The Dukan Diet: Phases, Food Lists, and Side Effects on Weight Loss

Have you ever thought of a way to drop a few pounds in one week and never gain it back? According to Pierre Dukan, a French nutritionist who created the diet in 2000,  following the rules in the Dukan Diet can help you achieve such results.

Even celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Kate Middleton have praised this diet for its quick results in weight loss. It was reported that the Duchess of Cambridge went down two dress sizes adhering to the French plan before her wedding.

But what is the Dukan Diet? How does it work? Are there any side effects? If these are the questions running through your mind and you desire to lose weight in a short period, then rest easy! In this article, we show you all you need to know about the Dukan Diet.  We have also included frequently asked questions to give more insight.

The Dukan Diet and How It Works

The Dukan Diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate dietary pattern created by Pierre Dukan, a self-proclaimed nutritionist and former French doctor. This diet, often known as the Dukan approach, is based on the Dukan’s consultation with an obese person who was ready to give up any food except meat.

The diet demands a person to consume high protein foods while reducing their intake of carbs and fat. It deals with natural foods and not processed foods and places emphasis on daily exercises.

The Dukan Diet official website consists of a list of the 100 foods that are on the Dukan diet. There are about 68  “pure proteins” and 32 vegetables. Moreover, new meals may be introduced during the later stages of the diet.

This diet is founded on the notion that consuming lots of proteinous meals can assist individuals to shed some fat. This is due to the fact that foods that are high in protein tend to have reduced calories and can make people feel full after eating. In addition, absorbing protein makes use of more energy, so the body burns a few more calories. Limiting carbohydrates and fats causes you to feel starved and this pushes the body to use the fat stored for energy.

It’s said that if you adhere to the Dukan Diet, you can shed up to ten pounds in the first week and then lose two to four pounds every week until you attain your goals. That’s more than enough to convince dieters to stick to a tight plan that gradually reintroduces the bread, cheese, and fruit they’ve been missing.

 Phases of the Dukan Diet

In the first phase, the Dukan Diet recommends foods rich in protein. The second phase allows protein with vegetables. It includes carbohydrates and fats in very small quantities in the third phase, with less strict strategies in the last phase.

There are four phases of the Dukan Diet. They include :

1. The Attack Phase

Foods from the “pure protein” list are consumed during the attack phase. Its goal is to lose weight quickly. The idea is that eating a lot of protein-rich foods can speed up your metabolism. Even though protein requires a few more calories to digest, nutritionists concur that no one food can jump-start the metabolism. However, frequent exercises can be of help.

People may lose weight during this period because eliminating carbohydrates causes the body to lose fluids, and this, along with dehydration, can cause fast weight loss.

The attack phase normally lasts 2–5 days, however, persons who want to drop more than 40 pounds may need to continue in it for up to 7 days.

The diet demands a person to consume at least 1.5 liters (l) of water and exercise for 20 minutes each day during the attack phase.

2. The Cruise Phase

The cruise phase of the Dukan Diet helps to gradually reduce a person’s body weight by including 32 specific veggies in the diet. Individuals can now eat all 100 of the foods on the food list, but they should strive to alternate between the days of pure protein and the days of protein and vegetables.

The length of this phase is determined by the amount of weight that the person wishes to reduce. For every pound they wish to shed, it lasts three days.

A person can have as much low-fat protein and non-starchy veggies as they like, such as spinach, okra, lettuce, and green beans.

The diet instructs them to eat 2 tbsp oat bran and exercise for 30–60 minutes each day throughout the cruise period.

3. The Consolidation Phase

In the consolidation phase of the diet, the goal is not to lose some weight, but to prevent regaining it. An individual is permitted to introduce certain starchy meals. 

Apart from that, they can eat whatever they want, as long as they follow some simple rules which include: eat 3 tbsp of oat bran each day, Take the stairs as often as possible, Have a “pure protein day” each Thursday, Exercise for 20 minutes each day, Continue to drink 1.5 l of water daily.

They can have one or two servings of starchy food every week, as well as one or two celebration meals. A person can eat everything they want at a festive feast.

They must eat the main diet of pure protein one day per week, ideally on the same day each week, during this phase. This phase necessitates 25 minutes of daily activity.

4. The Stabilization Phase

 This is the diet’s long-term maintenance phase. During this time, the person should not expect to lose or gain weight. They will have an all-protein day once a week, just like they had during the attack phase.

The stabilization phase is a long-term strategy that gets ingrained in the individual’s way of life. Artificial sweeteners, spoonfuls of vinegar, sugar-free gum, and spices can now be consumed. Multivitamins with minerals are also recommended as part of the diet.

Food Lists: What You Can and Can’t Eat

All the phases of the Dukan Diet have their dietary structure. Here’s what you’re allowed to eat and what you should avoid during each phase.

1. Attack Phase Food List

What To Eat:

The Attack Phase consists of high-protein foods, in addition to other foods that provide calories in small amounts :

  • Lean meat, venison, and other game
  • Lean pork
  • Poultry without liver, kidney, and tongue
  • All types of fish and shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products without fats (limited to 32 ounces or 1 kg per day), including milk, yogurt, ricotta, etc.
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Seitan
  • At least 6.3 cups (1.5 liters) of water per day (compulsory)
  • 1.5 tbs (9 grams) of oat bran daily (compulsory)
  • Unlimited unnatural sweeteners, shirataki noodles, and diet gelatin
  • Small amounts of lemon juice and pickles
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) of oil daily for greasing.
What Not To Eat:
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Carbohydrates and grains (other than oat bran)
  • Sugars
  • Fats
  • Alcohol

The Attack Phase is also the phase that you begin an exercise routine of 20 minutes of brisk walking every day.

