Dukan diet for weight loss: Does it work?

An avocado egg salad

If you are on a weight loss journey and looking for a healthy yet delectable diet, look no further than the Dukan diet! You will be surprised to know that popular American singer and actress, Jennifer Lopez and British royal Kate Middleton have reportedly followed the Dukan diet to get into shape and shed kilos. In the 1970s, French physician Dr Pierre Dukan developed the high-protein, low-carb Dukan diet. This low-carb, high-protein weight loss diet plan is similar to the Atkins diet and is divided into four stages. It promises to assist with rapid weight loss without causing hunger pangs. Let’s find out how the Dukan diet helps in weight loss and how to prepare for the Dukan diet.

What is the Dukan diet?

According to a study published in the Journal of Food Science and Nutritional Disorder, the Dukan diet majorly consists of high protein and low-carb foods. The diet promotes regular physical exercise and emphasises whole meals as opposed to processed goods.

“The foundation of the Dukan diet is the idea that consuming a lot of protein can aid in weight loss. This is because foods high in lean protein typically have fewer calories and consuming protein increases feelings of fullness since it requires more energy to digest, which increases calorie expenditure,” says dietician, Indrani Ghosh.

The Dukan diet is divided into these four phases, as per a study published in the Journal of Food Science and Nutritional.

Dukan diet can help you lose weight. Image courtesy: Freepik

1. Attack phase (1 to 7 days)

The first phase of the diet begins with a large amount of lean protein (lean proteins, such as skinless chicken breast and fat-free yoghurt). Depending on how much weight you need to lose, it can take anywhere from one to seven days for you to shed the extra kilos. Throughout the entire phase, you are only permitted to eat an infinite quantity of lean animal proteins. You can consume 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran daily along with lean protein. It is highly recommended to drink 8 glasses of water during this phase.

2. Cruise phase (1 to 12 months)

You can start incorporating non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, root vegetables, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, and cauliflower, into your diet during the second phase. You will alternate between one day of lean protein and one day of lean protein mixed with non-starchy veggies, along with 2 tablespoons of oat bran daily. The Cruise phase lasts anywhere from one to twelve months, with the duration determined on a plan of three days for each kilo you wish to lose.

3. Consolidation phase (5 days for each pound lost)

After the first two phases have helped you reduce weight, the consolidation phase progressively introduces new food groups. The goal of this phase is to avoid rebound weight gain, and it lasts five days for every pound lost. You will have to keep eating non-starchy veggies, lean protein, and small amount of fats and carbs, like whole grain bread. However, you will only be eating lean protein one day a week. Keep consuming 2 tablespoons of oat bran.

4. Stabilisation phase (indefinite)

The final phase lasts indefinitely and is designed to help you keep the weight off. Though you can eat a little more freely when it comes to carbohydrates and fats, it is pretty similar to the consolidation phase. You should still limit your intake of lean protein to one day each week and consume 3 tablespoons of oat bran each day.

Also, it is necessary to incorporate brisk walking for 20-25 minutes daily in all 4 phases to lose weight effectively.

Best foods to eat while trying the Dukan diet for weight loss

The Dukan diet emphasises high-protein, low-carbohydrate foods, particularly in the initial phases. Here are some foods that are best suited for the Dukan diet, as explained by nutritionist Kiran Dalal.

1. Lean proteins

Foods rich in lean protein are the foundation of the Dukan diet. This includes chicken breast, fish (such as salmon, tuna, and cod), shellfish (such as shrimp and lobster), eggs, and tofu.

2. Low-fat dairy

Opt for low-fat or fat-free dairy products such as Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese, skim milk, and reduced-fat cheese. These provide protein while keeping fat and carbohydrate intake in check.

3. Vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables are allowed in moderation, particularly in the later phases of the diet. Examples include leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuce), cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and asparagus.

4. Oat bran

Oat bran is a key component of the Dukan diet and is included daily in varying amounts throughout all phases. It provides fibre and helps promote satiety.

5. Herbs and spices

Flavour your meals with herbs, spices, and seasonings to enhance taste without adding extra calories or carbohydrates.

6. Limited fruits

In the later phases of the diet, small portions of certain fruits are allowed, such as berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), apples, and citrus fruits (lemons, oranges).

Try this easy recipe for Dukan diet to lose weight

Here is a simple Dukan diet recipe that can help you lose weight, as explained by the nutritionist.

1. Grilled lemon herb chicken with steamed broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups broccoli florets

Method:

  • In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, minced garlic, chopped parsley, and thyme leaves to make the marinade.
  • Place the chicken breasts in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over them, ensuring they are well coated. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and discard any excess marinade.
  • Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste. Lightly coat the grill grates with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
  • Grill the chicken breasts for 6-8 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through and have grill marks. Cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts.
  • While the chicken is grilling, steam the broccoli florets for about 4-5 minutes, until they are tender-crisp.
  • Once the chicken is cooked properly, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
  • Serve the grilled lemon herb chicken with the steamed broccoli on the side.

Are there any side effects of the Dukan diet?

While the Dukan diet is effective for weight loss but carries potential side effects and risks.

1. Ketoacidosis may affect some people

According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, a woman who followed the Dukan diet ended up in the hospital due to uncontrollable vomiting as a result of ketoacidosis. A rare disorder known as diet-induced ketoacidosis is brought on by the body’s insufficient supply of glucose, or blood sugar.

2. Low calorie intake can lead to problems

A study published in the International Journal of Public Health has shown that severely reducing your intake of calories and carbohydrates can have unfavourable side effects such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, low blood sugar, and constipation.

Woman with headache
Headaches are a side effect of Dukan diet. Image courtesy: Freepik

3. Not recommended for pregnant women

“Dukan diet should also be avoided by those who are pregnant or nursing, have kidney problems, cardiovascular problems, or any other medical conditions because of its restrictive nature and possible health risks. Thus, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet, especially if you have underlying health conditions or concerns about its suitability, says the expert.

You should weigh the pros and cons of the dukan diet, and consult a doctor to avoid any side effects or complications that may occur due to this diet.

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