The Dukan Diet: Another Fad?

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Although the fact remains that the UK population is getting fatter, it seems that we are wising up when it comes to fad diets; at least some of us are. After decades of unhealthy, unrealistic, unworkable plans (like the ‘low fat’ fads of the 1980s) and the dozens of frankly ludicrous and sometimes dangerous  diets recommended by so called ‘experts’ (the grapefruit diet anyone?), Brits are finally waking up to the realities of losing weight, and getting clued up about the basics of nutrition.

Arguably the biggest diet fad of the 2000s was the Atkins Diet, pioneered by Dr. Atkins, the diet lauded the benefits of a high protein, high fat low carb diet. Many found this tricky to get to grips with initially, and with good reason, the Atkins diet banished almost all carbohydrates including fruit, instead promoting the consumption of fatty, calorie dense food. While the principle of reducing carbs to promote weight loss worked fundamentally, the side effects such as bad breath and lethargy were simply too large a price to pay for many.

Since Atkins came and went, the idea of carb reduction to aid fat loss has remained at the forefront of the minds of nutrition thought leaders. Since Atkins the Glycemic Index, a scale which measures the digestion rate and insulin response a range of carbohydrate-rich foods illicit, has been popularised and printed on many food products. The Paleo diet, a plan that dictates we should eat as human did millions of years ago before farming, i.e. only living things (plants, animal flesh, and yes, no carbs) has curried favour with fitness enthusiast and weight-watcher types alike.

It is clear that the notion of ‘low carbs = weight loss’ as now firmly imprinted on the British psyche evident in many aspects of culture including Marks ‘n’ Spencer’s ‘fuller for Longer’ range, a collection of high-protein, low carb meals designed for weight loss. The idea has even filtered into mainstream Televison, immortalised in a soundbite from ‘The Only Way is Essex’, ‘no carbs before marbs’ is a rule that will be followed seriously by pre-vacation dieters.

The Dukan Diet therefore is nothing new; the underlying theorem was devised by French nutrition expert Dr. Pierre Dukan and made famous when it was revealed that Kate Middleton used his formula to get into her ultra svelte wedding dress. The diet is made up of four distinct phases.

Attack

This phase limits dieters 72 protein rich foods, although they can eat as much of each as they want. It is designed to kick start weight loss and allow the user to lose up to 3 kg per week

Cruise

In the cruise phase, dieters can eat the foods available to them in the attack phase, as well as 28 different vegetables, it is expected that they will lose around 1 kg per week in this phase.

Consolidation

This phase is designed to prevent rebound weight gain after the dieter reaches their desired weight. Carbohydrate food is allowed in this phase.

Stabilisation

The stabilisation phase is long term and grants users the freedom to eat whatever they want, on the condition that they have one protein only day per week.

In summary, the Dukan Diet is not too dissimilar to the Atkins Diet, or indeed any of the hundreds of low carb diets out there. The basic principle of reducing carbohydrate intake to aid weight loss is one that is scientifically proven, healthy, safe way to diet. Whatever funky name it is given, the fundamental framework of macronutrient manipulation will never go out of fashion.

About the author: Joe Johnson is a fitness blogger and gym enthusiast who uses his treadmills to keep fit!




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