The Dukan Diet – The French Weight Loss Diet System

The Dukan Diet

The Dukan Diet is fast becoming the weight loss diet of choice all across the World. J-Lo was one of the first celebs to announce that she used the Dukan Diet to lose weight shortly after she gave birth. Since then the diet, which is available as a book, is spreading like wild fire. Everyone we have spoken to that has tried the diet has successfully lost weight.

What is the Dukan Diet?

The Dukan Diet was developed by a French nutritionist, Dr. Pierre Dukan. The diet was popular in France for many years before it was translated into English. Latest news is that Kate Middleton and her mother have both been on the diet to lose weight before her marriage to Prince William. The diet consists of 4 phases – and yes, there are many similarities with the Atkins Diet. Each phase is designed to help you to control weight loss.

Attack Phase

The first phase is the Attack Phase. This literally attacks your body fat. The method used in this Attack Phase is the same as the Induction Phase of the Atkins Diet, you consume proteins and cut out all sugar and carbohydrates to make your body burn fat instead of sugar for energy. When the body burns sugar for energy it only has the dietary sugars to burn. When it burns fat for energy (lipolysis) it can utilise both dietary fat and body fat.

Cruise Phase

The next phase of the diet is the Cruise Phase. This is the period where you continue weight loss for as long as it is required. You still restrict carbohydrates and maintain a healthy but protein and fat rich diet. The method of dieting here is called “alternating protein diet” which basically means that you alternate protein rich days with days where more carbohydrates are allowed.


The next phase is Consolidation. The main purpose of this phase is to prevent weight gain after the rapid weight loss. After the weight is quickly lost during the Attack Phase and Cruise Phase there is a great risk of regaining it back again. It is important to maintain the diet and keep careful eye on your weight during this phase. If you put weight back on, attack again!

Stabilization Phase

The final phase is the Stabilization Phase. This final phase should never end. This may sound extreme to you now, but you must understand this:

The reason you are overweight now is because for many years you have been eating an unsuitable diet.

Your diet is the main reason that you are overweight. If you return to your current diet YOU WILL REGAIN THE WEIGHT AGAIN. That is a guarantee. So the stabilization phase sees you maintaining your new healthy weight for the rest of your life. This final phase is not as bad as it seems. Firstly, you will learn to enjoy a healthier diet of energy (food) that this diet provides. There is a rich variety of allowed foods, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, vegetables, pulses, fruits etc. etc. Where you need to keep being careful is avoiding the things that make us all fat – sugar, white bread, too many high GI foods, an imbalance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Dukan and Exercise

Like in all good weight loss diets, you MUST EXERCISE while doing the Dukan Diet. Exercise is such an essential part of weight loss that there is little reason to go to the effort of changing your diet for the better if you are not going to get up and do some exercise too. The best exercise that you can do is the program that we set out in our MCD Weight Loss Plan. To lose weight and maintain a healthy weight you need to perform regular exercise that combines:

This is the key to weight loss.

Why Does Dukan Work?

The Dukan Diet system works simply because it adopts the same rules that make any other plan work:

  • Cut out sugar from your diet
  • Reduce calories

Reduce calories? If you read the Dukan book you will see that Dr. Dukan says that you do not need to count calories. This is true, but the diet itself promotes fewer calories. Not a restriction of calories like we see in crash diets like the Cabbage Soup Diet, but a change to a healthier way of eating. The Dukan diet does not allow any bread, pasta, white rice, pastry, refined flour or alcohol in the early weight loss phases. This is because all of these result in the average person consuming far more calories than they can burn. The Dukan Diet really is very similar to Atkins and Low GI Dieting. Really the same foods that are listed under the low GI diet are the ones that are allowed in the Attack Phase of the Dukan Diet. They are all low in sugar, so low energy, nutrient rich foods that make you feel full longer and therefore reduce appetite. Other parts of the Dukan diet help you control appetite. Dukan tells you to drink a lot of water, water at meal times and in between meals. Drinking water literally fills you up and makes you feel full longer. However, it is worth noting that studies have actually shown that eating soup is a more effective way to feel full than drinking water with your meal. So you could consider liquidizing more meals! The Dukan Diet will certainly help you lose weight if you follow the rules. In fact, most diets will help you lose weight, if you follow the rules. Our tip for making Dukan work: Read the entire book. Many people have criticised the Atkins Diet in the past but have never actually read the book, to fail to understand what it really is and why it works. A vast majority of people are simply wrong about what is involved in the Atkins Diet. There is a real risk that the Dukan Diet could suffer the same fate – people will pick up on the Attack Phase only and ignore the advice and following phases, then simply put the weight back on again. This is what happened with Atkins – people read about the Induction Phase in magazines and online and tried to follow that for a few weeks, then failed to do the diet properly. For example, in a customer review of the book on Amazon, one person says:

