Pierre Dukan Diet Review - The French Atkins

It seems we can't get enough of French diets. First there was French Women Don't Get Fat, now we have the Dukan Diet, created by Dr. Pierre Dukan. Rumor has it that future princess Kate Middleton is using this very diet to prepare for her upcoming wedding to Prince William. Newspapers like the LA Times and New York Times are calling it the French Atkins diet due to its high-protein, low-carb philosophy. But what are the specifics of this weight loss scheme, and is the science behind it sound?

The Dukan Diet Plan

Like many other weight loss plans, the Dukan diet is broken into stages--in this case, 4:

The Dukan Diet's Four Phases
The Dukan Diet's Four Phases
  • Attack: Eat only lean protein, including mountains of oat bran, and increase your water intake.
  • Cruise: Introduce vegetables, but no fruit.
  • Consolidation: Add a few servings of carbs, a little cheese, and one serving of fruit a day. You are also allowed to indulge in wine and dessert with 2 meals a week, at this point.
  • Stabilization: Eat whatever you want, except for one day a week where you must eat according to the rules of the "Attack" phase, for the rest of your life.

The Dangers of the Dukan Diet

It all sounds simple enough, and very appealing. Go through these phases once and then eat whatever you want for the rest of your life? Never mind that one day of pure protein, it's a small price to pay, right?

Unfortunately, it's just not that easy. While you might lose weight on the Dukan diet, your health might be the forfeit. As I've said in other diet reviews, cutting out an entire food group is never a good idea. When you remove fruit and complex carbohydrates from your diet, you are setting yourself up for malnutrition, because lean protein lacks all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function.

Then there's the fact that your vital organs (including your heart and brain) need carbs as fuel. The reason that you lose weight on a low-carbohydrate diet is because your body is forced to start breaking down your stored fat as fuel instead, in a process called ketosis. That would all be well and good, except that weight loss is not the only side-effect of ketosis. This metabolic state puts enormous strain on your kidneys, and may result in gout, kidney stones, and even organ failure.


Eating a lot of protein also puts stress on your kidneys, and often produces high cholesterol, which increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. It also causes you to excrete more calcium in your urine, which puts you at risk for osteoporosis.

But, you say, it's only temporary. Really? If you're honest with yourself, do you think it's actually as easy as following 4 magic steps and then eating whatever you like for the rest of your life? If weight loss were so simple, we'd all be stick figures by now. Already, we are hearing reports of Dukan dieters putting back on much of the weight they lose, and starting the diet again. Chances are, you too will be forced to repeat the first three steps over and over again, putting your body through enormous stress time and again.

The Dukan Diet has already been placed on both the French and British governments' lists of the most dangerous diets.  Save yourself some money and suffering, and take a more realistic approach to weight loss.  Eat a balanced diet, get more exercise, and focus on health rather than the number on the scale.  Your body will repay you with years of good service, if you treat it with care.

More by this Author


Comments 16 comments

onk 4 years ago

I was fat from childhood. I learned from my parent to sit still and not move, and to always eat up and eat more (as we do not waste food) and my mother was cooking a lot :). So I unlearned to realize a normal feeling of repletion. I never managed to get that "normal" feeling again. I lost 6 kilos (92 to 86) when I was 17. Simply eat very little (way to less and not healthy) and went jogging. With 25 I had 102 and lost 29 (102 to 73) kilos in one year by just eating less and do sports on a daily basis (I guess pretty healthy). After three years of maintaining this weight I burst my ligament in the right knee and started to gain again as sport was not possible for some month and I also did not start working out again like before. 30 years old and 87 kilos unhappy again, working out like crazy (average 2 hours at fat burning heart rate per day) and doing weights, and a very healthy diet (lots of slow carbohydrates throughout the day, and lean protein in the evening) ... I lost 7 kilos in one month gaining at the same time a lot of muscles. Hurting my shoulder and stop doing sport again. Why do I write this? To show that I effectively lost weight some time in my life - less and more healthy - and that I learned a lot ... Now - 32 years old and 87 kilos again - I decided to try this diet. And with this diet I mean using Ketosis to loose weight. Lost 9 kilos in one month now being at 78 kilos and feeling healthy. Controlling your weight with sports is fine but learning how to control it with food was a very good lesson that I learned with this diet. Even Dukan in his book writes that a healthy balanced diet is the best way ... but what to do if you can't maintain that, because of bad education (like in my childhood), injuries, or not enough willpower? Is simply being overweight healthier in the long run? I read a lot about ketosis and think that it is possible to do it in a relatively healthy way (3 days no carbohydrates to change the metabolism, not more, and then add a lot of vegetables and drink plenty of water to loose weight). Adding carbohydrates slowly to your diet and just as much as your body needs (so that you don't gain weight). I also do not thrust school medicine to much about the hypes of cholesterol and what is healthy and what not. I feel healthy and now and try to maintain the weight with a healthy diet and exercise. And if - for what ever reason - I can't do exercises, I know now how to change my diet and how to use the intake of less carbohydrates and more proteins and fiber to compensate. Knowledge is even better than willpower, so I also don't think that in the long run one protein day and eating six days what you want is the best way to maintain a healthy weight but it is an option for people that lack the will to do it right ... to whoever it may concern ;)


