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Friday, March 30, 2012

The Dukan Diet: the real food diet

What with all the many diet programs out there, a person who would really like to enroll himself/herself into one will surely get confused, especially if one is earnest in his/her resolve to already engage in a healthier lifestyle.  I remember in the late '80s and well into the '90s, there was the 3-day diet, then there was the Cabbage Soup Diet, and even the Mayo Clinic Diet, which later on, the Mayo Clinic itself had to advertise a disclaimer that such a diet was not even prescribed by them apparently, as it called for eating eggs and bacon everyday for breakfast and all other basically fatty foods for the rest of the day, of which half a grapefruit will save you.  Then as the new millenium kicked in, there was the Atkins Diet, the Zone Diet and finally, the South Beach Diet, the latter of which came out to be the longer-standing and widest following,  and therefore, the most successful so far.  If one studies the principles behind the South Beach Diet (SBD),  one would find that the program is really based on the proper allocation of nutrition, the ratio of protein to carbo, and this whole business once more of accounting for calories for each of the meal you take.  Oh, but you do get to have snacks in between meals which is a life-saver.

Oh, I've tried all of these - even the Mayo Clinic Diet.  Except for the Atkins, however.  I came to know of it quite late in the day actually, and after I've seen its effects on the actor Ethan Hawke (who by the way, shares the same exact birthday as mine), and the studies that were conducted on it, I was glad that I didn't know about Atkins sooner. 

Of all these diets I've tried, I must say that the most effective for me in terms of obtaining the results, was the 3-day Diet.  I did lose 7 pounds in 3 days, and my waste got smaller - 3 inches was not so bad.  But I could not sustain it.  I got so hungry after the third day that I got back what I lost.  And more, including sugar spikes whenever I get hungry.  So the lesson learned there was that the 3-day diet was only good if you need to go into that LBD (little black dress) for a party real quick.

But as the years crept on, the pounds came with it as well.  I also had high blood sugar and was already experiencing sensations on both my arms, and creaky joints whenever I eat eggplant, peanuts and fruits with seeds like strawberries, including tomatoes.  My husband also complained that I was a notoriously polyphonic snorer, which was already unusual. This was also aggravated by a lifestyle of eating out a lot.  Hello, food and travel blogger?

Shortly in the heels of the popularity of "French Women Don't Get Fat", I got wind of the Dukan Diet developed by Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French medical practicioner in general medicine and specializing in neurology for paraplegic children.  While you might think that this is but another new craze in the jungle of many diet crazes, I was surprised to find out that he developed this diet program as early as  I heard somewhere that Kate Middleton, before her marriage to Prince William, got herself ready for the big day and into the tight bodice of her wedding dress by going through Dr. Dukan's program.

Unlike the Cohen Diet, where, if you're in Manila, you will have to shell out an initial amount of around Php55,000 for your medical consult (plus more for that now indispensable weighing scale), the Dukan Diet is a self-help program which you can start with just a few pesos first and whatever is in your pantry right now.

First of course, you have to understand the principle behind the Dukan Diet.  It is an alternative protein diet which at first glance you might find similar to the Zone and SBD, and like the SBD, it has four phases.  However, the period for the first phase is shorter than the SBD since it will only take the dieter five days to complete it at the most.  The rest of the phase would depend on the amount of weight you want to lose.

Second, the Dukan Diet requires you to make a life-long commitment to it.  Don't get me wrong though, it is not as stringent as it sounds.  But if you will be patient, this will be explained later on.

The first phase is what Dr. Dukan calls the Attack Phase.  Depending on the amount of weight you want to lose, you can go through this phase from 3 to 5 days of eating an all protein meal plan.  There is a list of foods you can eat exclusively during this period, but the good thing about it is that there's no calorie counting, ingredient weighing, or any limit as to the amount of food that you like. 

In my case, for my build and height, my ideal weight is 135 lbs.  Before I started the Dukan Diet, I was 180 lbs already!  I followed the diet plan to the letter, and after 5 days, I lost 7 lbs, my skin got smoother (my adult acne was gone) and developed a healthy glow, my body got tighter, my snoring was gone, my bloodsugar reached normal levels, no more creaking joints, and I just felt generally better and happier.  People at the office noticed the difference right away and were very encouraged by my example.  Thus, my diet group was born.

I then started to prepare meals for my group of 10 (including me) according to the principles and some recipes of Dr. Dukan and deliver these to them everyday.  What made the diet program bearable was that we have our support group that encouraged and motivated each other to keep the lifestyle change up.  There were of course different results from each of us - some lost significant weight (3 to 5 lbs.), others lost inches (2-4 inches), but all lost their water weight and all had healthy glowing skin.  One of them, who had already high LDL bad cholesterol levels, was very determined to change this

We are all already in the second phase which is the Cruising Phase or Alternating Protein Diet.  Here, we alternate the days between an all protein meal plan and protein and vegetable meal plan starting on the 6th day.  So far, I have lost a total of 12 lbs. and my dress size was reduced from 18 (euro) to 12 (euro).  One of my friends who joined me in this lifestyle change had high LDL and bad cholesterol levels and weighed 140 lbs.  After two weeks, she lost 12 lbs. and her cholesterol and LDL levels were already within the normal range.  She now looks fantastic, and even more so that she is staying on the diet and complementing it with daily 20-minute walks with her husband.

My friends and I still have a long way to go but we are definitely sticking to this program.  We have regained a little of the weight we have lost due to the Christmas season, and of course, female hormones still have a play in the scheme of things, but one of the good things about the Dukan Diet is it is effective in influencing you to assimilate its principles into your eating habits that you now tend to make the right choices in your food intake.  The diet now becomes a part of who you are.  Another good thing about this program is that, if you ever fall off the wagon, you can get right back up on it and there's no immediate damage.  The reason behind this is because you are eating real food which equals nourishment.

Whether you need more convincing or are already sold to the idea, stay tuned in my next post as I write about the Dukan Diet in more detail, with recipes.