Everything you need to know about the Dukan Diet
Diets have always been an on-going, ever-changing fad that focused on the food trends of the times. More recently, humans have been focusing on “returning to their roots” and attempting to redirect their dieting trends to those of our ancestors: hunters and gatherers. The Dukan diet revolves around just that, the simpler times, by utilizing 100 acceptable foods that are rich in proteins and low in carbs and fats. Dr. Pierre Dukan is the founder of the self-named diet and has over 40 years’ experience in the field of medicine.
Dr. Dukan developed his diet to help do his part in addressing the leading killer of many, particularly in the Western world. “We just don’t hear about weight-related deaths because no one dies from an “excess-weight attack” but rather from health problems caused by excess weight like diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and breast and prostate cancers” says Dr. Dukan.
Wish Weight? Goal Weight? How about True Weight!
So how do you get started on the Dukan diet? It all begins with calculating your true weight. This is a process that is specifically designed for the Dukan diet and can only be determined through the diet’s official website. Many aspects of your life are considered when calculating your true weight: gender, age, heredity, bone structure, pregnancy occurrences (for women) and multiple numbers from your weight history. Like many other diet plans, the Dukan diet uses these true weight numbers to help design an individual weight loss program that is perfect for you and your goals.
The 7 Steps of the Nutritional Staircase
To begin your road to success on the Dukan diet, it is important to understand and appreciate the foods that we need versus those that are simply for enjoyment. Dr. Dukan has developed a 7-step staircase categorizing food groups and essentially reinventing the ever-popular food pyramid we have all been taught.
The first step includes a vital food group, according to the Dukan diet, proteins. Lean proteins to consider are chicken, beef, pork, fish, and other game meat that are low in fat.
The second step is considered essential: vegetables. A variety of vegetables offer a multitude of vitamins and minerals. For example: broccoli, spinach, carrots, green peas, and brussels sprouts, just to name a few.
The third step should be easy to guess, it is the important rainbow group of fruits. Healthy fruits to consider include strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, blackberries, and apples.
The fourth step, according to Dr. Dukan are a helpful group to the weight loss process: breads. Bread comes from a variety of sources including whole grain, sour dough, oats, flax, and rye, just to name a few.
The fifth step adds nutrition to our diet as well as enjoyment: cheeses. Some of the healthier cheeses to eat include cottage cheese, feta, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, and swiss cheese.
Moving right up the staircase is step six: starches. Dr. Dukan notes that starches are a source of energy in our diets which help to aid us in our exercising goals. Starches include potatoes, rice, and pastas.
The final and seventh step is considered celebration meals. Dr. Dukan notes that these are meals that are for pure enjoyment and what many might consider “cheat meals”.
A Spoonful of Oat Bran Helps the Weight Loss Stay Down!
While moving your way right up the nutritional staircase there is an important companion to always have with you: oat bran! The Dukan diet highlights this nutritious food and incorporates it into your daily meals. Dr. Dukan explains the significance of including oat bran into your daily diet by four motivating factors.
Reason 1: It Just Tastes Yummy!
It is important to note that oat bran is the only carbohydrate that is allowed throughout your whole diet, despite other food regulations to follow. Oat bran is a versatile food that is typically known for its uses as a breakfast meal, but it can also make a great substitute in baking products!
Reason 2: It Naturally Helps You Lower Cholesterol
Many of us struggle with high cholesterol levels and would love to add those natural ingredients to help get those levels under control. Oat bran is full of soluble fiber which aids in blocking cholesterol being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Reason 3: It Fills You Up Faster
Many diet downfalls begin with denying your body the amount of food you need to feel full and satisfied. Oat bran is a healthy way to get that full feeling which aids you in staying clear of those high fat junk food snacks between meals. It is said that oat bran absorbs up to 25 times its volume in liquid. Just imagine it only takes a spoonful of oat bran to swell in your tummy, giving you the feeling that you just ate a full meal!
Reason 4: It Reduces the Absorption of Sugar and Fat
This is where oat bran shows its true scientific strength! Once the oat bran begins to absorb the water in your tummy, it creates a ball of nutrition that then needs to pass through the rest of your digestive tract. As the oat bran makes its journey through your body it begins to break down into essential parts. This makes your digestive system begin to work causing you to burn up calories.
The 4 Phases of the Dukan Diet
The Dukan diet is not just about following and understanding the nutritional staircase, it is about putting it to use in your everyday lives to revamp your eating habits. Dr. Dukan explains that his diet is unlike others because it is designed to help you attain and maintain your true weight so long as you continue to follow his diet rules. The Dukan diet has been broken down into four phases that increase in food options and decrease in rigidity to help build you up to a life-long, sustainable diet.
