There are as many diet plans on the market today as there are reasons to…
A popular, if extreme, example of low fat low carb diets is the Dukan Diet (TM) developed by Dr Pierre Dukan, a French doctor. The main principle of the Dukan Diet is that you should alternate days where you eat ‘pure’ protein and days where you eat vegetables along with your protein.
However, in the first days of the plan you may eat nothing but low fat protein foods for several days. This is called the ‘attack’ phase and it lasts for 5 days for most people, although it can be from 2 to 7 days depending on your starting weight and circumstances.
In the attack phase you can eat lean meats, skinless chicken, turkey and fish, eggs, tofu and seitan, plus fat free dairy products. You must also have 1.5 Tbsps oat bran for fiber, which most people eat beaten with eggs in a pancake or omelet. You don’t eat anything else – no vegetables, cooking fats, fruit, rice, bread, nuts, alcohol, etc.
After your few days in the attack phase, you move to ‘cruise’. This is the ongoing weight loss plan that you will follow until you reach your ‘true’ weight, which depends on your starting weight and may be higher than your ‘ideal’ weight. In this phase half of your days will be protein days where you follow the ‘attack’ plan, and the other half will be days when you can add non-starchy vegetables to the mix. You can do this on alternate days or have 2-5 days of one plan followed by the same number of days on the other.
During this time you still do not eat any of the other foods, i.e. cooking fats, fruit, rice, bread, nuts, alcohol, etc. Many of these foods are added back in the final ‘consolidation’ phase, although they are still limited and you will still have one ‘attack ‘ day per week.
The consolidation phase lasts longer than the cruise phase, being 5 days long for every pound lost. So if you lost just 20 pounds, which you might do in 1-2 months, your consolidation phase would be 100 days long, i.e. over 3 months. Also, you might still lose weight during this phase, so do not despair if your ‘true weight’ was higher than you wanted to aim for. You could still reach your target in the consolidation phase.
Finally, phase 4 is the permanent stabilization or maintenance phase. You will still have one pure protein day per week and take oat bran, but otherwise you can eat a normal diet.
On the Dukan diet it is vital to drink at least 5 pints of water a day, or your health will suffer. You should also be getting some exercise every day, even if it is just a short walk at first.
If you are concerned about getting enough nutrients on low fat low carb diets, you should definitely take vitamin and mineral supplements. Dr Dukan does not stress this because the attack phase is so short, but if you have a lot of weight to lose you might not be getting enough of some of the vitamins that are found mostly in higher carb foods, so supplements would be a wise precaution.
Low carb low fat diets are not easy to stick to. One of the things that made the Atkins plan so popular was the fact that a high fat content keeps us feeling satisfied, so we eat less. If you are often hungry, you are likely to eat more and be tempted to drift away from the plan, especially if it is very restrictive.
Another issue with this type of diet is that a lot of people just do not like to eat that much meat. This may be partly cultural: if you come from a high meat eating background, you may be happier on the Dukan Diet than some others.
Low fat low carb diets have also had some criticism from mainstream health professionals for its high quantities of protein, which could be a stress on the liver and kidneys. Dr Dukan says that his diet should not harm somebody who has healthy organs provided they drink plenty of water, but nobody with an existing liver or kidney disease or condition should attempt it without advice from their own physician. In fact, it is wise to talk to your doctor before starting any weight loss program, especially low fat low carb diets.