'The Dukan Diet': Weight Loss Plan from Dr. Pierre Dukan's Book

Learn the basics of Dr. Pierre Dukan's weight loss plan!

ByABC News via logo
April 18, 2011, 1:15 PM

April 19, 2011— -- Check out an excerpt of "The Dukan Diet," a weight loss plan rumored to be favored by Britain's princess-to-be Kate Middleton and Hollywood stars including Jennifer Lopez and Penelope Cruz.

The book is written by Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French nutrition expert who developed the four phase, high protein diet that allows participants to lose weight fast and keep it off.

Read an excerpt of the book below and then check out the "GMA" Library for more great reads.

When I was a very young doctor, I was practicing general medicine in the Montparnasse area in Paris while also specializing in neurology for paraplegic children in Garches, just outside the capital. At that time, one of my patients was an obese, jovial, and tremendously cultivated publisher whom I treated regularly for a very trying case of asthma. One day he came to see me, and once he was seated comfortably in an arm-chair that creaked under his weight, he said, "Doctor, I have always been satisfied with your treatment. I trust you, and I've come to see you today because I want you to make me lose weight."

In those days, all I knew about nutrition and obesity was what my teachers had passed on at medical school, which amounted to simply suggesting low-calorie diets and miniature-sized meals so tiny that any obese person would laugh and run a mile in the opposite direction. For big eaters, the very idea of having to ration their happiness is preposterous.

I declined, stuttering under the pretext that I knew nothing of the subtleties of weight loss.

"What are you talking about? I have seen every specialist in Paris, every one of whom put me on a starvation diet. Since my teens I've lost over seven hundred pounds, and I've put it all back on again. I have to admit that I've never been deeply motivated and, without realizing it, my wife has done me no great service by loving me despite all my extra pounds. I can't find any clothes that fit and, if I'm honest, I'm beginning to fear for my life."

His final sentence changed the course of my professional life: "Put me on whatever diet you want, deprive me of whatever food you want, anything, but not meat. I like meat too much."

I can still remember how I replied without the slightest hesitation: "Fine, since you like meat so much, come back tomorrow on an empty stomach and weigh yourself on my scales. Then, for the next 5 days, eat nothing but meat. However, avoid fatty meats like pork, lamb, and the fattier cuts of beef such as ribs or rib eye. Grill your meat and drink as much water as you can. Then come back in 5 days' time on an empty stomach and weigh yourself again.""Okay, you have a deal."

Five days later, he was back. He had lost almost 12 pounds. I couldn't believe my eyes and neither could he. I felt somewhat concerned, but he looked great, more jovial than ever, saying he had rediscovered his well-being and had stopped snoring. He brushed aside my hesitations.

"I'll keep it up. I feel on top of the world. It works and it's a real treat." And so he left for another 5 days of eating meat, promising me he would have blood and urine tests done.

When he came back, he had lost another 5 pounds, and, jubilant, he showed me his test results. His glucose, cholesterol, and uric acid levels were all perfectly normal.

In the meantime I had gone to the medical school library, where I spent time learning more about the nutritional properties of meat and other proteins.

When my patient returned 5 days later, still in tip-top shape and having shed another 4 pounds, I told him to add fish and seafood, which he accepted with good grace because he had explored all that meat had to offer.

When at the end of 20 days the scales registered a loss of 22 pounds, I ordered another blood test, which turned out to be just as reassuring as the first one. Playing my ace, I had him add the remaining categories of protein: dairy products, poultry, and eggs. However, to allay my concerns, I asked him to increase his water intake to 3 quarts--twelve 8-ounce glasses a day.

He agreed to add vegetables, as I was beginning to worry that they had been absent from his diet for so long.When he came back 5 days later, he had not lost an ounce. He used this as an argument to go back to his all-protein diet. I let him have his way on the condition that he alternates this regimen with 5-day periods that would include vegetables, arguing that otherwise he risked vitamin deficiency. He did not buy that argument, but he agreed because he was suffering from constipation due to the lack of fiber in his diet.

This is how the first phases of the Dukan Diet were born, as well as my interest in obesity and weight loss. My patient had changed the course of my studies and my professional life. I worked to improve the diet, creating an eating plan that seems to me today to be both the most appropriate for the particular psychological make-up of overweight people and also the most efficient for weight loss based on real food.

However, over the years, I have come to the bitter realization that even effective weight loss diets are not effective in the long term. At best, the dieter slowly and imperceptibly drifts off course; at worst the weight piles back on again, usually because of stress, setbacks, or other problems.

It was seeing how the vast majority of dieters inevitably lose this war against weight that led me to design a plan that protects the accomplishment of reaching the target weight. The job of this Consolidation phase is to reintroduce, in increments, the basic elements of proper eating and to control a body that, stripped of its reserves, would be bent on revenge. To allow enough time for this rebellious phase and to make the transition acceptable, I fixed a precise time limit for the second part of my plan, easy to calculate and in proportion to the weight lost: 5 days for every 1 pound lost.

However, once the Consolidation phase was over, I saw my patients' old habits gradually creep back, thanks to the pressures of metabolism and the inevitable resurgence of the need to compensate for life's miseries with those thick, creamy, sweet comfort foods that craftily overwhelm our defenses.

I therefore had to resort to a measure that is hard to even suggest to people, a rule that I dare to call "permanent," the kind of shackle that all overweight people the obese or the just plain overweight-detest be-cause it is there for good. However, this rule, which needs to be followed for the rest of one's life but which guarantees real weight stabilization, applies to only a single day a week; a day that is predetermined, whose structure cannot be changed or negotiated but which bears amazing results.

It was only then that I reached the Promised Land: genuine, long-lasting, unequivocal success built on four successive phases, each decreasing in intensity, which creates a supportive and clearly signposted path that allows no escape. A short, strict Attack diet that gives lightning results is followed by a Cruise diet and sustained by a Consolidation phase, whose duration is proportionate to the weight lost. Finally, so that the weight you have achieved with such effort remains stable forever, there is a Stabilization phase, which includes a locking measure that is as specific as it is effective: a single day a week devoted to dietary redemption.

This measure is designed to keep the rest of the week in balance, pro-vided it stays by your side, like a loyal guard dog, for the rest of your life.

Finally, with these four successive diet phases, I achieved my first real lasting results. Now I no longer had only a fish to offer, but a whole course on how to fish, a comprehensive program that allows overweight people to be autonomous, lose weight quickly, and keep it off for good, and to do this all by themselves.

I have spent thirty-five years creating this beautiful tool for a limited number of people. Today I want a wider public to be able to access my program.

This program is for those of you who have tried everything, who have lost weight often--too often--and who are looking for a way not just to lose weight, but more important, to maintain those hard-earned results and live comfortably with the body you want and deserve.

So I dedicate this book and this method to all my patients, who have made my life as a doctor so fulfilling, and in particular to the very first of them, the overweight publisher.