The Dukan Diet involves restricting carbohydrate consumption while eating foods high in protein. People with diabetes can benefit, as a low-carb diet has been shown to improve control of blood glucose levels.

What is the Dukan Diet?

The diet was developed by French general practitioner and nutritionist Pierre Dukan in 2000. The theory is that limiting carb intake makes your body burn more fat.

The Dukan Diet has four phases to it, with people expected to lose between seven and ten pounds in the first five days.

  • Phase One – “Attack” – (1-10 days): People eat however much protein they want, which can be seasoned with condiments, but not with fat or carbohydrate. 1.5 tablespoons of oatmeal can be eaten per day, as can calorie-free drinks
  • Phase Two – “Cruise” – (Many months): An extra-half tablespoon of oat bran can be eaten every day. Otherwise protein consumption is alternated with unlimited non-starchy vegetables, which can be eaten raw, steamed or in soups and stews
  • Phase Three – “Consolidation” – (Starts when you hit target weight): Vegetables can be eaten every day, as well as one portion of fruit, two slices of whole-grain bread and one extra serving of carbs per week
  • Phase Four – “Stabilization” – (Ongoing): You can return to eating what you want, but one day a week must be spent following the all-protein rules from Phase One.

Exercise

A daily 20-minute walk should also accompany each of these stages, as the Dukan Diet stipulates regular exercise.

Is the Dukan Diet recommended for people with diabetes?

A low-carb diet can improve blood glucose levels and aid weight loss in people with diabetes, while there can also be benefits for heart health.

There are a few things to be considered for people with diabetes contemplating taking on the Dukan Diet, including:

  • Cutting out carbohydrate so strictly could have implications on your medication doses. For insulin takers, you may face a heightened risk of hypoglycemia
  • The diet is not suitable for people with people with high cholesterol, kidney damage and gout. These are conditions all commonly linked with diabetes
  • The latter stages of the diet advocate more carbohydrate intake, which could lead to changes in your blood glucose levels and diabetes management

You should consult your health team before embarking on the Dukan Diet, or any diet that involves major changes to your current food intake. Additionally, your dietitian can help you adopt the diet to suit your own medical requirements.

What can I eat on the Dukan diet?

The emphasis of the Dukan diet is to eat a lot of fish, poultry and reduced-fat dairy products. Otherwise, the list of foods that can be eaten include:

  • Lean meats and fish – Lean beef and ham, turkey, chicken breast, fish and seafood
  • Dairy products – low-fat cottage cheese and yoghurt, skimmed milk, egg whites
  • Low-calorie drinks – tea, coffee, diet soda. One glass of wine can be had per day during the consolidation and stabilization phases
  • Sauces – Sugar-free ketchup and mustard
  • Vegetables – green vegetables and onions
  • Sweeteners – such as stevia
  • Herbs and spices
  • Tofu
  • Oat bran
  • Sugar-free chewing gum
  • Whole grains

It is important to note that there aren’t many carbs included on the approved foods list of this diet, which may restrict your choices when shopping.

Does the Dukan Diet impact other dietary choices or requirements?

The Dukan Diet may affect any dietary requirements that you have, and you should consider these before taking on the diet.

Vegetarian/Vegan diet: Lean meat, tofu, poultry, fish and fat-free dairy food are suitable for vegetarians, but beans, nuts and lentils are not on the allowed list of foods.

Low-fat diet: A low-fat diet should be easy to stick to due to foods such as protein, vegetables and lean meats being allowed.

Gluten-free: The early phases suit a gluten-free diet, but you would need to pay close attention to food labels when allowed to eat more diversely in the latter phases.

What are the advantages of the Dukan Diet?

  • There’s no need to count calories
  • Defined meal plans and recipes can make shopping easier
  • Fast weight loss is reported
  • Adherence to the diet is enhanced by progressing through the phases

What are the disadvantages of the Dukan Diet?

  • Restrictions of the diet can make it boring
  • An immediate elimination of carbs can cause tiredness and mood swings, while also being hard to stick to
  • You’ll miss out on certain vitamins by restricting particular foods
  • You may experience bad breath, constipation and headaches after eating high protein