Jacqueline Marcus – The Dukan Diet

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Jonathan: Hey everyone, Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. I’m excited about today’s show, because this is an area that I am not familiar with. I know lots and lots of people are familiar with this, but I’m not. If you’re not, you’re going to become familiar with it today, which is great, because it’s always great to be informed. We are privileged and honored to be joined by a key member of the Dukan diet team, Jacqueline B. Marcus.

She is a registered dietician, she’s been all over the world speaking and writing, she’s the author of Culinary Nutrition: The Science and Practice of Healthy Cooking and she is a weight loss and weight management expert that works deeply with the core Dukan diet team, so who better to come and tell us about this incredibly popular and pretty new approach to weight loss and weight management, which is the Dukan diet. Jacqueline, welcome to the show.

Jacqueline: Thanks, Jonathan. I am really excited to be here today.

Jonathan: Jacqueline, as I mentioned in the introduction, let’s – for the people in the world who live under a rock like me and haven’t heard of the Dukan diet, because it is obviously very popular, can you just give us the quick introduction to what it is and why it exists? Why it was created.

Jacqueline: The Dukan diet is hardly a fad diet. It has been around for about forty years. When Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French physician, created it and has monitored literally millions of people in his practice and around the world. It was introduced into the United States in about 2011 and since that time numbers of people, hundreds if not thousands, have continued to join the diet. What’s so appealing to me as a weight loss and weight management professional is that it provides an integrated approach to weight loss and weight management.

Throughout my career, I’ve experienced and I have recommended different types of dietary approaches. Nutritional, exercise, fluids, supplements, counseling, behavior modification, but there always seemed to be something missing. It didn’t seem to be an integrated approach. It had one or two components, but maybe not an entirely integrated functional approach. What appeals to me so much about the Dukan diet is it’s very personalized, it’s simple, it’s realistic and it’s achievable.

It helps a person lose weight immediately, consistently and then long term. It helps a person keep that weight off for life once they reach their true weight for life.

Jonathan: Jacqueline, very, very exciting and very promising. Can you take us through what does one do, and what is the underlying – certainly it’s amazingly compelling that so many millions of people have achieved dramatic results. Let’s talk about what they do to achieve those results, and let’s talk about why they’re getting those results.

Jacqueline: What I love about the diet, and this is not a word that I use easily, is that a lot of the science behind it, Jonathan, the science that you and I and our listeners know so well has been digested by the Dukan program and portrayed in a very palatable, useful way. So these are the components of the diet, and the science or the biochemistry of the diet is left up to the professionals who have created it and does not require “a science background” to implement it.

So there are four phases to the actual diet. The attack phase and the cruise phase help people lose weight and obtain their true weight for life. The consolidation phase, which is phrase three, I love the term of it. My use of the word love very indiscriminately because when foods are introduced into a diet plan, it’s very easy to have rebound weight. Very easy for weight to sneak up again. The consolidation phase adds foods and beverages into the diet but has a systemized plan for doing it.

Then the last phase, the stabilization phase, gives members a lifetime plan for keeping that true weight for life. This is what’s been missing from so many diet programs is “Okay, we’ll get some quick weight off of you, and then bye-bye, you’re on your own.” What the beauty is of this diet is beyond these four phases, it has other components that are really very instrumental in helping this diet work. Let’s begin with the food and the beverages that are in this diet.

The diet is based on pure protein and low-fat protein, and these include non-fat dairy foods. It also has very vitamin and mineral rich vegetables in it. It has soluble fiber in the manner of oat bran. It has an exercise component which is walking and taking the stairs. Furthermore, there are weight bearing exercises and flexibility exercises that also can be done throughout the program as well. It includes water which is a very important component of any diet, particularly a higher protein diet with six to eight glasses of water a day.

What is so rich and so robust about this diet which distinguishes it from many others is that there is an online counseling program. Every day its members would enter their current weight, what type of activity that they have done, their motivation and a number of other elements, and boom, the next day there is a report back to them by a diet counselor who is guiding them along the way. In addition to that, there are chat rooms, forums, there is one-on-one telephone calls if somebody might need that. There’s also a library of weight control resources, and there’s many exercise videos.

What I love, considering I just wrote this book on healthy cooking, is that there are hundreds of recipes and menus that people can access. They’re beautiful, they’re flavorful and they’re right at someone’s fingertips. There’s also a website, www.dukandiet.com, and this is where the actual online counseling takes place and all of these rich resources are available.

