Diet and Nutrition

What to Know About the Dukan Diet

Siobhan O'Grady

Is this diet for you?

Is this diet for you?

The Dukan Diet, designed by the French physician Pierre Dukan for treating people who are obese, has become very popular in other parts of the world after the publication of the book of the same name. The diet plan, which helped about 5 million French people to lose extra weight, is a phased, high-protein, low-calorie diet. The base of the diet is lean proteins and oat bran with plenty of water, rather than counting the calories in the food. The diet plan also recommends at least a daily 20-minute walk.

This phased plan helps weight watchers to rapidly lose weight in the initial phase, which motivates them to continue further. Vegetables are taken in the second phase with small amounts of fruits. However, the author warns that dieters may have to face bad breath, constipation, dry mouth, and fatigue, which are common manifestations of high-protein diets.

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Phases of the Dukan Diet

  • Phase 1 - This phase is also known as the "attack" phase, where the dieters are allowed to eat a good amount of lean protein with 1.5 teaspoons of oat bran, and 1.5 liters of water every day. This phase is designed to increase the metabolic rate of the dieters and help them to lose as much as 4.4 to 6.6 lbs within a week. About 72 types of protein-rich foods can be taken during this phase, including low-fat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, soy and non-fat dairy. Dieters are expected to stay in this phase from one to 10 days at a stretch.
  • Phase 2 - Also known as the "cruise" phase, involves a gradual way to reach the ideal weight of dieters. In this phase, dieters may choose from 28 different kinds of protein-rich vegetables along with unlimited low-fat protein, and 2 teaspoons of oat bran. Dieters are not allowed to eat starchy vegetables, such as carrots, peas, corn, and potatoes. The number of days to be spent on this phase depends on how much weight a person wants to lose. According to Dukan, dieters should stay in this phase until they achieve their goal weight.
  • Phase 3 - This is the "consolidation" phase of the diet, which is designed in such a way that it prevents the dieters from gaining more weight in the future. In this phase, the dieters are allowed to have 1-2 servings of starchy foods and 1-2 "celebration" meals per week along with unlimited protein. This phase is the most important step between weight loss and maintenance. The author urges the dieters to stay on this phase for about five days for every pound that is lost. This method will prevent them from regaining lost pounds.
  • Phase 4 - This phase is referred to as the "stabilization" phase and is the maintenance part of the diet plan. During this phase, dieters can eat whatever they want as long as they follow the rules. The rules include one day a week of an all-protein diet (similar to phase 1), 3 teaspoons of oat bran a day, and a 20-minute walking session a day.

The diet plan also allows the consumption of sugar-free gums, artificial sweeteners, vinegar, and spices. The author of the plan also urges the dieters to have a daily dose of multivitamins and minerals.

Expert Opinion on the Dukan Diet

Experts do agree that the Dukan Diet will definitely help in losing extra pounds as calories are considerably cut down. Reducing the intake of carbohydrates will help in cutting down hunger as well. However, some experts feel that the diet does not include all the nutrients that are required for proper health.

According to Keri Gans, MS, RD, former spokesperson of the American Dietetic Association, taking a daily multivitamin dose may not be enough to compensate for those obtained from fruits and whole grains. She adds, “If the restrictive phases of the diet plan are continued for a longer period of time, it may result in nutritional deficiencies and renal problems." Experts are also saying that a rapid weight loss may lead to muscle loss and the formation of gallstones, which indicate an unhealthy diet.

The Dukan Diet: Your Decision

This diet plan is sure to help in losing extra weight, but whether it can be taken up for long might still be a question for you. The side effects and lack of healthy food groups in the diet makes it a wrong choice for some. A healthy diet, in any case, is made up of food groups that include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats along with lean protein. However, this diet makes protein as a standalone component.

Whether to take up this plan and follow it with a lifelong commitment is totally your choice. However, experts feel that choosing a calorie-controlled eating plan including all the healthy groups would be a better choice at any given point in time. 

The Dukan Diet is a high-protein diet, which initially restricts both carbohydrates and fat. According to a study, when a low-carbohydrate, low-fat, high-protein diet is consumed, people burn approximately 69 more calories than those who do not consume fat at all.

