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How the French Stay Thin

September 9, 2011
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Yoga is pretty difficult, but it becomes close to impossible when there is a 5lbs tumor hanging over my pants. I swore my center of gravity had shifted as I was stumbling and falling all over the place in Wednesday’s class. It was pretty embarrassing frankly since I am no longer a newbie. My body has been fairly unforgiving to me, and with good reason, since I shoved thousands of extra white sugar and flour calories over the vacation week. I tend to gain weight easily when my good eating habits are thrown out the window. It’s typical to me to gain 5lbs in a week of overindulgence (I hit my personal high of + 8lbs during an 8 day trip to Amsterdam last spring). The good news is those come off fairly easily as soon as I get home and get my diet back on track.

The thing that bothers me is that I’ve gained about 10lbs since I ran my half marathon in July. Some might be muscle mass since I’ve significantly increased my exercise with the new marathon training program. But I am not going to kid myself, thinking I’ve gained 10lbs of muscle. I actually don’t think any of it is muscle as long distance runners tend to burn lots of muscle tissue (and fat but not as fast as I acquire it obviously) when they run. Body builders actually avoid distance running like a plague and instead stick to intervals, elliptical and jump rope.

So how did I let my weight run away from me? Well, remember my Intuitive Eating journey where the first stage is to discovering your intuitive eater by giving yourself unconditional permission to eat whatever you want. Well, I followed the rule and I ate, and I ate and I ate – late night munching on peanut butter and graham crackers, sneaking some of Eric’s ice cream, a Vita Muffin here and there, a handful of nuts, an extra bowl of cereal, etc. I stopped thinking about what I was putting in my mouth and gave up counting calories. After few weeks of this experiment (and too many pounds that even my double digit long runs could not burn off) my intuitive eating habits never kicked in (maybe I was missing that DNA marker), and instead I turned into a bottomless pit of high calorie foods.

It’s time to ditch this intuitive eating nonsense idea and find something effective to quickly counteract the damage. While visiting my mom in Toronto, I noticed a Dukan Diet book on her coffee table.

I was instantly drawn to it as I am a nutrition book fanatic and love to experiment with different diets. My mom just purchased the book and hasn’t followed the diet herself, but apparently a bunch of celebrities and super models have been using it to shed baby weight and to get into shape for new roles/photo shoots. Both Kate Middleton and her mom followed the diet before the Royal wedding with Kate’s slim physique generating  quite a bit of controversy. I am not going to describe all the details as there are great sites already explaining to the Dukan Diet. To name a few:

I will summarize the main premise of the diet. Basically there are 4 stages:

Attack stage is where you “shock” your body into losing fat fast by eating unlimited amount of lean animal and low fat dairy proteins, plus you must have 1.5tbsps of oat bran daily. No fruits, no veggies, no hard cheese, no alcohol, no cooking oils, but fat free condiments and spices are allowed so you can make your protein flavorful to keep your taste buds satisfied. Depending on how much weight you need to lose, the attack can last from 2-7 days. In my case, I need to follow the attack phase for 3 days. So here is what my typical Attack day looks like:

Greek Yogurt, ¼ cup unsweetened soy milk, oat bran, chia seeds (this might be bending the diet rules a bit, but I need my chia fix to keep me hydrated during these warm days)

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Egg white, turkey bacon and scallions (which are permitted) omelet. I added some no sugar added ketchup on the side.

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Can of white tuna in water, no salt added mixed with 1tsp of Dijon mustard and Greek yogurt, scallions, a bit of salt and pepper to taste

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Hard boiled egg and 2 turkey breast slices

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Vanilla flavored non-fat Greek Yogurt

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Sirloin top beef roast that I cooked in red wine and spices and some horseradish

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Plain Non-fat Frozen yogurt for dessert

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Cruise stage is next. For this stage you alternate between pure protein days like in the attack stage and protein + non-starch veggies. I have not reached this stage yet, but I am excited to go back to my lunch salads Smile. There are different cadences you can pick. You can alternate every day (which is recommended), or do 5 days of pure protein then 5 days of protein and veggies which is more aggressive (for folks that have more weight to lose), or if you only have a few extra pounds you can go with Monday and Thursday pure protein and on the rest you can have veggies. I am going to start with alternating every day and will see how long I can last before moving to 2 protein days per week. This phase lasts until you reach your goal weight.

The consolidation stage allows your body adjust to its new lower weight. Most diets fail because as soon as you reach your goal, you move into the maintenance mode without giving your body time to ease into it. The body’s natural reaction to dieting is to slow down the calorie expenditure, so you have to rev up your metabolism by slowly increasing your calorie intake. Dukan modifies his diet during this stage to allow unlimited protein and veggies like in the cruise stage, plus:

a. 2 slices of whole wheat bread per day

b. 1 serving of fruit per day (there is a list of approved ones and some to avoid)

c. 40 grams of hard cheese per day

d. 2 complex carb servings per week

e. 1 celebratory meal a week where you can have anything you want but keep it to 1 item (1 starter, 1 main course, 1 dessert, 1 glass of wine, etc.) No seconds allowed.

f. Increase your oat bran to 2tbsps

This stage lasts 5 days for every pound lost. Half way through, you can go up to 2 celebratory meals but they can’t follow each other, so you can’t have two celebratory dinners in a row.

Last stage is stabilization that you will be in for the rest of your life. You can eat whatever you’d like, but you commit to eating 3tbsps of oat bran per day and dedicate at least one day a week as a pure protein day.

After completing my free personal assessment of my “true weight” on the Dukan site, here is my Dukan plan.

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I was first skeptical about the Dukan diet, as it falls under the high protein diet group similar to South Beach and Atkins which have not been very favorable. After reading the book and becoming more familiar with nuances of the Dukan diet, I am more optimistic. I tried South Beach before but I found it very hard to stick to only protein and veggies during Phase 1. My body needs at least one serving of grains per day to get some fiber and good carbs, so I am loving Dukan’s oat bran requirement. I have replaced my Overnight Oats with oat bran in a cup (and it only needs an hour to get ready so I can mix it before my workout and have it ready by the time I get home). I am also a big fan of unlimited fat free yogurt. It’s a great dessert option after lunch and dinner. I’ve completed two out of my 3 protein days and my vacation bulk is almost all gone. It’s amazing how fast it’s been dropping, while I still feel full on all the protein. It might be that I am more determined now since I’ve come back overfed on sweets (and saw a very scary number on my scale), but right now I am feeling very positive about this diet and am excited to follow it through.

[Jane Asks?]: Have you tried a high protein diet? What was your experience like?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2011 8:53 pm

    I’m curious, have you revisited Weight Watchers after they switched to the points plus program which puts a lot more importance on protein and discourages carbs?

    • September 10, 2011 6:41 am

      Sort of. I went back to WW after they announced the new points plug program as I was curious about the changes they made. I followed it for a month, but i did not lose as much weight as I hoped. I think I was overdoing the zero value fruits and veggies by eating 10-12 servings a day. I gave up after a month. It’s less motivating when you are not there 😉

  2. September 10, 2011 6:58 am

    Another great site I found on the Dukan Diet: http://thedukandietsite.com/

  3. September 18, 2011 7:51 am

    Interresting point of view- thanks- I found your web site from a Google search and wasn’t expecting such wonderful enlightenment- Nice job!

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