Jonathan: Jacqueline, it sounds like there is a myriad of things an individual can do once they decide to give the Dukan diet a shot in order to get support. I want to back up and I want to talk a little about – for example, there is lots of online resources, and there is myriad diet programs that have been successful for many people. I know what a lot of the listeners wonder about is what is the – for example, with the low-carbohydrate, Atkins-type diet, the underlying science is well, this helps you to reregulate insulin.

If you don’t have insulin, it causes your body to be less likely to store fat. With a vegan diet, meat causes cancer, so don’t eat meat and you won’t get cancer. Like there is this underlying scientific “Do this because science says this.” What is that scientific motivation behind the deep integration of protein, the deep integration of fibrous vegetables, and for example, note worthily, the omission of fats? We haven’t heard much about the fat intake.

Jacqueline: Let’s talk about the benefit of a high protein diet, especially in the start of the diet program. When I see patients and they come to me with the interest in losing weight, my inclination as a dietician is to say, “Well, I can give you a diet where you can have one half pound to one pound, or maybe for some of the people with more weight to lose, two pounds of weight loss a week.” If somebody is very motivated and very disciplined, they may do that, and after a week, they may lose that amount.

After two weeks, maybe it would be duplicated, or maybe it would slow down, especially after three weeks because after three weeks on a diet, most diets, there is going to be some stabilization, and that’s because the cells are literally getting adjusted to a new plan. It’s as though they have been stubborn, if you will, for a long period of time, they’re shook up a bit by the new protocol, and they hold on to whatever they are holding on to, be it fat or water.

So at around three weeks, there needs to be even harder work so that people can get over this hump. Fast forward to the Dukan diet approach, which is protein foods for the first say two to seven days, which will induce a three to seven pound loss depending upon the size of the individual. Then it switches over, and that phase is the attack phase, which I love again the name of that phase, because it really attacks the issues. When people make up their mind to lose weight, they want to see a significant weight loss. Dr. Dukan uses the words ketones and ketosis throughout the book.

We know, Jonathan, you and I and your various listeners, that the process of ketosis actually utilizes body fat and breaks it down, and the protein preserves the muscle tissue. The brain is muscle, your heart is muscle, so you want to keep your muscle tissue in good stead, and particularly this is where the mitochondria or those little engines throughout your body that burn calories. That is how the diet starts. Then it switches over in the cruise phase, and the weight loss is about one pound for every three days. In that phase, people are working towards their true weight, which I’d like to get back to in a second.

What happens is then you alternate a pure protein day with a vegetable day, so you’re cranking up the metabolism again by making switches in it. Some people might use the word “tricking” the metabolism. I don’t use trick. I say that there’s a whole slew of approaches that the Dukan diet uses to try to work with maybe sleepy or staved metabolism to continue to dip into peoples’ fat stores to help them to break down. During this process, it’s critical to have that six to eight cups of water a day for a couple of reasons. It’s required for protein metabolism and also for the excretion of the byproducts of metabolism.

Something that we haven’t focused on is oat bran, and this is a very component of the program in each of phases: attack, cruise, consolidation and stabilization. Oat bran is soluble fiber, it provides a feeling of fullness or satiety, it helps to push food through so it can be eliminated, and over the course of time, it decreases about five percent of total calories. It also helps to lower cholesterol, and it helps to stabilize blood sugar. In the beginning of the diet, in the attack and cruise phase, one and a half tablespoons of oat bran is recommended daily. In consolidation, it goes up to two, and in stabilization, three.

Before your listeners respond to what seemingly is a lot of oat bran, it’s three tablespoons, or it’s one and a half to two tablespoons. Take out a soup spoon, folks, and take a look at it. It’s really not a lot of oat bran in the whole scheme of things, and it has all of these wonderful benefits of it. The reason that it increases during consolidation and stabilization is as one is introducing new foods, and in consolidation, one gets to have a serving of fruit; two slices of 100 percent whole grain bread and a serving of cheese daily; two starchy foods during the week; a primarily whole grain and legume; and two celebration meals a week, which include an appetizer, an entrée, a dessert and a glass of wine if somebody would want it.

This is slowly introducing more carbohydrate into the diet. The benefit of increasing oat bran is that it’s going to balance the new foods that are introduced and try to prevent this weight slide back. It’s a very intricate but really fine system that Dr. Dukan has created to balance new foods and favorite foods, or preferred foods before the diet, back into the diet. Once somebody is in stabilization, they’re eating the way that they pretty much normally did before the diet. It’s preferred, according to Dr. Dukan, that they maintain a consolidation way of eating. On Thursdays, both in consolidation and stabilization, he encourages a pure protein Thursday.

