Dukan diet: Operation, Menus & Notice

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

The Dukan diet favors proteins which have the advantage of not being too high in calories and giving a feeling of satiety. This very popular diet is based on the consumption of meat, fish and eggs in unlimited quantities. It promises to make you lose a lot of weight quickly if you follow the 4 phases developed by nutritionist Pierre Dukan. I take you to discover this diet that is as adored as it is controversial.

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

Dukan diet: what is it?

Pierre Dukan is the nutritionist who designed the slimming method that bears his name. The Dukan diet ousted all others from fame in the years 2010 and 2011. It was by far the most followed diet in the world due to its success among celebrities in the culture and entertainment sphere.

pocket book on the Dukan diet
The pocket book entitled “I don’t know how to lose weight” by Doctor Dukan explains the diet and contains recipes.

The diet proposed by the former French doctor consists of 4 phases: 2 to lose weight and 2 to consolidate the lost weight. Those who follow the diet can compose their own menus by drawing, according to precise criteria, from a list of 100 foods to consume in determined quantities.

Who is Pierre Dukan?

Pierre Dukan is a French nutritionist. In 2000, he published a book called “I don’t know how to lose weight” after 20 years of research and activities aimed at combating obesity. This book quickly became a bestseller in France. The book’s fame quickly crossed national borders to become world famous thanks to a very lucky episode. In the United Kingdom, Kate’s mother, Carole Middleton, recommended the Dukan diet to her daughter to lose weight before her wedding to Prince William. Kate lost 2 pounds (nearly a kilogram), and Dr. Dukan’s fame increased significantly!

In March 2012, Dukan became a former doctor because he was excluded from the French Order of Physicians. In fact, it was he himself who requested his own removal before being charged, by eminent colleagues, with a series of disciplinary proceedings for misuse of scientific information. Pierre Dukan was accused of self-advertising, misusing science, selling it as if it were a commodity, and making rash and scientifically negligent statements. The Dukan diet, in fact, aroused numerous criticisms at the time from the scientific world who considered this diet decidedly unbalanced and therefore dangerous for health.

How does the Dukan diet work?

The Dukan diet is based on the consumption of only 100 foods: 72 of animal origin and 28 vegetables. According to Dr. Dukan, the reason why diets usually fail is the constant feeling of hunger that accompanies them. Many people argue that a high-protein diet can be harmful. Dr Dukan replies that his weight loss method is natural because it takes you back to the original foods of the human species, those of the first men. These original foods came from hunting and gathering.

Attack phase

Also called the motivation phase, this stage increases the confidence of those following the Dukan diet. The results are visible in a very short time. Its duration varies from 2 to 7 days, depending on the weight you want to lose. During this phase, you can consume 72 pure protein-based foods as much as you want. This makes you lose 1.5 to 4 kg!

According to Dukan, high amounts of protein help keep muscle mass intact and healthy while forcing the body to find the necessary energy from fat stores. This phase involves physical activity lasting 20 minutes per day.

At this stage, it is forbidden to use oil to season food while the use of vinegar, salt, spices, lemon and aromatic herbs is permitted.

Since the diet is devoid of fiber at this stage, it is necessary to take 1 and a half tablespoons of oats per day. Dukan himself also suggests the use of multivitamin supplements given the absolute absence of fruits and vegetables.

Cruising phase

This is the longest phase which ends when the optimal weight is reached. During this phase, you must introduce the vegetables. The 72 pure protein foods remain unchanged but you can eat up to the recommended 28 vegetables. We thus reach 100 foods.

Days where pure proteins are consumed are alternated with others where proteins can be combined with vegetables. You should increase the quantity of oats by 2 tablespoons and drink plenty of water to help the body eliminate toxins. The physical activity planned in this phase amounts to 30 minutes per day.

Consolidation phase: to avoid the yo-yo effect

More energetic and tasty foods are gradually reintroduced: weight is preserved thanks to the fact that on Thursday it is allowed to eat only pure proteins. This is a transition phase between a strict diet and a spontaneous diet. It lasts 10 days for each kilogram to lose.

