Atkins News

Dukan Diet, where is the science?

DENVER, CO. (March 22, 2011) – A spate of recent media coverage on the new Dukan Diet positions it as inspired by or a variation of the Atkins Diet™. But Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., wants you to know there is no legitimate comparison between the two approaches.

Where is the Science?
Atkins Nutritionals is aware of no science nor clinical research that supports the claims made for the Dukan Diet. Absolutely no research has been done on the diet to substantiate its claims. In fact, the British Dietetic Association branded the Dukan Diet one of the five worst diets of 2011. Contrast this to the over 60 peer-reviewed scientific studies supporting the Atkins low-carb eating approach.

“As a scientist who keeps up with the literature, I am not aware of any studies that have been published about the Dukan Diet,” said Dr. Eric Westman, coauthor of The New Atkins for a New You.  “Dr. Dukan is in the old paradigm of ‘dietary fats must always be unhealthy,’ whereas the Atkins Lifestyle was developed from a clinical practice that treated obesity, diabetes and other metabolic problems for over 30 years and then repeatedly tested in clinical trials with excellent results.”;

In addition, over 40 million copies of books on the Atkins Diet have been published worldwide, including the recent The New Atkins for a New You, which has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 26 weeks.

Nothing to Eat
In the Dukan Diet, followers in its first phase eat only low-fat protein and virtually no carbohydrates. Eliminating carbs, reducing fat, and relying solely on protein for the body to use for energy is extremely inefficient and starves the body of essential nutrients. An excerpt from The New Atkins for a New You states “natural fats are the very thing you need to get your metabolism tuned to the right mix of fuels and sustain your energy level. Fat is the essential nutrient that makes low carb safe and effective.”In other words on the Dukan Diet, “you’re not putting the right mix of fuel into the engine,” said Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc., VP of Nutrition and Education at Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. “Protein can’t do the job alone. The tag team of protein and fat keeps you from feeling hungry and avoids the negative impact of excessive protein.” In Atkins, while you’re reducing your intake of simple carbs, you’re still getting the other macronutrients the body needs: complex carbs such as vegetables, adequate but not excessive protein plus adequate healthy fats.”

In addition, as any health care practitioner or concerned mother will tell you, vegetables are inherent to good health. In contrast to Dukan, in the two-week Induction phase of Atkins, people eat a minimum of five servings of low-glycemic vegetables. In later phases, even more vegetables are added to the diet.

Fat Burning
The Dukan Diet argues that to be successful in weight maintenance you can “shock your body” into fat burning by reverting to its stringent first phase guidelines one day a week. This has absolutely no basis in physiology. It takes three or four days for the body to shift from a glucose (carb-burning) metabolism to a primarily fat-burning one. By returning to a low-fat, higher-carbohydrate diet, a person will likely never sustain fat burning. On the other hand, Atkins followers are encouraged to find their own personal carb tolerance level which consistently keeps their body in the fat-burning metabolic state to lose and maintain weight loss.

“Long-term success on a carbohydrate-restricted diet requires more than a casual approach and the Dukan Diet falls short,” said Dr. Jeff Volek, associate professor at the University of Connecticut and coauthor of The New Atkins for a New You.  “Dr. Dukan’s approach ignores the well-documented fact that people vary in their ability to metabolize carbohydrates and that when carbohydrate intake is low increasing fat intake has an important role in providing fuel, flavor and functional satiety.”

“While the Dukan Diet and Atkins both share a low-carb focus, the similarities end there,” said Colette Heimowitz. “Nutritionally sound, time-tested and scientifically validated, the Atkins Nutritional Approach is a safe and effective way to lose and manage weight.”