Dr Nicholas Perricone's 3-Day Diet claims to plump skin and help you drop excess pounds. Victoria Woodhall tried an idiot-proof healthy eating plan for busy people

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I came across Dr. Perricone’s 3-Day Diet  a couple of years ago, not expecting anything radical to happen in three days, but was intrigued by its skin-rejuvenating promise and the fact that its author, Dr Nicholas Perricone's knowledge of skin was legendary. A dermatologist and Master of the American College of Nutrition, Dr Perricone has always been ahead of his time and was talking about the role of inflammation in ageing and disease as far back as the 1990s, and was a pioneer of antioxidants in skincare. He makes my favourite high-strength vitamin C serum , Vitamin C Ester CCC+ Ferulic Brightening Complex, 20%.

I liked that it came with a shopping list, you could put all of it on your supermarket order and the food prep, such as it was, was idiot-proof: grilled salmon, veggies, porridge, nuts and fruit. You really don't have to be able to cook to do it (most of us can grill, steam and chop). When you're doing the eating plan, you don't feel hungry, so it's easy to fit around a busy work schedule. I'm not big on diets, but sometimes you just need a bit of a reset, and this is perfect.

A colleague and I followed the plan at the same time; while I noticed a definite lessening in bloating and a gentle spring in both my step and my skin, for her, the biggest benefit was weight loss (she dropped at least half a stone, as I recall). I didn't lose weight, but it kick-started a healthier relationship with sugar. I was a terrible snacker and I'm sure the condition of my skin was affected by glycation  (sugar-induced breaking down of collagen).

Both in our forties, we agreed that we felt better and our skin looked a little less careworn.

The diet promises a visible difference in your skin in just three days as well as a change in how you feel. The idea is that eating salmon twice a day allows for the benefits of DMAE,  a substance in oily fish that acts as a cognitive enhancer and a building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which supports muscle tone in both face and body, to take effect. It's a key ingredient in Dr Perricone's skincare products such as the DMAE Skin Firming Pads , £49). Three days also gives time for  the skin-saving antioxidant astaxanthin  in salmon and the omega essential fatty acids  to work their plumping magic.

You do end up eating A LOT of salmon (in which case, wild is best) and I can't say the menu is big on variety, but the sameness takes the thinking out of it, which makes the plan much easier to stick to.

"If you want to mix things up a bit and give your taste buds a break, feel free to substitute poultry or tofu," says Dr Perricone, "but keep in mind that the essential fatty acids  and antioxidants in salmon are what helps make skin appear supple, radiant and glowing."

There's just enough low-GI fruit, in the form of berries and cantaloupe melon, to gently break sugar cravings, which I found the toughest part.

For me, it works as a simple reset that can fit into a busy life. You can prep everything the night before. If your skin needs a bit of TLC, I highly recommend it. Here's what you need to know.



12 eggs

1 packet porridge oats

6 fillets of fresh salmon (preferably wild Alaskan salmon)

2 packs of thinly sliced, low-salt turkey or chicken breast

1 can of sardines packed in olive oil, or 1 can of low-sodium tuna packed in water


2 ripe cantaloupes

1 punnet of strawberries

2 punnet of blueberries

1 punnet of raspberries

1 punnet of blackberries

3 green apples

2 pears or an additional 2 green apples

2 unwaxed lemons


1 packet of asparagus

1 full head broccoli

500g fresh spinach

2 heads of romaine lettuce


Olives, fresh or canned

Raw, unsalted almonds


Macadamia nuts

Extra virgin olive oil

Bottle of extra virgin olive oil

12 litres of spring water - six 220ml-340ml servings of water and an additional 2 glasses of water minimum throughout the day.


3-egg omelette and/110-170g grilled salmon

½ cup porridge oats - quick and easy method: put oats in a bowl, add freshly boiled water, mix until you get desired consistency, add ground cinnamon if you like. If you want a creamier texture, put in a saucepan and add the water, bring to the boil and then lower and cook for a few minutes whilst stirring the whole time.

2-inch wedge of cantaloupe or ⅓ cup fresh berries

No juice, coffee or toast (replace coffee with black or green tea to prevent caffeine withdrawal)

220-340ml spring water


110-170g grilled salmon (or canned salmon)

2 cups green salad made with romaine lettuce or other dark, leafy greens (dress with extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice)

1 kiwi fruit or cantaloupe and berries as above

220-340ml spring water


110-170g grilled salmon

Green salad as described above

½ cup steamed veggies (especially asparagus, broccoli, spinach; no root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips)

Cantaloupe and berries

220-340ml spring water


1 apple

55g slice of turkey breast or 170g plain Greek yoghurt

Small handful of hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds

For more Dr Perricone healthy recipes to try after your plan visit the Forever Young  website .