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The Truth About The Dukan Diet

Updated on August 10, 2012

Is The Dukan Diet Another Fad Diet?

Hot on the heels of the 17 Day Diet we now have the Dukan Diet claiming that you can lose 10lbs in 5 days!

So what is the truth about the Dukan Diet? Does it live up to its expectations? Keep reading as we reveal the answer.

What Is The Dukan Diet?

It is a striking weight loss diet created by the eminent French Nutritionist Dr Pierre Dukan some 10 years ago.

I know, it's not that new, but it remained an underground slimming movement in France until recently, when it made world wide headline news because of the high profile celebrities, politicians and models that testify to it efficacy in producing fast weight loss.

Jennifer Lopez, Kate Winslet and Gisele Bundchen are examples of those who live the Dukan lifestyle; And they look fab! It has even been rumoured that the next Queen of Britain, Kate Middleton has lost a few pounds before her big day by following the Dukan Diet. But apart rom the celebrities who hail the diet as sheer magic, 1.5 million French women swear that it is the best weight loss program that produces dramatic, long lasting results.

How Does The Dukan Diet Work?

The Dukan Diet is set over 4 phases; the Attack, Cruise, Consolidation and Stabilization.

1. The Attack Phase

This is the starting point. You will be on this stage of the Dukan weight loss program between 1 to 10 days. It is meant to give your body a short, sharp attack to start shedding fat. It is also the hardest part of the diet.

During this phase you only eat protein, nothing else, just meat, fish, eggs and no-fat dairy products. How long you spend in this phase depends on how much weight you have to lose, but it could be one day or ten days. The weight loss during the 'Attack' phase is rapid and you can expect to lose as much as 7lb in five days.

You can eat unlimited amounts of the foods on the list below, but you must remember, if it's not on the list you cannot eat it.

Unlimited Food List

  • Lean beef, veal or rabbit
  • Chicken and turkey (skin should be removed before eating)
  • Low fat, lean ham (remove any visible fat and rind)
  • Beef, veal or chicken liver
  • All white or oily fish (it can be fresh, frozen or canned)
  • All shellfish and crustaceans
  • Up to 2 eggs per day
  • Non fat dairy products. e.g. 0% fromage frais, yogurt, cottage cheese, quark, and skimmed milk. Pain natural and flavoured yoghurts such as coconut, vanilla, lemon can also be eated in unlimited quantities, but non-fat fruit yogurts that have fruit puree as an ingredient should be restricted to two a day or avoided if you want super fast weight loss.
  • Sugar alternatives, such as Canderel,Splenda, Sweet & Low or Stevia may be used freely.
  • Vinegar, herbs, spices, garlic, onion, are not restricted but gherkins and pickled onions as condiments should not be consumed in large quantities), lemon juice can be squeezed on food but must not be drunk, mustard, salt, and sugar-free ketchup should be used in moderation.

NB: 1. Trim all fat from meats before eating.
2. Avoid ribs as they contain too much fat.
3. Dry fry, bake or steam as a methods of cooking
4. Season your meals with herbs and spices so that they are more palatable
5. Drink 1.5 litres of water (plain or carbonated) per day
6. Tea, coffee and diet sodas (no more than 1 calorie per day) are unrestricted
7. 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran must be eaten each day (sprinkle the oat bran
over yogurts or make a porridge with non-fat milk)
8. Take a brisk walk of 20 minutes daily

2. The Cruise Phase

At this stage you will alternate between protein days with vegetable and pure protein days.

How you accomplish this is up to you, but the most effective way is to spend one day on the pure protein (follow the Attack phase) and the next day on protein and vegetables. You will switch between the two days, a day at a time until you reach your ideal weight.

Introduction of New Vegetables.

You can eat these vegetable in unlimited quantities, but must ensure that you bake or steam them and avoid frying.

  • artichoke
  • asparagus
  • aubergine
  • broccoli
  • cabbage (white, red, savoy, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprout)
  • celery/celeriac
  • chicory
  • courgette
  • cucumber
  • fennel
  • french beans/ mangetout
  • leeks
  • mushrooms,
  • onio
  • peppers
  • pumpkin
  • radish, salad leaves (lettuce/rocket/watercress)
  • sorrel
  • soya beans
  • spinach
  • swede
  • swiss chard
  • tomatoes
  • turnip

NB: Rules - 1. The 10 days can be divided as alternate days, or days one to five as pure protein days followed by five days of protein and vegetables. You can choose to either eat one day protein with the next being protein and vegetables, or you can have 5 days as pure protein followed by 5 days of protein and vegetables.
2. Drink 1.5 Litres of water daily.
3. Oat bran intake is increased to 2 tbsp per day and
4. Exercise is increased by 10 minutes to a 30-minute brisk walk daily.

