Dukan Diet: Phases, Effectiveness, Safety And More!

The Dukan Diet was introduced by the French Dietitian Dr Pierre Dukan in France about 10 years ago. It has already sold more than 1.5 million copies and has been a top 10 hit on the French Amazon website for three years.

Have you tried lots of low fat, low calorie diets and find them too difficult to stick to? If you have never tried a low carb diet before, you might be pleasantly surprised at how it can shift excess pounds that refuse to budge on traditional diets.

Dukan Diet Phases

The first phase of the diet is called the “attack” phase, and concentrates on low fat protein, so you’ll be eating a lot of chicken and fist to start off with.

If you bear in mind that the first phase of the Atkins diet allows you full fat protein, and some people have lost 7 pounds in the first week of Atkins alone, you can imagine how much you can lose during this phase of the Dukan diet.

One thing I like about diets which are protein only for the first phase, is that you don’t get hunger pangs. As soon as you feel hungry, you eat some lean protein.

It fills you up much more than a traditional low fat low calorie diet. You are 100 times more likely to succeed on a diet if you don’t feel hungry.

What Is The Dukan Diet

The second phase is called the “cruise” phase, where non-starchy vegetables are introduced, like broccoli and mushrooms and you then start to do alternate days of protein-only with protein and vegetables.

In the third phase, the “consolidation” phase, fruits, starchy vegetables, bread, etc, are introduced in moderation and two celebration meals a week are allowed.

Last is the “stabilization phase”, when you start introducing more foods back into your diet, but the seventh day should always be protein-only.

This is of course just a brief outline of the diet. If you’re not used to eating a protein based diet, it can be a bit monotonous and you will need some recipe ideas to keep you motivated.

Dukan Diet Attack Phase

Every plan has to start from somewhere, and Dukan diet starts with the attack phase.

The main goal of this phase is to start with healthier eating habits, and at the same time to fight hunger pangs, which are common in every diet.

People lose the most weight during this phase, and as time goes on, your body will adjust to the new diet and you will start losing weight at a more stable pace.

The amount of time you stay on it depends on how much weight you have to lose. Here’s a rough guideline:

  • Less than 20lb – three days
  • 20–40lb – five days
  • More than 40lb – seven to ten days

What Foods Can You Eat On The Dukan Diet Attack Phase?

There are 72 different foods to choose from in the first phase. It is stressed by Dr. Dukan that you must stick to the diet completely.

Not one morsel of a forbidden food should pass your lips during this first phase, otherwise you may have to start all over again! Here’s a list of the main foods you are allowed:

  • Turkey
  • Lean ham
  • All fish, including oily fish
  • Seafood
  • Up to two eggs per day
  • Fat-free natural and flavored yogurt, but not yogurt containing fruit
  • Fat-free fromage frais
  • Quark
  • Cottage cheese
  • Skimmed milk

You also have to eat 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran every day.

This serves two purposes; firstly, it fills you up, as it swells up to 25 times its original size in your stomach.

Secondly, oat bran has enormous health benefits in that it lowers cholesterol, is heart-healthy and leads to improved intestinal health.

Other Attack Phase Rules

Also allowed during the Attack phase are sweeteners, vinegar, spices, herbs, garlic, onion, gherkins, pickled onions, lemon juice on food, mustard and salt (in moderation), sugar-free natural ketchup in moderation, and sugar-free chewing gum.

This should help jazz things up a bit if you find it difficult – but remember, it’s only for a short period of time, and then you’re on to the “Cruise” phase.

Dukan Diet Attack Phase

Exercise is “non-negotiable” and you are advised to walk briskly for 20 minutes every day, and you are also asked to drink 1.5 litres of water. You can include coffee, tea and diet drinks in this total.

The first few days are the hardest in any diet, because then you struggle to get rid of your old eating habits, and especially the snacks you are addicted.

It is best to always have allowed food on hand, so that when you get hungry, you have something to eat, because Dukan diet is not based on the amount of food but on allowed foods.

If you’re not used to cutting down on your carbs you may find it difficult in the first few days, but you won’t regret it once you see the pounds coming off. It will kick-start your metabolism and you will feel great!

Dukan Diet Cruise Phase

By this point, you will have switched your metabolism into fat-burning mode by cutting down on your consumption of carbs and increasing the intake of protein.

During the second phase, you will gradually introduce some non-starchy vegetables into your diet. Here are some examples:

  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Asparagus
  • Aubergine
  • Leeks
  • Cucumber
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Cabbage
  • Mushrooms
  • Courgette
  • Peppers

Vegetables like carrots or artichokes can also be eaten in moderation. Note that you are not yet allowed potatoes!

The idea is that you are moving towards your target weight or your “True Weight” as Dr Dukan calls it.

To determine how long you need to stay on this phase, for every pound you would like to lose you stay on “cruise” for 3 days. So if you would like to lose 10lb, you stay on this phase for 30 days.