Once again, balancing that introduction of new carbohydrates back into the diet and then stabilization, walking. Walking throughout the diet, twenty minutes during attack and cruise, twenty-five minutes during consolidation, thirty minutes during stabilization, taking the stairs whenever possible.

Jonathan: Jacqueline, this is extremely helpful. Thank you so much for laying this out and for the more technical listeners out there, my impression based on our conversation here for the past 15 – 20 minutes is that Dukan diet is seeking to be a very friendly interface for a protein sparing modified fast. It seems like early in the diet, it’s essentially a fast where you are insuring you are taking in plenty of proteins so that you don’t waste away the muscle tissue as well as essential fiber and essential vitamins and minerals from vegetables.

Then as you graduate and you are in the long term phase of the diet, one day a week or so there is again another protein sparing modified fast. Instead of just saying don’t eat for a day, it’s eat just protein for a day so that you don’t waste away all of your muscle tissue for that day. Obviously that’s not going to be 100 percent correct, but is my brain on the right track?

Jacqueline: Only that I’m a wordsmith, and there are words that I love which I told you, which happen to be associated with the diet, and fast bothers me. On those protein days, one can have unlimited amounts of protein, so I look at it in a real positive way. It’s not fasting or restriction; there’s unlimited amount of food that protects the body. I think I would just tweak what you said a little bit. Also I want to remind your listeners that those early days are very early, meaning that very quick, there’s just two to seven on it.

In the whole scheme of how long somebody’s been over fat, if you will, it’s a very, very short time to be on a program of this where it’s protein. Some diets, as you refer, actually have more unrestricted time in that kind of plan. It’s restricted, it’s only two to seven days, and it’s not fasting.

Jonathan: Okay, okay, so it’s fasting as identified or defined as not consuming food. Certainly it sounds like it’s not that, because we are consuming purely protein. It sounds like it is a pure 100 percent protein diet for a short period of time in order to kickstart the metabolism in a sense and to also – we know, you and I know, and a lot of the listeners from our studies that protein is the most satiating of the macronutrients, so eating 1,000 calories of protein will satisfy someone in a way that 1,000 calories of carbohydrate, 1,000 calories of fat just cannot.

That’s unambiguous in the data. It sounds like the Dukan diet leverages the satiating effects and the thermogenic effects and the muscle protein sparing effects of protein very, very heavily, while also combining that with fiber and vegetables to ensure that you are getting essential vitamins, minerals, things like that. Is that —

Jacqueline: Let me bring back another point that you raised that I didn’t address is that it is not a high fat protein. It’s low fat protein, so it does address fat in the diet and maintains that the proteins should be as lean as possible. I want to get back to true weight for life, and I mentioned that earlier that I would like to get back to it. That is so many times when people start a weight loss diet, they say, “Well, I want to be X amount of weight, and I weighed this when I was married.” Or “I want to be this weight because I was a college athlete, and this is what I weight, and I am going to a wedding next month or I have a big event, and I have one month to do it, and this is what I want to weigh.”

That’s a very unrealistic weight, and that sets up people for failure. The Dukan diet, through a very sophisticated online program that a member completes, is able to assist its members to come up with a true weight for life that they can stabilize at and manage for the rest of their lives. This is much healthier, because most people set themselves up for failure when they create unrealistic weight goals.

Jonathan: Gotcha, gotcha. So what’s next for the Dukan diet with all of the resources that are already available? What else is there to do?

Jacqueline: I want to direct people to the website again, www.dukandiet.com, where there are all these resources that I told you about and this terrific online counseling which I liken to getting a present every morning. Because it’s very self-disciplined, you fill it out in the privacy of your home or office, and the next morning there is a very prescribed plan based upon what you did the following day. I think that this is a beautiful system, so I want to direct people to the website for that. Plus there are two Dukan diet books: One is The DUKAN Diet itself, and the other is the DUKAN Diet Cookbook.

Jonathan: Excellent, excellent, excellent. Jacqueline B. Marcus, thank you so much for joining us today and helping us to understand what the Dukan diet is, a bit of the success that underlies it in terms of the number of people it’s helped and the science that it is seeking to manifest and make accessible for people. It’s much, much appreciated. Folks, if you want to again learn more about the Dukan diet, if maybe you have heard about it, check it out at dukandiet.com. Jacqueline, thank you again for joining us today.

Jacqueline: Thank you, Jonathan, it’s been a real pleasure.

Jonathan: Listeners, I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did, and please remember, this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. Chat with you soon.

[Audio Ends 23:42]

Jonathan: Wait, wait don’t stop listening yet.

Carrie: You can get fabulous free SANE recipes over at carriebrown.com.

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