Dukan Diet 'Attack' Phase Schedule

 Weight Loss Goal
Days on 'Attack' Phase 
Expected Weight Loss 
Up to 10lbs  
 1 -3lbs
Up to 20lbs 
3 - 5lbs 
Up to 40lbs 
4 - 6lbs 
More than 40lbs
7 - 10
5lbs or more






3. Consolidation Phase

During the Consolidation Phase you will be consuming protein and vegetables every day. You will also be adding fruits, bread, cheese and one carbohydrate meal twice a week and one to two celebration meals a week.

The length of time you stay at this phase is calculated as five days for every 1lb you lost in the previous phases.


Consolidation Phase Foods

  • Eat unlimited quantities of protein and vegetables each day.
  • Add one piece of fruit per day, (Fruits not allowed. Dried fruits, bananas, grapes, cherries, and high-fat nuts)
  • Two slices of wholemeal bread per day, spread with a scraping of fat-reduced butter
  • One serving (40g or 1.5oz) of hard cheese per day. No blue cheese, soft cheese or goat's cheese is allowed.
  • Once a week you may have one serving of 'starchy foods' in the first half of your Consolidation Phase, increasing to two servings per week in the second half. Starchy foods you may enjoy include 225g or 8oz serving of pasta in tomato, ( No creamy or oil sauces), 225g or 8oz couscous/polenta cooked in stock, (not butter or oil), lentils, beans, chickpeas, wholegrain rice and baked potatoes (no butter).
  • Lamb and pork can be added to your pure protein range, but remember to remove all fat before eating. These meats are restricted to one or twice a week only.
  • Time to celebrate! Enjoy a celebratory meal once a week in the first half of the Consolidation Phase, increasing to two in the second half. Pay attention this is the good part - you can eat whatever you want!


NB: 1. NEVER have second helpings and NEVER eat two celebratory meals one after another.
2. Have one pure protein day on Thursday
3. Continue with 2 tablespoons of Oat Bran daily
4. Keep up the daily brisk walking of 30 minutes



Stabilization Phase

This is the final phase under which you will be slim forever. This is where you will be able to eat what you like without feeling guilty; but there is one proviso, you must save Thursdays as a day of pure protein.


Stabilization Phase Rules

  • Although you can eat whatever you like it is recommended that you follow the basic rules of the Consolidation Phase (unlimited protein and vegetables, one piece of fruit a day, two slices of wholemeal bread, a portion of cheese, two starchy foods and two celebration meals a week).
  • For the rest of your life choose one day a week when you will eat nothing but protein. This is important as it is the key that allows you to eat normally for the other six days of the week without regaining the weight you lost.
  • Continue to drink at least two litres of water to flush your digestive system and reduce food craving.
  • Keeping exercising and do a cardiovascular work out or walk briskly at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Your oat bran quota will rise to 3 tablespoons daily and this is a habit you should incorporate into your meal plans for life.


The Truth About The Dukan Diet

The truth is the Dukan Diet is not for everyone who wishes to lose weight. If you do not have a strong will power you will not last very long! It is also very restrictive and limits the types of food you can eat during the weight loss phases (Attack & Cruise). Further, many people give up fairly early on because they become bored of the monontony of continually eating protein.

However, it must be said, that if you only have a few pounds to lose, let's say up to 20lbs, then the Dukan Diet could motivate you to lose weight in as little as 3 weeks. If you have more than 20lbs to lose, you could use the diet initially to get started but then swap to a more healthy, balanced diet to lose th remaining weight.

From a health point of view experts have stated that The Dukan diet is not a balanced or healthy weight loss plan for long term dieting and as it doesn't follow healthy eating guidelines. You would need more than a once a day multivitamin to make up for the nutritional deficiency.

It has been scientifically proven that losing weight rapidly is not beneficial as you not only lose fat and fluids but also lose muscle and promote developing gallstones.

After the 'Attack' phase you may experience dry mouth, bad breath, constipation, and fatigue. That is why the diet recommends that you drink 1.5 litres of water per day to help flush the toxins and aid relief for constipation.

