The Dukan Diet, by Dr Pierre Dukan, has been around since 2000 in France (known in France as the Régime Dukan), but it has recently taken off in the rest of the world. Diets do not become rapidly popular if they do not work, so it must be doing something to help people. The diet promises efficient weight loss during a brief 'attack phase' which is meant to shock the body, and creates quick weight loss success and momentum for the client. This diet has some similarities to the Atkins Diet.
What the Dukan Diet involves
This is just a summary of the diet, there is a lot more details needed if you are going to actually follow these recommendations. In each phase, you eat as much food as you want, you only need to make sure you restrict it to particular foods.
In phase one (also known as the Attack Phase), you eat low-fat protein only and drink lots of water (or other no/low calorie drinks). In addition to the protein sources, you also add some oat bran (1.5 tablespoons per day) and a 20-minute walk every day. After five days of the attack phase, you move on to phase two (also known as the Cruise Phase) which could last for months (depending on how much you need to lose) until you reach the target weight. In this phase, you alternate between days of protein-only with days of protein-and-vegetables only (not including starchy vegetables). You also continue the oat bran (2 tablespoons per day), water and walking (which increases to 30 minutes of brisk walking per day). In phase three (also known as the Consolidation Phase) the aim is to maintain the weight loss, This phase adds a little fruit, bread and cheese to the mix, as well as one “celebration meal” per week. Phase four (also known as the Stabilization Phase) you go back to eating what you like, hopefully having taken on board some of the good eating habits from phase three, and following the one remaining Dukan rule: protein only on Thursdays.
- Including oat bran in the diet helps you feel full and satisfied. It is also great for heart health and eases constipation.
- Includes daily exercise for weight loss and improved health.
- No portion control - eat as much as you like.
- Effective weight loss in a short time frame.
- It encourages low-fat dairy intake (unlike Atkins where you can include as much fat as you like)
- The strict rules may turn some people off, and make it hard to adhere to.
- By reducing intake of most food groups during the early phases you will be missing essential nutrients.
- Such a low carbohydrate intake will cause fatigue and weakness, bad breath, wind and constipation from lack of fiber.
- Boredom, frustration and possibly cravings of sweet carbohydrate foods with the limited intake.
- The cost of protein only foods can be prohibitive.
There is no doubt that this diet works initially, as often eating meat only has a self restricting calorie limit to reduce total intake. However, the restrictions on what you can eat can be hard to follow for some, even though they are rather short term changes. Although depending on how much weight loss is required, the second phase may take a while, which is still limiting in some nutrients. The diet does not teach you the basics rules of a well balanced nutritious diet to allow for weight maintenance in the long term. It does not educate on making healthy food choices, or to reduce portion sizes to maintain the weight loss. Dukan does attest to the need for support and motivation during this diet, which is something required for any 'dieting' phase, and even for regular day-to-day healthy eating.