The Dukan Diet - an Essential Guide

The Dukan Diet is not for everyone Food photo created by freepik - www.freepik.com

What is the Dukan diet, does it help you to lose weight fast and it's good for the body? All the answers plus a handful of dukan diet recipes, below.

In the 1970s, Dr. Pierre Dukan heard an obese patient saying that he would be willing to give up any food to lose weight, but not meat. In 2000, Dr. Pierre Dukan published a book called "The Dukan Diet", which became a major bestseller. People claimed this diet helped them lose weight fast, without feeling hungry all the time.

What is the Dukan diet?

The Dukan Diet is a high-protein, low-carb weight loss plan, split into 4 phases: Attack, Cruise, Consolidation, and Stabilization.

The first 2 phases are focused on losing weight, while the second 2 are focused on maintaining the loss. You start by calculating your "goal weight" or what Dr. Dukan calls "true weight", based on your gender, age, weight loss history, and other factors.

Dukan diet phases

1. Attack Phase (1–7 days)

This first stage is called the "Pure Protein" days, because you can eat unlimited lean proteins, such as eggs, lean beef, seafood, skinless poultry, along with 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran per day, limited low-fat dairy, and a small amount of olive oil to grease pans. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day.

2. Cruise Phase (1–12 months)

Here you can continue to eat lean proteins one day, but alternate them with specific non-starchy vegetables the next day, such as leafy greens, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers. Add 2 tablespoons of oat bran every day. This stage combines "Pure Protein" days with "Protein/Vegetable" days.

3. Consolidation Phase (5 days for every pound lost in phases 1 and 2)

If you've reached your "true weight", the maintaining stage begins. You will continue to eat foods from phases 1 and 2, but you can add small portions of cheese, fruits, starches, bread, other meats, and wine. Increase the consumption of oat bran to 2.5 tablespoons per day.

4. Stabilization Phase (indefinite)

The final part of the Dukan diet is the weight maintenance part and it lasts as long as possible. You only have to follow the guidelines from phase 3, but you may loosen the rules as you see that your weight remains stable. Increase the consumption of oat bran to 3 tablespoons per day.

Dukan diet rules

Like any other diet, this one has rules and principles you need to be aware of, if you're thinking of trying it.

First of all, the Dukan diet plan is mainly based on proteins, 70% of the foods you will eat are pure proteins (meat, eggs), while 30% of the protein intake will come from certain starchy vegetables.

In addition to a higher consumption of protein, another important rule of the Dukan diet is to limit fats and carbohydrates. Carbs are what cause the secretion of insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels and encourages fat deposits, while the consumption of bad fats will only make your mission of losing weight more difficult.

Dukan diet foods

In each phase, you're allowed to eat only certain foods. Here is a quick Dukan diet foods list, according to healthline.com:

Attack Phase: 

  • lean beef
  • lean pork
  • skinless poultry
  • kidney, liver, tongue
  • fish and shellfish
  • eggs
  • milk, yogurt, ricotta, cottage cheese
  • tofu, tempeh
  • 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran each day
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil to grease pans
  • small amounts of lemon juice and pickles
  • at least 1.5 l of water per day

Cruise Phase

  • 2 tablespoons of oat bran daily
  • carrots and beets, 1 serving per day
  • spinach, kale, lettuce, other leafy greens
  • turnips
  • pumpkins
  • broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts
  • spaghetti squash
  • bell peppers, asparagus, artichokes
  • eggplants, cucumbers, celery
  • tomatoes, mushrooms, green beans
  • onions, leeks, and shallots

Consolidation Phase

  • berries, chopped melon
  • one medium apple, orange, pear, peach, or nectarine
  • two kiwis, plums, or apricots
  • 2 slices of whole-grain bread per day, with reduced-fat butter
  • 40 g of cheese per day
  • 1–2 servings of starches per week: 225 g of pasta and grains, corn, beans, legumes, rice, or potatoes.
  • roast lamb, pork or ham, but only 1-2 times per week
  • 2.5 tablespoons of oat bran per day

Stabilization Phase

  • 3 tablespoons of oat bran per day
  • continue with 1 "Pure Protein" day per week
  • use foods from the Consolidation Phase to plan your meals

Dukan diet results

The Dukan diet plan has its ups and downs, just like any other diet.

For instance, its benefits for the body were not sufficiently studied per se. However, there is one Polish study about women who followed the Dukan Diet that revealed that they ate about 1,000 calories and 100 g of protein each day, and lost 33 pounds (15 kg) in 8-10 weeks.

A 2014 study shows that a high protein diet may lead to weight loss, thanks to several reasons:

  • it helps you feel more full;
  • it reduces the level of ghrelin, a hunger hormone;
  • it causes diuresis, a loss of body fluids;
  • it keeps the balance of the glucose in the body.

When it comes to health risks posed by the Dukan Diet, a study from 2015 showed that in the long run, this weight loss diet may lead to kidney disease, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis.

Like any protein diet, the main risks of the Dukan diet are aiming the kidneys, which are forced to work harder than in normal eating. Another risk is represented by the nutritional deficiency, due to a very limited consumption of fruits and vegetables.

It's best to talk to your medical supervisor or a professional nutritionist before starting the Dukan diet. They may help you minimize the risks.

However, if you wish to indulge yourself from time to time with Dukan diet recipes, we got you covered. Here is a yummy collection of Dukan recipes you can try at home. Enjoy!

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