Only days before the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Dukan Diet took center stage as the weight loss protocol the future Princess of Wales and her mother were using to prepare for the big day.
According to Royal insiders, Ms. Middleton was completely enamored with the “French Atkins Diet”, a high protein protocol formulated by French nutritionist and dietitian Dr. Pierre Dukan MD.
Dr. Dukan has promoted his method of eating for over 3 decades. It is only in recent years that the popularity of his diet has surged in Europe and now America.
What is the Dukan Diet?
In a nutshell, the Dukan Diet is the Atkins diet minus the fat with lots of oat bran. So, essentially lots of protein and fiber.
How any low-fat diet could be considered French is beyond me! The French are well known for their slimness and lower heart disease risk compared with other Western countries. This despite the inclusion of liberal amounts of butter and cream in their delectable cuisine. Being far removed from where their food comes from is why consumers get so easily snowed with the notion that low-fat equals weight loss. For example, livestock farmers know that feeding skim milk to pigs fattens them up in a hurry!
Four “French Atkins Diet” Phases
The Dukan Diet consists of a four-step program which promises quick weight loss that stays off forever. Weekly cycles include large amounts of water, protein-rich foods and oat bran, no fruit, some wine and dessert, and a few vegetables. Only 20 minutes of light exercise each day is recommended.
Like other diet fads, the Dukan Diet has no research to back up the premise of its four-step program. Certainly, no traditional cultures ever ate this way!
Just because a medical doctor designed it does not make it medically sound or even safe!
Why?? Dukan Diet Restricts Fruits and Veggies
One interesting aspect of this diet is the restriction of fruits and vegetables. Perhaps this is why so much oat bran is included in the program. All that protein constipates the system so a strong fiber is necessary to clear out the digestive tract in a hurry! No doubt, the increased frequency of trips to the bathroom from all that oat bran contributes to the rapid initial weight loss. This isn’t permanent weight loss, by the way!
Will the Dukan Diet stand the test of time? The unsustainability of a high protein, low carb, low-fat diet makes it highly unlikely. In addition, the diet reportedly includes little variety, so the chances of devotees straying to more satisfying foods such as veggies cooked in butter and full-fat ice cream, yogurt, and cheese seem high.
Although wrong on many fronts, the British Dietetic Association has pegged the Dukan Diet correctly: one of the five worst diets of 2011. Even France’s National Agency for Food, Environmental and Work Safety identified the Dukan Diet as risky.
Hopefully, Ms. Middleton dropped this diet right after the “I do’s”. With its alarming restriction on blood stabilizing, hormone normalizing fats, the Dukan Diet is clearly not an appropriate way to eat for a lady expected to produce strong heirs to the British throne!
Healthy Ways to Lose Weight
If the realization that the Dukan Diet is a fad has you depressed, fear not. There are a number of ways to drop pounds safely while eating real food in ratios that have stood the test of time all over the globe. Here are links to more information on some of these various protocols:
Using Coconut Oil to Lose Weight
The Bone Broth Diet Plan
Raw milk Fast
Why BPC Might Not Equal Losing Weight
Dukan Diet: Newest Fad or Weight-Loss Answer?
Everything I’ve read has only mentioned that her mother is following the diet. In fact, the most recent Vanity Fair article states ” Kate . . hungrily ate her way through a plate of foie gras, followed by sea bass and a souffle . .” (regarding a recent lunch she had with her soon to be mother-in-law). Doesn’t sound low fat to me. Just thought I’d throw this out there, in case it’s not true that she’s following that diet. I definitely agree that it sounds pretty unhealthy for a long term eating plan. (by the way, I don’t follow every detail of their lives, I just happen to be a VF subscriber :).
I have to laugh sometimes when I see these super skinny models – my bones are bigger than they are – even with no muscle on them! Eat healthy and appreciate how God made you. I think our society has a skewed idea of what look healthy. Not all of us have those slim builds. 🙂 Great article, by the way.
Sounds like a recipe for malnutrition. Our culture has a bizarre emphasis on being thin. Throughout most of history, in most cultures, being thin was considered a result of not having enough to eat, and was unattractive.
It is best to joyfully accept the bodies we were born with, nourish them with traditional food, and be as healthy as we can. If you are naturally thin after eating a traditional diet, that is fine, but it is just as fine to be large and powerful, or anywhere in between. When your body is well nourished with a traditional diet, you will want to move and exercise, and your weight will gradually become what is ideal for you. Once we are well nourished, we should be content to be who we are, and celebrate that!
I have to wonder about any diet that promises quick weight loss that will stay off forever. Also, I was surprised that they allow some dessert but no fruit. Interesting article. Your posts are always interesting and informational.
Doesn’t sound healthy to me; little fruits and veggies, low fat, oat bran (yuck!) and wine allowed, well if you can’t have much tasty stuff, the wine would help I guess, or is that what makes this fad diet “French?” 😉
Diets! Ha! They are something you go off of, not for life!
Thanks for the info about this diet. I appreciate all the timely information you share in your blog! <a href="Nancy/”>Nancy
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Super skinny is not healthy, so if that is what you seek, traditional eating would not be for you.
Thanks Sarah! I appreciate your answer. I think its just a personal struggle for me and a lot of girls/young women out there to find the healthiest diet that supports the best mind/body for each individual. I’m just hoping that I can listen to my body enough to tailor the “traditional” approach to eating in such a way that supports my best physical and emotional self. I believe that when my body finds that balance or ‘happy place’ there won’t be a need or attraction toward fad diets like the Dukan diet, which can be tempting. I really love your blog and all the amazing information you share 🙂
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Hi Asha, we all have to find that place where we are happy with ourselves and our bodies as they are. Healthy is beautiful!! Radiant skin, high energy, easy smiles and laughter all come with a healthy inside and balanced hormones that traditional eating bestows. I would rather have this than a model perfect body any day.
