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The Dukan Diet

Dukan Diet

The Dukan diet is a high protein diet designed by Pierre Dukan in France in the 1970’s. It shares similarities with other high protein, low carbohydrate diets like Atkins, Paleo and the 5:2 diet.

The Dukan diet has a 4 phase approach centred on a list of 100 allowed foods. The four phases are called attack, cruise, consolidation, and stabilization.

Phase 1 - Attack

The attack phase is designed to jump start weight loss and help dieters lose weight rapidly (2 to 3kg in the first week). During this phase, dieters are allowed to eat as much as they from a list of high protein foods. Like all phases of this diet, eating Oat Bran every day is mandatory, and during this phase its 1½ tablespoons per day.  Physical activity during this phase is 20 minutes per day, e.g. walking.

Phase 2 - Cruise

The cruise phase is designed for more moderate weight loss is the one dieters stay in until they have reached their weight loss goal. During this phase, as well as the high protein products eaten in the attack phase, dieters can also have vegetables from a specified list. Each week includes pure protein days and protein plus vegetables days.  Daily Oat Bran consumption is increased from 1½ to 2 tablespoons per day. Like many other diets of this type, starchy vegetables are avoided, as are those with high fat (e.g. avocado). Exercise is increased during this phase to 30 minutes per day. During this phase, weight loss is expected to be around 1kg per week.

Phase 3 - Consolidation

The consolidation phase is designed to help dieters stay on the program and therefore reducing the chance of them regaining all the lost weight plus more (called rebounding). This is done by adding previously forbidden foods (like whole grain bread) in limited quantities back into the diet, and allowing for up to two “celebration" meals per week. And every Thursday must be a pure protein day. Daily Oat Bran consumption stays at 2 tablespoons per day. Exercise is reduced slightly, to 25 minutes per day.

Phase 4 - Stabilization

The final phase is the stabilization. During this phase (if you could call it a phase), dieters can eat whatever they want as long as they have a pure protein day on Thursday every week, eat 3 tablespoons of oat bran every day and walk 20 minutes per day, every day, and take the stairs wherever possible (incidental exercise).

As with all popular diets, this one is supported by books, recipes and associated weight loss products.

The 100 foods allowed on the Dukan diet

68 Pure Proteins (starting from attack phase):

Beef tenderloin, Filet mignon Red snapper
Buffalo Salmon or smoked salmon
Extra-lean ham Sardines, fresh or canned in water
Extra lean Kosher beef hot dogs Sea bass
Lean pork chops Shark
Lean slices of roast beef Sole
Pork tenderloin, pork loin roast Surimi
Reduced-fat bacon, soy bacon Swordfish
Steak: flank, sirloin, London broil Tilapia
Veal chops Trout
Veal scaloppini Clams 
Venison Crab
Chicken Crawfish, crayfish
Chicken liver Lobster
Cornish hen Mussels
Fat-free turkey and chicken sausages Octopus
Low fat deli slices of chicken or turkey Oysters
Ostrich steak Scallops
Quail Shrimp
Turkey Squid
Wild duck Seitan
Arctic char (fish) Soy foods and veggie burgers
Catfish Tempeh
Cod Tofu
Flounder Fat-free cottage cheese,
Grouper Fat-free cream cheese,
Haddock Fat-free milk,
Halibut and smoked halibut Fat-free plain Greek style yogurt,
Herring Fat-free ricotta,
Mackerel Fat-free sour cream
Mahi Mahi Chicken
Monkfish Quail
Orange roughy Duck
Perch And Sugar-free Jelly

32 Vegetables (starting from the Cruise phase):

Artichoke Lettuce, arugula, radicchio
Asparagus Mushrooms
Bean sprouts Okra
Beet Onions, leeks, shallots
Broccoli Palm Hearts
Brussels sprouts Peppers
Cabbage Pumpkin
Carrot Radishes
Cauliflower Rhubarb
Celery Spaghetti squash
Cucumber Squash
Eggplant Spinach
Endive Tomato
Fennel Turnip
Green beans Watercress
Kale Zucchini

Pros and Cons of the Dukan Diet

Again, like all other diets, this one has its pros and cons…


  • You can eat as much of the allowed foods as you want
  • No counting calories or weighing food
  • Half the program (phases 3 & 4) are dedicated to weight maintenance
  • The diet encourages the consumption of unprocessed foods
  • Encourages exercise
  • Encourages lean cuts of meat
  • Encourages for lifelong weight management


  • Strict rules about what you can and can’t eat
  • Specific diets for specific days (pure protein Thursdays)
  • Much of the initial weight loss may simply be water
  • Not rapid weight loss (which most people want)
  • Bad breath (associated with Ketosis)
  • Success is determined by level of motivation (like all diets)
  • Can cause fatigue, bad breath, constipation and dry mouth
  • Many people find this diet hard to stick to

The seven steps to starting the Dukan diet

According to their website, there are seven steps to starting the Dukan diet:

1. Calculate your true weight (your goal weight and based on the weight loss expectations of each phase, calculate the length you’ll need to be on the first three phases).
2. Write down the reasons you want to lose weight (your motivations).
3. Talk to your doctor about your plans to lose weight and get a check-up.
4. Think about potential sources of support, such as your family, friends, weight loss forums, etc.
5. Set a start date.
6. Remove all temptations from your pantry and fridge and fill them with foods from the allowed foods list.
7. Decide how you want to follow the Dukan Diet (alone, using a Dukan Diet book, with a friend or family member, or with the Dukan community online).


The Dukan diet is very similar to many other diets. Its main appeal, to some, is that you can eat as much as you want of the allowed protein foods.  But if you look down this list, we suspect that most people wouldn’t eat the majority of foods on the list, so the actual choice of foods is much less than it looks at first glance.

And just because its founder is French doesn’t mean this diet is the reason many people in France don’t have a weight problem - the main reasons for that is that the portion sizes of food in France are so much smaller than ours.

Because it is highly regimented, The Dukan Diet may be a good option for people who require a highly structured plan. For those that don’t have the willpower though, it probably won’t be.

This article was written by Scott Haywood.

Scott is the editor of weightloss.com.au. Scott has developed an expertise in fitness and nutrition, and their roles in weight loss, which led him to launch weightloss.com.au in 2005. Today, weightloss.com.au provides weight loss and fitness information, including hundreds of healthy recipes, weight loss tools and tips, articles, and more, to millions of people around the world, helping them to lead happier, healthier, lives.

You can follow Scott on Google+ for more interesting articles.

© Copyright Ultimate Weightloss.

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