The Dukan Diet -- Fit for a Princess?

French nutritionist and doctor Pierre Dukan released a book on weight loss in 2000. Since then, his diet has swept France, and now the world. Similar in many ways to the Atkins diet, the Dukan diet reached new levels of popularity when it was rumored that Catherine Middleton used the Dukan diet before her Royal Wedding.

The Dukan diet has four phases: attack, cruise, consolidation and stabilization. Each phase has specific rules and delivers specific benefits to the dieter. In the attack phase, you are allowed to eat as much as you want, as long as you are eating specifically approved, protein-rich foods.   You can eat fish, chicken, eggs, nonfat dairy, and soy.  Unlike the Atkins diet, higher fat proteins, like pork, beef and lamb are not permitted.  Additionally, you eat one and a half tablespoons of oat bran and drink 1.5 liters of water every day. Fruits and vegetables are prohibited.  Dieters remain in this phase for up to ten days.

In the second phase, called the cruise phase, certain vegetables are introduced on an every other day basis. Only vegetables that do not contain starch are permitted, such as cucumber, celery, lettuce, spinach and tomatoes.  Starchy vegetables like peas, carrots, corn and potatoes are forbidden.  As in the attack phase, you can eat as much of the approved foods as you want, along with two tablespoons of oat bran and lots of water. This is the key phase for weight loss, so you remain in this phase until your target weight has been reached.

Once you’re at your goal weight, you enter the consolidation phase. You are now transitioning into maintenance mode, trying to stay at the target weight and not gain or lose weight. This phase adds one serving of fruit and two slices of bread (whole grain only) to your meal plan, along with one or two servings of starchy vegetables each week. You are permitted one “extra” serving of carbohydrates each week, so rice and pasta can re-enter your life. The diet adds the concept of a “celebration” meal, where all restrictions are removed.  Dieters begin with one celebration meal per week, growing to two per week after a few weeks. Balancing the celebration meal, you chose one day each week for a protein-only diet.

The final phase, called stabilization, is part of the rest of your life. In the stabilization phase, you have almost no dietary restrictions for six days each week. On the seventh day, you eat only protein and three tablespoons of oat bran. Dr. Dukan also recommends that you walk for at least 20 minutes a day and take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators.

The Dukan diet has many proponents. With the significant restrictions in the attack and cruise phases, people lose a lot of weight quickly. These restrictions can also lead to dry mouth, bad breath and constipation. Extended use of these phases can cause a loss of muscle mass, high cholesterol, gall stones and kidney problems. Nutritionists caution that eliminating fruits and vegetables from your diet can have negative impacts that can’t be offset with a multivitamin.

Fans of the Dukan diet point to the rapid weight loss, clear dietary rules, and a system for life-long maintenance as the key reasons they tried it.  Most dieters also agree that having a diet buddy for encouragement and support is also key to their success.  If you don’t have a friend ready to diet with you, go to and find a local diet buddy.  Maybe the Dukan diet is right for you.

What do you think?  Click on the Comment link and let us know!

1 comment:

  1. Best buy ever! I am 71 and had low expectations of losing the unwanted pounds. Within 6 weeks I had lost 20 pounds and as promised in the book, the weight has stayed off. The book is concise and easy to understand with no measuring or weighing. Just plenty to eat. Have recommended it to my friends who are amazed at my new healthy shape. You are never too old to make a difference.