Does the Dukan Diet really help lose weight? | Health News

Wondering the secret behind Jennifer Lopez and Kate Middleton’s weight loss transformations? The American actor and the British Royal both, reportedly, follow the high-protein low-carb Dukan diet devised by French physician Dr Pierre Dukan in the 1970s.

According to a 2021 study in the Journal of Food Science and Nutritional Disorders, this fad diet aims to “reduce carbohydrate and fat intake in the first phase of the diet, with exclusive intake of protein, followed by another three phases, with progressive and slow reintroduction of other nutrients such as fiber, carbohydrates, and fats.”

What does the diet entail?

The Dukan diet has four primary phases. As per their official website, first comes the Attack Phase. This consists of pure protein and allows 68 high-protein foods for immediate and noticeable weight loss.

The second is the Cruise Phase, aimed at reaching one’s ‘True Weight’. This phase adds 32 vegetables that can be selected from 100 natural foods. “The average length of this phase is based on a schedule of 3 days for each pound you want to lose”, says DukanDiet.com.

The third is the Consolidation Phase, designed to prevent the rebound weight gain effect by gradually allowing previously forbidden foods in limited qualities as well as 2 “celebration” meals per week.

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The website says that this phase follows a schedule of 5 days per pound lost in the Cruise phase. The third phase should also include a pure protein day on Thursday.

The Stabilization Phase is the last and most crucial, to be followed for the rest of one’s life. It has 3 non-negotiable rules:

  • 3 tablespoons of oat bran per day.
  • 20 minutes of daily walking and choosing stairs whenever possible.
  • Following a pure protein Thursday.

Health risks associated with this diet?

“The restrictive nature of the diet may result in nutritional deficiencies, particularly in vitamins and minerals found in restricted food groups,” says Dr G. Sushma, clinical dietitian, CARE Hospitals, Banjara Hills Hyderabad.

Rapid weight loss can also increase the risk of gallstones, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions, such as kidney problems or cardiovascular issues, should exercise caution or avoid the diet altogether, she adds.

Who should avoid this diet?

“Pregnant or breastfeeding women, individuals with kidney problems, cardiovascular issues, or other medical conditions should avoid the Dukan Diet due to its restrictive nature and potential health risks,” alerts the dietitian.

Is the Dukan diet sustainable?

Dr Sushma says that while some individuals may experience initial success with the Dukan Diet, its long-term sustainability is questionable. According to her, the severe restrictions on certain food groups may lead to feelings of deprivation and make it challenging to adhere to over time.

Additionally, the rapid weight loss experienced during the initial phases may not be sustainable in the long run without adopting lasting lifestyle changes.

Busting  myths

Dukan is a starvation diet and too restrictive in nature

Dr Sushma says that “although the Dukan Diet is restrictive, it’s not a true starvation diet. However, the severe limitations on certain food groups may induce feelings of deprivation, potentially leading to disordered eating patterns and making long-term adherence challenging.”

High protein diets result in kidney problems

“While there’s limited evidence to support this claim in healthy individuals, those with pre-existing kidney issues should exercise caution and consult healthcare professionals before embarking on a high-protein diet,” Dr Sushma warns.


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