Recently high protein diet meal plans have gained quite a following with their “all you can eat”, meat filled menus. They come in many flavours, each focusing on a specific variation of an upside down food pyramid. The latest of these is the low carbohydrate, low fat, and high protein Dukan diet.
Dukan Diet Origins
This eating regime created by the French doctor Pierre Dukan is targeted at obese people desperate to lose weight. In a way the fatter you are the more you will gain from the diet. The doctor wrote his book based on his experiences with overweight patients and with the typical problems faced by repeat dieters and comfort eaters in mind.
Thanks to a patient particularly fussy with his food choices – a sworn meat lover – Dukan stumbled upon the almost magical properties of proteins. Researching deeper into the subject over the years he has established patterns and rules which work even on the most stubborn excess kilograms.
The diet is based on a high protein meal plan and it was initially called the Protal diet, however this name seems to be abandoned now in favour of the Dukan diet.
Simple rules of the protein diet
One thing the French doctor found in his patients was that simple rules worked best. Avoiding obsessing about what you eat and when you eat it was the first step. Rather than count calories or points the diet is based on a very restrictive list of products for each of it’s phases. While the rules are simple they are strict at the same time.
The food allowed at the start includes the following produce:
• meat (beef, veal)
• poultry (no skin and excludes duck and goose)
• lean ham
• fish & seafood
• fat-free dairy products
Additionally to counter the higher protein intake liquid consumption should be increased to 2-3 litres a day. Although water is great dieters can also drink tea and coffee (no sugar, however sweeteners are allowed), as well as any sugar-free drinks like Diet Coke for example.
Fight the hunger
Often the main complain of overweight people trying to diet is the constant feeling of hunger. This is addressed in the Dukan diet by it’s primary ingredient – proteins. Such high protein diet meal plans have been proven to help people stay full for longer. As a side effect they also lower the final calorie intake. Compared with fats and carbohydrates the body spends a lot more calories on the food processing itself in the case of proteins.
The diet belongs to the “all you can eat” type of regime. The phrase can often be misunderstood, however the emphasis here is on the “can” not the “all”. Anyone who tried this kind of diet will quickly realize that they feel full really quickly and the quantities of food they eat go down dramatically. Although the greatest benefit of this rule is the psychological comfort of knowing that they do not need to deprive themselves of food, thus reducing cravings.
A long term weight loss solution
What is quite unique in the Dukan diet is it’s wholesome approach. The regime consists of four phases:
• Attack – initial weight loss
• Weight Loss – lasts until the goal weight is reached
• Stabilization – prevents the yo-yo effect
• Cruise – the final life-long stage
The first two are focused on shedding kilograms in a stable and consistent manner. Do not be fooled though, the program does not offer a miraculous, over-night solution. These are planned to promote a healthy rate of weight loss which will run into month for most obese people.
The two following phases are designed to prevent one from going back to their starting weight (or worse). While using the Dukan diet certain good habits are introduced – smaller portions, healthier foods and more awareness about produce contents in general. Once you have reached your goal weight it is time to reprogram your body to accept that state as the new norm.
Dukan found that going back to your old habits is only half the problem. If the body begins eating normally too early, even if it is healthy foods, it still acts as if it were on the diet. This means that despite good behaviour the weight can start creeping back in. The final phases are there to prevent this from happening and to guide people following the Dukan diet through this sensitive period.
Diet risks and downsides
As with any diet there are risks, and especially when trying to lose huge amounts of weight some sort of medical supervision is advised. With high protein consumption the body needs to be kept hydrated in order to both get the full diet benefits as well as to avoid health problems especially to the kidneys.
The Dukan diet is also not to everyone’s taste. If you love meat, dairy, and experimenting in the kitchen with a limited set of ingredients then the regime can prove to be an interesting, and enjoyable experience. Otherwise it might seem like a struggle through tasteless and unvaried meals.
Finally if you are looking for a quick-fix solution, or a way to fit into your bikini in two weeks, then you would probably be disappointed, as the plan really is a lengthy undertaking – the stabilization phase is meant to last 10 days for each lost kilogram.