What to do about the Dukan Diet?

Has the looming idea of Summer bikini beach-days got you searching for the nearest diet quick-fix? Perhaps you have stumbled upon the “Dukan Diet” in your web trawling and you are considering embarking on this diet? Read through the next installment on our “Which Diet is Best for Now” Blog series to find out the pro’s and con’s associated with the Dukan Diet as well as an overview of the diet itself.

The diet designed by the French doctor Pierre Dukan consists of 3 phases. Although he strongly encourages all participants to complete all three phases, he has admitted that only approximately 50% of all patients do so.

Different kinds of meat, eggs and two bottles of milk --- Image by © Imagemore Co., Ltd./Corbis

PHASE ONE also called the Attack phase

This phase can vary between 5 -10 days and patients are allowed to ONLY eat protein foods from animal origin called “pure protein foods”. Lean beef, veal (no pork and lamb), offal, seafood, all types of fish, eggs, all poultry (except duck and goose) and low fat dairy. The protein food needs to be lean (no visible fat) and no added salt to the meals is also recommended. Individuals can eat as unlimited amounts of these foods  at any time of day. It is also compulsory to drink of a minimum of 1-2 litres of water and consume 1-2 tablespoons of oat bran made into a pancake on a daily basis.

PHASE TWO also called the Cfruit and vegruise phase

This phase is characterised by the continuation of eating the attack diet foods while adding  the following vegetables – raw or cooked and in any quantities, at any time of day: tomato, cucumber, radishes, spinach, asparagus, leeks, green beans, cabbage, mushrooms, celery, fennel, all types of salad leaves, aubergines, courgettes, peppers, carrots and beetroot. Through this phase he recommends the alternating of a pure protein day with a pure protein and vegetable day until the desired weight is reached.

PHASE THREE also called the Consolidation phase

This is the maintenance phase guiding individuals to include more foods into the diet without eating in excess, which may lead to regaining the weight lost. How long this phase lasts is calculated on how much weight has been lost where 5 days have been allocated to every 0.5 kg lost. Therefore, if you have lost 10 kg you will have to follow this phase for 100 days. This phase is based on the foods of the previous phases with the addition of one portion of fruit (apart from bananas, cherries and raisins), two slices of whole meal bread, 30 g of cheese a day and two portions of starch a week e.g. cous cous or potato or pasta. The diet also recommends two “celebration meals” a week, but without fail one day a week must be restricted to eating pure proteins only.weight-curve-programme-dukan-diet

The Pro’s of this Diet:Pros-300x286

  1. This diet is based on whole foods with no processed foods included. Together with this, the recommendation to avoid all refined carbohydrates, sugar and sugar containing foods is in line with most weight loss recommendations guided by evidence based science.
  2. The recommendation of limiting salt and drinking a minimum amount of 1-2 litres of water is important to control water retention and further aid successful weight loss.
  3. The book offer delicious recipes with portion size recommendations. However, unfortunately, individuals are allowed to exceed these portions.
  4. Dukan clearly emphasizes the importance of exercise as part of the maintenance phase.
  5. Dukan provides a realistic time frame in which patients should expect fat loss.
  6. He also provides helpful advice on how patients should change their behaviour and lifestyle around food in order to maintain the weight loss in the long-term.

Cons-300x284The cons of this Diet:

  1. Dukan’s description of the unhealthy properties of all fats and all carbohydrates is scientifically incorrect. “All carbohydrates (except oat bran) and all types of fat are the enemies of anyone who wants to lose weight”. No references or evidence base was provided indicating the reliability of this source of information.
  2. The suggestion to eat as much protein, and as often as desired, might not create the adequate calorie deficit to facilitate successful weight loss for some individuals in the long term.
  3. The high intake of red meat can increase the risk of colon cancer in those that are genetically prone or predisposed.
  4. The small amount of fibre provided by the 1-2 tablespoons of oat bran may provide an inadequate amount of fibre to support optimal bowel function in some individuals. Optimal gut health is important for immunity and weight loss.
  5. The diet can become monotonous for individuals you like to enjoy a variety of foods.
  6. Although the advice provided to maintain lifestyle changes can be beneficial, these guidelines are not individualized.askthedietitian_new

The best option for an individual to successfully lose weight is to contact a registered Dietitian. The Dietitian is able to provide essential information regarding the nutrition principles of weight loss as well as an individualized eating plan that meets lifestyle behaviours, income and cultural preferences. A varied and thorough 7-day cycle menu, comprehensive shopping lists and recipes facilitate practical implementation for the long-term. The monitoring process of weigh-in sessions provides accountability as well as solutions to the barriers to compliance, and these are the two vital requirements for weight loss and maintenance in the long term.

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