Many people want to lose weight quickly.

However, fast weight loss can be difficult to achieve and even harder to maintain.

The Dukan Diet claims to produce rapid, permanent weight loss without hunger.

However, you may wonder if this diet would work for you.

This is a detailed review of the Dukan Diet, explaining everything you need to know.

Rating Score Breakdown
  • Overall score: 2.5
  • Fast weight loss: 4
  • Long-term weight loss: 2
  • Easy to follow: 2
  • Nutrition quality: 2

THE BOTTOM LINE: The Dukan Diet is complicated, eliminates lots of healthy foods, may prompt health concerns due to its high protein content, and is probably not a long-term solution for weight loss.

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The Dukan Diet is a high-protein, low-carb weight loss diet that is split into four phases.

It was created by Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French general practitioner who specializes in weight management.

Dr. Dukan created the diet in the 1970s, inspired by an obese patient who said he could give up eating any food in order to lose weight, with the exception of meat.

After seeing many of his patients experience impressive weight loss results on his diet, Dr. Dukan published The Dukan Diet in 2000.

The book was eventually released in 32 countries and became a major bestseller. It reportedly helped people achieve rapid, easy weight loss without hunger.

The Dukan Diet shares some features of the high-protein, low-carb Stillman Diet, along with the Atkins Diet.

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

The Dukan Diet starts by calculating your goal weight — called 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:

  1. Attack Phase (1–7 days): You start the diet by eating unlimited lean protein plus 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran per day.
  2. Cruise Phase (1–12 months): Alternate lean protein one day with lean protein and non-starchy veggies the next, plus 2 tablespoons of oat bran every day.
  3. Consolidation Phase (5 days for every pound lost in phases 1 and 2): Unlimited lean protein and veggies, some carbs and fats, one day of lean protein weekly, 2.5 tablespoons of oat bran daily.
  4. Stabilization Phase (indefinite): Follow the Consolidation Phase guidelines but loosen the rules as long as your weight remains stable. Oat bran is increased to 3 tablespoons per day.

As shown above, the diet is divided into two weight loss phases and two maintenance phases.

Summary The Dukan Diet has four phases. The duration of each depends on how much weight you need to lose.

Each phase of the Dukan Diet has its own dietary pattern. Here's what you're allowed to eat during each.

Attack Phase

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

  • Lean beef, veal, venison, bison, and other game
  • Lean pork
  • Poultry without skin
  • Liver, kidney, and tongue
  • Fish and shellfish (all types)
  • Eggs
  • Non-fat dairy products (restricted to 32 ounces or 1 kg per day), such as milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and ricotta
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Seitan, a meat substitute made from wheat gluten
  • At least 6.3 cups (1.5 liters) of water per day (mandatory)
  • 1.5 tablespoons (9 grams) of oat bran daily (mandatory)
  • Unlimited artificial sweeteners, shirataki noodles, and diet gelatin
  • Small amounts of lemon juice and pickles
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of oil daily for greasing pans

Cruise Phase

This phase alternates between two days.

On day one, dieters are restricted to foods from the Attack Phase. On day two, they're allowed 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 (12 grams) of oat bran daily (mandatory)

No other vegetables or fruits are permitted. Other than 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of oil in salad dressing or for greasing pans, no fat should be added.

Consolidation Phase

During this phase, dieters are encouraged to mix and match any of the foods from the Attack and Cruise Phases, along with the following:

  • Fruit: One serving of fruit per day, such as 1 cup (100 grams) of berries or chopped melon; one medium apple, orange, pear, peach, or nectarine; or two kiwis, plums, or apricots.
  • Bread: Two slices of whole-grain bread per day, with a small amount of reduced-fat butter or spread.
  • Cheese: One serving of cheese (1.5 ounces or 40 grams) per day.
  • Starches: 1–2 servings of starches per week, such as 8 ounces (225 grams) of pasta and other grains, corn, beans, legumes, rice, or potatoes.
  • Meat: Roast lamb, pork or ham 1–2 times per week.
  • Celebration meals: Two "celebration meals" per week, including one appetizer, one main dish, one dessert and one glass of wine.
  • Protein meal: One "pure proteins" day per week, where only foods from the Attack Phase are allowed.
  • Oat bran: 2.5 tablespoons (15 grams) of oat bran daily (mandatory).

Stabilization Phase

The Stabilization Phase is the final phase of the Dukan diet. It is all about maintaining the improvements achieved during the earlier phases.

No foods are strictly off-limits, but there are a few principles to follow:

  • Use the Consolidation Phase as a basic framework for planning meals.
  • Continue having one “pure proteins” meal day every week.
  • Never take the elevator or escalator when you can take the stairs.
  • Oat bran is your friend. Take 3 tablespoons (17.5 grams) every day.
Summary The Dukan Diet allows protein-rich foods in the first phase and protein with vegetables in the second. It adds limited portions of carbs and fats in the third phase, with looser guidelines in the final phase.

