Lose Weight Like Kate (maybe not...)

Everything's all "Wills & Kate" right now and I've just about had enough of it, to tell you the truth.  I don't pay much attention.  I considered getting out of bed an hour early (That's right, 3 a.m. on a Friday morning would only be ONE HOUR earlier than my scheduled wake-up time... consider that before you decide to leave your 9-to-5 for a career in the glamourous world of fitness!) to watch the wedding until one of our lovely Belly Bootcamp mommies pointed out to me that it will be broadcast over. and over. and over.  So I think I'll take that extra hour of sleep. One bit of Kate Middleton news that has caught my ear is her pre-wedding weight loss on the new Dukan Diet. The Dukan Diet is a more modern interpretation of low-carb, high-protein diets of yore.  Dukan is French, which lends an air of sophistication no Atkins bacon-and-butter meal plan could ever hope to achieve.  And now Kate and her mother are on the Dukan diet to slim down before the Big Day.

On Dukan, you move through 4 phases to achieve your weight loss and maintenance goals (sounds suspiciously like Atkins, South Beach and the like to me...):

  • Phase 1: Attack. Eat nothing but lean protein, as much as you want, for 1-10 days.  No legumes, vegetables, fruit, dairy or grains.
  • Phase 2: Cruise. Add non-starchy vegetables to your diet and alternate days of eating only lean protein and days of eating lean protein plus accepted vegetables.  This phase lasts as long as it takes you to achieve your desired weight.  Sounds like the world's worst cruise.
  • Phase 3: Consolidation. Begin adding very small carbohydrate portions to your diet and enjoy one serving of a favourite food of any type, twice per week (no second helpings allowed!).  To wean off the diet, you must stay in this phase 5 days for every pound lost.
  • Phase 4: Stabilization. Eat as you like but try to limit carbohydrates to 2 servings per day, and consume nothing but lean protein 1 day each week.  A "cheat meal" of your choice is allowed twice per week.  You must also consume 3 tablespoons of oat bran every day for the rest of your life and you must always take the stairs - never an elevator or escalator.

Let me tell you here, kids, if oat bran + a set or two of stairs per day was enough to keep the body fit, I'd be out of a job.

Here's what respected Toronto dietitian Rosie Schwartz has to say about Dukan:

At first glance, Dukan may appear to be healthier than previous low-carb diets given that it doesn't overtly push the Atkins' philosophy of eating all the bacon, butter and saturated fat-laden foods you want. Dukan recommends only lean choices, which would suggest that your fat counts - saturated fat in particular - will be in a reasonable range. The problem is, if you consume unlimited quantities of these foods, which the diet allows, your fat intake quickly climbs (as does the amount of animal protein you're consuming - though animal protein can be a boon for weight loss, in excess it, too, can take a toll on your health).

Protein is good for you.  It supplies long-lasting energy that carbohydrates just can't do.  It provides the amino acids that allow us to build muscle.  It keeps us full.  But it does not a diet make.  Excessively high-protein diets can cause undue stress on the kidneys, plus the fat content of such a diet puts you at a much higher risk for heart disease.  New research even points to a greater risk of type-2 diabetes on a low-carb regime, contrary to popular belief that carbohydrates are a diabetic's worst nightmare.  Not to mention that low-carb dieters are notoriously unsuccessful at keeping the weight off when their strict meal plan becomes impossible to maintain.

Balance is where it's at, people. We are omnivores.  I'm just going to come out and say it.  I don't think vegetarianism or veganism is natural for the human body, and I don't think consuming 75% of your calories from fat and protein is natural, either.  You can call it Atkins, South Beach, Dukan, Paleo, or whatever you like.  If you're eliminating entire food groups from your diet, you're treading the line of food obsession and going against everything we know about nutrition.