During this phase, you should still be losing approximately 2lb per week, but you may lose more if you are very overweight.

Dukan Diet Consolidation Phase

You start the consolidation phase of the Dukan Diet once you have reached your target weight.

What happens with most diets once you reach your target weight and start to eat “normally”? You put on all the weight you lost, right? The Consolidation phase is designed to prevent the yo-yo effect of dieting.

The main point of doing the Dukan diet is not just to lose weight but to change your eating habits for life.

You need to try to move away from the idea that there are “good days” where you hardly eat anything, and “bad days” where you just stuff yourself with all carbs that are coming your way and instead start savoring your food, taking time for meals, and not gorging yourself.

The consolidation phase of Dukan is designed to help you ease yourself back into normal eating. But not really normal as you used to know it, more a “post-Dukan” version of normal, or these days (un)popular “New Normal”.

How Long Do You Stay On Consolidation Phase?

For every pound you have lost you stay on this phase for 5 days, so if you lost 7 pounds you would stay on it for 35 days.

Fruits are allowed in the Consolidation Phase. I bet you never thought you would miss fruit so much!

You are advised to start introducing fruit in this particular order: apples, berries, melon, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, peaches, pears, nectarines, and mangoes.

You are advised against bananas, cherries and dried fruit as these have a particularly high sugar content.

Other carbs allowed

2 slices wholemeal bread per day

1 portion of starchy carbs per week, which you can increase to 2 portions per week once you are half-way through this phase.

You are allowed 2 “celebration” meals per week. This does not mean a total blow out!

Rather, you should be focusing on choosing one of your favorite foods and really taking your time to prepare and enjoy it.

So that might be pizza or it might be lasagna, but it’s one portion only and the emphasis is on moderation.

Dukan Diet Stabilization Phase

It’s called the Stabilization phase, but it’s not really just a “phase”.

The Stabilization phase actually refers to the rest of your life and sets down certain rules by which you should aim to continue eating and exercising in order to maintain your weight loss.

Stabilization Phase Rules

Eat whatever you like (yes, you heard it right), but make sure you have one protein-only day per week. This is the part of the Dukan diet which I find hardest to grasp – maybe I am missing something?

I really hope that no-one will assume this means you should go back to the way you were eating before you started the diet!

My interpretation is this: remember what you have learned along the way, namely, take time to prepare and enjoy food and in general, try not to have second helpings.

Don’t gorge yourself on starchy carby foods and if you ever feel that you are putting on weight again, you should immediately go back to Attack for a few days

Always use the stairs and make sure you walk for about 20 minutes every day if possible.

Increase your intake of oat bran to 3 tbsps per day. It expands in your stomach and will help to prevent you from overeating.

Dukan Diet Pros and Cons


The diet is quite simple – eat only foods from the list and expect quick results

No counting calories

Great for people who like to eat meat

Suitable for those who like a strict meal plan

You will eat less due to higher protein intake


Vegetarians can forget about this diet, as well as those allergic to gluten.

It is very limited in terms of what you can eat. Lean meat, oatmeal and low-fat dairy products can become quite boring meals very quickly.

Some people do not like a diet high in protein and may feel very tired until the body gets used to it.

People who have kidney problems or gout could have a worsening condition due to this diet.

The Dukan diet significantly limits fat intake, which leaves your body without the essential fatty acids – omega 3 and omega 6.

The initial stages of the diet do not include sufficient fiber intake.

Although most people will lose weight during the first two phases, the diet is quite restrictive.

Is the Dukan Diet Safe?

Unfortunately, current research on the safety and effectiveness of Dukan diet is limited, so it is difficult to say how it can affect health in the long run.

However, it is restrictive and eliminates several important food groups, so it could be associated with an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies.

If you suffer from liver disease, kidney problems or gout, Dukan diet may not be for you.

If you have any underlying disease or are concerned about your diet, you should consult your doctor or licensed dietitian before beginning Dukan diet.

Dukan Diet Final Words

This diet has received a lot of criticism, however there is no doubt that it does work. It is currently helping a huge number of men and women lose weight who were previously unable to by following a more traditional low fat, low calorie diet.

I do find the marketing of this diet as “the secret kept by the French for years” as hard to believe. I’ve been to France and I have never seen a sign of anyone on the Dukan diet!

I think the reason why many French women are slim is more to do with a combination of inherited culture and portion control.

I am personally a bigger fan of low carb high fat diet such as Atkins diet, as I am a firm believer in the benefits of a high fat content in your diet. And we’re talking good fats here, like olive oil, avocados, nuts etc.

In view of the fact that we are faced with an obesity epidemic and bearing that in mind, I would say that Dukan diet can help you lose excess weight. However with the proviso that you take a daily multivitamin!

Let’s face it, anything is healthier than eating a diet full of sugar, processed foods, fizzy drinks and take-aways.

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