Last updated on April 18th, 2017
On Good Morning America this morning [June 1], Juju Chang referred to the Dukan Diet as “Atkins-like.” Her report was about Dr. Dukan suing for libel another French doctor who had bad-mouthed the diet.
The Atkins people may feel that Chang has libeled them. The Atkins website features a detailed contrast of the Atkins and Dukan Diets, the point of which is that Atkins is balanced and backed by science and Dukan is not. A key criticism leveled in the full-text of the Atkins article is that “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.”
It seems ironic to have Atkins advocates calling a rival diet “unbalanced,” given that the health establishment has often made that charge against the Atkins Diet (and, indeed, against the late Dr. Atkins himself). But irony aside, it is sloppy journalism to refer to the Dukan Diet as “Atkins-like.” Yes, both diets feature phases and both are low-carb, but the Dukan Diet is also low-fat, which the Atkins Diet decidedly is not. The Dukan Diet also gives a major role to oat bran, and the Atkins Diet does not. Finally, the Dukan Diet claims that your weight can be maintained by eating what you want most of the time, but returning to a strict first-phase regimen one day a week, a notion that the Atkins people reject as having “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.”
To me, the comparison of the two diets hinges on their different approaches to fat. As I understand it, Dukan controls fat intake and Atkins mostly allows it, with the exception of trans fats. The health establishment will view the Dukan Diet as having a sounder position on fat intake, but from my personal experience, if you cut carbs and fat both, you probably won’t stay on the diet long enough to do you real good (with “long enough” being defined as “the rest of your life”).
(This article was originally posted on my JimA’s blog on June 1, 2011.)