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This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

The Dukan Diet plan

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

The Dukan Diet: What is it?

Super-trim Kate Middleton - now the Duchess of Cambridge - is apparently a fan of the Dukan diet. It’s been a best-seller in France for years, but now it’s is getting more attention on this side of the Channel. It's no wonder: the book claims to have helped five million French people lose weight. Singer Jennifer Lopez and model Giselle Bundchen are reported to have lost their post-pregnancy pounds on The Dukan Diet.

It’s been widely reported that before the Royal Wedding the Duchess of Cambridge and her mother used this method to shed a few pounds.

The Dukan Diet was created by French doctor Pierre Dukan more than 10 years ago as a treatment for obese people.

Essentially, it's a four-phase, high-protein, low- calorie diet plan. There's no weighing foods or counting calories. You eat as much as you want, at any time of day - as long as what you’re eating is lean protein, at least initially. 

In fact, protein is the centrepiece in all four phases, along with oat bran, lots of water and a 20-minute daily walk. Vegetables are allowed in the second stage, followed by small amounts of fruit and wholegrains. 

Sound familiar? It's much like the first Atkins diet. Dieters lose weight rapidly - as much as 1-2 pounds a day during the first phase - which Dukan says helps to instil lasting motivation. He promises that hunger will disappear after the third day.

However, the book warns that dieters may suffer from bad breath, constipation, dry mouth and fatigue - all consequences of low-carb, high-protein diets.

The Dukan Diet: What you can eat

Phase 1, the "Attack" phase, is quite simple: Eat all you want of lean protein, along with 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and 1.5 litres of water daily. That’s it. Dieters can choose from 72 lean or low-fat meats (excluding pork and lamb), fish, poultry, eggs, soya and non-fat dairy. 

This is followed by the "Cruise" phase, which allows unlimited amounts of 28 non-starchy vegetables every other day along with a core diet of unlimited lean/low-fat protein and two tablespoons of oat bran. Carrots, peas, sweetcorn and potatoes are not on this list of vegetables but appear in the next phase.

Phase 3, "Consolidation," allows unlimited protein (including pork and lamb) and vegetables every day, along with one piece of low-sugar fruit, two slices of granary bread, and one portion of hard cheese. Dieters can also have 1-2 servings of starchy foods and 1-2 "celebration" meals (in which you can eat whatever you want) per week during this phase.  In this phase, you begin the lifetime commitment of eating the core diet of pure protein one day each week, preferably the same day.

Phase 4, "Stabilisation," is the maintenance portion of the plan. The author promises you can eat whatever you like without regaining weight if you follow his rules - one day a week, follow the same all-protein diet as in Phase 1, eat three tablespoons of oat bran a day and walk for 20 minutes daily and never take elevators or escalators.

Sugar-free gum, artificial sweeteners, vinegars and spices are allowed on The Dukan Diet. The book encourages dieters to take a daily multivitamin tablet with minerals.

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