There is no doubt that you will lose weight on this program, in fact weight loss is quite fast in the beginning. But this rapid weight loss is because you are taking in less calories than normal. I know that the diet says that you can eat as much protein-rich meat, fish and eggs as you want, but in reality your taste buds will probably limit the quantity you eat as boredom sets in with tasting the same flavors every day, and the thought of eating another piece of meat without potatoes fills you with dread.

Pros & Cons of the Dukan Diet


Pros Of the Dukan Diet

  • On the Dukan Diet you can lose weight very fast in the 'slimming' phases. This is great motivation and encourages you to continue on the diet when you witness the amount of pounds you have lost in a short space of time.
  • It’s straight forward and gives dieters a strict set of rules to follow. This type diet is may be effective for people who like to be told exactly what to eat.
  • There isn't any calorie counting or weighing of food.
  • The diet promotes healthy wholesome choices in the 'consolidation' and stablization phases, and recommends that people cut out processed, refined, fatty and sugary foods as well as alcohol.
  • Th diet promotes daily exercise which is essential to push your metabolism into gear.
  • Unlike another high protein diet, the Atkins diet, Dukan recommends cutting down on fat and salt, two unhealthy components that contribute to high cholesterol, heart disease and high blood pressure.


Cons of the Dukan Diet

  • It is too restrictive and cuts out whole food groups which are necessary for optimum nutrition.
  • The slimming phases of this plan (Attack and Cruise) are extremely limited and can become boring, especially for those people who have a lot of weight to lose. When boredom and monotony set in people tend to give up and not follow the diet through to its conclusion.
  • For vegans and vegetarians it is almost impossible to follow the Dukan Diet especially if you have to avoid dairy and eggs.
  • It is expensive. Protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry and fish tend to cost more than carbs, fruits and veg.
  • The Dukan DIet fails to teach the basic principles of a balanced, healthy diet which has been scientifically proven to help keep people in good, healthy shape and free from disease.

Dukan Diet Poll - Please Vote

Dukan Dieters was the diet a positive experience for you?

See results


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    • editorsupremo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Beth. Sorry to hear about your epilespsy condition. I know it can be very dangerous, is yours well controlled.

      Thanks for your views on the Dukan Diet. I agree that a protein based diet is helpful for many ailments. As a diabetic I follow the protein, low carb premise to keep my blood glucose levels in balance.

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 

      6 years ago from Tennesee

      Editorsupremo, I'd heard of this diet a few years ago as someone told me it is good for helping sooth epileptic auras. I tried it and liked it. I still use the high protein ideals in my diet and I believe this has dramatically improved my overall neurological health. I wouldn't advise it or any diet out-of-hand for those with epilepsy - they should always check with their neurologist before beginning any dietary regimen. But I can freely say it wasn't a plan that left me hungry, that's for sure :)

      Thanks for posting. It was very interesting to learn the mechanics of the Dukan Diet. Voting up.

    • editorsupremo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks for your comment Becca. I totally agree with you, protein and veg has been the staple diet for thousands of years, but in today's 21st century society simple protein and veg is not satisfying enough for a generation who have consumed refined carbs, sweets, hormone injected meats,and junk!! That's why I say the Dukan Diet is temporary. It is not sustainable generally. I prefer to advocate, lean protein, veg and unrefined carbohydrates with whole fruit, nuts and seeds.

    • beccas90 profile image


      6 years ago from New York

      Nice explanation of the Dukan Diet. But it's not really a temporary diet - it's a life change and different way of eating. Protein and Veg is not such a revolutionary diet and people have survived on it for thousands of years, and within those "confines" are enormous variations and great foods. It is not for everybody - if you don't like protein and veg. I'm not a thrilling advocate of it either especially when it gets into different phases and keeping everything straight. Easier to eat natural protein and veg for most meals - If you find yourself reading the ingredients put it down and choose something that doesn't have a label.

    • editorsupremo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from London, England

      Hi Frank, I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. You are better of eating foods that you prepare and cook yourself (provided they do not contain refined and processed ingredients) than the ready made meals that are devoid of any nutritional value.

    • profile image

      Frank Price 

      6 years ago

      I believe avoiding packaged foods may be the first step to lose weight. They might taste great, but ready-made foods have got very little vitamins and minerals, making you feed on more simply to have enough energy to get throughout the day. Should you be constantly consuming these foods, transitioning to whole grain products and other complex carbohydrates will help you to have more electricity while ingesting less. Good blog post.

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