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The Dukan Diet was developed by French nutritionist and medical doctor Pierre Dukan over ten years ago and has gained incredible popularity since its creation. The media reports that millions of French women follow this diet to maintain their figures, as well as celebrities and models. Until recently the diet has only been available inFrance but the English version of The Dukan Diet officially became available in 2010. The U.S.version recently became available just this month of April 2011.
The Dukan Diet is similar to the popular Atkins diet in that it is based around eating high-protein foods while severely limiting all carbohydrates including fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Unlike the Atkins diet, the emphasis is on sources of protein that are low in fat such as fish, poultry and reduced-fat dairy products. The Dukan diet includes four phases: the Attack phase, the Cruise phase, the Consolidation phase, and finally the Stabilization phase.
The Attack phase is followed for one to ten days and dieters are told they can expect to lose between seven and ten pounds within the first five days. During this phase dieters consume only protein foods that may be seasoned with condiments that do not contain fat or carbohydrates Dieters are warned that they may experience bad breath and a dry mouth during this phase, which may be alleviated to some degree by drinking more water.
In the Cruise phase of the Dukan Diet, days of protein only are alternated with days of protein and vegetables. The types of vegetables allowed in this phase are limited to those that do not contain starch such as lettuce, spinach, celery, cucumber, asparagus and tomato. Vegetables can be consumed raw, steamed, or in soups and stews.
The Consolidation phase is the maintenance phase and commences once you have achieved your goal weight. You will continue to base your diet on protein and vegetables but are also allowed one portion of fruit as well as two slices of whole-grain bread each day. In addition you are permitted one extra serving of a carbohydrate food per week, which may include foods like pasta or rice. In this phase of the Dukan Diet you are also allowed one ‘celebration meal’ each week, which is increased to twice a week after you have been in phase three for a while.
The final Stabilization phase is the ongoing lifestyle phase of the Dukan Diet. In this phase you are instructed to go back to eating whatever you like while continuing to use the rules of the Consolidation Phase as a guideline. One day of the week dieters are instructed to eat only protein.
Just like any other diet, there are pros and cons to the Dukan Diet. Some pros include fast results in the first phase which can boost motivation, no calorie counting required, the diet includes vegetarian options, a meal plan, and recipes, and the “celebration meals” in the final phases of the diet can help psychologically to improve adherence to diet.
Some cons of the Dukan diet include that it is highly restrictive and requires elimination of healthy foods including fruit, grains, legumes, and nuts. Some dieters may experience mood swings and fatigue. Dieters may also experience constipation, headaches, and bad breath on high protein diets, and the diet is not suitable for people with a history of gout, kidney disease, high cholesterol, or eating disorders. Furthermore, dietary boredom is highly likely due to the limited food choices, especially for those who don’t enjoy eating animal products, and the diet also encourages consumption of artificial sweeteners and diet soda.
In conclusion, the Dukan Diet is an extreme approach that emphasizes low-fat protein. While dieters can expect to lose weight following this plan, it is highly likely that weight will be regained upon a return to normal eating habits. The best way to approach weight loss is to eat a variety of healthy foods which include fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, healthy fats and low fat protein foods, and to maintain good portion control. Exercise is also important as well for overall health and wellness and can accelerate weight loss. Restriction of certain foods or food groups is not recommended due to the high possibility of feeling deprived and overeating or bingeing on that type of food and regaining any weight lost.
Answer submitted by Mia Handell, registered and licensed dietitian at Provena Mercy Medical Center.