the dukan diet

The Dukan Diet

French Nutritionist Pierre Dukan developed the Dukan Diet in 2000. Dukan claims that you can lose 10 pounds in just one week on the Dukan Diet and never gain that weight back.

The Dukan Diet has gained in popularity due to celebrity proponents like Jennifer Lopez, Gisel Bundchen, and Kate Middleton. But what exactly is the Dukan Diet? What are the benefits? Are the weight loss claims accurate? And what do you need to do to follow the Dukan Diet. Let’s dig in and find out everything you need to know about the Dukan Diet.

What Is The Dukan Diet?

The Dukan Diet is a high protein, low fat, and low carb diet that intends to teach you healthier eating habits so that you don’t regain the weight that you lost.

On the Dukan Diet, you can consume unlimited amounts of food as long as they are on the approved Dukan Diet list.

The diet has four phases and utilizes exercise as part of the weight-loss strategy. The Dukan Diet doesn’t make extravagant weight loss promises but rather promises that, if you follow it correctly, you will learn healthy eating habits and hit your true weight, the realistic weight that you can effortlessly maintain for the rest of your life.

Benefits Of The Dukan Diet

  • It works for sustainable weight loss.
  • The Dukan Diet could help to reduce blood pressure.
  • It’s simple to follow and the meals are not difficult to prepare.
  • The Dukan Diet could improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the chance of type 2 diabetes.

How Do You Do The Dukan Diet?

The Dukan Diet has four phases that require you to eat lots of protein and oat bran. Here are the four phases:

  • Attack Phase (1-10 days) – Eat all the lean protein you want plus 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and a minimum of 6 cups of water.
  • Cruise Phase (Several months) – Eat all the lean protein you want plus 2 tablespoons of oat bran, unlimited amounts of non-starchy vegetables every other day, and a minimum of 6 cups of water.
  • Consolidation Phase (5 days for every pound lost) - Eat all the lean protein you want plus 2 tablespoons of oat bran, unlimited vegetables every day, 1 piece of fruit every day, 2 slices of whole-grain bread, 1 serving of hard cheese, and a minimum of 6 cups of water. You can also have 1-2 servings of starchy foods and 1-2 cheat or celebration meals in which you have whatever you want to eat. You can have a glass of wine per day during this phase.
  • Stabilization Phase (consistent) – This is the maintenance phase. You can eat what you like except for one day of the week in which you follow the rules for the attack phase. You also need to eat 3 tablespoons of oat bran every day and walk 20 minutes per day. You can have a glass of wine per day during this phase.

Dukan Diet Food List

There are 100 ingredients that you can eat as much as you want of. 72 of these ingredients are animal-based and are to be eaten from the attack phase and through to the other phases. 28 ingredients are plant-based and you can get these from the cruise phase into the other phases. Here is the list of approved foods as identified by Dr. Pierre Dukan:

  • Meat: Dried beef liver, calf’s liver, beefsteak, bacon, beef fillet, game, pre-cooked ham slices, kidney, rabbit, roast beef, sirloin steak, veal chop, veal escalope, tongue, rumpsteak.
  • Poultry: Chicken, chicken liver, pigeon, turkey, quail, guinea fowl, ostrich.
  • Fish: Cod, sole, bass, grey mullet, haddock, hake, halibut, herring, monkfish, mackerel, plaice, pollock, red mullet, salmon, sardines, sea bream, swordfish, skate, seafood sticks, trout, tuna, turbot, whiting.
  • Seafood – Calamari, clams, cockles, crab, crayfish, dublin bay prawns, lobster, mussels, prawns/shrimps, oysters, scallops, whelks.
  • Eggs – Both hen and quail eggs.
  • Dairy – Cottage cheese, fat free fromage frai, fat free Greek yoghurt, fat free yoghurt, quark, skimmed milk.
  • Vegetable protein – Konjac, oat bran, tofu.
  • Vegetables – Artichoke, asparagus, aubergine, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, courgette, cucumber, fennel, French beans, kohlrabi, lamb’s lettuce, leek, lettuce, mushrooms, onion, palm hearts, peppers, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, soybean sprouts, spinach, tomato.

How Much Effort Is Involved? 7/10

Meal preparation isn’t the difficult part of this diet. And it’s pretty clear exactly what you need to eat. The effort comes with following the Dukan Diet and actually sticking to it. It can be hard to force down more lean protein and oat bran everyday. This can be extremely tiresome and boring and you will probably long to eat anything else.

Can You Exercise On The Dukan Diet?

The Dukan Diet emphasizes the importance of a 20-minute walk every day during the Stabilization Phase but is a little vague about other forms of exercise.

I would think long and sustained cardio during the first 2 phases would be difficult and not recommended. Shorter workouts involving weights and sprints would likely be more beneficial until you reach the final 2 phases.

