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Book Reviews

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The Dukan Diet

Book Review

The Dukan Diet
By Dr. Pierre Dukan
Crown Archetype (2011)
Reviewed by Karen Ansel, MS, RD, CDN

Claims

The Dukan Diet claims it’s the ideal diet for people who want to lose weight quickly but can’t be bothered with counting calories or weighing their food. Unlike many other diet books, it promises to help keep off lost weight for good.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

The author believes fast results are the key to weight-loss motivation. His high-protein, low-calorie plan is divided into four phases. The first two phases are geared toward helping readers shed pounds quickly, while the second two are designed to maintain weight loss permanently.

  • The Attack Phase: The goal of this phase is dramatic weight loss of four to 10 pounds in seven days or less. During this phase, readers eat a pure protein diet consisting of unlimited amounts of lean protein supplemented by 1½ tablespoons of oat bran. In addition to lean meat, fish, shellfish, skinless poultry (with the exception of goose and duck), eggs, tofu, seitan and nonfat dairy products are also allowed.
  • The Cruise Phase: Readers alternate pure protein days with days of pure protein and non-starchy vegetables until they reach their “true” or goal weight. During this phase, readers can expect to initially shed three to four pounds a week. As weight loss slows, they can expect to lose about two pounds a week.
  • The Consolidation Phase: Once readers achieve their goal weight, they transition to the maintenance phase of the plan. The first part of this phase is the Consolidation Phase, targeted at preventing rebound weight gain. This phase lasts for five days for every one pound lost. Readers can eat unlimited amounts of protein and non-starchy vegetables and can also reintroduce limited amounts of fresh fruit, whole-wheat bread and cheese. They can also enjoy two weekly servings of starchy foods, such as pasta, beans or potatoes. To balance the newfound freedom of this phase, readers must follow the pure protein diet from the Attack Phase for one day a week.
  • The Permanent Stabilization Phase: The final phase of The Dukan Diet is designed for lifelong weight maintenance. Once readers have reached this point they can return to eating whatever they desire as long as they follow these three rules:
    • Eat a pure protein diet one day a week.
    • Always take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators.
    • Eat tablespoons of oat bran daily.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

The Dukan Diet may not be the healthiest or most versatile plan. Because of its emphasis on animal protein, it's not well-suited for carb lovers or vegetarians. As the author points out, one of the main benefits of his diet is that its high-protein content forces the body to flush out fluids. As a result, much of the weight lost initially may simply be water. By restricting carbohydrates, The Dukan Diet forces the body and brain to use fat for fuel. This pushes the body into a state of ketosis, which has been linked to health problems such as kidney damage and gout. The ultra-restrictive Attack Phase can also cause fatigue, bad breath, constipation and dry mouth.

On the upside, the diet does recommend several healthful practices such as choosing leaner cuts of protein, encouraging daily exercise, moderating salt intake and striving for lifelong weight management. Because it is highly regimented, The Dukan Diet can be a good fit for people who require a highly structured plan.

Bottom Line

Although The Dukan Diet is likely to help readers shed unwanted weight, the highly restrictive nature of the Attack and Cruise phases raise health concerns that make it difficult to recommend this diet.