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Pierre Dukan Diet Review - The French Atkins

Updated on March 21, 2011

It seems we can't get enough of French diets. First there was French Women Don't Get Fat, now we have the Dukan Diet, created by Dr. Pierre Dukan. Rumor has it that future princess Kate Middleton is using this very diet to prepare for her upcoming wedding to Prince William. Newspapers like the LA Times and New York Times are calling it the French Atkins diet due to its high-protein, low-carb philosophy. But what are the specifics of this weight loss scheme, and is the science behind it sound?

The Dukan Diet Plan

Like many other weight loss plans, the Dukan diet is broken into stages--in this case, 4:

The Dukan Diet's Four Phases
The Dukan Diet's Four Phases
  • Attack: Eat only lean protein, including mountains of oat bran, and increase your water intake.
  • Cruise: Introduce vegetables, but no fruit.
  • Consolidation: Add a few servings of carbs, a little cheese, and one serving of fruit a day. You are also allowed to indulge in wine and dessert with 2 meals a week, at this point.
  • Stabilization: Eat whatever you want, except for one day a week where you must eat according to the rules of the "Attack" phase, for the rest of your life.

The Dangers of the Dukan Diet

It all sounds simple enough, and very appealing. Go through these phases once and then eat whatever you want for the rest of your life? Never mind that one day of pure protein, it's a small price to pay, right?

Unfortunately, it's just not that easy. While you might lose weight on the Dukan diet, your health might be the forfeit. As I've said in other diet reviews, cutting out an entire food group is never a good idea. When you remove fruit and complex carbohydrates from your diet, you are setting yourself up for malnutrition, because lean protein lacks all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function.

Then there's the fact that your vital organs (including your heart and brain) need carbs as fuel. The reason that you lose weight on a low-carbohydrate diet is because your body is forced to start breaking down your stored fat as fuel instead, in a process called ketosis. That would all be well and good, except that weight loss is not the only side-effect of ketosis. This metabolic state puts enormous strain on your kidneys, and may result in gout, kidney stones, and even organ failure.

Eating a lot of protein also puts stress on your kidneys, and often produces high cholesterol, which increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. It also causes you to excrete more calcium in your urine, which puts you at risk for osteoporosis.

But, you say, it's only temporary. Really? If you're honest with yourself, do you think it's actually as easy as following 4 magic steps and then eating whatever you like for the rest of your life? If weight loss were so simple, we'd all be stick figures by now. Already, we are hearing reports of Dukan dieters putting back on much of the weight they lose, and starting the diet again. Chances are, you too will be forced to repeat the first three steps over and over again, putting your body through enormous stress time and again.

The Dukan Diet has already been placed on both the French and British governments' lists of the most dangerous diets.  Save yourself some money and suffering, and take a more realistic approach to weight loss.  Eat a balanced diet, get more exercise, and focus on health rather than the number on the scale.  Your body will repay you with years of good service, if you treat it with care.


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