A Sample Meal Plan for the Attack Phase (1 Day)

Breakfast: one serving of low-fat cottage cheese

Lunch: spicy chicken kebabs

Dinner: chicken tandoori and shirataki noodles

2. Cruise Phase Food List

The cruise phase alternates between two days.

What To Eat

On the first day, dieters are prohibited from eating any foods that are not in the Attack Phase. On the second day, they can consume Attack Phase foods in addition to 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 (compulsory)
  • No other vegetables or fruits are allowed. Other than 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of oil in salad dressing or for greasing pans, there should be no added fat.

What Not to Eat
  • Fruits
  • Starchy vegetables, like potatoes and corn
  • Carbohydrates and grains
  • Sugars
  • Fats
  • Alcohol
A Sample Meal Plan of the Cruise Phase (1 Day)

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with smoked salmon

Lunch: turkey on a bed of lettuce

Dinner: meatloaf with mushrooms

3. Consolidation Phase

What To Eat

Dieters are advised to combine any of the foods from the Attack and Cruise Phases, as well as the following foods, during this phase:

  • Fruit: Eat one cup (100 grams) of berries or sliced melon every day; one medium apple, orange, pear, peach, or nectarine; or two kiwis, plums, or apricots.
  • Two pieces of whole-grain bread every day, smeared with a little amount of low-fat butter or spread.
  • One serving of cheese (1.5 ounces or 40 grams) each day is recommended.
  • 1–2 servings a week of starches, such as 8 ounces (225 grams) of pasta and other grains, corn, beans, lentils, rice, or potatoes
  • 1–2 times per week, roast lamb, pork, or ham.
  • Two “celebration meals” per week, consisting of an appetizer, a main course, a dessert, and a glass of wine.
  • One “pure proteins” day per week, during which only items from the Attack Phase are permitted.
  • 2.5 teaspoons (15 grams) of oat bran every day (mandatory).

What Not To Eat
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Cherries
  • Alcohol (other than the one glass of wine in the celebration meals)
  • Sugar

A Sample Meal Plan of the Consolidation Phase (1 Day)

Breakfast: omelet with vegetables and cheese

Lunch: grilled chicken in a salad with a low-fat dressing

Dinner: crab and tomato-stuffed flounder

4. Stabilization Phase

The Dukan Diet’s final step is called the Stabilization Phase. It’s all about retaining the gains made during the previous phases.

What To Eat

There are no foods that are strictly forbidden, but there are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Use the Consolidation Phase as a starting point for food planning.
  • Every week, continue to eat one “pure proteins” dinner.
  • When you can use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, do so.
  • Your ally is oat bran. Every day, take 3 tablespoons (17.5 grams).

What Not To Eat

There are no off-limits items, but you must continue to keep track of your intake.

Side Effects of the Dukan Diet

The Dukan Diet is effective, but it does have some negative effects that you should be aware of, just like practically every other strict diet.

1. Bad Breath

While we all know the body will be low on carbs while on the Dukan Diet, this will eventually lead to the Ketosis process, in which fat is burned instead of carbs to meet the body’s energy needs. As a result of the body being in Ketosis, symptoms such as unpleasant breath and weariness will arise.

Acetone is a chemical that is created as a result of increased protein consumption, and it has a bad odor. This then leads to bad breath issues in the body and you have to keep chewing mint-flavored gums and no sugar mouth fresheners to maintain the same.

2. Severe Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolyte imbalance is undoubtedly one of the most serious side effects of the Dukan diet, which you may likely suffer during the initial phase. This is a stage in which the body is unable to eliminate toxins consistently due to a low carbohydrate and fiber intake.

You may experience difficulties such as diarrhea or constipation at the same time. Continue to eat roughly 1-2 teaspoons of oat bran to combat the same problem.

In the remaining phases, the same amount of oat bran can be raised to roughly 3 tablespoons. In order to keep your body relaxed and hydrated at the same time, you must drink plenty of water.

3. The Induction Flu

The Dukan Diet is well-known for its negative side effects, which are induced by a low carbohydrate diet. The induction flu is one of the side effects on the list, and it is caused by an abrupt decrease in carbohydrate and fat levels in the body.

Fever, nausea, lack of focus, headache, and other symptoms may occur. The majority of these concerns arise during the Dukan diet’s attack phase.

4. Other Serious Health Problems

You may experience severe irregular bowel motions once you’ve gotten used to the Dukan Diet (the attack phase, to be precise). This could be due to a large intake of lean animal proteins. Although you can keep them under control by consuming oat bran daily.

You’ll also notice a shortage of antioxidants in your body at first, which is caused by a lack of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This might cause problems including indigestion and constipation.

Furthermore, a prolonged shortage of antioxidants in the body can lead to serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease, cataracts, and even premature aging.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Dukan Diet

Q. Is it effective?

A. Due to the limited carbs allowed on the plan, the first stages of this diet will almost certainly result in significant weight loss. However, if you return to your previous eating habits after attaining your goal weight, you may regain some of the weight you lost.

Q. Is it beneficial in certain health situations?

A. Because the first two stages are relatively low in carbohydrates, if you’re on diabetes medication, you’ll probably need to adjust your dosage. You may obtain more protein than your kidneys can manage if you have renal disease. You would also be missing out on heart-healthy fiber if you had heart disease or a digestive condition.


The Dukan Diet has its advantages and disadvantages like any other diet. However, if you need to lose a lot of weight, you should avoid this diet because it can last for years. On the other hand, if you are seeking to reduce a small amount of weight quickly, this diet might be right for you. If you are over 50, have a medical condition such as diabetes, or need to reduce a significant amount of weight, consult your doctor first.


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