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Is Dukan Diet The Best For Weight Loss?

Yes and no…

Dukan Diet
Photo by Total Shape on Unsplash

The Dukan diet promises to make you “reach your True Weight, a realistic weight that you can attain & maintain for the rest of your life”. Add to this the many internet articles that claim it helps you “drop 10 pounds in 7 days”, the diet sounds very enticing indeed. You might already be thinking of signing up. But before you do, let’s look at the facts.

Dukan diet is the brainchild of French general practitioner and nutritionist Pierre Dukan (who began his medical career specializing in neurology). It was first published in France in 2000 titled Je ne sais pas maigrir (I don’t know how to lose weight).

So what caused this relatively young diet plan to stand out in the crowded weight loss market? Like almost everything else, celebrities. Kate Middleton reportedly dropped two dress sizes following Dukan’s method for her royal wedding. Welsh songstress Katherine Jenkins is also a proponent of the high-protein regime. To date, the Dukan diet book has sold more than ten million copies worldwide and has been translated into 14 different languages.

Tell me how the diet works already!

The Dukan Diet is a high-protein, low-fat, low-carb diet based on proteins and vegetables, 100 foods in total. Its primary selling point is it is an “Eat as much as you like” diet. It has 4 phases:

  1. The Attack phase lasts 2–7 days, during which you eat all the protein you can handle (you have 68 proteins to choose from), plus 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran. The all-protein eating regimen will result in an immediate and noticeable weight loss.
  2. The Cruise phase can last several months based on how many pounds you want to shed — 3 days for a pound — until you reach your goal weight. It adds 32 non-starchy vegetables to the diet, plus an extra half-tablespoon of oat bran, and alternates between all-protein and protein + vegetables.
    The weight loss part of the diet stops with Cruise. The next two phases are designed to maintain the weight achieved in Cruise.
  3. The Consolidation phase can also last for months based on how many pounds you lost in Cruise — 5 days for every pound. It reintroduces previously forbidden foods (fruits, starchy foods, whole grain bread, and cheese) in limited quantities. And allows two “celebration” meals per week at which you can eat whatever you want. But it mandates a pure protein day on Thursdays.
  4. The final phase, Stabilization, is an ongoing maintenance program. You can eat whatever you like, except on pure protein Thursdays (carried over from Consolidation). You also eat 3 tablespoons of oat bran and walk 20 minutes every day.

So the Dukan diet is great if you:

  • Want to follow a diet with no portion limits.
  • Do not want to count carbs and calories.
  • Do not want to expend too much effort trying to stick to the diet.

Sounds great! Wait, where’s the “but” to all of this?

Research has determined that due to the protein-heavy nature of the diet and the near omission of two food groups, this program is not intended for people with diabetes reliant on insulin. And neither for those who have eating disorders, problems with renal heart failure, depression, or pregnant or breastfeeding women.

I’m in the clear.

Great! However, if you are vegetarian or vegan (and haven’t checked out the list of 100 foods yet), this diet could get boring for you really quick because it is based on eating a lot of lean meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, fat-free dairy, and eggs. In fact, the only veggie proteins on the approved list are seitan, soy foods and veggie burgers, tempeh, and tofu.

Good to know. Thanks for saving my time.

No problem! Hope you find the diet you’re looking for.

I eat meat. Bring the diet on!

Hold on, meat-lover. There still are things you must know.

The lack of scientific proof regarding whether it is a healthy way to lose weight means the Dukan diet is categorized as a commercial fad diet. It carries some risk of causing chronic kidney disease and worsened cardiovascular health.

According to health experts in the United Kingdom, the Dukan diet “isn’t nutritionally balanced,” and “there’s a danger [that] this type of diet could increase [the] risk of long-term health problems if [people] don’t stick to the rules.”

Researchers’ biggest concern stems from the requirement to stay in the Cruise phase till you reach your goal weight. Since this could mean months or years for some, following a nutritionally skewed diet for such a long time could be very dangerous.

One 2015 study states that following the Dukan diet long term can pose health risks, including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cardiovascular disease

A 2014 study reports that eating lots of protein, in combination with a Western diet, could increase the risk of metabolic disease. High protein diets can also place the kidneys under stress due to the need to eliminate waste produced in the digestion of protein. Furthermore…

There’s more?!

… following a restrictive, low-carb diet causes people to sometimes experience:

  • Lack of energy, fatigue and dizziness because of the low levels of carbs.
  • Bad breath and a dry mouth.
  • Constipation and potential bowel problems because of the low levels of fiber.
  • Nutrient deficiencies because of the restricted food choice.
  • Subsequent weight gain, most notably around the waist.

But what about the celebs endorsing this diet?

Well, these celebrities have different opinions:

  • Eastenders actress Lacey Turner said, “Eating as much as you want might not feel all that satisfying after meal after meal of poached chicken and steamed broccoli.”
  • Maria Fowler, TOWIE star and former glamour model, says that living on just oat bran and protein led to mood swings, headaches and extreme hunger pains that weren’t worth a slimmer figure.
  • Another Essex girl, Lauren Goodger, “has tried the diet out and hasn’t been thrilled with the results”.

All said and done, what does seem to work in the diet’s favor is the speed of weight loss. If you want to do a Kate Middleton and lose a “reasonable” amount of weight quickly, Dukan diet might be your best bet. However, research does not recommend making it a long-term plan because the potential risks outweigh its benefits.

So there’s the roundup on the Dukan diet. What you do with this information is up to you, but remember to consult nutritionists, doctors, psychologists, and/or other healthcare professionals before taking the plunge.





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Kartik Mahendra

Kartik Mahendra

Writer | Full Stack Engineer

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