What is the Dukan Diet for weight loss?

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

The Dukan Diet is a weight loss plan written by Dr. Pierre Dukan. The book claims to provide quick weight loss that is maintained long term without counting calories or weighing food.  It is a high protein, low calorie diet plan divided into four phases.

  1. The attack phase is the first week of a diet consisting of only lean protein sources with a one and one half tablespoon of oat bran daily to promote up to 10 pounds of weight loss.
  2. The cruise phase includes alternating between days of protein only meals and protein with non-starchy vegetables until a goal weight is achieved.
  3. The consolidation phase is promoted to prevent rebound weight gain and suggested for 5 days for every pound lost. This phase allows unlimited lean protein foods with non-starchy vegetables with limited amounts of whole grain bread, fruit and cheese for 6 days. Two servings per week of starchy foods such as beans, potatoes or pasta are permitted. One day a week must consist only of lean protein foods.
  4. The permanent stabilization phase suggests that you may eat whatever you want following 3 guidelines including one all protein diet once per week, always take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators, and eat tablespoons of oat bran daily.

The Dukan diet is a restrictive diet and not suited for all individuals. The high protein, low carbohydrate diet plan produces a state of ketosis, in which the body and brain use fat for fuel. Initial weight loss is the result of fluid loss from a lack of carbohydrate in the body. Ketosis may cause symptoms of dry mouth, bad breath, fatigue, constipation. A high protein, low carbohydrate diet may cause kidney damage and gout.

In my experience, I have never known anyone to maintain long term weight loss, following a highly restrictive diet plan. In my opinion, The Dukan Diet may provide initial short term weight loss due to fluid loss and a highly structured diet plan that may provide temporary desired results or motivation for weight loss for some healthy individuals. The Dukan Diet does promote some healthy habits including choosing lean protein sources, decreasing sodium intake, and including daily physical activity.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Not since Atkins has a diet made such an international splash. The Dukan Diet shares Atkin's pillar of low carbohydrate consumption. However, this new fad encourages eating anything you want 6 days a week. How does it work? The Dukan Diet breaks down into 4 phases.

1. The Attack Phase: This phase lasts between 1-10 days depending on how much weight you have to lose (around a week for people who have to lose about 25 pounds). During the attack phase, there are no calorie restrictions. Your diet consists mainly of lean protein and allows virtually no carbohydrates. Your meals also include fat-free dairy products and the "secret weapon" of the diet -- oat bran.

Proponents of Dukan maintain that 1 1/2 tablespoons of oat bran a day allow people to feel fuller, while the fiber efficiently cleans out their system.

2. The Cruise Phase: During this phase, you continue to eat foods from phase 1 (lean proteins, fat-free dairy and oat bran), only now you add non-starchy vegetables every other day. You maintain this phase until you reach your target weight.

3. The Consolidation Phase. Dr. Dukan, the creator of this diet, maintains that this phase is where the Dukan Diet sets itself apart from the competition. The Consolidation Phase focuses on adding back the carbohydrates into the diet. Additionally, you can have 2 "celebration meals" a week where you can eat anything you want -- but no binging on a regular basis. Once a week, you must go back to eating only lean protein.

4. The Stabilization Phase: The final phase of this diet focuses on applying the 3 rules to live by:

- One day a week eat just eat protein. It must be the same day each week.
- Eat 3 tablespoons of oat bran a day for the rest of your life.
- Never take elevators or escalators. Walk 20 minutes a day.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.