Dukan Diet: Pros and Cons

If diets such as calorie-counting, the Atkins Diet, or Weight Watchers just aren't cutting it for you, it may be time to consider trying out the Dukan Diet. This extreme form of weight loss was introduced by frenchman Pierre Dukan in 2000, and has been said to be the go-to diet for many celebs including J-lo, Gisele Bundchen and Kate Middleton. The promise of this weight loss wonder is that its participants will drop 10 pounds in about 1 week… and never gain it back. Sounds great, doesn't it? While quick results are always a desire, remember that fast fixes usually come at a price.

protein diet

The diet basically consists of unlimited consumption of lean protein, low fat dairy, oat bran, water, and daily walks. This approach drastically lowers your carb intake and forces your body to burn fat. There is no calorie counting to worry about, and you can eat as much as you like from the the approved list. This list changes as you progress through the diet, and the diet consists of 4 phases: (via WebMD)

Attack Phase: In this initial phase, which lasts anywhere from 2-10 days depending on how much weight you have to lose, you can eat as much lean protein and low fat dairy as you desire, plus 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran a day. You must adhere to the foods listed on the website or book. You must also consume at least 6 cups of water and go on a 20-minute walk every day.

Cruise Phase: This phase typically lasts several months but does allow you to reintroduce unlimited amounts of non-starchy veggies into your diet every other day. You will alternate between a pure protein day and a protein and veggie day. Again, only foods found on the 'approved list' are allowed during this phase. You will also add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of oat bran, and increase your walking time to 30 minutes.

Consolidation Phase: The length of this phase will also vary depending on desired weight loss; however, it typically lasts 5 days for every pound that you have lost. You can begin to consume approved veggies every day, plus 1 piece of fruit, 2 slices of whole grain bread, and 1 serving of hard cheese every day. At this time you can also add 1-2 servings of starchy foods and 1-2 "cheat meals".

Stabilization Phase: Finally, you can eat whatever you want, except for 1 day per week when you must follow the all-protein rules from the "Attack Phase." You must also eat 3 tablespoons of oat bran per day, and keep up those daily walks. This stage is also considered the maintenance phase, and will last indefinitely.

Each phase of the diet will vary in length depending on your goals and what is established as what Dukan refers to as one's, "true weight". To determine the length of each phase of the Dukan Diet for your personal goals, visit the Dukan Diet website to calculate your, "true weight".

girl eating chicken

If you're still on the fence about whether or not to give this diet a try, we've made it a little easier by composing a simple list of pros and cons:


  • Foods are easy to prepare
  • Fast results
  • Shopping and planning for meals are minimal
  • There are no mandatory group meetings for you to attend, but if you need support there is a great online community
  • Exercise is not time-consuming or aggressive
  • This diet places an emphasis on natural foods
  • There is no calorie-counting involved
  • It is a highly regimented diet, so it is great for people who need a structured plan


  • Lean protein, low fat dairy and oat bran gets boring pretty fast
  • The meal plans do not satisfy the suggestions of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • It is not very compatible for vegans, vegetarians, or people with gluten allergies (in the later phases)
  • You will be limited to a list of 100 foods over the course of the diet
  • Studies suggest that much of the weight loss could be water weight
  • This diet pushes the body into a state of ketosis, which is linked to kidney damage and gout
  • There are several negative side effects, including: fatigue, bad breath, constipation and dry mouth

As you consider this diet, remember that every body will react differently. Make sure you run it by your doctor before you give it a shot, and check out these helpful sites for more information:

WebMD, Medical News Today, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, US News: Health and Wellness