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Add Dukan to the Long Lists of Fad Diets

April 21, 2011

A diet that promises to shed pounds quickly without horrible hunger pains or calorie counting AND it can help manage weight for a lifetime—where have I heard these claims before? When I think about it, some names like Atkins and South Beach come to mind. Now you can add one more to the list with the Dukan Diet, a high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet with a French twist.

Created by Dr. Pierre Dukan, the diet has been making headlines and best-seller lists overseas for some time and now it’s making its way to the United States. But it hasn’t come without plenty of critics who say the diet is restrictive, tough on the kidneys (due to the high amount of protein), lacking nutritional balance, expensive, and ultimately unsustainable. From personal research, I’d have to agree with most, if not all of these arguments.

When any fad diet makes its way into the market and on book shelves I like to ask myself two things:

  1. If I chose to go on this diet, is it unlikely I could follow the regimen for more than a year? Two years? For life?
  2. Does it restrict any particular food groups I enjoy?

If the answer is “yes” to either question, or both, that raises a red flag and I consider that particular diet a fad that wouldn’t be worth trying.

Take a look at a short summary of the four phases of the Dukan Diet regimen and see if you come to a similar conclusion.

Phase 1: Attack Phase

During this phase dieters are only allowed to eat protein foods. Unlike the Atkins Diet, however, these protein sources must be lean cuts lower in fat.

Phase 2: Cruise Phase

In this phase meals alternate between lean protein only and lean protein with non-starchy vegetables.

Phase 3: Consolidation Phase

At this point, meals are still protein-based but once you reach your weight loss goals you can incorporate a serving of fruit, two slices of whole-grain bread each day and an extra serving of carbohydrates each week.

Phase 4: Stabilization Phase

One day of the week you are instructed to eat only protein and the rest of the week you are allowed to eat foods that fit into phase 2 of the program (more protein and some vegetables).


Seem doable? I certainly know I couldn’t manage it and I wouldn’t want to, either. Common side effects of a high-protein diet and little else include fatigue, headache, constipation, bad breath, and constipation. That doesn’t sound enjoyable to me, which is exactly what food should be beyond general nourishment.

No surprise to most, a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, lean protein and low fat dairy coupled with regular physical activity are still the best solutions to losing weight and keeping it off long term. True, the weight may not come off as quickly but over time a healthier diet and an increase in physical activity will lead to steady weight loss that can last a lifetime.

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