Dukan diet is probably the most popular diet for weight loss, with millions of people around the world, including celebrities like Kate Middleton, Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bundchen, having tried it. Despite its popularity, this diet has been slammed as ineffective and without scientific basis by many dieticians and health experts around the world. However, there are many nutritionists and general practitioners who recommend the Dukan diet to their patients as they are convinced about the long-term weight stabilization obtained through this eating plan.
So, what is the Dukan diet? It is a restrictive, high-protein diet that starts with a rapid weight-loss phase and is followed by three phases to maintain the weight loss. Developed by a nutritionist and a specialist in food behavior Pierre Dukan, the diet is a proposed healthy eating plan that supports consuming as much as you like of 100 foods, 72 from the animal world and 28 from the plant world. The progress to the different phases is gradual and supervised to ensure that you do not develop deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances.
Dukan Diet Phases
Following are the four phases of the Dukan diet to lose and stabilize your weight:
Dukan Diet Phase 1 - Also called the Attack Phase, in this phase you eat 72 lean high-protein foods such as beef, fish, chicken, eggs, soy, and cottage cheese. It’s a way of kick-starting the metabolism to lose 2kg to 3kg in 2 to 10 days. The only carbohydrate source is 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran per day. At least 1.5 liters of water has to be consumed each day.
Dukan Diet Phase 2 - The next phase is the Cruise Phase where the diet alternates between pure protein days (PP phases) and proteins accompanied with 28 specific vegetables (PV phases) but not fruits. In this phase you may lose about a kilo per week.
Dukan Diet Phase 3 - This phase is the Consolidation Phase where you are prepared for the return to a balanced diet. In this phase you might lose a kilo in about 10 days. You will be eating a core protein diet one day of the week (preferably the same day every week) and consume unlimited quantities of protein and vegetables, one piece of low-sugar fruit, one portion of cheese, and 2 slices of whole-grain bread, on the other days.
Dukan Diet Phase 4 - This phase is the Stabilization Phase and it is the long-term maintenance part of the plan which you must follow for the rest of your life so that you don’t put back on the weight you have lost. It is based on 3 simple, concrete, easy but non-negotiable measures.
1. Consume all protein meals one day each week.
2. Eat three tablespoons of oat bran each day.
3. Go for a 20 minute walk each day.
Dukan Diet Food List
Dr. Pierre Dukan has identified 100 ingredients to be eaten as much as you want in your Dukan Diet meal plan, of which are 72 animal-based ingredients to be eaten from attack phase onwards and 28 plant-based ingredients that you can eat from the cruise phase onwards.
Meat and offals - Beefsteak, breasola/air-dried/wind dried beef, calf's liver, Fat reduced bacon, fillet of beef, game, kidney, pre-cooked ham slices (without any fat or rind), rabbit, roast beef, rumpsteak, sirloin steak, tongue, veal chop, veal escalope
Poultry - Chicken, chicken liver, guinea fowl, ostrich, pigeon, poussin (very young chicken), pre cooked chicken and turkey slices, quail, turkey
Fish - Bass, cod, seafood sticks, dab/lemon sole, dover sole, grey mullet, haddock/smoked haddok, hake, halibut/smoked halibut, herring, mackerel, monkfish, plaice, pollock/coley, red mullet, salmon/smoked salmon, sardines, sea bream, skate, swordfish, trout (rainbow and salmon), tuna, turbot, whiting
Seafood - Calamari/squid, clams, cockles, crab, crayfish/crawfish, Dublin bay prawns, lobster, mussels, prawns/shrimps, oysters, scallops, whelks.
Eggs - Hen's eggs, quail's eggs
Dairy products - Cottage cheese (low fat), fat free fromage frais, fat free Greek yogurt, fat free yoghurt, Quark (low fat), skimmed milk
Vegetable proteins - Konjac, oat bran, tofu
Vegetables - Artichoke (globe), asparagus, aubergine, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery/celeriac, chicory, courgette, cucumber, fennel, French beans, kohlrabi, lamb's lettuce, leek, lettuce, mushrooms, onion, palm hearts, peppers, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, soybean sprouts, spinach, tomato
Dukan Diet Health Benefits
Dukan diet has been severely criticized by nutritionists to be a hazardous restrictive diet. The American Dietetic Association also gives it a thumbs-down because the eating plan does not include all the nutrients needed for good health.
However, the Dukan diet does what it is meant to do, that is, it is beneficial for sustainable weight loss.
Although this diet is not much researched on, the data for health benefits of low-carbohydrate and low fat diets are as much valid for the Dukan diet.
In a study to compare the effects of a low-fat (LF) vs. a low-carbohydrate (LC) diet on weight loss, Canadian researchers concluded that energy restriction achieved by a very LC diet is equally effective as a LF diet strategy for weight loss and decreasing body fat in overweight and obese adults. Since the Dukan diet is both, a low-carbohydrate as well as low-fat diet, the results of this study are applicable to this diet.
The same study also indicated that these diets were equally effective in reducing systolic blood pressure by about 10 mm Hg and diastolic pressure by 5 mm Hg. This means that the Dukan diet may be beneficial in reducing high blood pressure.
The study further pointed out – ‘the ratios of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol were all improved in both diet groups as was the ratio of triglyceride to HDL cholesterol’, indicative of cardiovascular disease risk reduction. This finding can be interpreted as cardiovascular benefits for Dukan diet too.
Although there are no studies on how the Dukan diet affects diabetes, the researchers infer that losing weight can be helpful in improving insulin sensitivity, and correspondingly, type-2 diabetes.
Dukan Diet Side Effects
Impairs kidney function – Dukan diet stresses on the process of ketosis in which the body attacks its own fats. Since it is a high protein low carb diet, it directly aims at the kidney functions creating potential risks of various kidney diseases.
Increases the risk of osteoporosis - High protein diet requires your body to process more calcium, which it starts extracting from your bones leading to bone density loss. In the long run, bone density loss leads to osteoporosis.
May result in nutritional deficiencies – The initial phases of the Dukan diet contain low carb and no fibers, the body falls short of the daily required amount of fiber, resulting in constipationand diarrhea and increasing the risk of vitamin E and B vitamin deficiency. The diet may also cause Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in some people because of this.
Increases risk of certain cancers – High protein diets such as the Dukan diet increase blood levels of IGF-1 that contribute to cancers including colon cancer.
Lethargy, bad breath, and dry mouth are other side effects of the Dukan diet.
This diet is also found unsafe for the people who are at the risk of electrolyte imbalance.
Dukan Diet Recipe
Here’s an easy vegetarian recipe that provides half your daily intake of oat bran for the Stabilization phase.
Cheese & onion flatbread with Hummus
To make the flatbread, mix together 4 tbsp oat bran, 3 tbsp fat-free yoghurt, 1 beaten egg, 2 chopped spring onions and 25g grated Cheddar cheese. Heat 3 drops of oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and wipe off with kitchen paper. Spread the mixture around the pan, making a flat surface. Cook for 4–5 minutes until the underneath is golden. Gently turn over and cook for a further 4–5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cut into wedges. Your flatbread is ready.
For the hummus you need 400g chickpeas (Kabuli chana), 1 peeled garlic clove, 2 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt, small handful of fresh parsley, juice of half a lemon, a pinch of paprika and salt to taste. Place everything in a blender and blend until nearly smooth. Add a little water to obtain the desired consistency.
Serve the hummus on wedges of the cheesy bread with salad.