The Dukan diet - is it for you?

The Dukan Diet is the latest thing in weight loss and has taken the dieting world by storm, with the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Kate Middleton rumoured to be fans.

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But what does it involve, does it work and is it right for you? We take a look at the 'all-as-much-as-you-like' sensation.

What is it?
First published in France some 10 years ago, the Dukan Diet is not dissimilar to the high-protein, low-carb Atkins Diet. The idea is that you are able to eat as much of the recommended foods as you want, thereby doing away with the dieter's downfall - hunger.

The diet begins with an 'attack' phase, during which you can eat unlimited protein - lean meat, poultry, fish, and eggs and even non-fat dairy products can be freely munched though fattening dairy products such as cheese are off limits. Dieters are advised to drink plenty of water.

Add a 20-minute walk each day and one and a half tablespoons of oat bran and the diet promises to shift up to 10 pounds. Slimmers can stay in this phase for anything from one to 10 days, depending on their weight loss target.

In the second 'cruise' phase, veggies such as sprouts, aubergine and spinach can be added but no starchy veg (potatoes, peas, beans) are allowed. Each day you will alternate between protein-only meals and meals that combine the suggested vegetables with protein the next. With a 30-minute walk each day, the slimmer should continue in the cruise phase until they reach their weight loss goal.

The third and fourth phases are aimed at maintenance.

Phase three, 'consolidation' adds a little variety, including whole grain bread, a serving of fresh fruit, some starchy carbs and even the odd 'celebration' meal. Dukan suggests that the dieter stays in this phase for five days for each pound shed during the first two phases.

In phase four, 'stabilisation', the slimmer is free to eat whatever they fancy for six days of the week but on the seventh day must eat only protein.

Advantages and disadvantages
Though cutting any food group is generally to be avoided, the first two phases of the Dukan diet do place the emphasis on healthy, lean protein and vegetables while drinking water and taking the suggested exercise will obviously do you no harm.

Most slimmers find they do lose weight quite rapidly in these early stages and that can encourage dieters to continue eating well and exercising.

However, as with most fad diets there are problems - during the early phases (and bearing in mind that the second phase is 'open-ended' in terms of how long you should continue) the body will be lacking essential vitamins and minerals, not to mention fibre and fat.

As tempting as the 'all-you-can-eat' theory is, unlimited portion sizes could end up causing weight gain. Others may find, as with the Atkins diet, that the protein-only monotony becomes tiresome before the weight loss goal has been achieved.

And though the average slimmer will no doubt be thrilled by the quick, early results, the side effects usually associated with a low-carb diet (fatigue, irritability etc.) still apply.

Have you tried the Dukan Diet - did it work for you or was it a diet disaster? Leave a comment below...