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The Dukan diet and bodybuilding

The Dukan diet and bodybuilding


Nutrition is known to be the most important part of building muscle. You need to fuel your body correctly to achieve better performance and facilitate muscle mass gain. It's up to you to set up a sustainable and effective diet for bodybuilding, so you can progress while staying healthy.

Whether you're a beginner learning to build muscle or an experienced athlete, it's very important to determine your calorie and nutrient requirements, what type of food you should eat, and which you should avoid. This is very important because food will serve as fuel for your workouts and daily activities, and will be used to rebuild your muscles after exercise.

Unfortunately, most people rely on quick fixes instead of a balanced diet.

This diet, very popular in weight-loss circles, caused a major controversy in medical circles at the time. In fact, Dr. Pierre Dukan, the author of this controversial weight-loss method, was permanently disbarred from the medical profession for ethical reasons.

What is the Dukan diet? Is it effective? Is it wise to use this diet when you're building muscle?

What is the Dukan diet ?

The Dukan diet was introduced by French physician Dr Pierre Dukan in the 1970s. Inspired by the ketogenic diet, his method has enjoyed unprecedented success and acceptance worldwide. Published in 14 languages, the popularity of his diet exploded in the 2000s with the book "Je ne sais pas maigrir" ("I don't know how to lose weight"). The book is said to have sold over 30 million copies!

His book has been widely criticized, but his main concern was to help people manage their weight. The idea was to reduce fat and carbohydrate intake to facilitate fat loss.

His weight-loss method is broken down into several phases, the first of which is drastic in that it allows only protein foods. Then, little by little, other foods can be introduced in small quantities. The aim of the diet is to lose a lot of weight quickly.

The 4 phases of the Dukan diet

The Dukan diet can be implemented in four different phases. During the phases, however, certain meals are restricted to specific days.

Phase I: Attack

This is the first stage of the diet, which lasts from 1 to 7 days.
During the attack phase, you should eat as much protein as you like, taking care to limit cooking fats. You can eat lean meat such as beef, fish and seafood, egg whites and low-fat dairy products. The amount of protein you eat depends on how much weight you want to lose.
You can use a small amount of olive oil for frying or light cooking. Oat bran is also permitted, and is an excellent option as it is rich in fibre. It is also advisable to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.

Phase II: Cruising

The cruising phase is the second phase of the Dukan diet and lasts until the desired weight is reached. During this phase, always proteins. You eat everything you ate in the Attack phase. Certain vegetables are added to the diet and eaten in alternation, especially those that are low in carbohydrates. We advise you to opt for green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, cucumbers and so on. Your intake of oat bran will also increase during this phase, to two tablespoons a day.
The cruising phase can begin on the second day of the diet or the eighth day after the end of the first phase.

Phase III: Consolidation

The third phase, the consolidation phase, lasts 10 days per kilo lost. During this phase, you continue to eat all the same foods as in the attack and cruising phases. In other words, you continue to eat protein. You also add a little bread, fruit, cheese, fattier meats, wine and starchy foods (1 to 2 portions per week). The dose of oat bran increases. One or two light bonus meals are also permitted.

Phase IV: Stabilization

The fourth and final phase of the Dukan diet is the stabilization phase. As its name suggests, this phase is designed to maintain your weight and is of indefinite duration. While following the stabilization phase, you must eat all the foods you ate during the consolidation phase. You can relax this rule once you've reached a stable weight. In this phase, you should follow a pure protein diet every Thursday and eat around 3 tablespoons of oat bran. You should also exercise for at least 20 minutes a day. This means a return to a normal diet, except on Thursdays.

Does the Dukan diet work ?

The Dukan diet is very similar to a ketogenic diet. By emphasizing the consumption of proteins and fats, and eliminating carbohydrates, it enables rapid weight loss right from the first phase. This radical change from the classic carbohydrate-intensive diet is a real shock to the body.

It will first turn to glycogen (carbohydrate) stores for energy. Then, it will switch from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat. This will lead to weight loss and increase ketone levels in the body, to a state known as "ketosis". This is a state in which the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates as its main fuel source.

During the initial, highly restrictive phase, you can expect to lose weight quickly, which is very motivating. The diet is particularly appealing to those who don't like counting calories and prefer dietary recommendations: permitted foods VS forbidden foods. By consuming protein-rich foods ad libitum and eliminating carbohydrates from your diet, you feel full, which helps reduce your appetite. The hunger-suppressing effect of protein and the fact that you can eat as much or as little as you like makes dieting less frustrating.

The stabilization phase - the last of the 4 phases - is the most delicate. Indeed, it's difficult to reintroduce a wider selection of foods, without regaining weight, and many followers find it hard to stick to the dedicated weekly "protein day".

There is little scientific evidence that the Dukan diet is effective and sustainable over the long term, so although you can expect to lose weight in the very strict initial phases of the diet, most go on to regain the weight they originally lost. What's more, following a high-protein diet over the long term can pose risks to kidney, liver, bone and cardiovascular health.

More importantly, the diet ignores key principles of healthy eating, including the importance of fruits and vegetables, the benefits of whole grains and fiber, and the health benefits gained by choosing from a variety of food groups. For these reasons, the diet is likely to be nutritionally unbalanced.

During a restrictive low-carb diet, people sometimes experience these symptoms:

- Lack of energy, fatigue and dizziness (low carbohydrate levels)

- Lassitude, because the regime seems monotonous and tiresome

- Bad breath and dry mouth

- Constipation and intestinal problems (low fiber levels)

- Nutritional deficiencies due to limited food choice.

- Subsequent weight gain.

Can you follow the Dukan diet if you're a bodybuilder ?

In practice, the Dukan diet is a combination of a low-calorie, high-protein diet that begins in an extreme way right from the start.

In general, bodybuilders proceed in the opposite way, gradually reducing their calorie intake while increasing their protein intake. The protocol lasts several weeks and resembles a protein diet that ends with a special period, the "dry" period, the aim of which is to achieve a honed or even skinned (degreased) physique. In short, the aim is to lose fat while keeping as much muscle as possible, not just to lose weight.

What's more, it's very important for bodybuilders to have enough energy to keep up with their weight training sessions, which, let's face it, have nothing to do with a standard sporting activity.

So, can the Dukan diet be used by bodybuilders? I'd say no, in most cases. It's better to opt for a healthy, balanced diet, low in calories and high in protein, but rich in vegetables, fiber, good fats, quality carbohydrates (low GI), vitamins and minerals. Bear in mind that your body can only function properly if it has everything it needs to survive.

On the other hand, if you're seriously overweight - or obese - and just starting out in bodybuilding, you may want to try the Dukan diet. You'll get fast, motivating results. But if you're in any other situation, follow a healthy, balanced diet, gain muscle and lose fat, then finish off with a trimmer to achieve excellence.

AuthorAlexandre CARPENTIER

Bodybuilding Champion N.A.C 2012

Alexandre shares his bodybuilding experience with MegaGear blog readers

Posted in: Sports nutrition