In addition to the 100 foods that can be used regardless of the quantity, it is possible to add fruit, wholemeal bread, a portion of cheese, portions of starchy foods and a “gala meal per week”. You will take 2 and a half tablespoons of oats and daily physical activity will drop to 25 minutes.

Stabilization phase

This phase is decisive for the final success of the diet. Only if you follow the diet of this fourth phase to the letter will you not regain the lost weight. Food becomes free but under 3 conditions:

  • On Thursday you should eat only pure protein;
  • Consume 3 tablespoons of oats every day;
  • Walk at least 20 minutes a day.
Successfully follow the Dukan diet
The success of the Dukan diet also requires a daily walk of around twenty minutes.

Dukan diet: the 100 authorized foods

These 100 foods are considered “the turning point” by those who decide to follow this diet. These foods can be eaten at will and in unlimited quantities.

You can eat the following animal proteins:

  • Meat (horse, beef, bresaola, rabbit, veal liver, veal chop)
  • Poultry (ostrich steak, guinea fowl, chicken liver, cockerel, pigeon, chicken)
  • Fish (mullet, grouper, snapper, halibut, dab, fresh cod, hake, sea bream, emperor fish, swordfish)
  • Seafood (lobster, squid, scallops, mussels etc.)
  • Plant proteins (konjac root, seitan, tofu etc.)
  • Dairy products (low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat cream cheese, cream cheese, skimmed milk, ricotta, low-fat natural yogurt or with aspartame
  • Chicken eggs

The vegetables that you can eat are as follows:

  • Asparagus
  • Beet
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Artichoke
  • Turnip cabbage
  • Onion
  • Oat bran.

Importance of physical activity in the Dukan diet

Each phase of the diet must necessarily be associated with certain daily physical activities: from walking to aerobics, including swimming or dancing. In the attack phase, 20 minutes per day is enough. You will need to exercise for 30 minutes in the “cruise” phase, 25 minutes in the “consolidation” phase and another 20 minutes in the “stabilization” phase. Physical activity increases energy expenditure, draws on lipid reserves and firms and tones the skin.

Who should try the Dukan diet and why?

In the eyes of nutrition professionals, this is a fad diet. Someone who does not have pre-existing health conditions and wants to lose weight for a special occasion might find this diet helpful. The Dukan diet provides a lot of advice and strict rules, which can be good if you have trouble regulating your eating habits.

Who should never start the Dukan diet?

There are also categories of people who really should not start this diet. Their number includes pregnant or breastfeeding women, those suffering from circulatory and cardiovascular disorders, people suffering from kidney or liver failure, as well as diabetics.

Pregnant women are among the category of people who should not follow the Dukan diet.

Benefits of the Dukan diet

The advantages of this plan are as follows:

  • Weight loss is rapid;
  • Proteins are very thermogenic: they help burn a lot of calories;
  • Very satiating nutrients, proteins have effects effective appetite suppressants:
  • Proteins have a very strong anti-water retention power;
  • Proteins are low in calories;
  • To the delight of gourmands, the regime allows 2 free dinners per week, to avoid frustration;
  • It is a sustainable solution to maintain new body weight. You can stay in shape (maintain your ideal weight) as long as you only eat protein meals every Thursday;
  • Dr. Dukan’s book is full of new protein-rich recipes.


The disadvantages of this diet are as follows:

  • The attack phase being poor in fiber, you must watch out for constipation. In addition, this phase presents the same contraindications as a standard high-protein diet, that is to say the risk of deficiencies. It is best to supplement your diet with vitamin and mineral supplements to avoid problems.
  • Eating eggs and meat in large quantities can increase blood cholesterol.
  • The diet is monotonous and restrictive: you only eat proteins and vegetables.

