The following is a guest post by Dr. Michelle Berman of Celebrity Diagnosis:
We received two books in the mail yesterday: an advance review copy of Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It and The Dukan Diet: The French Medical Solution for Permanent Weight Loss by Dr. Pierre Dukan. Our regular readers may remember our previous story about Taubes and his compelling case against the “energy balance” paradigm, which may have inadvertently contributed to the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The significance of The Dukan Diet is that it’s the plan Prince William’s future mother-in-law, Carole Middleton (pictured below), is using to slim down for the Royal wedding of William and Kate. It’s also been reported that Dukan’s diet was the “magic” behind the post-pregnancy slim-downs of both Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen and American singer/actress Jennifer Lopez.
There is a very superficial similarity between these books: both advocate low carbohydrate diets as the best way to lose weight and permanently maintain the loss. But there the similarity ends and these books couldn’t be more different in background and substance. As described in our earlier story, Taubes’ work is based upon years of meticulous research and represents a synthesis of evidence drawn from the fields of biochemistry, metabolism, physiology, endocrinology, epidemiology, and clinical research.
In contrast, Dukan’s dietary beliefs and recommendations are based on i) anecdotal evidence and trial-and-error observations in his clinical practice and ii) “market validation” from sales figures of his book. In 2007 The Dukan Diet was second only to Harry Potter on Amazon France and also sold well in Bulgaria and Poland. (The book is currently only available for pre-order in the U.S. and isn’t due out until May 2011. Our copy came from Amazon UK). We could not find any publications by Dukan or about his diet among the ~20 million biomedical research articles indexed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The only research studies referred to in the book are “coprological studies” comparing the calorie contents of stools from individuals who have or have not eaten oat bran.
Here is an overview of The Dukan Diet adapted from the U.K. edition:
The Attack diet: Pure Proteins (no caloric restrictions) lasting about 5 days
The Cruise diet: 100 unlimited foods (72 from animals, 28 from plants), lasting three days for each pound you want to lose
The Consolidation diet: Average length of five days per pound lost
The Stabilization diet: One pure protein day every Thursday for life; No more lifts (elevators) or escalators, and 3 tablespoons of oat bran a day.
If you’d like more information on the four phases of Dukan’s diet, there’s a review and critique on WebMD.
If you think The Dukan Diet is irrelevant to your practice, check the copy of People Magazine that’s probably sitting in your waiting room. We strongly recommend that you put a couple of copies of Why We Get Fat in your waiting room as well. The diet that Taubes recommends (the What To Do About It part of his book) is from the Duke University Lifestyle Medicine Clinic.