What You Need To Know About The Most-Searched Diet

Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
If you've never heard of the Dukan Diet, don't worry. We admit we weren't too sure what the deal was either. But, it's now apparently the most-searched diet, according to Yahoo data, and it even counts Pippa Middleton among its followers. So, here's what's up.

The diet, named for its French creator, Pierre Dukan, is broken down into four steps, each with its own set of rules. First comes the super-intense-sounding "Attack" phase, during which followers can indulge in as much pure protein as they'd like for up to 10 days. This includes meats, veggie protein like tofu, and some daily oat bran. You can also have any non-calorie drink.

Then, you head into the "Cruise" phase, which lets you start alternating days of pure protein with days on which you are also allowed to eat non-starchy veggies (such as cucumbers and salad greens) again. You also get a "physical activity prescription" of 30 minutes of walking per day.

Once you've hit your goal weight, you can move on to the "Consolidation" phase, which is designed to help you keep that weight off. At this point, dieters can have all the previously approved protein and veggies, now plus starchy foods like pasta twice a week. This is also when you get to start eating servings of fruit, whole-grain bread, and cheese. But, you've still got to do one pure-protein day each week. Then, finally, your experience is capped off with the "Permanent Stabilization" phase: You can do whatever you want six days a week, but on the seventh day, you must revert to an even more strict version of the Attack phase.

Clearly, the diet is mostly weight loss-focused. But, if you're looking at it for other reasons, there's not much to go on. Most of the evidence behind the diet's health benefits is still up in the air. Although some research suggests eating fewer carbs can be beneficial if you're watching your cholesterol, other research has been either conflicting or inconclusive. Whether or not carb reduction can help with diabetes is also unclear. This is certainly part of why the Dukan Diet ranked near the bottom of U.S. News & World Report's annual diet rankings this year (on par with paleo).

And, although there's probably not a huge problem with cutting out food groups for short periods of time (like in the first Dukan phase), prolonging that imbalance isn't recommended. So, while this diet might sound perfect to some people, we're not so into all those rules and phases — especially given that the actual health benefits are so uncertain. We'll stick with what works for us, thanks.
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