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What is the Dukan diet?

The Dukan diet is a high protein, low carbohydrate diet focused on weight loss created by the French physician Pierre Dukan. It includes a limited number of foods that are primarily from the protein-containing food groups or vegetable foods. 

What is the attack phase of the Dukan diet?

There are four main phases of the Dukan diet: attack, cruise, consolidation, and stabilization phase. The attack phase is focused on consuming only high protein foods with the goal of rapid weight loss. Although the intention is to lose weight from cutting carbohydrates, the rationale is not completely accurate. When cutting carbohydrates from the diet, our bodies lose water weight, which is why initial weight loss may be experienced. This phase will last between 2-7 days. During this phase you will eat from the “pure protein” foods list only, and can eat as much as you want. Other requirements include consuming 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran, drinking 1.5 liters of water or more, and exercising for 20 minutes daily. 

What are the risks of the Dukan diet?

One risk of the Dukan diet is that it may not be nutritionally adequate, potentially lacking in certain nutrients due to limiting entire food groups. The high protein intake from this diet also may be excessive for some individuals and can put stress on the kidneys. Some long-term health effects that have been suggested from this diet include cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, liver disease, and kidney disease. Individuals who already have these conditions may also further exacerbate disease complications by following this diet. 

Will I lose weight on the Dukan diet?

High-protein diets can help promote weight loss through helping you to feel full for longer after meals and even reducing the levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Some of the initial weight loss experienced from a high-protein diet is due to the loss of water weight, which is not sustainable weight loss. Additionally, this diet is very restrictive and requires a significant amount of time cooking at home. With these restrictions, this diet can be challenging to maintain long-term. 

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Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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