Dukan Diet 101: What It Is And How It Works

Share Button

Most of the people decide to lose weight but they want to lose it as quickly as possible. However, the process of losing weight is not that simple, especially not quick. Moreover, once you achieve to lose weight, it is even more difficult to maintain that weight.


The Dukan Diet claims to produce rapid and permanent weight loss, but most importantly, you can achieve that without hunger.

Here is the detailed review of this amazing diet, explaining everything you should know.

What is the Dukan Diet?

The Dukan Diet is based on high-protein but low-carb foods and it is divided into 4 phases.

Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French general practitioner who specializes in weight management created this amazing diet. He was inspired by on obese patient who couldn’t give up eating any food in order to lose weight, with the exception of meat. He even published his book The Dukan Diet in 2000 when he saw many of his patients weight loss results by his diet.

The most important thing is that the Dukan Diet is a high-protein, low-carb weight loss diet that is claimed to produce rapid weight loss without hunger.

How Does the Dukan Diet Work?

His diet is divided in 4 stages 2 of which are weight loss phases and the other two maintenance phases.

The diet starts by calculating your “true” weight, based on your age, weight loss history and other factors.

How long you stay in each phase depends on how much weight you need to lose to reach your “true” weight.

These are the four phases of the Dukan diet:

Attack phase (1-7 days): in this phase, you need to eat unlimited lean protein plus 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran on a daily basis.

Cruise phase (1-12 months): replace lean protein one day with lean protein and non-starchy veggies the next, plus 2 tablespoons of oat bran every single day.

Consolidation phase (variable): in this phase you can consume unlimited lean protein and vegetables, some carbs and fats, one day in the week you should eat lean protein, and make sure to consume 2.5 tablespoons of oat on a daily basis. You should do this for 5 days for every pound lost in phases 1 and 2.

Stabilization phase (indefinite): the last phase follows the basic Consolidation phase guidelines, however the rules can be loosened as long as weight remains stable. You should only increase oat bran to 3 tablespoons per day.

Foods to Include and Avoid

In each of the phases, there is a certain pattern of foods you are allowed to eat.

Attack Phase

This phase is based on high-protein foods, but also some foods that provide minimal calories:

The Attack phase is primarily based on high-protein foods, plus a few extras that provide minimal calories:

  • Liver, kidney and tongue.
  • Fish and shellfish (all types).
  • Eggs.
  • Seitan (a meat substitute made from wheat gluten).
  • At least 1.5 liters ofwater per day (mandatory).
  • Non-fat dairy products (restricted to 32 oz or 1 kg per day):milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and ricotta.
  • Lean beef, veal, venison, bison and other game.
  • Lean pork.
  • Poultry without skin.
  • Small amounts of lemon juice and pickles.
  • 1 teaspoon of oil daily for greasing pans.
  • Tofu and tempeh.
  • 5 tablespoons oat bran daily (mandatory).
  • Unlimited artificial sweeteners, shirataki noodles and diet gelatin.

Cruise Phase

During this phase, dieters will have to alternate between 2 days. On the first day, they are restricted to foods on the Attack phase list, while on the second day, they are allowed to consume Attack phase foods plus the following vegetables:

  • Spinach, kale, lettuce and other leafy greens.
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
  • Bell peppers.
  • Asparagus.
  • Artichokes.
  • Eggplant.
  • Cucumbers.
  • Celery.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Green beans.
  • Onions, leeks and shallots.
  • Spaghetti squash.
  • Pumpkin.
  • Turnips.
  • 1 serving of carrots or beets daily.
  • 2 tablespoons of oat bran daily (mandatory).

Beside the abovementioned, no other vegetables or fruits are allowed. Moreover, you are not allowed to add any fat, just 1 teaspoon of oil in salad dressing.

Consolidation Phase

During this phase, the dieters are allowed to mix and match any of the foods from the other two phases, along with the following:

Fruit: you are allowed to eat 1 serving of fruit per day like 1 cup of berries or chopped melon, 1 medium apple, peach, nectarine, pear or orange. 2 plums, apricots or kiwis.

Bread: just 2 slices whole grain bread a day along with a small amount of reduced-fat butter or spread.

Cheese: 1 serving of cheese (1.5 oz or 40 grams) per day.

Starches: 1 or 2 servings of starche weekly, such as 8 oz or 225 grams of pasta and other grains, legumes, riceor potatoes, beans and corn.