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

Attack Phase

Breakfast

  • Non-fat cottage cheese with 1.5 tablespoons (9 grams) of oat bran, cinnamon and sugar substitute
  • Coffee or tea with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
  • Water

Lunch

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

Dinner

  • Lean steak and shrimp
  • Diet gelatin
  • Decaf coffee or tea with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
  • Water

Cruise Phase

Breakfast

  • Three scrambled eggs
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Coffee with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
  • Water

Lunch

  • Grilled chicken on mixed greens with low-fat vinaigrette
  • Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons (12 grams) of oat bran and sugar substitute
  • Iced tea

Dinner

  • Baked salmon fillet
  • Steamed broccoli and cauliflower
  • Diet gelatin
  • Decaf coffee with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
  • Water

Consolidation Phase

Breakfast

  • Omelet made with three eggs, 1.5 ounces (40 grams) of cheese and spinach
  • Coffee with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
  • Water

Lunch

  • Turkey sandwich on two slices of whole-wheat bread
  • 1/2 cup (81 grams) of cottage cheese with 2 tablespoons (12 grams) of oat bran, cinnamon and sugar substitute
  • Iced tea

Dinner

  • Roast pork
  • Grilled zucchini
  • 1 medium apple
  • Decaf coffee with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
  • Water
Summary Meals on the Dukan Diet include plenty of meat, vegetables, oat bran, tea, and coffee.

There isn't much quality research available on the Dukan Diet.

However, one study in Polish women who followed the Dukan Diet revealed that they ate about 1,000 calories and 100 grams of protein per day while losing 33 pounds (15 kg) in 8–10 weeks (1).

Additionally, many studies show that other high-protein, low-carb diets have major benefits for weight loss (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

There are several factors that contribute to protein's beneficial effects on weight.

One is the increase in calories burned during gluconeogenesis, a process in which protein and fat are converted into glucose when carbs are restricted and protein intake is high (9).

Your body's metabolic rate also increases significantly more after you eat protein than after you eat carbs or fat, making you feel full and satisfied (10, 11).

What’s more, protein decreases the hunger hormone ghrelin and increases several fullness hormones — so that you end up eating less (12, 13, 14, 15).

However, the Dukan Diet is different from many related high-protein diets in that it restricts both carbs and fat. It is a high-protein, low-carb and low-fat diet.

The rationale for restricting fat on a low-carb, high-protein diet isn't based in science.

In one study, people who consumed fat with a high-protein, low-carb meal burned an average of 69 more calories than those who avoided fat as well (16).

The initial stages of the Dukan Diet are also low in fiber, despite the fact that a daily serving of oat bran is mandatory.

The servings of 1.5–2 tablespoons (9–12 grams) of oat bran contain less than 5 grams of fiber, which is a very small amount that doesn't provide the many health benefits of a high-fiber diet (17, 18).

What's more, several healthy sources of fiber, such as avocados and nuts, aren't included in the diet because they're considered too high in fat.

Summary Although no quality studies have been done on the Dukan diet itself, ample evidence supports a high-protein, low-carb approach to weight loss.

The safety of the Dukan Diet hasn't been studied.

However, concerns abound about high protein intake — especially its impact on kidneys and bone health (19, 20).

In the past, it was believed that high protein intake could lead to kidney damage.

However, newer research has found that high-protein diets aren't harmful to people with healthy kidneys (21, 22, 23).

That said, people who tend to form kidney stones could see their condition worsen with a very high protein intake (24).

Bone health won't decline on a high-protein diet, as long as you eat high-potassium vegetables and fruits (25).

In fact, recent research suggests that high-protein diets have a beneficial effect on bone health (26, 27).

People with kidney problems, gout, liver disease or other serious diseases should speak with a doctor before beginning a high-protein diet.

Keep in mind that the diet’s complicated rules and restrictive nature may make it hard to follow.

Although most people will lose weight in the first two phases, the diet is quite limiting — particularly on the "pure protein" days.

The diet also discourages high-fat foods which are potentially good for your health. Including animal and plant fats makes a low-carb diet healthier, more enjoyable and easier to follow in the long term.

Summary The Dukan Diet is probably safe for most people, but those with certain medical conditions may want to avoid it. Its restrictions on high-fat foods may not be best for your health.

True to its claims, the high-protein Dukan Diet can produce fast weight loss.

However, it also has several features that may make it difficult to sustain long-term.

At the end of the day, it is a quick weight loss diet that works, but it forces you to avoid many healthy foods unnecessarily.