The Dukan Diet: Fit for a Princess?


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Have you gotten caught up in the royal wedding fever surrounding Kate and Will’s upcoming nuptials? Imagine if you’re the bride, or even the mother of the bride. You have to look good for the big day. After all, Queen Elizabeth and some two thousand people will be there, not to mention the millions watching you on television. You gotta look good. So, enter the Dukan diet, France’s version of the Atkins diet. Rumor has it that Kate Middleton and her mother are “on” the Dukan diet in preparation for the wedding on April 29. Not to mention that Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bundchen are avid followers, too.

The Dukan diet was created by French physician Dr. Pierre Dukan, a nutritionist who specializes in food behavior. This diet is so popular that his book has been translated into 14 languages and is sold in over 32 countries. And when you read “2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep it Off Forever” on the book cover, you can’t help but be curious. So what is this diet all about?

Dukan Diet: The Basics
What makes this diet “special” is that not only is it a low-carb diet, it also promises you that you really can eat as much as you like…once you get through the various stages, that is. There are four stages, or phases, in the Dukan Diet. Here’s how they break down:

What else can you eat on this diet? Spices, vinegar, nonnutritive sweeteners, and sugar-free gum. And you should take a multivitamin with minerals. Exercise is a big part of the plan. Dr. Dukan recommends walking for at least 20 minutes each day.

The Down and Dirty on the Dukan Diet
Will you lose weight on the Dukan Diet? Most likely, yes. The main reason for weight loss with this plan is that 1) you initially lose “water weight” thanks to cutting out carbs and 2) the plan is fairly low in calories (how much “offal” can one eat?). Any time you slash calories, you generally lose weight.

Possible side effects include dry mouth, bad breath, constipation, and fatigue. The Dukan Diet isn’t specifically for people with diabetes, but if someone with diabetes were to follow this, there’s also the risk of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia[1]) among those who take insulin or certain types of diabetes pills.

The diet itself isn’t nutritionally balanced as it eliminates or at least severely restricts several foods groups, including fruit. The British Dietetic Association and France’s National Agency for Food, Environmental and Work Health Safety have given this diet a thumbs down.

As with most fad diets, there isn’t the evidence to back up the claim that weight loss can be maintained, particularly long-term. Is it harmful to follow for a short period of time? Probably not, unless the side effects become bothersome. Do you see yourself eating this way indefinitely? Maybe. Is this another Atkins-type of diet, repurposed? Very likely. Is this the best diet for the future Queen of England to be following? That remains to be seen.

Endnotes:
  1. hypoglycemia: http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/articles/diabetes-definitions

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Amy Campbell: Amy Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition and Meal Planning and a frequent contributor to Diabetes Self-Management and Diabetes & You. She has co-authored several books, including the The Joslin Guide to Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association’s 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet,” for which she received a Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication and a National Health Information Award in 2000. Amy also developed menus for Fit Not Fat at Forty Plus and co-authored Eat Carbs, Lose Weight with fitness expert Denise Austin. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Simmons College and a master’s degree in nutrition education from Boston University. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Amy was formerly a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of disease management programs, including clinical guideline and educational material development, and the development, testing, and implementation of disease management applications. She is currently the Director of Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures. Amy has developed and conducted training sessions for various disease and case management programs and is a frequent presenter at disease management events.

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