The Dukan Diet
The Dukan Diet is essentially a low fat high protein diet in which you consume foods that our ancestors once ate, that aims to help weight loss.
The diet aims to allow you to lose weight the natural way by consuming foods that our ancestors, the hunter gatherers once ate. For a number of years now, the French have been huge fans of the diet and now there is a rising awareness and popularity of the diet across ‘La Manche’ thanks to celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Szohr.
French nutritionist Pierre Dukan devised the Dukan Diet over 10 years ago and became an instant hit in his native France. People who are interested in following this diet can either go it alone, with a generalised version of the diet, buy following the Dukan Diet book.
How the Dukan Diet claims to work:
The protein-rich Dukan Diet claims to help people lose weight by cutting down carbohydrate intake (thus lowering calorie consumption) and by boosting the body’s metabolism and bringing back the natural balance of energy intake and expenditure, which Dukan claims, are the main causes of obesity and being overweight. Nothing but protein can be consumed to kick start the process, which will initiate ketogenesis. Ketogenesis is the process in which your body burns fat rather than glucose and utilises the by-product ketones for energy. This is a process that occurs naturally when the body is starved and has used up its glycogen reserve.
During the initial attack phase you can rapidly lose weight through portion or overall calorie control and loss of body water. The aim of the four phases is to gradually reduce weight by controlling your carbohydrate intake and by following some long term Dukan diet rules, including one protein-only day per week.
The Dukan Diet Regimen
The Dukan Diet consists of four very different eating programmes that follow on from the other. The initial phase starts with rapidly dramatic weight loss and then leads into a simple and structured long-term regime which then helps you to maintain the substantial amount of weight you would have already shed. The most crucial element of the four stages involves eating nothing but protein for days.
The Dukan Diet is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and involves many food restrictions; however there are also many differences. Pierre Dukan devised a diet that limits carbohydrate intake, but does not encourage an unlimited supply of fat. During this diet, fat intake is monitored in the same way as carbohydrates.
The four phases of the Dukan Diet are:
– A brief ‘attack’ phase during which immediate results will be observed. During this phase, 70 high-protein foods will make up your diet and it can last between a few days and over a week due to the dieter’s actual weight and their ideal ‘true weight’.
– The second phase is referred to as the ‘cruise’ phase which will lead you to your ‘true weight’ which is the weight which experts says is healthy for your height, build and lifestyle. You will have pure protein days which include proteins accompanied with 28 recommended vegetables during this phase.
– The penultimate phase is called the ‘consolidation’ and lasts 10 days per kg of weight lost and it is aimed to prepare the dieter for returning to a balanced diet. This phase allows the gradual return of the pleasurable foods that were banned during the other phases of the diet.
– The definitive ‘stabilisation’ phase based on 3 simple, concrete, easy but non-negotiable rules. Research has shown that 95% of people who diet put back on the weight they lose, with many even exceeding their initial start weight, however this phase is essential in this slimming method.
Dukan states that it will not be necessary to repeat the initial attack phase if these rules are followed correctly as many people find the initial attack phase particularly challenging.
Is the Dukan Diet healthy?
The question of whether Dukan is a healthy diet or not raises some debate. The principle of cutting calories to lose weight features in all diet, however similar to the Atkins Diet, the Dukan Diet takes cutting out carbohydrates to the extreme. During the attack phase, the body enters ketosis as the carbohydrate food group has been completely eliminated, albeit for a short period of time. This can create side effects as this will have a negative effect on your body which include dizziness, metal and physical fatigue, bad breath, nausea, loss of appetite and irritability.
After the attack phase, a phase during which carbohydrates are forbidden, fruits and vegetables are gradually allowed back into the diet however there are still protein only days which must be continued indefinitely. Your body will not be shocked back into ketosis as this one day a week is not quite long enough to do some however the idea behind it is that you retrain your thinking towards carbohydrates by allowing your body a day’s rest from them.
Providing the initial phase is not continued for longer than advised there shouldn’t be any complications to nutrient deficiency, as the dieter can enjoy a wide variety of different foods during the stabilisation phase.
The Dukan Diet is unfortunately not vegetarian or vegan friendly. The diet would be unhealthy if for example the dieter remained in the initial attack phase for longer than advised or repeated this stage over and over. There can also be negative consequence such as acidosis, metal fatigue and elevated cholesterol if you follow a ketogenic diet for a long period of time. It is extremely important that the followers of this diet realise that this stage of the diet is only intended for a very limited amount of time and should not be repeated, as it tends to be in the Atkins Diet, if weight is regained.
Would you be able to cope with the lack of carbohydrates in your diet?