What is the Dukan Diet?
The Dukan Diet is a protein based nutritional approach designed by Pierre Dukan, a French nutritionist and dietician.
The Dukan Diet, or Dukan method proposes a healthy eating plan which is based on how primitive man used to eat when we were hunter-gatherers.
It includes 100 foods, of which 72 are animal sourced and 28 come from plants. And you can eat as much as you like, as long as you stick to those 100 foods.
Dukan diet Promise
Drop 10 pounds in one week and never gain it back. You can do it if you follow the Dukan Diet’s rules, claims French general practitioner and nutritionist Pierre Dukan, who created the diet in 2000.
Lean protein, oat bran, water, and a daily 20-minute walk are at the heart of the plan. The theory is that limiting carbohydrates forces your body to burn fat.
Basically, you can eat unlimited quantities of food, as long as they’re on the approved foods list, which includes very few carbs, if any.
What does the Dukan diet involve?
The diet (or regime) is based on four phases, with each one following on from the other. Dr Pierre Dukan believes eating protein is the key to achieving weight loss, so the starting point is a very high protein diet combined with no carbs.
If that sounds similar to the Atkins diet, you’re thinking along the right lines. However, it’s even stricter than Atkins. The Dukan regime really does start with no carbs except for a small amount of oat bran. Even low-carb veggies like spinach and cabbage are off limits at the beginning!
Unlike Atkins, it seriously restricts fat so fried eggs, steaks and chops are not allowed. Instead the Dukan Diet replaces them with lean protein-rich foods. Throughout all the phases, this high protein, no-carb way of eating appears.
What You Can Eat on the Dukan diet?
You’ll be eating a lot of protein and oat bran.
The diet has four phases.
- During the “Attack” phase (1-10 days), you eat all the lean protein you can handle, plus 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and at least 6 cups of water daily.
- In the “Cruise” phase (which can last several months), you add unlimited amounts of non-starchy veggies every other day, plus an extra half-tablespoon of oat bran.
- When you get to the third stage, “Consolidation” (5 days for every pound you’ve lost), you can have veggies every day, plus one piece of fruit, 2 slices of whole-grain bread, and 1 serving of hard cheese. During this phase, you can also have 1 or 2 servings of starchy foods and 1 or 2 “celebration” meals where you can eat whatever you want.
- The final phase, “Stabilization” (ongoing), is all about maintenance. You can eat whatever you like, except for one day a week when you follow the all-protein rules from the diet’s “Attack” phase. In this phase, you also eat 3 tablespoons of oat bran a day and walk 20 minutes every day.
Sugar-free gum, artificial sweeteners, spices, and unsweetened coffee and tea are allowed.
As for alcohol, you can have a glass of wine per day during the consolidation and stabilization phases.
What can I drink on the Dukan diet?
You should have 1.5 litres of water every day through all the phases. It’s fine to use this in tea, coffee or herbal teas. Ideally, you should opt for mineral water that’s low in sodium, although tap water is still suitable. Diet drinks are also allowed.
This means no alcohol, fruit juices or non diet fizzy drinks.
You need to drink a lot more than usual on this diet because the breakdown of protein creates waste products such as uric acid. Plenty of fluid is needed to help the kidneys eliminate this from the body.
What are the Dukan diet’s pros?
- The Dukan diet is designed to enable people to lose considerable amounts of weight very quickly and this can be very motivating.
- It’s very prescriptive and gives dieters a strict set of rules – for some people this can be very effective.
- The lack of choice can make mealtimes easier to plan to some extent, if you can put up with the monotony.
- There’s no need to weigh food or count calories.
- The diet encourages people to cut out refined, processed, fatty and sugary foods and alcohol, all of which are low in vitamins and minerals – definitely a positive move.
- Unlike the Atkins diet, Dukan recommends considerably cutting down on fat and salt, both of which are important health habits to get into.
What are the Dukan diet’s CON
- Strict guidelines are likely to cause weight regain
- May be dangerous for some who are at risk for electrolyte imbalances
- Considered a fad diet
- Likely to produce moodiness and lethargy especially during the first phase
The Final Word
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Unlike other high-protein diets, this plan focuses on lean protein sources over those high in saturated fat. And protein can make you feel fuller longer, helping you lose weight.
The downside is that this plan doesn’t teach lifelong healthy eating habits. Even more problematic, it recommends that you stay in the consolidation phase until you reach your goal. If you have a lot of weight to lose, this phase could go on for months or even years, which could lead to a nutritionally inadequate diet.
If you’re looking to lose a relatively small amount of weight fast, then this diet may work for you. If you are over 50 or have a condition, like diabetes, or need to lose a lot of weight, talk to your doctor first.