Dukan you can!
Kate Middleton, Jennifer Lopez and François Hollande are, among many others, followers of the Dukan diet; a weight loss method born in France by Dr Pierre Dukan, that counts more than 20,000,000 supporters all over the world.
By: Vana Antonopoulou
“I didn’t simply wake up one day and create a weight loss programme. On the contrary, the Dukan diet is the result of years of trial and error, and of precious feedback from my clients. That is why it actually works,” proclaims Dr Pierre Dukan, the French brains behind one of the most popular diets of all times. But, what exactly is the secret to his success?
The Dukan diet consists of four phases, the first sort of kick-starting the metabolism. How is that possible?
During the first four to five days of phase one, aka the attack phase, you consume protein-rich foods alone –meat, fish, seafood, chicken, eggs, tofu, low-fat dairy– and lots of water. In this particular phase, we do not eat sugar, nor carbohydrates, and consume very little fat. So, what happens is that proteins, which are hard to digest –to absorb 100 calories in protein, the body must spend 32 calories, whereas for other foods it uses around 10 or 12 calories– force the body to work hard to assimilate them. At the same time, the slow digestion rate increases the sense of feeling satiated, while proteins work as a natural diuretic, battling water retention.
A protein-rich diet has many advantages, considering that you lose not only fat, but water, as well. And this is particularly important when you step on the scales –it instantly shows you lost some weight. Therefore, it gives you a motive to go on, to keep up with the effort.
Which do you think is the most important phase?
I believe the most important phase is the third one, the stabilization phase. It starts after you have lost the desired weight and marks the beginning of an effort to permanently drop the extra pounds. The duration of this phase is calculated according to the weight you have already lost. You should calculate 10 days for every pound. For example, if you lost 2 pounds, the third phase will last 20 days, if you lost 5 pounds, 50 days, and so on.
Although it is not an easy phase to follow, since most diet failures occur after someone has lost the pounds, it is indeed the most critical one. Psychologically speaking, losing the weight for good is very uplifting.
If someone wanted to lose just 1, 2 or even 3 pounds, could they skip a phase?
Not really. No one should omit a stage. However, having to lose 2-3 pounds could mean you ought to follow a more compressed programme: to dedicate one day to the first phase and another one to the second. At the same time, you should do some gentle exercise, such as walk for 20 minutes every day.
What is the difference between Dukan and the other diets –Atkins for example?
Diets are divided into two categories: those that count calories (hypocaloric), and “special” diets (low-carb, low-fat, detox, etc.). The Dukan programme belongs to the second category and argues that the enemy is sugar.
Since you mentioned Atkins, it does allow free protein consumption, but it also allows the consumption of fat, which is harmful to the heart. Furthermore, Atkins does not attach particular importance to physical activity, and it does not have a stabilization phase –its role ends once you lose the pounds. You see the Atkins diet was created in the 1970s and has a somewhat out-dated logic. On the contrary, the Dukan method ascribes great importance to light exercise (walking 20 minutes per day) and of course the stabilization phase –otherwise you won’t be able to drop all those extra pounds for good.
Do you think Dukan is an easy diet to follow?
I think it is quite easy, mainly because it is a well-organized programme –it has a specific structure. Moreover, you do not need to constantly count calories, so you can, for example, go to a restaurant and enjoy your meal without stress. With Dukan, you do not feel deprived, so you can follow it more pleasantly.
You claim Dukan is a “natural” diet. What does that mean exactly?
Processed foods, including frozen meals, crisps and even biscuits, are harmful and have led entire generations to obesity. On the other hand, stressful lifestyle can cause a need for this kind of foods, mainly because they give a sense of “comfort”.
The Dukan diet is based on meat, fish, chicken, and vegetables, natural products that have not undergone any –or at least have minimal– treatment. So, you lose weight without harming your body.
The Dukan diet in brief:
The diet is based on a list of over 100 allowed foods, as well as four phases: attack, cruise, consolidation, and stabilization.
The attack phase is designed to enable dieters to rapidly lose 2 to 3 kilos (4.4 to 6.6 lb.) in 2–7 days by kick-starting their metabolism. Dieters are allowed to eat as much as they want of 72 protein-rich foods. The cruise phase is designed to allow dieters to more gradually achieve the weight they aim for by eating protein-rich foods with the addition of 28 specific vegetables. The consolidation phase is designed to help prevent any future massive weight gain. During this phase, fruit, bread, cheese and starchy foods are reintroduced into a normal diet, leaving two celebratory meals a week as directed by the plan. Finally, in the stabilization phase, dieters can essentially eat whatever they want without gaining weight by following a few rules: respecting protein day every Thursday, eating oat bran every day and making a commitment to «take the stairs». According to Dukan, dieters should follow this last phase for the rest of their life to avoid regaining weight.
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