With 30 years of experience as a nutritionist under his belt, 2.5 million book sales, and an expert insight into food behaviour, there is definitely something special about Dr Pierre Dukan and his diet, The Dukan Diet. It has been tried, tested, critiqued and written about all over the world, and its list of followers include Carole Middleton, Jennifer Lopez and Gisele. Here, we speak to the man behind the plan and find out what his guilty pleasure is, what he can’t live without and what he has in store for 2012 as well as just why The Dukan Diet has been so successful…
How and why did you come up with the diet? Whilst at my surgery in Paris over 30yrs ago, one of my patients who was very obese asked me to help him lose weight. Although I wanted to help, I declined, explaining that I didn’t specialise in nutrition. However, the patient insisted saying “Doctor, you know I have to lose weight and that all my attempt have failed. Prescribe me any diet you want, get rid of any foods you like but not meat, I couldn’t not eat meat.” I agreed to help and advised the patient to eat meat, but as lean as possible, drink lots of water and come back to get weighed in five days time. After those five days, the patient returned and to both our amazement he had lost over five kilos. This is how it all started. I gave up Neurology and concentrated solely on Nutrition. Over 20yrs I started to build my four phase plan and by 2003 the Dukan Diet book was published and sales soared.
Please outline it for us… My diet is a high-protein, low-carb, low-fat diet which provides long-term, sustainable weight loss. It’s a simple, accessible and natural method, based on 100 natural foods, 78 protein rich foods and 28 vegetables that you may eat as much as you want of which helps people reach their true weight.
It has a unique FOUR phase structure: two to lose weight and two to maintain the weight:
Phase 1: A brief Attack Phase of between two and seven days kick starts the diet and gives immediate results. There are 72 protein foods you can eat as much as you want, to choose from at this stage, so no need for the dreaded “what have I let myself in for” feeling, common in other diets.
Phase 2: Cruise Phase where you add 28 vegetables, again you can eat as much as you want, which averages a sustainable 2lb/week loss until the desired target weight is reached.
Phase 3: The Consolidation Phase is designed to prevent any re-bound effect as the dieter seeks to keep to the new weight and avoid putting on pounds while eating in a more relaxed fashion. You can add cheese, complete whole bread, fruits, starchy food and ‘Celebration’ meals.
Phase 4: Finally a Stabilisation Phase where you can eat normally but you must include a day of protein only foods once a week to maintain your weight.
How does it work? It works by providing a strong support structure for the dieter to aid quick weight loss and then stabilise and control their weight long term. The Dukan Diet was the number one best seller in France last year.
What makes it so successful? It works! Thousands of people around the world have successfully followed my diet and as we know dieting is a hot topic! The Dukan Diet shows results quickly, which serves as a great psychological stimulus for the dieter and then the 4 phase plan provides a structure which is easy to follow. Hunger is the biggest inhibitor to maintaining a diet, but with a list of approved foods for dieters to choose from, they can eat as much as much as they like without calorie counting or portion control. We also appreciate one-diet-doesn’t-fit-all and therefore our personalised online coaching provides support and helps to overcome any issues when there are slips.
Does it incorporate exercise? The level of exercise will depend upon the individual, but the minimum I recommend is 20mins walking every day.
Who is the diet aimed at? The diet is aimed at people with serious weight issues and who are unable to grasp control and manage a healthy eating plan on their own. It’s really recommended for people with over 10lbs to lose .
Can you drink with the diet? Go to dinner parties? If you’re serious about the diet, I would say no to alcohol, but if you have to have a glass of wine I would say you must pay for it with an extra 20min walking the next day. Diets aren’t just about restriction and you shouldn’t have to miss out. If you feel you are missing out, that’s when you’re more likely to fall off the wagon. There is always something you can eat at a party – it’s just about making the right choices. Choose the shellfish or slices of ham to nibble, rather than crisps or nuts. A good tip is to eat a little before the party like a boiled egg, ham or my favourite; an oatbran galette. You’ll feel full and are less likely to snack or eat lots of bad foods. If you can’t resist at a party, don’t waste time feeling guilty, make the following day a day of pure protein and correct it.
Are those with dairy allergies able to partake in the diet given the amount of dairy involved? You can substitute all dairy products with soya alternatives.
And what about vegetarians? Yes you can follow the diet if you’re vegetarian. The Attack phase, which lasts for a maximum of 7 days, is the only phase where vegetables aren’t allowed. Dairy products and eggs can make a good substitute for meat and you can also eat tofu, seitan (corn protein) or tempeh. Pure vegans are a little bit more difficult, but it is possible. I would recommend that Vegans eat tofu, 50g of wholegrain rice and 50g of quinoa or lentils during the Attack phase and then add vegetables and cereals when they reach the second phase of the diet.
Do you and your family go on the diet? My family lives by a healthy, balanced diet and we don’t have weight problems so we don’t have need of the diet. My salvation is I’d rather eat a plate of vegetables than anything else. I drink very little alcohol, I’m in control and I know how to keep control. I think that’s the main reason my diet is successful is because it teaches people how to manage their diet. Admittedly after the holidays or Christmas I normally put on a few pounds so will do a day or two of Attack after this.
What is your guilty food pleasure? Couscous – I love couscous. It’s not that guilty though is it? The way I like to prepare couscous is to put it in a glass bowl, with a little water. I leave it to absorb the water, then add salt, a few drops of olive oil and then pop it in the microwave for one minute, mix with a fork, put in microwave for another 30 seconds. Yum!
Do you often get friends asking you how they can lose weight? Yes, all the time. Every time I am out and eating at friends – everyone asks for a special solution. I do try and adapt my diet for them. The other thing I’ve noticed is that everyone wants me to put on weight. I’m constantly given cakes and things they have made.
What can’t you live without?
- Salmon (fresh and smoked)
- Cottage cheese
- Oat bran galette
- 25 minutes running every morning
- My daughter Maya
What will you be doing in 2012? I hope to be living! I’m working on my new book at the moment which will help dieters to maintain their healthy weight for the rest of their life, so I’ll hopefully be launching that. I’ll also be taking my method to India and to Brazil. I’m introducing a series of new Dukan products to Britain including biscuits, galettes, special milled oatbran and flavorings. There’s also a fantastic but relatively unknown Japanese root called shirataki, which contains absolutely no calories at all and is the 3rd generation of pasta – it’s really a revolution. I’m also going to be opening my first Dukan practice in the UK. It’s going to be a busy year! For more information on the diet or to create your free personal weight-loss plan please visit www.dukandiet.co.uk.