Just before Kate Middleton tied the knot with Prince William, rumor had it that she followed an age-old diet: The Dukan Diet. This high-protein weight loss plan is gaining popularity across Europe. In essence, it is based on a list of 100 permissible foods that you can consume as much as you want without the need to count calories.
The diet was invented by Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French general practitioner who specializes in weight management, in 1970, after an obese patient told him that he could do anything that was needed to lose weight, except give up on meat. After hearing of successful weight loss results on several of his patients, Dr. Dukan published The Dukan Diet in 2000, which was a bestseller in over 32 countries. It reportedly helped people achieve rapid, easy weight loss without going on starvation.
What Is The Dukan Diet And How Does It Work?
We see diets that claim to be either low-carb, low-fat, or high-protein, but rarely do we see a diet that packs a powerful punch of this trio. Vegetables and protein rich foods make up the bulk of the 100 foods that can be consumed in this diet.
The diet involves four phases that start off pretty strict, but eventually become less restrictive progressively. The first is known as the ‘attack phase’ in which you consume more protein. Then comes the ‘cruise phase’ which focuses on eating as many non-starchy vegetables as you can. In the third stage, the ‘consolidation stage’, the diet allows you to add whole-grain bread and fruits to your daily regime. This stage gradually adds carbs back to your diet as part of celebratory meals. The final stage, the ‘stabilization stage’, is more of a maintenance phase where you are allowed to eat anything you want, granted that you revert to the ‘attack phase’ once a week only and exercise.
The Original Diet
The original Dukan diet bears similarity to Ketogenic diet since they both focus on protein and fat, while wholly eliminating carbohydrates from the diet. Our bodies are programmed to burn glycogen stores for energy as a primary source. However, when you deprive your body of carbs, your body resorts to burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. Once your body goes into a fat burning state, it facilitates your weight loss journey as well.
The Four Phases Of The Dukan diet
The attack phase aims at helping you lose up to 6.6 pounds, within 2 to 10 days. Basically, you jump-start your metabolism for the diet ahead during this phase. The dieter can only consume lean protein from over 68 varieties of protein. There is no cap on how much you can eat and no need to count calories. Also, whether you are eating cottage cheese, eggs, chickens, fish, beef or tofu, make sure it is low fat. Steer clear of processed meats with added sugar or salt. Also, the dieter has to take in at least 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran everyday as the carb source in this phase.
Being super high in fiber, most of the complex carbohydrates contained in oat bran cannot be digested and broken down, which makes this food less carb-rich than most other foods. Not to mention, this food is known to curb appetite and help you feel fuller for long. In addition, you have to drink up at least 1.5 liters of water each day when on the Dukan diet, and exercise 20 minutes a day.
The Attack Phase essentially constitutes high-protein foods, and a few extras that provide minimal calories, including:
- Lean pork, bison, venison, veal and beef
- Poultry without skin
- Tempeh and Tofu
- Up to 1 kg of non-fat dairy, such as ricotta, cottage cheese, yogurt and milk
- Shellfish and fish
- Tongue, kidney and liver
- 5 tablespoons of oat bran daily
- 5 liters of water
- Seitan, a meat substitute made from wheat gluten
- Unlimited diet gelatin, shirataki noodles, and artificial sweeteners
- No more than 5 ml of oil for greasing only
This is where the diet slows its pace a bit and targets your body weight goals more gradually. While fruit is still forbidden in this phase, 28 pre-approved vegetables are added. Expect to lose about 2 pounds a week in this diet. The duration of this phase depends on how much weight you are looking to lose and can run anywhere between 1-12 weeks.
Similar to the previous phase, you can continue to consume unlimited amounts of low-fat protein in addition to non-starchy vegetables, such as green beans, lettuce, okra, broccoli, artichoke, asparagus, bell peppers, leeks, lettuce, celery, spaghetti squash, onions, shallots, turnips, carrots, mushrooms, root vegetables, cauliflower and spinach. However, the catch is that that you have to alternate the consumption of vegetables and lean proteins. For instance, you can eat plenty of lean protein one day and then pair it with unlimited amount of low-starch vegetables the next day.
However, continue to eat one tablespoon of oat bran and drink 1.5 liters of water each day, and extend the exercise period to 30 minutes now.
