What is the Dukan Diet?

In 2011, Kate Middleton helped transform the Dukan Diet into a household name when rumors circulated that she was following the plan to get into wedding shape. And she’s not the only A-lister who loves it: The Dukan Diet has also been linked to celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bundchen. But despite all the buzz, do you actually know what the plan entails?

Created by French nutritionist and dietitian Pierre Dukan in 2000, the Dukan Diet is a protein-based approach to eating that allows you to have as much food as you want, as long as you stick to an approved list and follow very specific guidelines. Similar to the Atkins Diet, the plan is based on the theory that protein is a weight-loss powerhouse, and pairing more protein with fewer carbohydrates will force your body to burn stored fat. The Dukan Diet instructs you to consume lean proteins and vegetables from an approved list of foods, eat lots of oat bran, drink plenty of water and commit to a daily 20-minute walk.

Intrigued? Here’s more specific information about the four phases of the plan (the duration of each phase depends on your weight-loss goals and progress):

  • Attack: You can eat unlimited protein from the approved list, plus 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and at least 6 cups of water daily.
  • Cruise: Add unlimited amounts of non-starchy vegetables from the approved list on alternating days, sticking to the all-protein diet on off days and increasing your oat bran intake.
  • Consolidation: You can now eat vegetables every day, plus reunite with fruit, whole-grain bread and hard cheese. You’re also allowed some starchy foods and “celebration” meals where you can eat whatever you’d like.
  • Stabilization: You can eat whatever you’d like, except for one day per week when you can only dine from the approved protein list. You also need to take a 20-minute walk each day.

If you closely follow the plan, Dukan proponents say you can lose up to 10 pounds within the first week, and will continue to lose two to four pounds per week until you reach your goal weight. But know that there haven’t been any clinical trials evaluating the Dukan Diet, so the jury’s still out on how effective it is for weight loss. And because the Dukan Diet requires you to eliminate important food groups including healthy fruits and grains, it might put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies. Low-carb diets have also been known to cause lethargy, bad breath, dry mouth and constipation.

As with most diets, you can borrow certain elements of the Dukan method and skip the more severe limitations. It’s always a great idea to drink more water, eat lean protein, get plenty of fiber and walk regularly. Whether or not you’re following the exact plan, you’re sure to see positive results!

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Photo credit: AlexPro 9500

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