Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to the Dukan diet in eight categories by nutritionists, specialists in diabetes and heart disease, and other diet experts on a ratings panel assembled by U.S. News. (See our Best Diets methodology.) The Dukan diet came out at or near the bottom in nearly every category and tied with the Paleo diet as dead last overall. While the experts acknowledged that Dukan is fairly likely to help with short-term weight loss—which is true of most diets—they were sharply critical of its nutritional completeness, how easy it is to follow, its ability to prevent or control diabetes and heart disease, and even its safety. One panelist called the diet “ill-advised.”
Short-Term Weight Loss
As a plan for quick weight loss, experts found the diet moderately effective. It pulled in its highest score in this category—3.1 out of 5 stars, slightly below the group average. But panelists were skeptical of claims that you’ll lose up to 10 pounds within the first week and continue at a clip of two to four pounds a week.
Long-Term Weight Loss
“Long term” in diet research generally means at least two years. Panelists considered the Dukan diet to be “minimally effective” at keeping pounds off for that long. The plan has too many rules and is too restrictive to be sustainable, as reflected in its 2-star rating. However, no diets earned better than 3.5 stars in this category.
Easy to Follow
This was the diet’s weakest point with our experts, who ranked Dukan the second-most difficult diet to follow. Its long list of rules and severely restrictive phases make it tough to sustain. There are “so many rules it might just be better to give up on eating,” one panelist commented.
Experts couldn’t get past the fact that Dukan bans entire food groups, namely grains and fruit, which might put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies. “It is opposite the recommendations for a healthy diet,” one panelist said. The plan’s 1.9 stars for nutritional completeness was more than a full star lower than the average for all 29 diets.
Dukan scored 2.3 stars for safety, well below the group average of 3.7 stars. It ranked one of the poorest performers in the experts’ evaluation of possible health risks due to its incomplete nutrition profile and lack of long-term safety data.
Of all 29 diets, experts put Dukan dead last. A lack of research into its effectiveness as a regimen for preventing or controlling diabetes gave panelists little option than to hand out a “minimally effective” rating of 2 stars.
For Heart Health
Experts had even less confidence in the diet’s ability to prevent or manage cardiovascular disease than they did in diabetes. They placed it last in this category. While the overall average was 3.2 stars, Dukan only earned 1.7.
Last updated by Kurtis Hiatt | January 07, 2013
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