The Dukan Diet is the latest diet to take the world by storm with its promises of long-term weight loss without food restrictions and its high profile followers in Kate Middleton and Jennifer Lopez.
The diet, created by French doctor Pierre Dukan, consists of four phases, finishing with a lifelong stabilization stage which has no restrictions with the exception of one day per week where only protein is consumed.
This is preceded by the attack stage — ten days where only lean protein is eaten; the cruise stage, during which you’d alternate between days with only protein and days with protein with vegetables until the target weight is reached; and lastly the consolidation stage where for five days proteins and vegetables are eaten with the addition of limited amounts of bread, cheese, fruit and other starches.
The original diet eliminated all sources of fat and oil, with the exception of a few drops of olive or rapeseed oil, wiped on a paper towel to grease a non-stick pan for frying.
However, more recently Dukan has updated the restrictions and increased the allowed amounts of olive oil to one teaspoon per day, stating in an online coaching session that this may fight constipation and help dry skin — two common side effects seen in followers of the diet.
He also stressed that fat was not the number one enemy in weight loss, this title is reserved for sugar.
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Despite the increase, the quantity of olive oil falls a long way short of the two tablespoons per day that has been shown to have beneficial effects on heart health.
Nutritionists caution that very low-fat diets may interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
They may also deprive followers of beneficial fats and essential fatty acids found in good lipids such as olive oil, which protect from chronic disease.