If you live in an English-speaking country, other than Canada, chances are you have never heard of a bestselling diet entitled Je ne sais pas maigrir, or, "I Can't Lose Weight."
But nearly 7 million people in France, a country with notably slimmer waistlines than those found in Australia, the UK, and the USA, have followed this extraordinary popular diet plan and found that they can in fact lose weight. And they lose weight without counting calories or feeling hungry, much like dieters of a similar diet plan developed by Dr. Atkins.
In April of this year, Crown Publishing will roll out The Dukan Diet: The Real Reason the French Stay Thin. Sixty-nine year-old author Dr. Pierre Dukan acknowledges that he was inspired by both Weight Watchers and the Atkins Diet. But he criticizes Weight Watchers for its obsession with calorie counting and portion sizes, and Atkins for allowing unlimited consumption of inflammatory fatty acids. And Atkins, he bluntly notes, is dead.
Four Phases: attack, cruise, consolidation, and stabilization.
The Dukan Diet is organized in four phases: attack, cruise, consolidation, and stabilization.
The first phase
The first phase encourages weight watchers to eat as much as they want of low-fat, high-protein foods and oat bran, providing omega-6 essential fatty acids. Dieters are also encouraged to wash it all down with lots of water.
In the cruise phase of the Dukan Diet, dieters can start eating vegetables and sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids, but no fruit.
The third, consolidation phase of the Dukan diet allows two slices of bread, two servings of pasta or potatoes, a serving of fruit and a serving of cheese every day, plus two "celebration meals" every week. The celebration meals include wine and dessert, since the diet is French, after all.
Life-long maintenance or "Stabilization" Phase
Then the life-long maintenance or "stabilization" phase allows anything you want six days a week as long as you back to the first phase one day a week. The only required exercise is a daily walk for 20 minutes and avoiding elevators.
Dr. Dukan discovered his diet by accident. A neurologist, Dukan was treating a long-time patient with a serious weight problem. His patient agreed to try any diet Dukan designed, with just one demand. "Let me eat meat," the patient asked.
Dukan told his patient to eat nothing but meat and drink lots of water and come back in 5 days. The patient complied, and came back weighing 5 kilos (11 pounds) less than the week before.
As more and more patients had success on his diet, Dukan abandoned his neurology practice and began to specialize in clinical nutrition, his word spread by the "Dukmaniacs" sharing their stories of fast and permanent weight loss.
But being French, Dukan is not a believer in weight loss for its own sake. In 2003, he wrote the book Les hommes préfêrent les rondes, or "Gentlemen Prefer Curves," in which he told women that "Your hips, your thighs, the roundness of your face and knees are natural sexual transmitters implanted in you since the origins of mankind."
Women who recognize that they are "curvy, even very curvy, fleshy or busty" should learn to use their bodies, he added, to facilitate "pleasure, seduction and the commitment of a man." As mentioned before, Dr. Dukan's attitudes are, well, French.
How well will Dukan's diet translate into English? Even before the book hits the shelves, there are American detractors, most of the same nutritionists who condemned the Atkins diet.
And there are French detractors, who argue that the low quality of meat and dairy products in American markets will make it hard for dieters to stay on the plan, especially during the first phase.
But this new "French Atkins" is sure to be a bestseller. If you try it, just remember to continue your omega-3 fatty acid supplements, especially when you eat lots of meat.