Despite being surrounded by shelves brimming with mouth-watering cheeses, flaky pastries and probably some of the finest restaurants in the world, you never, ever see an obese French woman. Why? Well according to Dr Pierre Dukan, the secret is all down to The Dukan Diet, a low-carb eating plan which has a huge following in France.
Get the Dukan Diet eating plan here
How it works
If you've ever done the Atkins diet you'll find the Dukan Diet a cinch as it has many similarities. Consisting of a four-step plan, the diet starts with an Attack phase which involves eating nothing but protein and fat-free dairy products. How long you do the Attack phase is completely up to you but, after trying this out for myself, I'd recommend doing it for as short a time as possible as it's very hard to stick to due to the monotony of eating meat and little else. You can eat any type of lean meat (so no fatty burgers or sausages) including fish, chicken, beef, rabbit, lean mince meat, shellfish etc and you can have as much of it as you like. You can also eat up to two eggs a day which makes having breakfast a little easier and any other fat-free dairy products such as skimmed milk, cottage cheese and yoghurt. You can also have sweetener, a life saver if you're used to eating sweet things or can't live without sugar in your tea. Finally, you can also have a small amount of oat bran a day which is available from health food stores. Like the Atkins diet this phase puts your body into ketosis so you'll be burning fat and shedding any water retention by the hour, great news if you need to lose weight fast, bad news for your energy levels and breath.
If you make it through the Attack phase there are three more steps that gradually allow you more freedom with your food. Step two is called the Cruise phase which gives you a choice of 28 vegetables with your protein. The aim of the Cruise phase is to take you to your goal weight but, due to the addition of vegetables you'll be losing weight much more slowly and steadily. By alternating the days you have vegetables with your protein with protein-only days though you should still see steady progress without the exhausting monotony of a protein-only diet.
Finally, once you've reached your goal weight you will enter the Consolidation phase followed by the Stabilisation phase, both of which will help you maintain your weight through continuing a high protein diet.
The good points
If you need to lose weight fast and have tried every other diet to no avail then you will be thrilled with the results of the Dukan Diet. I stuck to the Attack phase for four days and lost four pounds despite doing no exercise. I also didn't have any sugar cravings, and didn't feel particularly hungry the majority of the time although there was a general feeling of dissatisfaction, especially after the second day.
The bad points
While this diet does give great results it does require a lot of willpower. Sticking to protein isn't as easy as it sounds as your body will be crying out for carbs and, when it doesn't get what it wants, you'll feel exhausted, unsatisfied and generally quite miserable. Low carb diets also receive a lot of criticism because they do cut out an entire food group and it can be said that they are only a quick fix as, rather than teach you how to eat healthily and lose weight gradually through eating less and exercising more, you end up shedding a lot of weight, much of which is water weight, over a matter of days. This rapid weight loss will send most people heading straight for the biscuit so be warned, this diet isn't for the faint hearted or weak willed.
Get the Dukan Diet eating plan and recipes here
The Dukan Diet by Dr Pierre Dukan is available from amazon.co.uk