What does the Dukan diet involve?
Dr Dukan’s theory...
- Proteins are composed of long chains of building blocks called amino acids, which are linked with strong bonds that take a lot of effort to break. This means the body has to work really hard to process proteins and so they stay in the stomach longer than fats or carbohydrates. In turn, this means the stomach empties more slowly, helping to keep us fuller for longer so we find it easier to stick to our diet.
- Meanwhile, because the body has to work harder to break down proteins, it burns up more calories in doing so. So for example, when we consume 100 calories from protein, the body uses 30 calories to process it and so in reality we only get 70 calories. In contrast, the body only uses 12 calories to process 100 calories from fat; and just seven calories to process 100 calories from carbs. This means if we eat 1,500 calories of pure protein, in reality we only get 1,050 calories.
- Complementing this high protein intake, carbs should be severely limited because they cause the secretion of insulin. Insulin controls blood sugar levels and encourages the storage of fat.
- Fat needs to be limited because it contains the most calories per gram, and it tends to eaten in combination with carbs like bread and pasta. Protein contains only half the calories of fat – just four calories per gram compared to nine calories per gram of fat.
- Fat only reduces our appetite a little and high intakes are linked with heart disease.
How do I follow the Dukan diet?
Phase 1: The Attack Phase
Dukan Attack Phase – What can I eat?
- Lean beef
- Lean ham
- All fish (you can still include oil-rich fish as these contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats)
- Fat-free natural and flavoured yogurt (but not fruit yoghurt as these contain fruit or fruit puree)
- Fat-free fromage frais
- Cottage cheese
- Skimmed milk
Dukan Attack Phase – Off limits
- Fatty beef
- Fat-containing dairy products such as cheese
- Beans and lentils
How much can I eat?
Typical day’s diet during the Attack Phase
- 150ml skimmed milk for drinks
- 11/2tbsp oat bran
How this day’s menu compares with healthy eating guidelines
Phase 2: The Cruise Phase
Dukan Diet Cruise Phase – Extra foods
Foods that can be added to your diet every other day are:
- Green beans
Foods still banned during this phase
You are not allowed:
- Any fruit (as these are higher in carbs)
Cruise Phase Info
Phase 3: The Consolidation Phase
Dukan Consolidation Phase Overview
Consolidation Phase in detail
- Kiwi fruit
Celebration Meals on Dukan
As is the case for starchy carbs, for the first half of this phase you are allowed one celebration meal a week; in the second half of this phase you can have two celebration meals a week.
Phase 4: The Stabilisation Phase
How much weight can I expect to lose?
What can I drink on the Dukan diet?
Does the Dukan diet have any side effects?
Are there any other bad points?
- There’s absolutely no room for flexibility with the Dukan diet. In the same way a medical condition might be treated with drugs that must be taken, Dr Pierre Dukan believes that people who want to lose weight need a prescribed set of rules and instructions that must be followed.
- The dieting phases of this plan (Attack and Cruise) are extremely limited so chances are the regime will get very boring with the result that many people will give up quickly.
- It’s almost impossible to follow the Dukan Diet if you have a vegetarian diet that avoids dairy and/or eggs.
- From a budget point of view, protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry and fish tend to be more expensive than starchy carbs, fruit and veg.
- This diet fails to teach people about the basic principles of a balanced, healthy diet, which science proves can help keep us healthy and free from disease.
What are the diet’s pros?
- The Dukan diet is designed to enable people to lose considerable amounts of weight very quickly and this can be very motivating.
- It’s very prescriptive and gives dieters a strict set of rules - for some people this can be very effective.
- The lack of choice can make mealtimes easier to plan to some extent, if you can put up with the monotony.
- There’s no need to weigh food or count calories.
- The diet encourages people to cut out refined, processed, fatty and sugary foods and alcohol, all of which are low in vitamins and minerals– definitely a positive move.
- Unlike the Atkins diet, Dukan recommends considerably cutting down on fat and salt, both of which are important health habits to get into.
My advice is to give the Dukan diet a miss. Even if you can bear five days of surviving on a diet of meat and eggs, the sweet taste of rapid weight loss will quickly be replaced by bitterness the moment you eat a bowl of cereal or slice of toast and watch the scales return to normal!