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Health Guide Review: 2,5/5

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Dukan Diet Review

What is it?

The Dukan Diet is a diet plan for people looking to lose weight using a heavy protein based meal plan. A French general practitioner named Pierre Dukan created it, and celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and even British royalty have since used it.

Information on this diet is available through the “Dukan Diet” book, which sold over 7 million copies. There’s a total of 4 phases one must follow, and information about this diet is also available through other books and an official website.

As far as what this diet presents, there’s a lot of information provided online:

  •  An optional support system is offered: For $29.99 a month, the official Dukan Diet website offers recipes, discounts foods the company makes, help from nutritionists, progress tracking, and personal instructions. Though not required, it’s another way to get involved with the Dukan Diet.         
  • Brands of all kinds: You can also buy optional foods such as cookies, oat bran, granola, and noodles. There’s also a supplement made for appetite control.
  • Specific restrictions: While on this diet it’s highly advised to stick to the 4 phases in order to prevent any issues. There’s a full list of foods offered that are meant to be eaten only during the phases you might be on.

This diet plan has been compares to the paleo diet as well as Atkins. Though the Dukan Diet is unique in that it has specific requirements. It also has some unique phases unlike any other diet plans.

 Foods Allowed by the Diet

The foods you’re allowed to eat depending on which of the 4 phases you’re currently on:

  • Phase 1 Attack: In this beginning stage it’s suggested that one could lose between 4.4 to 6.6 pounds between 2 to 7 days. There are a total of 68 protein rich foods that you can eat as much as you’d like. This phase is meant to help with creating a stronger metabolism.

Lean meat, fat free cheeses, tofu, and no fats or carbohydrates are allowed. You also eat 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and 6 cups of water a day.

The doctor has been criticized for advising users to eat as much protein as one they would like. This is because excess protein can lead to kidney damage. The Granada University in Spain ran a study, which showed that:

“high-protein diets like the Dukan regime may increase the chance of developing kidney stones and other renal disease”

According to the doctor, by drinking 6 cups of water you prevent this issue from happening. Though he offers no proof to prove this. Web MD has this to say:

“Due to the lack of data… a maximum intake level for protein cannot be determined”

 So it’s unknown why the doctor would claim that by drinking water alone you could safely avoid kidney damage. There’s simply not enough information provided to show that what he is saying is true.

This is particularly problematic, as having unchecked levels of protein may become a health issue.

  •  Phase 2 Cruise: You can add veggies as long as it’s not avocados or starches. At this stage your body is already adjusted to a high protein intake.
  • Phase 3 Consolidation: For every 5 days that you lose a pound, you get one serving of fruit, 2 slices of whole wheat bread daily, and one serving of hard cheese.

You also get one cheat meal a day each week, where you can eat as much as you want from any kind of food. This includes starches and other foods that are often banned.

  •  Phase 4 Stabilization: The last stage is considered a lifelong process. You have to eat only protein one day a week, oat bran daily, try to take the stairs whenever possible, and eat only low glycemic foods.

You also have to make sure to walk at least 20 minutes a day.

 Each phase has its specific requirement that can vary wildly. This form of dieting is often considered a crash diet, as it quickly demands for an uncommon dietary change that most have never done.

A glass of wine is allowed per day only during hr stabilization and consolidation phase.  There’s no suggestions offered on what to do if you get bored of eating mostly protein.

 How Does the Diet Work?

 By limiting the amount of carbohydrates you eat, the body is likely to lose much water weight. This falls in line with the diets promise of being able to help one lose between 4.4 pounds and 6.6 pounds in 2 to 7 days.

Live Strong.com mentions that:

“It’s possible to lose as much as 20 pounds of body weight  during one week”

 Therefore, it’s no surprise that this diet can help with this much weight loss. The problem of course is that this is not fat loss, instead it’s just water.  Though the diet does not specifically claim what kind of weight you’re losing, it’s important to distinguish as fat loss is the real kind of weight that is healthy to reduce.

The diet also suggests that you get the opportunity to eat:

“100 foods – no starvation and no frustration”

 While you’re allowed to eat as much protein as you’d’ like during certain phases, this may not be a suitable thing for all. Eating excess protein can cause issues to the kidneys, and it’s unknown how much is safe per person.

Web MD also says that:

“could lead to a nutritionally inadequate diet”

 The creator of this diet has failed to provide any scientific studies showing the Duken Diet to be either safe or effective. This plan also does nit help with making sure one can create healthy eating habits.

Pros

      •  Cheat days are allowed during certain phases. This allows you to eat as much food as you’d like, and whatever foods you’d like.
      • There’s a full list of foods that are allowed, and they’re all featured in the official book.
      • For those who enjoy protein, there are days in which you can eat as much as you’d like.
      • There’s books, paid counseling, and support available online. The website also provides some pointers.
      • You can find many recipes online. Though most are featured in the book.

 Cons

      •  The diet makes many controversial claims that are not proven. Some of these claims are also potentially dangerous.
      • Although being allowed as much protein as you’d like sounds good in theory, excess protein can lead to complications in the internal organs.
      •  The plan places a limit on foods such as avocados and fruit, which is odd considering they can be healthy.
      • Many organizations and news outlets have criticized the creator of the diet. He also does not provide proof for all his claims.
      •  The diet does not mention that most of the weight lost is only water weight. Since the first week promises what seems to be real weight loss, it’s confusing for those unaware that it’s only water weight.

 Better Alternatives to the Diet

 This plan has many claims that are yet to be proven. Unfortunately, by following the strict advice offered, it’s possible to experience serious potential side effects.

Also, many have largely criticized this diet. The British Dietetic Association listed the Dukan Diet as their number 1 diet to avoid.

According to the French National Order of Doctors:

“breaking the medical code of practice and treating medicine  “like a business””.

 The Guardian UK also mentions how:

“a survey of 5,000 “Dukanians”… found that 80% had regained the weight they lost within 3 years”

 This is a remarkable failure on the diets part, and it speaks about how it’s truly not a legitimate diet. Any of the weight lost is likely only because of water weight.

Since so many people who adhered to the diet didn’t sustain their weight loss, it’s unlikely that this plan would not be beneficial for most.

The creator has also been criticized and stripped from being allowed in the French medical directory. He was also asked to stop practicing medicine for turning his practice into more of a business, as opposed to truly helping people.

US News also reviewed this diet and they concluded:

“If you want a healthy diet, look elsewhere”

 “could lead to long-term health problems, and shutting out entire food groups poses a risk of nutritional deficiencies”

 You can also read multiple accounts online from people who had health issues when using this diet. In one case feature don the Telegraph, a man went into a coma.

 Conclusion

 The Dukan Diet became a hit when it came out, and much like other fad diets, it has failed to provide long-term weight loss.

Studies into this diet are not provided by the maker, but the data that does exist shows that it’s not an effective solution to weight loss. Studies show this much protein can be damaging, and that the people who used this diet plan quickly regained their weight.

Not only are there many controversial claims made about what’s healthy to implement into your diet, but it’s also potentially dangerous according to studies.

Due to the excess levels of protein that one may eat, there’s a potential for kidney damage. Also, it’s likely that the only reason why people lose weight is because they restrict carbohydrates that is known to make one lose water weight but not fat.

There are some things about this diet that make it seem like a good choice, but overall, there are much better solutions for weight loss that are backed by real science.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is designed to complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own physician.