The Dukan Diet actually recommends incorporating basic exercise into your day, like walking your dog or taking the stairs instead of the lift.

the dukan diet book

For more on recommended exercises, it’s worth checking out The Dukan Diet book: 

Can You Do The Dukan Diet If You Have Food Restrictions?

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan you are going to find the Dukan Diet extremely difficult because the overwhelming majority of the 100 approved foods come from animals.

You could modify the diet and ensure that your protein comes in the form of tofu and similar vegan and vegetarian food items but that’s just going to make the diet even more restrictive and difficult. I would highly recommend finding another diet. Also, if you have any meat intolerances or intolerances to oat bran, this diet is not for you.

Pros Of The Dukan Diet

  • The Dukan Diet is simple to follow.
  • It works well for fat loss.
  • It doesn’t require lots of preparation or expensive ingredients.
  • Could reduce blood pressure.
  • Could improve insulin sensitivity.

Cons Of The Dukan Diet

  • The Dukan Diet is not approved by the American Dietetic Association because it is too restrictive and does not contain all the nutrients required for good health.
  • Many nutritionists believe the Dukan Diet to be unhealthy.
  • The Dukan Diet, by virtue of the high protein and meat content, could put stress on the kidneys and impair kidney function.
  • The Dukan Diet could increase the risk of osteoporosis due to it being a high protein diet requiring the body to process more calcium, leading to loss of bone density.
  • Could cause constipation or diarrhoea because of nutritional deficiencies.
  • Could increase the risk of certain cancers like colon cancer.
  • As a result of ketosis and electrolyte imbalance, could cause bad breath and fatigue.

The Dukan Diet For Weight Loss – Does It Work?

It does work because it restricts the amount of carbs you take in, thus improving your blood sugar levels. You can lose weight very quickly on the Dukan Diet and the four phases should help you to transition back into a normal but more healthy diet.

The downside is that the weight-loss might not be healthy due to the Dukan Diet’s highly restrictive nature.

One study followed women on the Dukan Diet and found them to be eating 1000 calories a day and 100 grams of protein a day.  This was over an 8-10 week timeframe and they lost around 33lbs (​1).

How Does It Work?

The rapid weight loss in the first stage is the result of the low carb intake. Much of this initial weight loss will be water weight but after that the quality of weight loss should be better.

Dukan Diet Results And Success Stories

There are lots of success stories for the Dukan Diet. Here are just a few of my favorites:


How Much Cheese Are You Allowed During The Consolidation Phase?

You can have 40g of cheese but it’s best to have it all in one meal.

How Can I Eat Out On The Dukan Diet?

Choose simple dishes and stay away from dishes that have many ingredients and variables. Simple fish, meat, and chicken dishes are usually your best bet.

Can I Drink Protein Shakes On The Dukan Diet?

Dr. Pierre Dukan actually does not recommend protein shakes because you should be learning to eat whole foods. You should also get all the protein you need from the high meat content. The Dukan Diet is, after all, a high protein diet.

How Can I Deal With Sugar Cravings On The Dukan Diet?

You could chew sugar free gum, drink a big glass of cold water, or make sure to eat regularly and eat big meals that fill you up.

How Often Can You Snack On The Dukan Diet?

You can eat as much as you want whenever you want as long as it’s on the approved food list. Let your hunger be the judge of how much you eat and try to have meals that fill you up.

What Are The Common Side Effects Of The Dukan Diet?

Constipation and fatigue are the two most common side effects of the Dukan Diet. Not everyone will experience these side effects and you can reduce their chance of occurring by ensuring you stay hydrated.

Can I Take Vitamins And Supplements On The Dukan Diet?

Yes, continue to take your multivitamin or whatever other supplement you need.

Where Can I Find Out More?

There are a number of great sources that will teach you more about the Dukan Diet. Here are my top recommendations:

dukan diet website


The Dukan Diet – The official website for the Dukan Diet is a great place to find out everything you need to know that wasn’t covered here:


​​The Dukan Diet

Dr Pierre Dukan

the dukan diet book review

​​The best book written on the topic is by the creator of the diet himself, Dr. Pierre Dukan.

The Dukan Diet


​Dr Pierre Duakn

the dukan diet cookbook

​​In addition to The Dukan Diet, I highly recommend you pick up the cookbook so you will know exactly what to cook to make the diet easier.

​The Dukan Diet

​Dr Pierre Dukan

​The best book written on the topic is by the creator of the diet himself, Dr. Pierre Dukan.

the dukan diet book review

​The Duakn Diet Cookbook

​​​​Dr Pierre Dukan

​In addition to The Dukan Diet, I highly recommend you pick up the cookbook so you will know exactly what to cook to make the diet easier.

the dukan diet cookbook

Wrapping Up

The Dukan Diet is one of the more extreme diets around. It’s easy to lose weight with the Dukan Diet but it’s definitely very restrictive and certainly not for everybody. Give the diet a try if it sounds like something you can do and see how your body responds.

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