The Dukan diet plan originated in France, and received global attention when it was used by Kate Middleton to shed pounds before her wedding to England's Price William in 2011. This plan shares many characteristics with other high-protein and low-carbohydrate diets, but is organized into four distinct phases designed to help dieters stay slim for life. Followers of the Dukan diet start with a strict attack phase, which can last for up to ten days. During the Dukan diet attack phase, dieters can consume only protein, and a limited amount of oat bran. While the Dukan diet attack phase promises rapid weight loss, some dieters will find it too restrictive and difficult to stick to.
During the Dukan diet attack phase, dieters can consume unlimited portions of protein, though the protein must come from one of 68 sources permitted by Dukan. Followers may also consume a small amount of oat bran during this period, along with large amounts of water. While exercise is not a major part of this phase, followers are encouraged to take a brief walk each day to increase calorie burn and stay active.
The Dukan diet attack phase lasts from one to ten days, and the exact length of time varies based on how much weight each dieter needs to lose. Those with less weight to lose may only stick with this phase for a few days, while those who are severely overweight may follow the Dukan diet attack phase for the full ten days. During this time, participants may lose as much as 5 pounds (2.3 kg) in seven days, or about 1 to 2 pounds (0.45 to 0.9 kg) per day.
After successful completion of the Dukan diet attack phase, followers move on to the cruise phase. While on the cruise portion of the plan, dieters may continue to eat unlimited protein while adding certain types of vegetables. After the cruise phase comes the consolidated phase, which includes a menu based around protein, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and grains. The final phase of the Dukan diet is the stabilization stage, which Dukan dieters follow for life.
One of the most commonly cited appeals to the Dukan diet attack phase is that it offers followers extremely rapid weight loss. This type of quick weight loss may help to encourage participants to stick with the plan and avoid frustration. Another benefit is that this strict period is relatively brief, and lasts for no more than ten days.
Some critics argue that the Dukan diet is very difficult to stick to, particularly during the attack phase. Others worry that it is incomplete, and leaves out vital nutrients. High-protein diets like this one are also associated with certain side effects, including constipation and bad breath.