News 077: Dukan Diet
The Dukan Diet: Some background about this new trendy diet
It’s been a best-seller book in France for many years, but now The Dukan Diet is getting attention worldwide with the wedding of Kate Middelton in England. Kate is supposed to follow the Dukan diet and many wonder if she is not harming herself with the current visible weight loss.
The Dukan Diet was created by French physician Pierre Dukan more than 10 years ago as a treatment for obese people.
In principle it is a four-phase, high-protein, low-calorie diet plan. There’s no weighing of foods or counting calories. Sounds easy. You eat as much as you want, at any time of day – as long as what you’re eating is lean protein, at least in the early phase.
In fact, protein is the centerpiece in all four phases, along with oat bran, lots of water, and a 20-minute daily walk. Vegetables are allowed in the second stage, followed by small amounts of fruit and whole grains. While water is great, walking is good – small amounts only of fruits and whole grain sound like a strange concept.
Sound familiar as a concept? It’s much like the first Atkins diet. Dieters lose weight rapidly – as much as 1-2 pounds a day during the first phase — which Dukan says helps to instill lasting motivation. He promises that hunger will disappear after the third day. And many in the US are making therefore fun about the diet, just a new warmed up of the Atkins diets.
However, the book by Mr. Dukan warns that dieters may suffer from bad breath, constipation, dry mouth, and fatigue — all consequences of low-carb, high-protein diets.
The Dukan Diet: What You Can Eat
Phase 1, the “Attack” phase, is quite simple: 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.
A comment on phase 1: Actually a person should drink about 30ml per kg of weight, so a rule about 1.5 litres is just plain wrong for most people.
This is followed by the “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.
A comment on phase 2: Don’t they have nice names these phases. While vegetables sound great phase 2 is at all not balanced.
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 author promises you can eat whatever you like without regain if you follow his 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.
A comment on phase 4: Sounds great to name the last phase Stabilization. But the issue is for sure that a real stabilization would be balanced nutrition. Eat what you want is not balanced – and every dietician will tell you if you behave six days “like a pig” it really doesn’t matter what you do on the seventh day.
Sugar-free gum, artificial sweeteners, vinegars, and spices are allowed on The Dukan Diet. The book encourages dieters to take a daily multivitamin with minerals.
And again, to eat multivitamins and minerals without any supervision and advise might actually be harmful, at least it will be harmful to your purse.
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.
Now 7 pounds is much too much for the average person. Key is that with a real weight loss program you lose fat. And fat does not burn at 1 or more pound a day. So you lose something else. Which might be muscles or water. And it does not matter which one it is – this is harmful to you.
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. Dukan 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, according to the book. But if you stay in this phase five days for every pound you’ve lost, the book says, 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 book says, if you follow this phase’s requirements for a weekly all-protein day, plus oat bran and exercise.
The Dukan Diet: What we at Palitra Pitania like to say about it – and what other experts think!
You’ll certainly lose weight on The Dukan Diet because it cuts calories drastically. The lack of carbo-hydrates 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. And diets should be about health, not weight loss.
“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,” says Keri Gans, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
She points out the health hazards of restrictive dieting. “When dieters start losing weight rapidly, I worry they will continue the restrictive phases longer than advised — which puts them at risk for nutrient deficiencies and kidney problems,” says Gans.
Losing more than 1-2 pounds per week can promote gallstones and muscle loss, she says: “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.”
Constipation, bad breath, dry mouth, and fatigue should be a red flag that this is not a healthy diet, she says.
“Your body’s preferred fuel to energize and keep you going is smart carbs, and when you eat a healthy diet you should feel great — not have negative side effects,” Gans says.
At Paltira Pitania we could not agree more. A diet – as effective it might be to drive weight loss – should be healthy. Everything else is harmful to you!
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 an unlikely 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.
Skip this fad diet. Instead, reduce with the support of a dietitian your calorie intake in the right way, increase your physical activity and achieve healthy and lasting weight loss result – without harm to your body and health.