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The Dukan diet has celebrity followers like Jennifer Lopez (above) and Kate Middleton.(Top)
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What’s the diet that royalty is raving about? Full marks if you’ve answered ‘Dukan Diet’ to that one. For it’s the hot diet plan of the moment that has been catapulted to international fame by the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton). The highly publicised diet is all about proteins initially and promises that you’ll lose weight super-quickly if you faithfully follow its rules.

“Everybody wondered how Kate lost weight before her marriage until it was revealed she’d been following the Dukan plan religiously. That’s when it started figuring on the must-try-out-diet lists of weight-watchers,” says wellness consultant, Dr Shikha Sharma.

Created by Dr Pierre Dukan, a French nutritionist and neurologist, the diet has been a hotseller in Britain ever since the royal wedding. And the book that sets it all out The Dukan Diet, by Dukan himself with the tag line ‘The Real Reason the French Stay Thin’ has been zooming up bestseller diet book charts across the world. It has sold upwards of 2,50,000 copies in the UK alone, while Dukan community members include 5 million people in France.

The website stresses on following the diet correctly, calling it a ‘serious medical matter’. It took Dukan decades to perfect the weight loss plan before introducing it to the world. He discovered it 35 years ago when he was convinced by an obese patient to help him lose flab.

The book, meanwhile, has hit bookstores in India too. “It’s a constant seller with satisfactory weekly sales. Since it’s modestly priced at Rs 295, it has become a ‘without-a-second-thought buy’,” says Anuj Bahri of Bahrisons, a leading bookstore in Delhi.

Deconstructed, the Dukan Diet is a high-protein weight-loss plan, with an alluring two-fold promise no calorie counting and no hunger pangs.

“Everyone’s looking for a magic diet. And the Dukan plan is one that promises a speedy loss of the initial pounds,” notes Dr Karun Makhija, diet management consultant. How quick is quick? Bite this: Carole Middleton (Kate’s mother) lost four pounds in four days.

Start with the ‘attack phase’ where the focus is on lean proteins and move on to the ‘cruise phase’ with non-starch veggies
From the ‘cruise phase’ go on to the ‘consolidation phase’ which allows some starch but has strict guidelines
Move straight on to the
‘stabilising phase’ where you need to exercise regularly to keep the extra kilos at bay

The diet is divided into four phases. It kicks off with an ‘attack’ phase which is essentially about weight loss. During the first week or 10 days, the menu has only lean proteins like fish, poultry, seafood and non-fat dairy products that must be grilled, steamed or boiled and oat bran culled from husks.

Next is the ‘cruise’ phase when weight loss slows down to an average of a kilo per week. At this stage you’re allowed to add vegetables, but not starchy ones like potatoes and avocados. “Go for ladies’ finger, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, bottle gourd (lauki), ridge gourd (tori),” says Makhija.

The third or the ‘consolidation’ phase is about making sure that you don’t pile back the lost pounds. It makes for one serving of fruit, two slices of whole wheat bread, helpings of cheese and starchy foods per day for five days. Two days are left for celebratory meals (a glass of wine is allowed).

Finally, the ‘stabilising’ phase reinforces the idea of the diet as a lifestyle plan. It has a few rules: dieters can eat whatever they want, while returning to pure proteins once a week, eat at least two to three tablespoons of oat bran, drink six glasses of water and walk for 20 minutes every day.

“Vegetables and the permanent must-eat edict of oat bran are the good parts of the diet,” points out Ishi Khosla, clinical nutritionist & director, Whole Foods India.

The biggest walking ads for the diet are the Middletons. Also, other members of the British royalty like Lady Elizabeth Anson, the Queen’s cousin have lost plenty of avoirdupois by adhering to the diet. On the other side of the Atlantic, there’s an A-list roster of ultra-glamorous ladies like singer Jennifer Lopez and model Gisele Bundchen who used it to shed post-pregnancy weight.

You could follow the diet too by logging on to its website. Subscriptions to the Dukan Diet website which tailor-makes the diet for members have gone up considerably. It plays the role of cheerleader, sending out e-mails each morning with lists on eating and exercise instructions. Each evening, members report back on various counts: lapses, exercise, food they missed the most and frustration levels, among others.

But as with every diet, the Dukan Diet, even though it is all the rage at the moment, comes with qualifications from nutritionists.“Those suffering from diabetes, kidney and heart conditions must keep away from it, as a high protein content and low carbohydrates may increase urea and even cause heart failure,” says Khosla.

Psychiatrist Dr Sanjay Chugh puts the fascination down to a desperation to look good. He says: “It’s due to an exaggerated pressure to ‘fit into the social bill’. The fascination with beauty is so huge that we want to leave no stone unturned. If one diet doesn’t work, we latch on to another.”

But for believers, this might be just what the good doctor ordered.

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