The Dukan Diet: What It Is?

It’s been a very popular in France for years, but now The Dukan Diet is getting attention on this side of the pond. And singer Jennifer Lopez and model Giselle Bundchen are reported to have lost their post-pregnancy pounds on The Dukan Diet.   This diet was created by French physician Pierre Dukan more than 10 years ago as a treatment for obese people.

Phase 1: Eat all you want of lean protein, along with 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and 1.5 liters of water daily. That’s it.  Dieters can choose from 72 lean or low-fat meats (excluding pork and lamb), fish, poultry, eggs, soy, and nonfat dairy.

Phase 2: Cruise phase, which allows unlimited amounts of 28 non-starchy vegetables every other day along with a core diet of unlimited lean/low-fat protein and 2 tablespoons of oat bran. Carrots, peas, corn, and potatoes are not on this list of vegetables but appear in the next phase.

Phase 3: Consolidation, allows unlimited protein (including pork and lamb) and vegetables every day, along with one piece of low-sugar fruit, 2 slices of whole-grain bread, and 1 portion of hard cheese. Dieters can also have 1-2 servings of starchy foods and 1-2 “celebration” meals (in which you can eat whatever you want) per week during this phase.  In this phase, you begin the lifetime commitment of eating the core diet of pure protein one day each week, preferably the same day.

Phase 4: Stabilization is the maintenance portion of the plan.  The diet promises you can eat whatever you like without regain if you follow these rules: one day a week, follow the same all-protein diet as in Phase 1; eat 3 tablespoons of oat bran a day; and walk for 20 minutes daily and never take elevators or escalators.

Sugar-free gum, artificial sweeteners, vinegars, and spices are allowed on The Dukan Diet.

The Dukan Diet: How It Works

In theory, this is how the plan works: Phase 1 promotes rapid weight loss with a protein-only diet.  Stay on this phase anywhere from 1-10 days, and expect to lose at a rate of 7 pounds in 5 days. During Phase 2, which could last for months, depending on how much weight you need to lose, your body recuperates and adjusts to your weight loss.  The diet plan recommends sticking with this phase until you reach your goal weight, with the expectation of dropping 2 pounds per week. Phase 3 is the critically important period between weight loss and maintenance, when the plan lightens up a bit but no weight loss is expected.  This is a time when your body is vulnerable to putting pounds back on. But if you stay in this phase five days for every pound you’ve lost, the diet plan claims, you’ll avoid regain.  Phase 4, the maintenance part of the plan, is meant to be lifelong. You’ll keep the weight off for good, the diet claims, if you follow this phase’s requirements for a weekly all-protein day, plus oat bran and exercise.

The Dukan Diet: What the Experts Say

You’ll certainly lose weight on The Dukan Diet because it cuts calories drastically. The lack of carbs also helps keep hunger at bay. But the bottom line, experts say, is that this eating plan does not include all the nutrients you need for good health. 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.

Losing more than 1-2 pounds per week can promote gallstones and muscle loss. It is unhealthy to lose weight so quickly because you not only lose fat and fluids but precious muscle mass, which is really hard to replace, especially as you get older.  Your body’s preferred fuel to energize and keep you going are smart carbs, and when you eat a healthy diet you should feel great.

The Dukan Diet: Food for Thought

There is no question this very restrictive diet will lead to weight loss, if you can actually follow it.  But the elimination of healthy food groups, and the unpleasant side effects, makes The Dukan Diet a difficult choice for the long haul.  Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet, but it cannot stand alone.  A truly healthy diet includes all the food groups; vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy and healthy fats along with lean protein. Your body needs the nutrients these foods provide.