Meat: ham, pork or roast lamb 1 to 2 times weekly.

Celebration meals: only 2 “celebration meals” a week, including one glass of wine, one main dish, one dessert and one appetizer.

Protein meal: One “pure proteins” day per week, where only foods from the Attack phase are allowed.

Oat bran: 2.5 tablespoons oat bran daily (mandatory).

Stabilization Phase

The last phase of Dukan’s diet is all about maintaining the improvements achieved during the previous 3 stages.

Even though no foods are strictly off limits, there are still some principles you need to follow:

  • Make sure to use consolidation phase as a basic framework for planning meals.
  • You need to have one “pure proteins” day each week.
  • Always take the stairs instead of using the elevator.
  • Oat bran is your friend. Take 3 tablespoons of it every day.

Sample Meal Plans

Here are sample meal plans for the first three phases of the Dukan Diet:

Attack Phase


  • Coffee or tea with non-fat milk and sugar substitute.
  • Water
  • Non-fat cottage cheese with 1.5 tablespoons oat bran,cinnamon and sugar substitute.


  • Diet gelatin.
  • Roast chicken.
  • Shirataki noodles cooked in bouillon
  • Iced tea.


  • Diet gelatin.
  • Decaf coffee or tea with non-fat milk and sugar substitute
  • Lean steak and shrimp.
  • Water

Cruise Phase


  • Sliced tomatoes.
  • Coffee with non-fat milk and sugar substitute.
  • 3 scrambled eggs.
  • Water


  • Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons oat bran and sugar substitute.
  • Grilled chicken on mixed greens with low-fat vinaigrette.
  • Iced tea.


  • Diet gelatin.
  • Decaf coffee with non-fat milk and sugar substitute
  • Baked salmon
  • Steamed broccoli and cauliflower
  • Water

Consolidation Phase


  • Coffee with non-fat milk and sugar substitute.
  • Omelet made with 3 eggs, 1.5 oz (40 grams) cheese and spinach.
  • Water


  • Half cup cottage cheese with 2 tablespoons oat bran, cinnamon and sugar substitute.
  • Turkey sandwich on 2 slices whole wheat bread.
  • Iced tea.


  • Decaf coffee with non-fat milk and sugar substitute.
  • Grilled zucchini.
  • Roast pork.
  • 1 medium apple.
  • Water

Is the Dukan Diet Based on Evidence?

Even though there isn’t much research available on the Dukan Diet, one study in Polish women who followed this diet revealed that they ate

There isn’t much quality research available on the Dukan Diet about 1,000 calories and 100 grams of protein on a daily basis while losing 33 pounds (15 kg) in 8–10 weeks.

Here are some factors that contribute to protein’s beneficial effects on weight:

Gluconeogenesis- a process where fat and proteins are converted into glucose when carbs are restricted and protein intake is high.

When you eat protein, your body’s metabolic rate increases more than when you eat carbs or fat. Moreover it makes you feel full and satisfied.

The hunger protein ghrelin decreases when you consume protein, while it increases the satiety hormones GLP-1, PYY and CCK, so you end up eating less.

Is the Dukan Diet Safe and Sustainable?

When it comes to this diet, people have concerns about the high protein intake, particularly about their impact on kidneys and bone health since it the past is was believed that a high protein intake could lead to kidney damage.

However, recent research has shown that high-protein diets cannot cause any harm do the kidneys or humans health in general.

Bone health won’t suffer on a high-protein diet either, as long as high-potassium vegetables and fruits are also included.

According to recent studies, high-protein diets actually have a beneficial effect on bone health.

If you are dealing with some health conditions like gout, liver disease, kidney problems or some other serious diseases, you should definitely consult with a doctor before you start this diet.

Due to the complicated rules and restrictive nature of the diet, it makes it hard for the people to follow it.

As you can realize on your own, the Dukan Diet is probably safe for most people, however people with certain health conditions may have some problems.

Bottom Line: The Dukan Diet is probably safe for most people, but people with certain medical conditions may have problems.

The Dukan Diet Can Work, But it Does Have Issues

Even though this diet is great for weight loss, it still has several features that may make it difficult to sustain long-term.

All in all, it can help you lose weight quickly, but forces you to avoid many healthy foods unnecessarily.




Share Button