The Dukan Diet is a protein-based commercial fad diet devised by Pierre Dukan. Dukan has been promoting his diet for over 30 years; it gained a wider audience after the 2000 publication of his book, The Dukan Diet, which has sold more than 7 million copies globally. The book has since been translated into 14 languages and published in 32 countries. The book was released in the United Kingdom in May 2010, and in the United States in April 2011.
In 1975, Pierre Dukan was a general practitioner in Paris when he was first confronted with a case of obesity. At the time, being overweight or obese was thought to be best treated by low calorie and small sized meals. Dukan thought of an alternative way to prevent patients from regaining their lost weight. He designed a new approach in 4 phases, including stabilisation and consolidation. After more than 20 years of research Pierre Dukan published his findings in 2000 in his book Je ne sais pas maigrir (I don't know how to get slimmer) which became a best seller.
In 2013, Dukan, then aged 72, was banned from practising as a GP in France for eight days for breaching medical ethics by prescribing a diet pill to one of his patients in the 1970s that was later pulled from the market.
The diet is based on a list of over 100 allowed foods, as well as four specific ground pillars also known as phases: attack, cruise, consolidation, and stabilization.
The attack phase is designed to enable dieters to rapidly lose 2 to 3 kilograms (4.4 to 6.6 lb) in two to seven days by kick-starting their metabolism. Dieters are allowed to eat as much as they want of 68 protein-rich foods.
The cruise phase is designed to allow dieters to more gradually achieve the weight they aim for by eating protein-rich foods with the addition of 28 specific vegetables (but avoiding those especially starchy or fatty, e.g., potatoes or avocados). The length of this phase is usually calculated as 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of weight loss per week, but this is based on specific personal conditions. Tolerated foods are also allowed as per the programme, but any weight gain will ban some of these.
The consolidation phase is designed to help in preventing any future massive weight gain. During this phase, fruit, bread, cheese and starchy foods are reintroduced into a normal diet, leaving two celebratory meals a week as directed by the plan.
Finally, in the stabilization phase, dieters can essentially eat whatever they want without gaining weight by following a few rules: protein day once a week, eating oat bran every day and making a commitment to "take the stairs". According to Dukan, dieters shall follow this last phase for the rest of their life to avoid regaining weight. Of course the glycemic index (on a scale from 1 to 100) of the kind of carbohydrate consumed is also of importance (see the GI diet).
Pierre Dukan said the paleo diet was a copy of his weight loss strategy. The Paleolithic diet is claimed to be based on the human ancestral diet. Other similar diets include Ketogenic diet being low carb moderate protein and high fats and Atkins diet being low carb high protein and moderate fats.
The French magazine L'Express' list of the 20 top-selling non-fiction books for the week of 27 December 2010 ranked La méthode Dukan illustrée in 19th place.
The Dukan diet is categorized as a commercial fad diet and carries some risk of causing chronic kidney disease and worsened cardiovascular health. It is unclear whether it helps people lose weight or increase their glucose tolerance. Nephrolithiasis is a potential side effect of the diet that is of particular concern to people with a history of kidney stone formation.
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