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Diet Spotlight: Dukan Diet

Dukan Diet for Weight Loss
Dukan Diet for Weight Loss

The Dukan Diet Discussion

So what is this “Dukan diet all about? It certainly has gained in popularity here in the US.

Pierre Dukan first published his findings in a book titled: “I don't know how to get slimmer” after 20 years of research. It became a best seller in France when it was first published in the year 2000 in France.

The book became a best seller after Kate Middleton, the now Duchess of Cambridge, lost 2 dress sizes while following the Dukan Diet for her wedding to Prince William. The book claims to have helped 5 million Frenchmen lose weight. The Dukan Diet is now gaining popularity in the US after the release of Pierre Dukan's book here in 2011 and the reports of Jennifer Lopez losing her baby weight gain from following the Dukan Diet.

What is the Dukan Diet and how does it work?

The Dukan Diet is made up of 4 phases and is centered around lean protein and no carbs, at least initially. It does not sound like a very unique diet now does it. Well at first glance, it is very similar to The Atkins Diet. Both diets do not allow carbs at least initially and do not require portion control or calorie counting. However while Atkins suggests high fats and oils, Dukan does not. Dukan also requires a daily intake of oat, lots of water and 20 minutes of daily walking. The 4 phases of the Dukan Diet are attack, cruise, consolidation, and stabilization.

The "Attack" phase is a steady dose of as much lean protein you want plus 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and 1.5 liters of water daily. There are 72 lean or low-fat meat options allowed (pork and lamb are not permitted), fish, poultry, eggs, soy, and nonfat dairy. The attack phase lasts from 2 to 7 days and is reported to yield 4 to 7 lbs of weight loss.

Next is the "Cruise" phase where dieters are allowed as much as they want of 28 non-starchy vegetables every other day in combination with a core diet of lean/low-fat protein and 2 tablespoons of oat bran. Excluded from the cruise phase is carrots, peas, corn, and potatoes. The cruise phase allows for a more steady weight loss of about 2.2 pounds per week and although the duration is a specific formula, it lasts as long as required to achieve the desired weight loss goal.

"Consolidation" follows the “Cruise” phase. This part of the plan is intended to prevent putting back on any massive weight. Unlimited protein (including pork and lamb) are permitted along with vegetables every day, one piece of low-sugar fruit, 2 slices of whole-grain bread, and 1 portion of hard cheese. Dukan does allow 1-2 servings of starchy foods and 1-2 "celebration" meals, otherwise known as eat whatever you want meals, per week in the consolidation phase. This is the part of the program where a lifestyle change is supposed to occur. A commitment of eating habits that adhere to the core disciplines of a diet centered around pure lean protein. At least one day per week, dieters need to eat the all protein only diet in phase 1.

"Stabilization” is the 4th and final maintenance portion of the plan. Pierre Dukan states that if you strictly adhere to his program and once per week stick to the phase 1 rule of eating only pure lean protein, 3 tablespoons of oat bran and walk 20 minutes per day you can eat whatever you like without regaining weight.

How does the Dukan Diet work?

The theory behind the plan is:

The “attack” phase promotes quick weight loss with a protein-only diet. The phase lasts from 1-20 days and expect to lose 7 pounds if you stay on the pan for 5 days. The “cruise” phase lasts as long as you need to based on your weight loss goal divided by 2 pounds per week.

“Consolidation” phase is the stage where no further weight loss is expected yet weight maintenance is. The plan is much less rigid here but the human body has established tendencies over your entire lifetime and weight regain may occur. Dukan states in his book that if you stay in the consolidation phase for five days for every pound you've lost, you'll avoid regain. This could easily have dieters in this stage for many months or even years.

“Stabilization” is the lifelong maintenance stage of the program. “You'll keep the weight off for good, the book says, if you follow this phase's requirements for a weekly all-protein day, plus oat bran and exercise.”

What are the side effects of the Dukan Diet?

Dieters may experience flu like symptoms of headaches, nausea, lethargy, irritability and loss of concentration.

This type of diet may put a strain on the kidneys and liver. Less severe side effects may also include bad breath, a metallic taste in the mouth and strong smelling urine. The diet is not recommended for patients diagnosed with kidney problems, pregnant or breast feeding women and type 1 diabetes (as well as Type II insulin dependents).

What do the experts think of the Dukan Diet?

There are many critics of this plan. Some experts have stated that normal healthy weight loss should not be accompanied by these type of symptoms and that even with vitamin and mineral supplements, you can not replace the vital nutrients for a healthy body.

"A once-daily multivitamin will not compensate for the nutritional goodness from fruits, whole grains and healthy fats that are inadequate in The Dukan Diet," says Keri Gans, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Tell the community about your experience with the Dukan Diet below