ahbless profile image

ahbless 5 years ago

Yes, but you have to maintain your diet for it to be effective and some type of exercise is necessary. That's the hard part for some. I live in the city for now and I go to the mall or find somewhere to walk for exercise.


WriteAngled profile image

WriteAngled 5 years ago from Treorci, Cymru

It is interesting, however, that, following a review of over 100 publications, Volek and Feinman concluded: (1) carbohydrate restriction improves metabolic syndrome even in the absence of weight loss, and (2) substituting protein for carbohydrate improves metabolic syndrome even further.

(Ref: Carbohydrate restriction improves the features of Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome may be defined by the response to carbohydrate restriction

by Jeff S Volek and Richard D Feinman in Nutrition & Metabolism 2005, 2:31)

British dietary guidelines told us to "go to work on an egg" when I was a child. Then they started scaremongering about cholesterol and suddenly we were not supposed to eat more than 2 eggs a week. Recently, the cholesterol story has been exploded as a massive myth and once again, we are told we can eat eggs ad lib. Just one of a number of reasons why I could not give a toss about what dieticians and their associations say, but prefer to make up my own mind from reviewing scientific publications for and against any particular approach.


tritrain profile image

tritrain 5 years ago from United States

I have a relative that is all about low carb diets. I should point her to this new diet, but first to this Hub.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

I have used the diet myself and found it excellent. My health has never been better and it really does work. How can remaining overweight be a healthier option to trying this diet? Thank you.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Wow, Maddie. That diet is not one I would try. I'm glad to hear that people are already aware how dangerous this eating pattern could be. I say eat healthy and exercise. For me rigid diets never have worked.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Excellent hub and warning. Thank you.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Oh, what fun! Another odd diet to muse over. I like the wordage... attack! Attack!! Cruise!! Consolidate!! It sounds like some sort of aircraft carrier disaster scenario. Lovely Hub, and I appreciate the judicious warnings.


Sierra Mackenzie 5 years ago

Another great hub. Informative and thought provoking.


Francie Jones 5 years ago

Well said, Maddie--per usual!


Gigi Thibodeau 5 years ago

Thanks for this smart, informative hub. These fad diets never work for me, and the dangers are just, too great. A healthy, balanced approach is best. Voted up!


Chatkath profile image

Chatkath 5 years ago from California

I must agree with your practical common sense summation here, not a day goes by without a revolutionary new diet scheme, forget it! Everything in life should be balanced and done in moderation: food, excercise, sleep, health, etc. Not always easy but for the most part the results are well worth it for long term results! Good advice, good hub.


CARIBQUEEN profile image

CARIBQUEEN 5 years ago

They keep bombarding us with diets after diets from time to time. If everyone go to heed all the advice given concerning diets we would really be messed up. As you said we need to include all food groups but we have to watch the quantity we eat. Small portions and try to eliminate a lot of sweet and fat. Lots of water usually do the trick with sensible eating. Good hub!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Yes, cutting out entire food groups is a bit dire and can be dangerous. I did Atkins once a long time ago, and decided to maintian my weight with a healthy and balanced regime of lower fats and higher grains and fiber. Excellent hub.


kathryn1000 profile image

kathryn1000 5 years ago from London

Thi is very wise.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

I don't think there's anything magic about any diet. I agree with you that cutting out a food group is not a safe thing to do. My philosophy is to exercise more, eat less, particularly cutting desserts. Thanks for the review of this particular diet.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working