A high-protein intake has an impact on the kidneys and bones. It was earlier believed that a high intake of protein could damage the kidneys. However, according to the latest research, high-protein diets are not generally harmful, especially when they are followed for a short duration. Such type of diet may even help people lose weight by making them feel fuller. The method of the Dukan Diet has offered many simple but effective techniques, which can help people lead a healthy and happy life. The Dukan Diet has certainly changed the way of life for most people who often worry about their weight and diet.

The Dukan Diet Food List

According to the Dr. Pierre Dukan, there are approximately 100 food items, which can be a part of the Dukan Diet. The list of food items has 68 animal-based ingredients that can be eaten during the "attack phase" and onwards, and 32 plant-based ingredients for the "cruise phase".


  • Beefsteak
  • Bresaola (salted and air-dried beef)
  • Calf's liver
  • Fat-reduced bacon
  • Fillet of beef
  • Game meat
  • Kidney
  • Precooked ham slices

The list of meat also include:

  • Rabbit meat
  • Roast beef (rump steak, sirloin steak)
  • Tongue
  • Veal chops (veal escalope)


  • Chicken
  • Chicken liver
  • Guineafowl
  • Ostrich
  • Pigeon
  • Poussin (very young chicken)
  • Precooked chicken
  • Turkey slices
  • Quail
  • Turkey


  • Bass
  • Cod
  • Seafood sticks
  • Lemon sole, dab sole, or Dover sole
  • Grey mullet
  • Smoked haddock
  • Hake
  • Halibut or smoked halibut
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Monkfish
  • Plaice
  • Pollock/coley
  • Red mullet
  • Salmon or smoked salmon
  • Sardines
  • Sea bream
  • Skate
  • Swordfish
  • Trout (rainbow and salmon)
  • Tuna
  • Turbot
  • Whiting


  • Squid
  • Clams
  • Cockles
  • Crab
  • Crayfish or crawfish
  • Dublin Bay prawns
  • Lobster
  • Mussels
  • Prawns or shrimps
  • Oysters
  • Scallops
  • Whelks


  • Duck eggs
  • Quail eggs
  • Chicken eggs

Dairy Products

  • Cottage cheese (low-fat)
  • Fat-free fromage frais
  • fat-free Greek yogurt
  • fat-free yoghurt
  • Quark (low-fat)
  • Skimmed milk


  • Globe artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Aubergine
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprout
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery or celeriac
  • Chicory
  • Courgette
  • Cucumber
  • Fennel
  • French beans
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lamb's lettuce
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
  • Palm hearts
  • Pepper
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish
  • Rhubarb
  • Soybean sprout
  • Spinach
  • Tomato

Dukan Diet Health Benefits

Most nutritionists do not support the Dukan Diet at the earlier stages. Most dietitians have rejected the Dukan Diet because according to them, the diet is incomplete and does not include the most nutritious food items. Even the American Dietetic Association completely rejected this diet because it has ignored many useful and highly effective food items in the diet. However, the Dukan Diet remains strong and never lets criticisms affect it. The Dukan Diet promotes the following health benefits:

1. Weight Loss

According to a study, the comparison between low-fat vs. low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss found that the energy restriction achieved by a very low-carbohydrate diet is equally effective as the low-fat diet strategy. The Dukan Diet is a combination of a low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet that is effective in weight loss. 

2. High Blood Pressure

A similar study also showed that the two types of diet were equally effective in reducing blood pressure. The systolic blood pressure can be reduced by about 10 mmHg and 5 mmHg in diastolic pressure. It clearly shows that the Dukan Diet is effective in controlling one's blood pressure.

Also, according to the study, the ratios of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol are immensely improved offering positive results. It shows that the Dukan Diet supports cardiovascular health as well.

3. Diabetes

The Dukan Diet also helps people with diabetes. Since the Dukan Diet involves a low-carbohydrate diet, it is often recommended for people who want to lose weight to effectively stop the development of prediabetes as well as insulin resistance.