On Wednesday, US News & World Report published its annual list of best diets, as ranked by a panel of 23 nutrition experts. The panel rated 41 total diets, with established plans like the Mediterranean and DASH diets rising to the top and restrictive diets like keto landing near the bottom.
This year, the diet that fared worst in the expert judging was the Dukan Diet. (Last year, it tied for last place with keto.)
The Dukan Diet, named for its creator Pierre Dukan, calls for a high intake of protein and promises to help with weight loss.
It’s said that some celebrities have adhered to the diet in the past. Back in 2011, for example, rumors swirled that Kate Middleton was following the plan as she prepared to marry Prince William, though Buckingham Palace denied such reports, according to ABC News.
The diet is based on the idea that filling up on protein and limiting carbohydrates (rather than counting calories) will lead to weight loss. It’s claimed that dieters could lose up to 10 pounds in the first week and two to four pounds per week thereafter, according to US News & World Report.
It’s broken into four phases, each of which has many rules. On its website, US News & World Report breaks down each one, but here’s a brief overview:
- The first phase, “Attack,” allows for all-you-can-eat portions but only of certain high-protein foods, including meat, fish, eggs, vegetable protein like tofu, and nonfat dairy.
- The next phase, “Cruise,” adds in non-starchy vegetables like cucumbers, peppers, and greens.
- In “Consolidation,” dieters are allowed a serving of fruit, two slices of whole grain bread, and 1.5 ounces of cheese each day, plus a few weekly servings of starchy foods and “celebration” meals. Once a week, though, a day of reverting to the “pure protein” Attack phase is required.
- Finally, in “Permanent Stabilization,” dieters have more freedom one six days of the week but still partake in a once-weekly day of pure protein.
The expert panel gave the Dukan Diet “dismal ratings in almost every category,” because it is “too restrictive, with lots of rules, and there’s no evidence it works,” according to the write-up in US News & World Report.
“While the restrictive phases are short, they are very restrictive, so don’t underestimate the willpower you’ll need,” the paper’s analysis of the diet added.
Other experts have also recommended against the diet for these reasons. In a post for Healthline published in December, registered dietitian Franziska Spritzler wrote that, though the diet can produce fast weight loss, it can be “difficult to sustain long-term” and “forces you to avoid many healthy foods unnecessarily.”
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