Avoid all fruits, alcohol, fats, sugars, grains and carb laden foods, starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes, and processed foods.
In this phase, your aim is to avoid regaining the lost weight, not to lose more. In addition to the foods allowed in the previous phases, the dieter can now also consume two slices of whole-grain bread with a small amount of reduced-fat butter or spread, one portion (40 g) of cheese, and one low-sugar fruit. In addition, this phase is less restrictive and lets you add two celebration meals (including only 1 serving of each: appetizer, entrée, dessert, and a glass of wine) and up to two servings of carbs per week, such as 8 ounces of rice, pasta, legumes, beans or corn.
When it’s time for your celebration meal, eat whatever you want, how much you want it. Remember to Exercise 25 mins daily. However, on the same day of every week, follow a strict protein-only diet. Dieters are allowed to consume sugar-free gum, vinegar, artificial sweetener and spices. They are also advised to take multivitamins with minerals.
What You Can’t Eat:
This plan is the long-term maintenance part of the plan, not intended to make you gain or lose weight. You can choose what you want to eat, whenever you wish to eat, granted that you remember to exercise for 20 minutes each day, consume 3 tablespoons of oat bran each day, follow an all-protein diet day once a week, and take the stairs at all time instead of the elevator. This long-term plan dictates a lifestyle that you must adhere to and follow rigorously.
According to Nutritionist (MBANT) Kerry Torrens:
During the attack phase, a highly restrictive phase, you can lose weight quickly, which also keeps you motivated to continue the diet. The diet is perfect for individuals who are willing to lose weight but are looking to follow a more prescriptive way of eating and can’t stand the idea of counting calories.
If we compare it to the Atkin’s diet, this diet differs in the fact that it omits vegetables and fat in the initial phase, and gradually reintroduces some carbs, vegetables and fruits in the subsequent phases. However, we have some reports that suggest how the stabilization phase causes the most problems. This is because since this phase allows you to eat whatever you want; how can you re-introduce such a wide assortment of food without putting weight back on? Not to mention, once dieters get back to their usual eating pattern, it can be hard to stick to the dedicated weekly “protein day”.
There is no conclusive evidence that supports the sustainability and effectiveness of the Dukan diet in the long run. So, while you may lose weight fast during the first two phases of the diet, it can be just as easy to regain that weight once you are allowed to revert to your original dietary pattern in the subsequent phases. One survey suggests that 80% of people regain the lost weight over a period of more than 4 years.
Not to mention, the Dukan diet omits out whole-grains and fiber, restricts most fruit and vegetables, and ignores a lot of crucial eating principles, such as the health benefits achieved by consuming from a vast variety of food groups. Such a nutritionally imbalanced diet is sure to have certain negative health implications if followed in the long run.
As a result of following a restrictive, low-carb diet people sometimes experience the following:
- Subsequent weight gain around the waist
- Nutrient deficiencies due to lesser food choices.
- Constipation and potential bowel problems due to less fiber intake
- Dry mouth and a bad breath
- Dizziness, fatigue, lethargy, and lack of energy due to the low levels of carbs
Sample Meal Plans Of Dukan Diet
- Two scrambled eggs with American cheese, and 2 slices of Canadian Bacon
- Coffee or tea with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
- Roast chicken, seasoned with paprika, parsley, salt, and pepper
- Chicken sausage with a side of mustard
- Glass of water
- Lettuce-wrapped burrito made with iceberg lettuce, lean ground beef and low-sodium broth
- Decaf coffee or tea with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
- Three scrambled eggs with smoked salmon
- Sliced tomatoes
- Coffee with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
- Chopped salad with chicken, broccoli, cucumbers, beets, carrots, and kale tossed with red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (12 grams) of oat bran and sugar substitute
- Iced tea
Fish/chicken with vegetables and shirataki noodles or a big serving of salad with a can of tuna or wild salmon plus water
- Omelet made with three eggs, 1.5 ounces (40 grams) of cheese and spinach
- Coffee with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
- Turkey sandwich on two slices of whole-wheat bread
- 1/2 cup (81 grams) of cottage cheese with 2 tablespoons (12 grams) of oat bran, cinnamon and sugar substitute
- Iced tea
- Roast pork
- Grilled zucchini
- 1 medium apple
- Decaf coffee with nonfat milk and sugar substitute