Special menus and recipes for the Dunkan diet

Phases Typical Day
AttackBreakfast : Stevia coffee + egg white omelette + cooked ham.
Lunch : Grilled chicken breast, with cheese with fresh herbs (parsley, thyme).
Dessert : sugar-free jelly.
Snack : Sweetened stevia herbal tea + oat bran cake + slices of turkey.
Dinner : natural tuna and skimmed cheese.Dessert : sugar-free jelly.
CruiseBreakfast : Macchiato with skimmed milk and sweetened with stevia + oat bran with tomato and cooked ham.
Lunch : Baked beef fillet + green leaf salad (spinach, lettuce, arugula) seasoned with olive oil.
Dessert : low-fat yogurt with sweetener.
Snack : Sweetened stevia iced tea + scrambled eggs + slices of turkey.
Dinner : Grilled sole with lemon + tomato and onion salad + broccoli with cheese gratin.
Dessert : sugar-free jelly.
ConsolidationBreakfast : coffee with skimmed milk, sweetened with stevia + 1 slice of wholemeal bread + emmental and avocado with lemon.
Lunch : Omelette with ham, peas, peppers and cherry tomatoes + green salad with olive oil.
Dessert : sugar-free jelly.
Snack : Low-fat yogurt + oat bran pancakes.
Dinner : Zucchini stuffed with minced meat, onion and pepper + cheese gratin + grilled pumpkin.
Dessert : ½ cup strawberries.
StabilizationBreakfast : Coffee sweetened with stevia + tuna sandwich + cheese and slice of turkey.
Lunch : Grilled salmon + green salad + 1 medium-sized potato.
Dessert : 1 orange.
Snack : coffee with milk, sweetened with stevia + oat bran pancake + cooked ham.
Dinner : minced chicken and vegetables.
Dessert : 1 kiwi.

Effectiveness of the Dukan diet

The Dukan diet is undeniably effective. The testimonies are legion and even come from health professionals. Note that abroad, in Russia for example, health professionals who suffered from overweight or even obesity found “their happiness” thanks to the Dukan diet. And it is by cohort that they come to say thank you to Doctor Dukan as you can see in the video. But what makes this protein diet so effective? By consuming large quantities of proteins which are very thermogenic, the burning of fats and carbohydrates follows. This regime therefore acts as a effective fat burner.


The duration of the Dukan diet varies depending on your weight loss goals. This diet is a tip for losing weight quickly and sustainably. One week to 15 days is enough to lose between 2 kg to 5 kg of body mass. But if your goals are in the range of 20 kg to 40 kg, it is important to follow the following instructions correctly. He follows the attack phase for a week. Then, you will need to eat and add vegetables to your diet every other day. You must necessarily follow all 4 phases of the Dunkan diet. The total duration of the diet can then exceed 12 months without physically exhausting you. And if you also want to stay in shape without regaining the lost kilograms, then it would be better for you to follow the Dukan diet over the long term (more than 3 years). Afterwards a sort of habit sets in.

Opinion of health professionals

Several health professionals have appreciated the Dunkan diet. But many others instead formulate criticisms that I can group into two. This diet would be too rich in protein and not rich in fruits and vegetables.

Too much protein

The high protein content taken can burden the liver and kidneys. If prolonged over time, this diet could cause an increase in blood cholesterol and uric acid. In addition, the Dukan diet includes the presence of red meat in its menus, despite the fact that the link between excessive consumption of it and the increased risk of developing colon cancer has been demonstrated.

Few fruits and vegetables

The absence of fruits and vegetables exposes those who follow the diet to significant deficiencies in vitamins and dietary fiber useful for the intestine. Even the absence of carbohydrates can become dangerous. In addition to being our primary source of energy, their absence can increase vascular risk and the appearance of certain cancers. Additionally, when you eliminate carbohydrates, the body begins to burn fat and thus enters a phase called “ketosis”. This is characterized by an excess of ketone bodies in the blood. You will also have a feeling of fatigue and a grayish complexion, without taking into account the “yo-yo effect” when re-entering the diet.

Consumer reviews

The Dukan diet can be an effective way to lose weight quickly because it limits calories, carbs, and fat. Generally users find that losing weight thanks to the Dukan diet is easy, but being able to stay in shape in the long term without gaining weight is something else entirely.

Alex P. says he lost 10 kilograms of body mass in a month without ever gaining it back, by following the Dukan diet 16 years ago. His secret: read the book before starting and follow the doctor’s instructions correctly.

Christelle C. says she follows Dr Dukan’s recommendations correctly but admits to gaining 1.2 kilograms of body mass from time to time. It is insignificant and fleeting.