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What is the Dukan Diet?

The Dukan Diet has been a bestseller in France for years and has claims to have helped 5 million of the French lose weight. It was created by French physician Pierre Dukan more than 10 years ago as a treatment for obese people.

In a nutshell the dieter alternates between high protein and high protein mixed with mostly vegetables and some fruits, bringing you to your true weight. This will be difficult for Indians — let’s face it we don’t have a large variety of meats. We are just not used to eating a piece of chicken with very little or no masala.

There are four phases to the Dukan Diet(uh…sounding familiar, aka Atkins). In the first phase you can only have lean protein, 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and 1.5 litres of water a day. In the second phase an unlimited amount of 28 starchy vegetables are permitted along with the unlimited protein and 2 tablespoons oat bran. In the third phase some limited fruits are brought in as well as 2 pieces of whole grain bread and a small piece of hard cheese. The last phase is maintenance. The author promises you can eat whatever you like without regain if you follow his rules – one day a week, follow the same all-protein diet as in Phase 1; eat 3 tablespoons of oat bran a day; and walk for 20 minutes daily and never take elevators or escalators.

Is it worth a try — probably not.

Here’s my take:

There are no fats in the diet. The protein is lean and the vegetables are cooked with very little or no fat. Dr. Dukan emphasises in his book that the problem with low-carb diets is that “mistrust of fats is gone, and once gone makes any form of stabilization impossible.” Scientifically, on the contrary, fats are what make weight stabilization possible.

The National Academy of Sciences, which carefully reviews research on macronutrients, currently recommends that between 10% and 35% of calories come from protein. The Dukan Diet, on the other hand, is about 79% to 90% protein — not a good idea.

Our livers and kidneys have to work extra hard to process the byproducts of protein metabolism. Dr. Dukan’s says that the mandatory water in the diet will take care of this problem, but he doesn’t provide any proof to back this up.

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