The Dukan Diet – Is It Worth It ?

Foods associated with a Dukan Diet.
Image by Oleksandr Prokopenko. c/o

The Dukan Diet is an example of a high protein and low carbohydrate diet. It was devised by Pierre Dukan. It is a classic high protein, low carb diet which revolves around 100 approved foods. It is in the same league as other low carb diets such as the keto diet.

It is not that well known in the USA but is certainly popular throughout Europe. Typically it is high on fruit and vegetables, mainly lean protein and whole grains especially bread.

Pierre Dukan, a French dietician and nutritionist designed this diet primarily for weight loss but without forcing the issue.

The official web-site in the United Kingdom covers all aspects of the diet and is worth exploring for a myriad number of ideas concerning weight loss using a low carbohydrate consumption approach.

It is worth stating from the outset that there is little clinical evidence to back up the claims for the diet. However it is a diet that encourages a reduction in weight loss by reducing calories intake so it may well prove to be effective purely from that point of view.

What Is The Dukan Diet ?

The plan has four defined phases: Attack, Cruise, Consolidation, and Stabilization.

This diet doesn’t rely on calorie counting as such because there is no limit of how much food is eaten during each of the phases. The key aspect is to follow the rules of the plan and be strict about it. The objective is to achieve a loss of about 2 pounds in weight per week.

Advocates reckon that long-term weight management is also more easily stuck to although it is advised by dieting bodies that the diet is only to be followed for a short term. People who have followed this diet reckon they lose weight very quickly which is highly encouraging. The diet is strict- extremely so and because of this, very prescriptive which means motivation to lose weight must be high in the first place.

Celebrity Endorsement: Kate Middleton (Duchess Of Cambridge), Jennifer Lopez, Gisele Bündchen.

Phase 1 Of The Dukan Diet – The Attack Phase

A strict lean high-protein diet. The Dukam Diet lists 72 low-fat, protein rich foods. These include poultry meats like turkey, chicken. Eggs, fish and fat-free diary are also included.

Phase 1 is followed for five days so that rapid weight loss is achieved. The absence of any carbohydrates means that the body follows a type of keto diet although some fiber from oat bran is permitted. The Atkins diet allows vegetables and consumption of fat. The Dukan Diet says vegetables and fat are strictly off-limits.

Further Phases

The next three phases allow for the gradual and managed introduction of vegetables, fruit and some carbohydrates until all foods are back on the menu. There is no limit on the final phase.

The Cruise phase is where the diet moves to a mix of high-protein foods and the approved list of vegetables.

Phase 3

The Consolidation Phase is all about mixing and matching foods from the first two phases. During this phase you can incorporate:

  • two slices of whole grain bread per day,
  • one or two servings of fruit but not grapes, bananas, cherries or figs,
  • small amounts of hard cheese (about 1.5 ounces) but not soft cheese,
  • one or two-serving of carbohydrate-rich starchy foods starches,
  • meats: roasted lamb, pork, or ham,
  • celebration meals (two of these meals every week which can include starter, main course or entree, dessert and a glass of wine)

It is important to maintain drinking water ad plenty of bran especially from oats.

There is a protein-only day once a week which is one of the key elements of the diet so that weight maintenance is retained. Regular exercise must be followed to encourage fat burning.

The celebratory meal is an interesting approach of selling the diet but is a good way of not making it too onerous or difficult to follow.

The diet is easy to follow and there is no food weighing or calorie counting which is a plus for many dieters. In the first two weeks of this diet, there is no restriction on how much is eaten but it must be low-salt, low-fat and high-protein.

It is reckoned that you can lose a pound in weight every five days.

Phase 4

The last phase, known as the Stabilization Phase focuses on implementing everything dieters learned from the first three phases to ensure the diet is effective over longer periods of time.

The dieter is freed from keeping to the very restrictive set of foods of the earlier phases. weight loss is still maintained. The nutritionists suggest the following:-

  • eating three tablespoons of oat bran daily
  • protein only for one day in the week
  • keeping the exercise regime going whatever the type but making sure calories are being burnt off. 

The Benefits Of The Dukan Diet

The diet has been scrutinized by many and it does have its issues as we explain below. The diet is regimented and suits anybody who enjoys following rules. It defines what and how much should be eaten and discusses it in timed amounts.

The diet is heavily protein biased which might explain why it works where satiety and feeling full is concerned. The phasing aspect, especially the Attack and Cruise phases are suited to this idea of unlimited protein consumption. We know from other pieces of research that eating plenty of protein promotes a feeling of being full. Over consumption of protein is rare unless you go heavily off-piste with the diet plan.

Eating plenty of fibre is always a good idea anyway. Oat fibre has a few health claims associated with it in terms of feeling full. Promoting exercise is also a good idea too. 

There is some acknowledgement that the weight loss is rapid of overweight and obese people and would be motivational.

As the diet progresses, the nutritional restrictions become less onerous.

The Issues With The Dukan Diet

Dieters with this type of diet can experience some unpleasant side effects such as tiredness, dry mouth, dizziness, insomnia, really bad breath from ketone bodies and nausea because it cuts out carbohydrates. There is a problem with constipation because there are no fruits and vegetables or wholegrains.

Long-term adherence to this type of diet could cause long-term health issues if it isn’t followed properly. It is fair to say that there are some healthy foods which are just plainly banned. Restricting and eliminating particular food groups can produce nutritional deficiencies in the long run. The BDA (British Dietetics Association) does not advocate this diet for that very reason because it is generally so unhealthy and unsustainable.

Interestingly, some dietitians consider the diet to be one that is justifiable because it is a condition that many might fall into without issue. The diet is not nutritionally balanced because vitamin supplements and fibre are also needed and that adds to the confusion.

One of the problems is lack of variety in the early phases which risks boredom and a willingness to just give up – fair point !

One of the other reasons linked to variety and why it is also difficult to maintain is the limited food choices. Given there are so many opportunities for feeding, it needs lots of discipline to continue but a clear objective in how much to be lost in weight is a very good idea. I think it is too rigid for some and there are lots of rules which could be very confusing.

Products And Literature Associated With The Dukan Diet

Please note we are an affiliate marketing web-site. We are an Amazon Associate. Please read our affiliate disclosure.

There are plenty of books to choose from. One that might be worth investing in is ‘The Dukan Diet Made Easy: Cruise Through Permanent weight Loss- And Keep It Off For Life!’ The title clearly makes the point that many diets are short-term in their impact but there version with its lifestyle approach should help keep the pounds off. Pierre Dukan has also written a comprehensive cookbook with 350 recipes to serve as a companion tome to many of his other books. You can also try a cookbook with similar recipes by Michael Smith.

Revision: 1st published 1st May 2019. revised with additional information on the pros of the diet, the affiliate links and a bit more information about the nutritional elements of the diet.

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