Does Dukan suit you?

Diets can never work because they are too general. As we are all individuals, our lifestyles and food intake should be individual too. For the first time, ever, I decided to try a diet and detail its progress so that I could write about it for others to consider.

There has been much media coverage regarding the Pierre Dukan diet, so I decided to initially read and research it, and then try it out.

I bought the book and the accompanying recipe book (The Dukan Diet, Dr Pierre Dukan, ISBN 978-1-444-71033-5; The Dukan Diet Recipe Book, Dr Pierre Dukan, ISBN 978-1-444-71035-9).

I also ordered the organic oats which form a staple part of the daily intake. I usually have porridge or fruit for breakfast anyway. However, my type of porridge was not suitable for the Dukan diet apparently, so I purchased a rather expensive pack of organic oats.

I also had to purchase a set of scales for the first time in over 20 years. The website required regular reporting of my weight every day. I must add at this point, I almost didn’t go ahead with the project, as I truly do not believe in weighing oneself every day; it is totally unproductive.

Additionally I researched the website and joined the coaching support on this site. This was a very expensive mistake and I have been fighting to obtain a refund ever since.

In the Dukan diet book, which is an interesting read, the doctor explains how he began to formulate this diet. As a GP he was consulted by many overweight and obese people. It was one of his obese male patients who said he wanted to lose weight but that he could not stop eating meat.

Dr Dukan then suggested that perhaps his patient should go home and spend a week eating only meat, or protein, and nothing else. Dr Dukan admits, as with most doctors, his studies in nutrition were very limited and all he knew about were low-calorie diets or extremely small portions, which he agreed an obese person would look at in disgust.

However, the patient was desperate. So the suggestion was made, with the proviso that fatty meats were avoided, to drink as much water as possible and grill the meat. The patient agreed to do this for one week and subsequently returned to the surgery to report back to the doctor.

On weighing the patient, the doctor found that his patient had lost a considerable amount of weight. This result was the basis of the Dukan diet as we see it today.

In practice, the Dukan Diet involves three levels. The initial phase is the ‘Attack Diet’, which is up to a week eating only protein, drinking water and eating oats.

The second phase is the ‘Cruise Diet’. The length of this will depend upon the amount of weight you want to lose and this is where it becomes complicated.

Briefly, he advises, three days for every pound you want to lose. Following this is the third phase, which is the ‘Consolidation Diet’ and has an average length of five days per pound lost.

Finally the ‘Stabilisation Diet’, which amounts to one pure protein day every Thursday for life, three tablespoons of oatgran per day and always walk up the stairs. That is a basic summary of the diet.

The warnings in the book and on the website also include the fact that there will be constipation and bad breath. However, there will be no obvious hunger pangs and one would always feel full.

At the end of the first day, when I had eaten oatbran as porridge in the morning, scrambled eggs and chicken for lunch and poached white fish and poached eggs for dinner, I had also drunk almost two litres of water and several herbal teas, I recorded my symptoms. I felt off colour, dizzy and had a headache. The symptoms I suffered in the first two days were classic detox symptoms, but also due to a lack of natural sugar, given that I normally eat a huge amount of fruit and vegetables.

I can confirm that my breath became rather smelly, my constipation built up over a two-week period, despite exercise and water. However, I did not feel hunger as I was not used to eating so much protein each day. Although I eat eggs regularly, I don’t think I have ever eaten so many eggs in one week, but this is encouraged on this diet.

I missed fruit; I reported this back and received no response on the website for quite a while. Eventually, someone replied – probably due to my threats. They advised me to eat some fruit, but only a small amount.

When you move onto the second phase, you are able to eat only protein every other day and the other days include some salad and vegetable additions. To solve the sugar requirement they actively advise that you consume aspartame – which my regular readers will know I have researched and found to be a toxin and banned in some countries.

Some of the additions to stave off hunger were crab sticks, which I questioned as they are processed fish meat and not very healthy. The doctor also advised drinking coffee and aspartame to solve the sugar problem. Other additions were low-fat yogurts, low-fat cottage cheese and fromage frais, all lean meats were allowed but not pork or lamb.

Personally, this diet was an absolute disaster. I didn’t lose any weight at all, I had dreadful constipation and bad breath and because I am not a ‘protein person’, the main part of the diet had a bad effect on my health.

I studied and practised metabolic typing many years ago. Briefly this assesses people into what, genetically, they should be eating due to ancestral genes. For example, if your ancestors originate from the northern hemisphere, you are more likely to do well eating proteins, while those whose ancestors originate nearer the equator will flourish when eating nuts, fruits, seeds and carbs.

That is a simplified explanation of metabolic typing which I wrote about at length many years ago. However, it certainly proved itself during this diet, as for me to eat such a huge amount of protein over a short time was disastrous for my body. More importantly, the scales (which I hate), never moved.

On the other hand, there were many people who wrote to the website and had found success with the diet. I am offering only one person’s view and also a view from a nutritional aspect. On the forum section of the website there are many people who are happy with the results and some are so happy they are volunteering to help coach others with problems.

I find this rather ironic as the ‘company’ takes your money to ‘coach’ you through this difficult time, you can’t contact anyone, and then someone in Scotland, or another part of the world, answers your e-mail to give you advice, based on their experience with the diet.

I return to where I started, diets don’t work because they need to be individualised. A programme needs to be worked out for everyone based on their needs and requirements.

Once again, we are seeing a huge money-making scheme which, due to the mass of media exposure, has been taken up by thousands of people.

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