So today I start The Dukan Diet. I actually hate the word diet, so henceforth I shall just call it Dukan.
Developed by French doctor Pierre Dukan, the programme is about losing weight then maintaining it long term. It’s popularity has been growing over the past few years and has been further boosted in the past few weeks due to the fact that Kate Middleton’s mother is a fan.
I originally heard of the diet last year but it seemed to be a bit of an Atkin’s diet and to be honest, if you’ve ever actually been on the Atkins, you will know that torture and death are probably more palatable than the headaches, constipation and bad breath that are the common side effects of that “diet”.
Almost every woman I know has been on a diet; some version of the Atkin’s, Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Cabbage Soup, Cambridge, South Beach no carbs after 6pm, restriction or juicing. Life isn’t that much fun when you’re counting calories, points, grams of carbs, eating no carbs or eating not much of anything. And for the most part, you never stay on them because you feel deprived.
I remember doing the Atkin’s for 3 weeks, and in those 3 weeks I lost 18lbs but I was miserable. And then, going into my fourth week I had enough and ate 2 slices of bread. With every bite of that delicious bread, I knew my time with the Atkins was over.
At Uni, I experimented with restriction, in league with one of my friends, where we would spend 1-2 hours at the gym in the morning, drink water for the rest of the day, go to the gym again for 1-2 hours in the evening then reward ourselves with a sandwich. It lasted for about a month. Horrendous.
The problem is, I like food. All sorts of food. I’ve grown up within a culture that every special occasion (or not so special occasion) has good food and lots of it. Most of us do. I love trying new dishes, for me food is an experience, not just an energy source. I mostly like savoury dishes, I will always choose start and a main over a main and dessert but that doesn’t mean to say I don’t love dessert - god knows I do.
Many diets advocating eating very little and exercising a lot - which has never struck me as fun. I do try and go to the gym, 2-3 times a week but it’s never a priority, in fact it feels sometimes like a punishment. Once I’m there, I enjoy myself but don’t have the motivation to really go unless I’m going on holiday…
Anyway, back to Dukan. Reading through the book, it seemed… well easy?! It works as a four-step programme designed to suit people of all shapes and sizes.
Step 1 - Attack
This is the most Atkin’s like stage, depending on what you want to achieve you can do this phase for 2 -7 days although you can stay on it for up to 10 days. It consists of eating lean proteins such as beef, veal, rabbit, fish and chicken but doesn’t include pork or lamb. There are no carbs here, but unlike the Atkin’s there are also no high fat creams, oils or butters - it makes so much more sense.
You can also eat fat free yoghurts, skimmed milk and eggs. You also have to eat 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of oat bran per day (available from health food stores) which you can have in the form of little pancakes or just mix into something else like yoghurt or milk. In addition you should be drinking 1.5litres of water, add in a 20 minute brisk walk each day - you can also drink coffee and tea.
This will lead to the quickest amount of weight loss, spurring you on into the next phase.
Step 2 - Cruise
In this stage you do all on the above but you can also now eat 28 vegetables such as cucumber, mushrooms, leeks and peppers. You can also have carrots and beetroot as long as it’s not all the time but you must avoid potatoes, corn, rice - the starchy ones.
The Cruise diet should be alternated with the Attack - you can choose between 5 day of Cruise then 5 days of Attack or 1 day of each. The oat bran intake increases to 2 tablespoons per day, as does the walking to 30 mins per day. this us the phase that gets you to your goal weight so you have to accept that this will be your diet for as long as it takes for you to get to that ideal weight. Dukan gives different scenarios in the books but for example, if you wanted to lose 40lbs you would be on the Dukan Cruise phase for approx 5 months. It’s up to you.
Step 3 - Consolidation
In this phase the alternate days stops and you can eat as above but you can also add in each day: 1 piece of fruit, two slices of wholemeal bread, 1 serving of cheese.
Per week you can have a servings of starchy food, lamb and pork for the first half of your Consolidation days, then two servings in the second half. This phase lasts for different lengths of time depending on how much you have already lost - equate 1lb with 5 days on this phase of the diet (if you have lost 40lbs, you would do this for 6 months); this section includes the celebration meals each week to keep you motivated.
1 day a week should follow the Attack phase to help boost your weight loss efforts. You still have the oat bran and you can reduce you walking time to 25mins per day
Step 4 - Stabilisation
This is the way you will eat, hopefully for all time. Eating what you like for 6 days of the week with 1 day of the Attack, eat 3 tablespoons of oat bran per day, walk everywhere you can (avoiding lifts and escalators) and that is really it!
I will be tracking my progress on here and sharing my thoughts on The Dukan Diet.