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French people always seem to be slim by default. But believe it or not, the French are just as vulnerable to obesity and overweight like anyone else. Still that has not stopped both sides of the Atlantic to mimic the Gallic nation in hopes of becoming skinnier.

That’s why The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever is such a bestseller in the US. Written by French obesity physician Pierre Dukan, The Dukan Diet has supposedly thinned down five million French people. No less than beautifully bodied singer-actress Jennifer Lopez and supermodel Giselle Bundchen have supposedly used The Dukan Diet to shave off weight after giving birth.

This diet bids you to eat to your heart’s content so long as your meals consist mostly of lean protein. It also tells you to exercise at least 20 minutes a day; drink plenty of water; and eat lots of oat bran.

If you’re feeling a little déjà vu, it’s because the Dukan Diet takes a leaf out of the Atkins Diet. Like that diet, Dukan promises big bait: up to two pounds of weight loss per day, at least in the initial phase.

How the Dukan Diet works

Four stages or phases constitute the Dukan Diet. In the first phase, also known as “Attack,” you should eat nothing else but lean protein. This restriction should cause quick weight reduction, as much as seven pounds in five days. “Attack” should last anywhere from one day to over a week.

By the start of the second phase, your body will have adjusted to the weight loss. Compared to the first, the second phase takes longer, even taking months, because you are aiming for your goal weight here. Ideally, you must be shedding two pounds weekly in this phase, aptly called “Cruise.”

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A transitional stage follows after you have attained your goal weight. The third phase (“Consolidation”) comes at a crux in the diet, when weight loss levels off. At this point your body has every risk of reneging on your fat loss.

“Consolidation” is intended to prevent weight gain before “Stabilization,” the last phase of the diet. The fourth phase is the maintenance stage, which is for life. This is the time when you have achieved your dream weight; follow the book’s methods to keep it that way.

Dukan has some negative effects however. Wait for constipation, bad breath, dry mouth, constipation, and fatigue, among others.

What you can eat in the Dukan Diet

Eat as much lean protein as you please in the introductory phase. The best lean meats are not lamb and pork but rather poultry, fish, eggs, nonfat dairy, and soy. Balance your protein intake with 1 ½ tbsp oat bran every day. Do not forget to imbibe 1.5 liters of water.

In the subsequent phase, bring in non-starchy vegetables into the mix. You can choose from an approved list of 28 vegetables, which excludes peas, potatoes, carrots, and corn. Only take them in smaller amounts than lean protein, which must remain unlimited. Increase your daily intake of oat bran to 2 tbsp.

Peas, corn, carrots, and potatoes emerge in the third phase. This is when you add two slices of whole-grain bread; a serving of fruit (low in sugar); and a portion of hard cheese to the usual protein and veggies. This time around, you may eat previously prohibited meats such as pork and lamb. In fact, you may throw up to two “celebratory meals” of any food you want every week in this phase. That is, if you observe one day in a week when you eat only protein.

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In the maintenance phase, you may finally consume anything to your liking – if only you would follow the rule of a protein-only day once a week. Don’t stop eating oat bran; increase daily consumption to 3 tbsp even. Also, take a 20-minute walk every day. Do not ride escalators and elevators.

Through all these, the Dukan Diet does not frown upon gum (sugar-free), artificial sweeteners, spices, and vinegars. Instead, the diet urges you to take multivitamins with minerals every day.

Experts weigh in the Dukan Diet

It behooves many experts that the Dukan Diet would scrimp on fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. No amount of multivitamins could counterbalance the shortage of nutrients caused by the absence of these foods.

According to fitness professionals, any diet that causes bad breath, constipation, dry mouth, and weakness should alarm you. Eating programs are supposed to make you feel good, not endure adverse effects.

It’s true what the French say; Dukan may just make you less fat. This diet hacks your calorie intake dramatically – at the expense of your nourishment. A weight loss of up to two pounds weekly may lead to gallstones and other kidney conditions. It also makes you lose muscle mass, which becomes ever vital with age.


In the aspect of effectiveness, the Dukan Diet sounds like a deal but it is not entirely feasible. Its obviation of nutrient-rich food groups, plus the bad effects, makes The Dukan Diet a poor program in the long haul.

While it cannot survive without protein, the body cannot live on this nutrient alone. You must also eat fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, healthy fats, and whole grains. Unfortunately, the Dukan Diet sets unhealthy restrictions on these.

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High-protein, low-calorie diets would only take you so far in the long term. Opt instead for a low-calorie diet, an effective fat burning pill, regular exercise, and a positive frame of mind if you want to be as thin as the French.

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