Dukan Diet: What You Need to Know

If you like eating a lot of protein, the Dukan Diet could work for you. But there are some drawbacks.

Quick … what weight-loss secret does Prince William's new bride Kate Middleton, star quarterback Tom Brady's supermodel wife Giselle Bundchen, and American Idol host and singer Jennifer Lopez all share? The answer is the Dukan Diet, which arrived on American shores in the spring of 2011 promising weight loss faster than you can say "Voila!" And it was met with mixed reviews almost as quickly.

The diet is named after Dr. Pierre Dukan, a former French neurologist who first began marketing the plan more than a decade ago. It caught on in Europe like wildfire. In the United States, it is being called the "French Atkins Diet" in some circles, referring to Dr. Robert Atkins' high-protein, low-carb weight-loss plan program popularized in the 1970s. It advertises rapid and considerable weight loss, which is the program's biggest, and most controversial, selling point.

However, the plan has its critics, both in the United States and abroad, and even in Dukan's home country. According to an MSNBC report, France's National Agency for Food, Environmental and Work Health Safety listed the Dukan Diet as one of 15 diets with potential risk, and the British Dietetic Association named it among the five worst diets of 2011 [source: Raymond].

"This is just another one of those diets invented by a charismatic individual who makes a lot of promises and has loads of testimonials but is not based on any scientific data whatsoever," said Frank Sacks of Harvard's School of Public Health and the American Heart Association, told The New York Times [source: Sciolino].

How does the Dukan Diet work?