The Skinny on Kate Middleton and the Dukan Diet

By Martin Brown

While 23 million Americans watched Princess Kate’s wedding to Prince William, a far smaller number of viewers new that one important reason she looked particularly smashing in her Alexander McQuenn wedding gown designed by Sarah Burton, was a pre-wedding diet her mother had suggested two months earlier.

Known as the Dukan Diet, the plan is the creation of a French family physician named Pierre Dukan. His book explaining the diet plan has sold a reported five million copies in France since it was first published in 2000. But with its publication in the United Kingdom and just this last month here in the US the book is almost certain to create a new diet fad similar to the one created by other diet best sellers like The Atkins Revolution, The Zone, Sugar Busters, and the South Beach Diet.

Nutrition scientists are distressed with the publicity that Kate’s stunning form will give this latest version of a high protein low carb diet because it largely mimics the 1972 bestselling diet book, Atkins Diet Revolution by Dr. Robert Atkins. In fact most modern diet books are a variation on Atkins original work including Atkins own multiple “updates” on his first book.

Emblazoned across the cover of the US edition of Dukan’s diet book is the line, “The Real Reason the French Stay Thin.” First, the French are only “thin” when placed beside their American cousins. Second, the French have been thinner than Americans for the last sixty years which is long before Dukan was born and before Atkins first popularized the low carb diet.

While Dukan would argue that his diet book and program are noticeably different than Atkins, both diets commonly cause dry mouth, headaches, and most of all constipation. Of course it’s not surprising that a diet that tells followers to forego fruits and vegetables is likely to cause constipation. Since it is fruits and vegetables and whole grains that give us the natural fiber that keeps our systems regular in the first place.

The reason that a low carb diet helps followers lose weight quickly is a simple drop in caloric intake. The average American consumes about 2,250 calories per day. A study of Atkins dieters in the first weeks of their diet showed that they were averaging 1,450 calories per day as they avoided all carbs including non-nutritious foods (junk food) like processed breads, cookies, donuts, cokes, etc. It’s not uncommon, as has been reported with the Dukan diet, for followers to lose 5 to 15 pounds in the first two weeks of the program.

Government health officials in France and England have labeled the Dukan diet as “imbalanced and risky.” Nevertheless the gorgeous figure of Kate Middleton in her wedding gown last week will last longer in the memories of those wanting to lose extra pounds than the cautionary words of health experts.

These diets have consistently revealed themselves to be ineffectual in the long run with over 98% of low carb followers failing to maintain their weight loss for two years or longer. But when you’re looking for a quick fix, the call of Kate’s diet plan and her trim figure may well be a more convincing argument.


Martin Brown is the Heath Channel Editor for, and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Finding Mr. Right.

His latest book is Fit in 50 Days.