The Dukan's diet emerged in the early 2000 and became known as an amazing weight loss diet. It is essentially a low carb diet, which has four phases: the attack, cruise, consolidation and stabilization phase. Each phase serves a different purpose and different foods are aloud during them.
This lasts between 1-7 days depending on your weight loss goal. You can only eat lean protein. Basically just meat, eggs and tofu. You usually experience rapid weight loss, do the less water retention. Carbs help to hold water in your body, so when you stop eating them, you will hold less water in your body.
In order to do this phase correctly, you need to abstain from drenching your protein in sauces. My personal tip: use quality dry condiments such as sea salt, freshly ground pepper, oregano and cinamon. With 0 calories, they will pack your plate with flabours.
Think of this phase as the kickstart to your diet plan.
This phase is where you reach your target goal weight in a more sustainable way. You alternate days in which you only protein with days you eat protein and veggies.
You stay in this phase until you reach your desired weight. This could be a matter of weeks or months depending on your goal.
Interestingly, you can choose how you alternate between the two days. The one most recommended is the alternating every day, but you can also choose to do it every other day, or even every 5 days.
You still not eating carbs during this phase and there are no cheat meals.
It's goal is to prevent any metabolic rebound by slowly re-introducing certain foods in limited quantities such as grains, cheese, fruits and bread. You are also aloud 2 cheat meals per week. The trick with the cheat meals is to keep them meals, and not day long feasting occasions. Portion control plays an important role as well. Enjoy a delicious chocolate cheese cake is fantastic. Consuming four in a row isn't.
You also need to have one day a week that is only protein. Dukan recommends you make it every Thursday for no other reason that it's a day that needs to happen every week and why not Thursdays.
This phase lasts 4.5 days per pound of lost weight.
This is the back to normal eating phase in which you can start eating whatever you want again. The one rule that remains is to keep the one day of protein only per week.
You need to consume 1-3 table spoon of oat bran daily during the various stages.
You need to walk a minimum of 30 minutes per day.
Alcohol is not permitted during the attack and cruise phase but can be part of your cheat meals in the consolidation phase.
Up front, the thing that jumps at me is the complete elimination of fruits during the first couple phases. Fruits provide your body with many micronutrients that vegetables do not. And being natural, unprocessed foods, I personally think it is ok to eat them whenever.
The fact that it allows you to eat as much as you want of the chosen foods is awesome. There are tons of options for you to choose from. Eating protein and veggies for weight loss is recommended by most fitness professionals I have chatted with over last 8 years.
However, if the cruise phase lasts for a long time, boredom could set in. You also want to factor in special occasions such as holidays, birthdays or other big events in which you would have to stick to this super strict eating. I found that dieting through one or two such events in manageable but then it becomes annoying to always that person that cant enjoy themselves with everyone.
The fact that you are allowed cheat meals in the stabilization phase is good but could it not be allowed maybe once during the cruise phase?
The trick for a diet is to be sustainable. I personally think that if you can't even allow yourself one cheat meal every other week, it will become very hard to to it on the long (3+ months) term.
Sample case study
If we do some math, let's say I want to lose 20 pounds. How long would it take me to get to the stabilization phase? A.K.A the more sustainable phase.
Attack phase: I am serious about this so I do it for 5 days. I lose 4 pounds due to the rapid loss in water weight.
Cruise phase: assuming I lose a pound per week (the recommended safe rate of weight loss) I would be in this phase for 16 months.
Consolidation phase: since I lost a total of 20 pounds, I would stay in this phase for 20 x 4.5 = 90 days, so another 3 months.
So for 20 pounds of weight loss, you must follow the stricter diet phases for a minimum of 7 months.
What is the biggest critique against this diet?
The number one concern is that high protein diet have not been studied in the long term and have it can impact your long term health. This is a critique of any high protein diet FYI so no need to hate on the Dukan's for that sole purpose.
What about vegetarians? Tofu, tempeh and seitan doesn't sound like something I could survive on for 5 days or eat every other day for months on end...
Another, more relevant critique is that this diet doesn't teach you long lasting healthy eating habits. Again, this critique is valid for any of diets. And I agree: a diet is not a sustainable lifestyle way. HOWEVER a diet can help you reach your weight goal for sure. I think that the Dukan's is a reasonable approach that allows enough leniency to be sustained for a few months. Once you have reached your desired goal, I would go back to eating more normally, taking some lessons from this diet with you.
If you have experience with this diet, let me know your thoughts here!