sugary beverages.
What’s more, Perricone encourages exercise most days of the week, including cardio and strength training. Expending more calories by exercising while following a lower calorie diet will likely promote weight loss (
While the plan can’t be considered a low calorie diet, which typically provides fewer than 1,500 calories per day, it will likely create a calorie deficit for most people, which then drives weight loss (
Keep in mind that 1,600 daily calories may be suitable for some people trying to lose weight but is far too low in calories for others, especially those who lead active lifestyles or want to maintain their body weight.
This diet also doesn’t account for height, gender, age, or activity levels, all of which influence how many calories you need on a daily basis to lose, gain, or maintain weight.
Finally, keep in mind that this plan is only 28 days long. Even if you lose weight during this period, you’re likely to gain it back if you return to your regular diet and activity levels afterward.
Because the Perricone Diet is low in calories and bans foods that commonly contribute to weight gain, it will likely lead to weight loss.
Following a nutrient-dense diet rich in foods high in fiber and protein — such as those encouraged by the Perricone Diet — benefits your health in several ways.
Remember that these potential benefits are related to any eating pattern that promotes nutrient-dense foods — not just the Perricone Diet. Currently, no studies have investigated the effects of this specific diet.
Eating more whole foods like fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans while limiting or avoiding foods and drinks high in added sugar, refined carbs, and excess salt may significantly reduce triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure (
Additionally, increasing your fruit and veggie intake is associated with reductions in inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and TNF-alpha. This may help reduce chronic inflammation and lower your risk of disease (
The diet’s emphasis on fish, including fatty fish like salmon, is also likely to benefit health. Seafood — especially salmon — is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
A study in 2,261 U.S. adults and children found that blood levels of omega-3s were low across all life stages, suggesting that most people would benefit from increased intake of this compound (
Lastly, many people try the Perricone Diet to improve skin health and appearance.
Although short-term diets are unlikely to lead to significant changes in skin health, increasing your water intake, eating more nutrient-dense foods, and cutting back on sugar and highly processed foods for 28 days may improve your skin’s appearance (
The Perricone Diet may lead to reductions in triglyceride, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels, as well as certain inflammatory markers. It may also boost omega-3 intake.
The Perricone Diet has a number of limitations.
This diet lasts only 28 days, which means that it won’t meaningfully affect long-term health.
Following any diet high in whole foods and low in highly processed foods aids health in the short term. Yet, you’ll lose these benefits if you don’t maintain a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle.
Even though the Perricone Diet includes many nutritious foods like fruits, veggies, beans, fish, olive oil, and yogurt, it’s quite restrictive and may be unsustainable.
It bans high glycemic foods — even healthy foods like starchy vegetables — plus alcohol, coffee, and many other items.
Even though avoiding foods like sweets, fast food, and soda aids overall health, a highly restrictive diet with many food rules may lead to preoccupation and obsession over what you eat, which may impair your physical and mental health (
While you can maintain a restrictive diet in the long term, most people want more dietary variety, with the freedom to eat certain foods on occasion — even if they’re not seen as “healthy.”
Plus, short-term, restrictive diets aren’t necessary to improve overall health.
Rather than focusing on a short-time period like a week or a month, it’s best to create a diet consisting of whole, nutrient-dense foods and low in highly processed foods or added sugars that you can follow for life.
Cost and supplement regimen
The Perricone Diet is also expensive, promoting pricey ingredients like wild salmon and dietary supplements, which may not be appropriate for some people.
Although supplements like B vitamins and omega-3 fats may improve certain symptoms and correct deficiencies, dietary supplements should always be tailored to individual needs.
Any diet that recommends the same supplement protocol for all people, regardless of health status and factors like age and gender, should be considered a red flag.
The Perricone Diet is unnecessarily restrictive and only focuses on short-term changes in diet and activity levels.
You must purchase “The Perricone Prescription” to gain full access to the 28-day meal plan. Still, this 1-day meal plan comes from the Perricone blog (4).
- 3–4 ounces (85–113 grams) smoked Nova Scotia salmon
- 1/2 cup (117 grams) slow-cooked oatmeal
- 1 teaspoon slivered almonds
- 8 ounces (240 mL) green tea or water
- 4–6-ounce (113–170-gram) grilled turkey burger (no bun), with lettuce and 1 slice of tomato
- 1/2 cup (128 grams) three-bean salad (chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans dressed with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and a minced clove of garlic) served on a bed of cabbage leaves
- 8 ounces (240 mL) water
- 6 ounces (170 grams) unsweetened Greek yogurt, mixed with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pomegranate juice
- 8 ounces (240 mL) water
- 1 cup (122 grams) lentil soup
- Spiced Diver Scallops (recipe on blog)
- green salad dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice
- a 2-inch (5-cm) wedge of cantaloupe
- 8 ounces (240 mL) water
The Perricone Diet consists of three meals and two snacks per day. You must purchase the diet’s official book to gain full access to the meal plan.
The Perricone Diet is a 28-day meal plan that consists of proteins, vegetables, fruits, beans, and other nutritious foods.
Still, it’s quite restrictive and only focuses on short-term dietary modifications.
While it may lead to weight loss and certain health benefits, these improvements won’t last if you fail to keep a healthy diet and lifestyle after the program.
Instead of using short-term methods like cleanses and fad diets, it’s best to make dietary and lifestyle changes you can maintain in the long term.