With so many Americans looking to drop unwanted fat, many have turned to fad schemes made popular by notable celebrities. One program, recently made famous by the Duchess of Cambridge, is gaining serious attention in the United States. Called the Dukan Diet plan, this approach is described as both a strategy for fast weight loss and a way to promote healthy long-term eating habits. But does it really work?

What is it?

Made famous by Kate Middleton, this fast weight loss scheme has been quite popular in France for the last decade. Middleton supposedly used the strategy to reduce body fat so she would look better in her wedding dress. Thought up by a noted French physician, the program includes four separate phases, all of which are centered on the consumption of large quantities of water and oat bran.

How it works

Although the Dukan Diet plan is aimed at redesigning an individual's eating habits; it can encourage fast weight loss, thanks mostly to its initial attack phase. During this primary period, dieters are required to consume nothing but oat bran, water and lean protein for a five-day period. Promoted as a way to clean the intestines, this eating strategy creates a significant caloric deficiency that tends to generate quick results that keep the dieter motivated.

At the conclusion of the Dukan Diet attack phase, dieters transition into a second two-week eating strategy that introduces specific vegetables. Once this phase ends, dieters move into a third, "consolidation" phase in which they begin eating certain fruits and other whole grain foods in addition to oat bran. The duration of this phase completely depends on the amount of weight the individual dieter hopes to lose, generally three to five days per pound.

In the final phase, the dieter is allowed to eat anything he or she wants from the Dukan Diet food list, which excludes processed foods, sugary snacks and sodas.

Will it work?

When followed exactly as it is laid out, this diet plan is not only one of the fastest ways to lose weight; it's one of the healthiest. Typically, restrictive diet plans leave people nutrient-deficient; however, because this program limits the time a person spends eating in any one specific way, it avoids this potential pitfall.

The inclusion of oat bran provides fiber, which helps people feel full for longer periods of time. While the fiber curbs hunger, the low-glycemic nature of the protein and oat bran prevents big surges in insulin, which tends to cause the body to hoard fat - a major failing of most crash dieting programs.

All things considered, the Dukan Diet plan can be an effective fast weight loss strategy, as well as a healthy way to alter long-term eating habits. That said, many people have trouble sticking to stringent eating guidelines, and each individual's success will be wholly dependent on his or her ability to resist temptation.