The Dukan Diet: An Adventure in Croatian Cuisine?

Love Mediterranean food but afraid it will derail your diet? Learn how Croatian meals support the principles of the ever so popular Dukan Diet.

Croatians love meat and it is quite literally the center of every meal. Having now been a part of my husband’s Croatian family and this meat-centric way of eating for over ten years, I was happy to see that Dr. Pierre Dukan’s diet plan supports many of the key principals that Croatians have unapologetically embraced for centuries.

Let me give you an example. When my husband and I visit his family in Croatia, this is what a typical day of eating looks like. Breakfast is small, a cup of freshly brewed kava (coffee) and a piece of borek, (a popular flaky bread baked with sausage and cheese inside) and then it’s off to the beach before the midday sun peaks.

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Like clockwork, beachgoers from my husband’s village start wandering off for rucak (lunch) at around 11:30 am, and this is no light occasion. Every traditional household gathers their family for a good two hours to sit and enjoy lamb, goat, pig, and fresh fish caught that morning, along with a few sides. Did I mention that the meat that’s served isn’t just a few cuts; it is a giant platter of assorted pieces fresh from the spit or roasted in the oven.

Dinner is less of an event, but we enjoy grilled cevapi which is a kind of “sausage” that Croatians are famous for, made of beef and pork. They pair this with fresh fish and a whole goat roasting over an open fire to snack on for later in the evening. This is how a traditional day of eating pans out with very little variety.

I know all of that may sound indulgent but contrary to what you may think, my husband and I lost at least 10 pounds during a 14-day visit and yet we are able to enjoy delicious food with no thought to calorie intake. The amount of meat being consumed is likely five times the amount we consume back home in New York, and yet the weight falls off both of us with no discrimination. Considering the glaring similarities and nutritional information founded by Dr. Dukan, showing that high protein and vegetables will help you shed the pounds and keep them off for good (if done right), I won’t be backing away from animal proteins anytime soon. To give you a better sense of why my husband and I were able to shed pounds with little to no effort while still consuming delicious meats, here’s Dr. Dukan in his own words, providing us with a glimpse into the science behind his theories and how his diet plan works.

We are designed to eat meat, fish, and poultry, as far as both our metabolism and psychology are concerned. Yes, it is possible to live without hunting and without eating meat, but by doing so we give up a part of what our nature expects, and we lessen the emotional effect our body is programmed to produce when we give it what it expects. What I am saying to you here may seem trivial, but it is absolutely crucial, as the purpose of any living creature, whether animal or human, is to live in such a way that what it does fits with why it has been made that way.

Of all the food categories, the digestion of proteins is the most time consuming. It takes over three hours to break down and assimilate proteins. The reason for this is simple: protein molecules are long chains with well-soldered links, and to break down their resistance requires the combination of good chewing and the simultaneous attack of various gastric, pancreatic, and biliary juices.

This long process of calorie extraction taxes the system; it has been calculated that to obtain 100 calories from a protein food, the system must use 30 calories. We can say that the specific dynamic action of proteins is 30 percent, while it is only 12 percent for fats and just 7 percent for carbohydrates.

What we should remember from this is that when someone wanting to lose weight consumes meat, fish, or nonfat yogurt, the person has to work hard to simply digest and assimilate the food, and the calories they use doing this reduces the energy absorbed from the meal. This really works in favor of anyone wanting to lose weight. What is more, this slow rate of digestion and assimilation delays the process of emptying the stomach and increases our sense of “feeling full” and our sense of satisfaction.

The Dukan Diet is based on the remarkable effectiveness of consuming pure proteins, and it includes a whole system of foolproof instructions to channel and make the most of the psychology of the person wanting to lose weight. In designing this diet, I realized that a one-step plan was not adequate for such a complex task. I, therefore, devised a program with four successive diet phases, one following the other, a complete and coherent system that never, ever leaves the person wanting to lose weight to face temptation and failure alone.

Phase One: Attack

Once dieters have calculated their True Weight, a reasonable and healthy weight loss goal, they begin the Dukan Attack phase during which only unlimited lean proteins supplemented by a delicious oat bran galette are consumed. Dramatic and stunning weight loss is kick-started during this phase which lasts anywhere from two to seven days.

Phase Two: Cruise 

Dieters alternate days of pure protein with days of protein combined with vegetables until they gradually reach their True Weight.

Phase Three: Consolidation 

During this time, dieters are more vulnerable because their body had a tendency to regain lost pounds. This phase of the diet is very precise to prevent the rebound effect, allowing unlimited protein and vegetables and re-introducing other foods, such as fruit, cheese and bread. Dieters are also allowed two portions of starches and two weekly celebration meals to stave off boredom. Dieters stay on this phase for 5 days for every pound lost.

Phase Four: Permanent Stabilization

By the time you reach this final, maintenance stage of the plan, you’ll return to eating whatever you want without regaining the weight – provided that they follow 3 simple rules including one day per week of unlimited lean protein for the rest of your life.

For each phase, The Dukan Diet offers clear, simple guidelines for long-term success as well as providing all the tools you need to succeed, including Dr. Dukan’s famous “100 Natural Foods” list, menu planners and more than sixty delicious, satisfying and easy-to-prepare recipes. The Dukan Diet is the perfect diet for people who want fast weight loss that can be maintained without counting calories or weighing portions.

I urge you to pick up a copy and get on board with the many delicious phases of the very doable Dukan Diet, and hey maybe even marry a Croatian while you’re at it.


Excerpted from The Dukan Diet by Dr. Pierre Dukan © 2011 by Dr. Pierre Dukan. Published Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.




Illustration: Marie Guillard


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