Have you ever heard of the Dukan diet? This weight loss diet was created by a French nutritionist named Pierre Dukan in 2000, and aims to help individuals lose weight without having to think too much about what they eat.
The Dukan diet is set up in phases, which typically last anywhere from a few days to a few months. Although the first phase is quite limiting (read more on that below), as you move through the program the requirements become less stringent, and it’s easier to integrate the diet into your everyday life.
Even though there are some exact Dukan diet recipes that exist, many people find this diet effective and easy to follow. Today, we’ll explore the various phases of the Dukan diet and talk about the pros and cons of eating in this way.
What is the Dukan Diet?
The Dukan Diet is a specific diet developed by a nutritionist to encourage weight loss. According to Dr. Dukan’s philosophy, each of us has a True Weight which can be revealed using their calculations, which include height and current and past weight measurements.
Once that’s calculated, an individual can choose to sign up for their personalized service, or follow the rough points of the diet on their own.
Within the Dukan Diet, there are four distinct phases.
In the Dukan diet attack phase, the goal is to jump-start weight loss by drastically restricting the types of food that can be consumed. The phase lasts anywhere from 1 to 10 days depending on how much weight you want to lose.
During the attack phase, you can only consume lean protein and 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran per day. The individual must also drink at least 6 cups of water daily.
In the cruise phase of the Dukan diet, the goal is to lose weight progressively and effectively. During this phase, non-starchy vegetables are added back into the diet, but can only be consumed every other day. Non-starchy veggies include asparagus, beans, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, and salad greens. Additionally, the amount of oat bran eaten in a day is increased to 2 tablespoons. The daily water intake should stay the same.
In the consolidation phase of the Dukan diet, the goal is to maintain the weight lost in the first two phases while learning how to eat healthy in a more sustainable way. The designers of this diet understand that the initial two phases cannot and should not be maintained in perpetuity, so this phase is about gradually returning to a more standard diet. To calculate how long you should remain in this phase, multiply the number of pounds you lost by five days.
During this time, you can eat lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables daily, and each day you can also add a piece of fruit, and some carbs and fat. 1-2 celebration meals during this phase are permitted, but once a week you’ll go back to the attack phase diet and follow that for the whole day.
The stabilization phase of the Dukan diet lasts indefinitely. As long as your weight remains stable, you can eat what you want. Eating 3 tablespoons of oat bran and drinking a lot of water every day is encouraged. However, once a week you must follow the attack phase diet and return to only eating lean protein, water, and oat bran for the whole day.
Is the Dukan Diet Good for You?
Although some people love the strict guidelines and communal attitude of the Dukan diet, the reality is this diet is not a healthy long-term solution. By removing so many foods including fruit and carbs for potentially weeks or months at a time, you rob your body of important nutrients that only those foods can provide.
The Dukan diet itself has not been studied extensively, making it difficult to tell what happens to the health of someone who follows this diet for a longer period of time. In one small study done in Poland in 2015, researchers found that all the female participants who followed the Dukan diet lost an average of 33 pounds in 8-10 weeks.
However, they also had notably low levels of vitamin C and folates, as well as assorted “nutritional abnormalities”. In their conclusion, researchers noted that “adopting this diet in the long-term may pose health threats through acquiring kidney and liver disease, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.”
Pros and Cons of the Dukan Diet
Despite the potential for long-term health problems, many people are drawn to the Dukan diet. Here are some of the most common pros and cons.
The phases are easy to follow: Since in the early Dukan diet phases the permitted foods are so limited, most people don’t need to do too much meal prep throughout the week.
There’s a strong online community: People who want support can join the Dukan Coaching program, which costs $29.95 per month. Through forums and chat, they can connect with other participants and coaches, and find resources like meal plans, Dukan diet recipes, shopping lists, and more.
It works quickly: Most people who follow the Dukan diet have lost weight, especially initially as they remove all carbs, fats, and sugar from their diet.
It’s very restrictive: The initial phases of the Dukan diet, especially the attack phase, are extremely restrictive. This can be a challenge for someone who is not used to restricting what they eat and enjoys a variety of flavors.
It could lead to long-term health issues: Medical professionals have expressed concern about the long-term health impacts of following the Dukan diet for an extended period of time.
Should I Follow the Dukan Diet?
It’s tempting to want to take shortcuts in the path to weight loss, and many followers find the Dukan diet useful in helping them quickly shed an initial amount of weight. However, these types of diets are not sustainable in the long term, and can even cause nutrient deficiencies that will affect your health.
Instead, a balanced, healthy diet focused on whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables is a more sensible long-term solution. If you’re looking for a way to make it easier to know which of these foods are ideal for your metabolism and genetics, check out GenoPalate.