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What Is the Dukan Diet?

The Lowdown on the Dukan Diet

The buzz of the Dukan diet — France's diet du jour — is reaching new heights here in the US, just in time for the book's American debut next week. It's got its list of famous fans. Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bundchen both reportedly went on the diet to lose their baby weight, and there's speculation that It bride-to-be Kate Middleton is following her mother's Dukan dieting footsteps before walking down the aisle.

By eliminating certain carbs (simple carbs like sugars and starches) from your diet and instead eating low-fat, protein-rich foods, the Dukan diet promises you can jump-start weight loss and maintain it for the rest of your life. The plan does this with a restricted diet divided into four phases, each with its own list of foods you can and can't eat.

Of course, the heavy-on-the-protein diet has doctors worried it's the next Atkins, and with good reason. Want to know what the diet is all about? Read an overview after the break.

The list of allowed foods in the first phase is short and meat-heavy: dieters can only eat lean meats, seafood, fat-free dairy products, and eggs, along with oat bran and tons of water. This "attack" phase is for kick-starting weight loss and can last from two to seven days, depending on how much weight you need to lose.

Subsequent phases add certain vegetables (phase two) and minimal amounts of fruit, bread, starches, and wine (phase three). The last "stabilization" phase promises that you can eat whatever you want for the rest of your life with no weight gain as long as you continue to eat an all-protein diet one day per week.

So, is yet another meat-centric diet a good idea? The restrictive first phase is light on nutrients and healthy fats, so doctors aren't exactly ringing in endorsements. In addition, the diet doesn't emphasize exercise as an important aspect of being healthy. All of this means that even if you are losing weight, you could be doing it in an unhealthy and unsustainable way (think muscle loss) while increasing your risk for certain diseases.

I'm not sold on the Dukan diet — just the thought of all that meat and lack of vegetables makes my stomach turn, as does the list of possible side effects, and I don't think I'd have much energy to exercise on it. What are your thoughts on this latest fad diet?

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