Fellow Health Slacker, are you wondering if the Dukan Diet is your ticket to permanent weight loss? We cover everything you need to know about the diet in this article.
The Dukan Diet is based on the research of French physician Pierre Dukan. The eating plan is based on his findings after seeking a treatment for obesity – his book, The Dukan Diet is a best-seller in France. After gaining some celebrity attention from the likes of Jennifer Lopez, who used the diet to shed post-pregnancy weight, the diet is gaining traction in other parts of the world, now, too.
So… what’s the scoop? Here, we’we'll examine the basic principles of the Dukan Diet and analyze the safety and effectiveness of the program.
What is the Dukan Diet?
The Dukan Diet is a low-calorie, high protein diet, though no counting is required for either. While the diet is highly specific and focused on what foods are allowed, you are basically allowed to eat as much of those certain things as you’d like.
The foods you can eat all depend on what phase of the program you’re on. There are 4 phases of the Dukan Diet, each with it’s own guidelines:
- Phase 1: Attack – The most restrictive phase of the diet causes rapid weight loss. The founder of the Dukan diet says this crucial start to the plan ensures motivation, as results can be seen very quickly. Dieters drink 1.5 liters of water each day and a supplementary 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran – as well as unlimited amounts of lean protein.
- Phase 2: Cruise – This phase continues with the same core guidelines, while also allowing a number of non-starchy vegetables which can be eaten without limit.
- Phase 3: Consolidation – This phase continues to promote weight loss by building upon the prior phases with a bit more flexibility. Here, several new foods are introduced: minimal fruit, bread and cheese as well as two “no-rules” meals per week.
- Phase 4: Stabilization – Once the dieter reaches their goal weight, they can enter the stabilization phase. This phase is lifelong and aims to maintain weight loss. The guidelines contrast significantly with the previous phases of the diet: the dieter can eat whatever they’d like, except for 1 day per week, they eat as if they are in Phase 1. Along with a 20 minute walk per day, the weight is supposed to stay off.
Is The Dukan Diet Safe?
Most experts are not in favor of the Dukan Diet due to it’s lack of varied minerals and nutrients. While the author of the diet plan advises a multivitamin and supplementary minerals, nutritionists say this is not going to be enough to make up for the lack of variety in the diet itself. According to Keri Gans, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, "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."
The rapid weight loss of Phase 1 is also a concern for many – loss of 1-2 pounds per day have been reported, which experts say can lead to not only fat loss, but loss of muscle tissue and health issues like gallstones, constipation, and fatigue. Gans continues,
Most medical professionals agree that a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week – slightly more for the very obese – is both healthier and more sustainable in the long run.
Is The Dukan Diet Effective?
There’s no doubt that the highly restrictive Dukan Diet is effective – especially during the first phase. Rapid weight loss is almost guaranteed when you cut calories by restricting major food groups. The author of The Dukan Diet claims that over 5 million French people have lost weight using his program.
Some readers may recognize some of the aspects of this plan: the principles are strikingly similar to the once-popular Atkins Diet, which was also formulated to help the obese lose weight. Many people found success with that plan as well, particularly in the beginning stages.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to lose weight very quickly, the Dukan Diet may be a good choice. As far as using it as a lifelong plan, however, most experts would agree there are many safer alternatives to consider. Because the diet is not sustainable for most people long term, and due to the restrictive nature of the program – it most definitely falls under the “fad diet” category.
Do you want to lose a few pounds pretty quickly? It could work. Or – are you looking for a way to switch to a healthier lifestyle for years to come? Look elsewhere – there are many healthier and nutritious ways to do so.