I understand what Asha is saying. I am not trying to get SUPER SKINNY but rather look thin. There is a difference between those two. One is healthy looking; one is not. And I truly want to be healthy. In the hormonal way that you are talking about, Sarah. But I am concerned about how I am going to look somewhat. I am not happy with my body right now (I am a good 30 pounds more than I was 15 years ago…). Please tell me I can lose HALF of that doing it the healthy way. I really want to be healthy AND thin.
Also, just an observation, Sarah. YOU look fabulous.
I have a question, and please don’t get angry as I realize this will be a sensitive topic.
While I completely agree with eating traditionally, I have read on many blogs that eating traditionally will not “make you super skinny”. I am not sure why, but for me I think I do better on less fat. Not non-fat, but not as much as the “Eat fat Lose Fat” book suggests.
While I do think the media and body image are not healthy these days, as someone working in the entertainment industry I feel that being skinny in an aesthetic that is important for being hired and for success in the jobs that I want to pursue.
Obviously I want to do this in the most healthy way possible, and there is a lot of apple to something like the Dukan diet because I can still eat any fish I want, steak, whole eggs. But yes, it is a lot less fat. Also, models like Gisele have followed the diet and I have to say that I really do aspire to looking like her over a lot of the traditional diet authors (not to say that I do not appreciate all of their talents and insights into health).
I was just wondering if there is a “traditional” diet way to really loose weight. Not just get to a “healthy” for your height/age weight, but looking like a healthy, thin supermodel weight.
Is that possible? Maybe through eating lots of sashimi, raw greens, and fermented foods?
Just curious on your thoughts 🙂
Thank you so much!
I’m not trying to be snarky, but “healthy” and “supermodel” are kind of oxymorons. 🙂 As Sarah says, that sort of thinness, unless you were born that way, just isn’t healthy. It sounds like you really want to eat healthily, so why not try the principles in Eat Fat, Lose Fat: restrict calories modestly while eating the healthy fats, but maybe just a little less of them. Nothing says you have to have quite as much fat as what’s recommended in the book. You might not drop 20 pounds in a week, but that’s a good thing–rapid weight loss is usually not healthy either!
Most of the supermodels I’ve seen have been gangly bones. I don’t think that’s healthy under any circumstances, unless you’re a tall, skinny teenage girl and that’s just the way you are. I so wish this sickly projection of the ideal body would be ended. 🙁
Alas, since you’re in the entertainment industry, it’s pretty necessary. But I’d like to encourage you to find a more lasting, less shallow means of work (charm is deceptive, and beauty is truly fleeting). I can tell you what I do. I’m 24 yrs old, 5’7″, 120 lbs. In the past I resorted to drastic measures to whittle my weight down. The usual starving/binging/purging/overexercising stuff that plagues the girls today. Today I eat what I like, except I restrict sugar a lot. Hard, because my candida overgrowth demands it. I eat an almost obscene amount of fat: lard, coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter. My proteins include eggs, fish (especially wild salmon), and various animals, including their bones and organs. Also sprouted beans and lentils in a tasty dish. I eat a lot of vegetables too, but all coated in a good healthy fat. I love ripe, buttery avocado pieces drizzled with bacon fat and sea salt. I eat and drink fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, and water kefir. After taking GNOWFGLINS e-course, I make and eat sourdough whole-grain bread, maybe 4 thick slices a day. I love a slice with some liverwurst and… coconut oil! Unrefined! Very strange I know, but I like the combination. I have some fruit once or twice a day. I make bone-broth once a week, or every other week. I avoid refined-to-the-moon foods at all costs: corn syrup, white sugar, white breads/pasta, you know them. And also Asian restaurants and chain places, since their food is drenched in MSG and rancid oils. I do eat white basmati rice sometimes. I only eat a whole grain if it’s soaked/sprouted/fermented.
I take fermented cod liver oil capsules and my thyroid hormones, since I messed up my thyroid some time ago and developed Hashimoto’s disease.
I find that eating a high fat/low sugar diet works to maintain my weight. Most importantly, I’m recovering my health. I live a medium-activity lifestyle. I do a lot of housework, cooking, and gardening, and exercise just sometimes. Maybe 2-3 times a week for 20-30 minutes. I found, personally, that my stomach becomes unusually flabby when I don’t do crunches.
Maybe you need a lower-fat diet, I can’t say. Keep reading good information, experimenting, and just work with what your body tells you. I can recommend getting some blood work done of all your vitamins and minerals, and also your TSH (thyroid hormone). That way you can adjust any excesses or deficiencies.
ALL THE BEST!!!!
I’m betting she will drop the diet soon after the wedding. Without a doubt she will lose a few pounds by cutting carbs and depleting her glycogen stores (which are chemically bound up with significant amounts of water) and fit into her wedding dress.
Bring on the bacon!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
I don’t know why she’s doing this. She looks fantastic already. I hope her quest for thinness is not a harbinger of other issues such as what Prince William’s mother Diana suffered from (bulimia etc).
I agree, she looks wonderful.
Hopefully low carb doesn’t get dragged through the mud again (like with Atkins) since it can have huge health benefits when done properly (with appropriate fat).
Sounds too bland even for my taste (and thats saying something). I usually stick to a few of my favorite foods, but need some variety still such as cheese and tropical fruits.