Phase 1: The Attack Phase
This phase name says it all! It is the strong and fierce introduction to the Dukan diet and your new weight loss journey. This phase focuses on the first step of the nutritional staircase, essential proteins (68 foods from Dukan’s list of 100 natural foods). Eating solely proteins, during this first phase, allows for significant weight loss in a rather short period of time. Depending on how much weight needed to lose to reach your true weight will direct you towards how long the attack phase will last. For example: one week in the attack phase can help you to lose up to 8 pounds! The attack phase also kicks off your exercise requirement, vital to weight loss, with 20 minutes of physical activity a day. And do not forget about your daily oat bran: the Dukan diet calls for one and a half tablespoons a day.
Phase 2: The Cruise Phase
As with a ship, this phase helps you coast your weight loss until you have reached your true weight. During the cruise phase the 68 proteins you are accustomed to eating are now combined with 32 healthy vegetables suggested by Dr. Dukan. You have now taken a step up the nutritional staircase to step two. You are now creating essential meals with a total of 100 natural foods that are at the base of the Dukan diet. It is recommended that your diet days consist of pure protein meals followed by meals combining proteins and vegetables. This allows for you to cruise right along to your true weight. Typically, you can lose one pound every three days so with just a little bit of math you can figure how long to stay in the cruise phase until your true weight is reached. Let’s not forget about that exercise either! Dr. Dukan recommends 30 minutes of physical activity each day during the cruise phase in addition to two tablespoons of oat bran.
Phase 3: The Consolidation Phase
Dr. Dukan notes that entering the consolidation phase comes with caution. It is at this time that many people can succumb to weight gain at this point in their diet but do not fret! The consolidation phase is built to help counter just that issue. Slowly but surely, this phase allows you to continue up the staircase of nutrition by introducing fruits, breads, cheeses, and starches back into your daily meals at a structured rate. It is important to remember that during the weight loss journey: less is more! This phase follows strict guidelines in terms of meals, allowing up to 2 days of step 7 celebration meals so long as there is ALWAYS a purely protein day (Dr. Dukan suggests Thursdays as protein days). And as always, make sure to be getting in at least 25 minutes of physical activity and continue to eat two tablespoons of oat bran each day. At this rate, the Dukan diet predicts 1 pound lost for every 5 days during this phase.
Phase 4: The Stabilization Phase
Now you are just about ready to level off your weight loss program with this final phase. The stabilization phase is said to be the most crucial phase of the Dukan diet and is meant to be the beginning of a lifelong change in eating habits. By this point in the Dukan diet you have been educated on healthier food options, conditioned to include physical activity daily, and have mentally prepared for this new pattern of maintaining weight loss. Dr. Dukan still promotes dedicating Thursdays to purely protein meals, recommends eating three tablespoons of oat bran daily, and at least 20 minutes of physical activity every day. If you follow these rules, the Dukan diet can help you to maintain your true weight for many years to come!
BRING ON THE ADD-ONS!!
Don’t Forget to Get Your Sweet On!
Before you fret, you should know that the Dukan diet has developed its regulations with your sweet tooth in mind! Organic Stevia is a popular natural sweetener that has become a great alternative to sugar for many people and in many recipes. The Dukan diet allows you to use Stevia in an unlimited quantity, during any phase.
So, what in the World is Shirataki?
Shirataki are traditional Japanese noodles. They are made from the konjac yam and are translucent in color. Shirataki noodles have a gelatinous texture which lends itself to giving your tummy that full feeling we all strive for. The Dukan diet allows you to get your unlimited fill of these noodles since they are low in carbohydrates and calories. Shirataki also help slow down digestion which allows you to stay full for a longer period of time. It is also said that shirataki noodles can aid in constipation issues. Unfortunately, eating mainly protein means you are not getting much fiber from these foods which can lead to constipation. Adding shirataki and oat bran to your daily diet can give you the much-needed fiber your body needs to better regulate your bowels.
They say “An Apple a Day…”
Throughout history, the health benefits of apples have made their way into many diets, the Dukan diet is no exception! Dr. Dukan recommends using a variety of apple products to help aid in weight loss and increase metabolism. Apple cider vinegar is a common product that offers a variety of health benefits including reducing water retention (leading to more weight loss), helps reduce joint pain and stiffness (which helps with physical activity endurance), reduces blood sugar levels, and even helps to improve skin appearance. Apple pectin may not be as popular, but it can work wonders for your nutritional health! Apple pectin, just like shirataki noodles, helps to regulate bowel movements. It also aids your body in the absorption of important nutrients. And just like oat bran, apple pectin helps lower cholesterol levels. Dr. Dukan notes that lowering your cholesterol levels can help to reduce your chances of suffering from coronary problems – a leading cause of death in many people.
Written by: Bridget Newell
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