Diets like the Atkins, which cut carbs in favor of protein, were once all the rage. Nowadays, for weight loss, experts favor balanced and natural diets with a focus on portion control. But the Dukan Diet, originating in Europe, has restarted the high protein/low carb trend.
Developed by Dr. Pierre Dukan, the Dukan Diet is a four-step program whose goal is rapid and sustained weight loss. It begins by eliminating carbs for five days and consuming lean meat. Step two also features high protein intake but adds vegetables. The third step begins to reintroduce carbs like potatoes, pasta and whole grain bread. This phase lasts five days for each pound of weight lost—for example, 50 days for 10 pounds of weight lost. The fourth and final step is about maintenance. In this phase, Dukan suggests consuming only protein one day per week to prevent weight gain.
Although the Dukan Diet is effective for losing weight, it's not the best approach for athletes looking to drop a few pounds. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for performance. Eliminating them will reduce workout quality and game performance. It may also result in a breakdown of muscle protein, which reverses the effects of hours spent in the weight room.
Athletes who want to lose weight should focus on shedding fat, while also gaining or maintaining lean muscle. This can be accomplished by increasing the intensity of your training program—adding elements like circuits, intervals and sprints to keep your heart rate elevated for extended periods of time. What you eat is equally important. Your muscles need fuel, so don't pare down your calorie intake too much—trim only around 500 to 1,000 calories per day. Stay away from fatty foods and eat nutrient-dense meals, such as salads and lean meats [fish, chicken breast and pork].
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