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Spotlight On: The Dukan Diet

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, followed the Dukan Diet to lose weight before the royal wedding. But can this high-protein diet help you?

Name: The Dukan Diet

By Duchess_of_Cambridge, [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Concept: The Dukan diet is a high-protein eating plan. Consuming more protein and fewer (if any) carbs and fats results in weight loss — as much as 10 lbs. in the first week alone, according to some claims. The diet — named for French physician Pierre Dukan — has four cleverly named phases.

The first “Attack” phase is all about protein. It is followed by a “Cruise” phase which allows selected non-starchy vegetables on selected days. In the third “Consolidation” phase, the diet allows some cheese and bread. By the final “Permanent Stabilization” phase, anything is fair game.

The length of the first phase depends on how old you are, how much weight you want to lose and on diets you have previously followed. The length of the second and third phases is based on how much weight you want to lose. You will need to spend three days in the Cruise phase for every pound you want to lose; for each of these pounds shed, you will spend five days in the Consolidation phase.

The Promise: Rapid weight loss.

The Perils: There is no data on how or if the Dukan diet affects the risk of heart disease or diabetes. However, there has been concern that the high amount of protein may tax the kidneys. (Dukan advocates state that drinking more water will keep the kidneys functioning at an optimal level.) There is also a risk that eliminating food groups may set the stage for nutritional shortfalls. The Dukan diet is pretty complicated, which can make it harder to stay the course(s).

Yes Foods:

Phase 1: All protein, all the time

Phase 2: Cucumbers, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and salad greens and other non-starchy vegetables

Phase 3: Proteins and allowable vegetables are still all-you-can-eat, with a serving of fruit, two slices of whole-grain bread, and 1½ ounces of cheese per day. One serving of “starchy” foods a week is also permitted. (Think pasta, couscous or polenta, lentils, beans, chickpeas, brown rice, potato). This ration is later increased to two servings per week.

Phase 4: Everything is fair game once again.

Sample Meal: Lunch, Dukan style (Phase 1)

Cut two to three chicken breasts into chunks and cover in curry spice. Chop medium onion into small pieces. Cook the chicken and onion for a few minutes. Mix in one container of fat-free yogurt with some more curry spice and add to the chicken and onion. Simmer on low heat until thoroughly cooked.

Should you or shouldn’t you? There is no one-size-fits-all diet. Your doctor or a nutritionist can help you decide whether you should give the Dukan diet a try.

Further Reading:
Cook the Dukan Way
The Dukan Diet