The Dukan diet seems to be the latest diet in Dietland. Carole Middleton, Kate’s mom, acknowledged using the plan to shed pre-wedding pounds.
The official sites of the diet (www.dukandiet.co.uk, www.dukandiet.com) claim that the diet is the number 1 diet in France and that 5 millions French people tried it. I think it’s a bit deceptive to say that. 5 millions is probably the number of books sold, not the number of people who successfully followed the diet.
This diet sounds a bit like a copy of the Atkins diet. It consists of 4 phases:
– Phase 1 or Attack Phase: eating only proteins during 3 to 10 days. Meat, eggs, fish, protein powder but no vegetables. (I personally think it sounds like a pretty bad idea not to eat any vegetables, even for 3 days. Any other sound French woman would probably think the same way too.)
Dr. Dukan (the doctor who invented the diet) recommends avoiding any strenuous activities in the Attack Phase as you will probably feel tired. I think any real doctor would never recommend avoiding vegetables and physical activity even for the very few first days of a diet. But Dr. Dukan knows that this is a good way for people to see results on the scale very fast (even if they’re losing mainly water weight and not body fat) and to keep them interested in staying on his diet.
– Phase 2: Alternative Phase: still eating protein and re-introducing vegetables, but still no heavy carbs. You can eat as many vegetables as you like, there is no portion control for vegetables. The average duration of this phase is about 7 days.
You have to alternate Phase 1 and Phase 2 until you’ve reached your goal weight before going on to phase 3.
– Phase 3: Consolidation Phase. You can eat fruit, bread, and cheese again, but with portion control. 2 cheat meals per week are allowed, but you have to eat only proteins again every Thursday.
– Phase 4: Stabilization Phase. The final phase is a lifelong commitment to maintain your weight loss. Most of the time you eat normally, but every Thursday, you follow a pure protein day by eating only foods allowed in the Attack Phase.
This diet sounds incredibly unbalanced to me and I certainly would never try it. Even the stabilization phase sounds impossible. I find it very difficult to go through a day without any carbs at all. I’m just too active to eat only protein. I have to ride my bicyle to go to work and I would already feel dizzy at 11 a.m.!
However, I found an interesting cookbook by Dr Dukan last time I was visiting my parents in France. It’s called “La pâtisserie Dukan“. It hasn’t been translated in English yet.
There are 100 dessert recipes that can be eaten when on the Dukan diet. Recipes for mousses, cremes or custards use agar-agar or gelatin for texture. Flour is replaced by oat bran, corn starch and powdered milk. Main ingredients are often fat free Greek yogurt or soy yogurt, eggs, aromas and artificial sweeteners.
Many recipes are allowed during the first 2 phases of the diet even if they contain a small amount of carbs (most of the time a few spoons of oat bran or corn starch).
Here are some of the recipes I tried and the results:
Marshmallows made with egg whites, agar-agar and splenda.
My marshmallows didn’t turn out very well. The artificial sweetener made me feel kind of sick. I had to throw them away.
This chocolate cake cooked in the microwave looks decadent and fabulous in the book.
My chocolate cake wasn’t that fabulous.
A simple lemon cake.
My lemon cake looked kind of sad but it was light and eatable.
My muffins looked nice but were a bit ‘spongy’ (too many eggs in them).
The chocolate cake recipe was the best recipe! It’s a pity though I overcooked it.
I’ve posted the recipe here on my tumblr dashboard
I think I will definitely stick to natural sugars (agave or honey) because the artificial sweeteners aren’t just the real thing and many of them made me feel sick. And stevia as the only natural sweetener doesn’t taste very good.
Despite the use of sweeteners and the fact that my cooking experiments didn’t look as great as in the book, I don’t regret buying it because there were a few nice ideas, such as:
– Using artificial flavoring to make your desserts interesting: crème brûlée, ginger bread, or melted butter flavoring add flavors without any calories.
– Using powdered milk to replace part of the flour. I used to use protein powder instead but powdered milk makes your cakes moister than protein powder. Powdered milk is also used a lot in the book to make cake icing (mixing it with an egg white and a sweetener)
– Using fat-reduced cocoa, which is different than classic Dutch process cocoa.
Have you ever been on a “protein only” diet for a few day? Could you handle it? Do you have any healthy cookbook recommendation?