“Attack at first glance is very similar to the Atkins Diet. until you realise that Dr Dukan is only telling you to eat HEALTHY cuts of meat, unlike Dr Atkins who advocated eating all meats, cheeses, creams, anything no matter how high the fat content.”

But Atkins never said this! In fact, he said to avoid offal, fatty meat and ideally to eat organic. Maybe earlier editions of the book were not clear on this, but the edition that we have on the shelf here (the 2002 edition) is very clear in this. In fact, in the Dr. Atkins book he lists the main fallacies of the diet and explains why a high protein diet does not create a greater risk to high cholesterol levels than a high sugar diet. So, some people are saying that Dukan is nothing like Atkins, but they are mostly unaware of the full details of the Atkins Diet plan – how many laypersons read all 500 pages of the book? If you want to follow a simpler diet that is based on the same principals, read the Bruce Lee Diet. Bruce Lee had the right idea before Atkins and before Dukan with rules such as:

  • Avoid empty calories
  • Avoid sugar
  • Eat lean proteins
  • Eat nutritious vegetables

Also, you have to exercise a lot! Any exercise will work, you do not have to learn kung-fu (although it is a lot of fun to do so!). For any weight loss diet to work you have to be totally dedicated. You have to read the rules, follow the diet rules and do the exercise too. The Dukan Diet is like Atkins in many ways, and that is why it works. It has in a way repackaged Atkins to make it seem a healthier diet to follow. In both diets you can eat a wide variety of healthy food that provides all the essential nutrients you need. It incorporates human nutrition science into an eating plan that makes it easier for you to reduce calories by helping you to control and manage your appetite. A combination of low GI carbohydrates and lean proteins keeps your blood sugar under control and your “eating hormones” turned down.

Is the Dukan Diet Safe?

Some nutritionists say that the Dukan Diet may be dangerous and cause increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer. Dr Jean-Michel Cohen won a libel case against him after stating that the Dukan Diet was unhealthy. Dr. Atkins came under the same fire for his diet plan. However, he always said that it was healthier to eat more protein and low GI carbs and be a healthy weight than to just overeat and become morbidly obese. A high protein diet may lead to increased heart disease risk if the food choices contain a lot of saturated fat. If healthier foods are eaten, such as eggs, poultry, fish, sea food, nuts seeds and pulses, then maybe the heart health risk will not be an issue.

Dr. Pierre Dukan Breaches Medical Guidelines

In March 2012 we heard that Dr. Pierre Dukan is facing an ethics hearing after suggesting that children should be graded on their weight in an attempt to stop obesity. In January, Dr. Dukan said that the French Baccalaureate exam should have a weight related assessment which 17-year-olds would pass just by being a healthy weight. The French College of Physicians is saying that his comments were in breach of medical guidelines and that he did not consider how his comments may impact on the lives of children, i.e. it could result in eating disorders in a population that is already suffering from obesity and anorexia. Dr. Dukan could get struck off as a result of these comments. This is obviously the worse case scenario for him. The hearing is due to take place in 2012.

15 Comments on “The Dukan Diet – The French Weight Loss Diet System”

  1. kathleen tanzola says:

    I stopped smoking and gained weight about 15 pounds and i am very uncomfortable I need to look like jennifer lopez lol
    I started back at the gym and still see no results because I always need to be eating something carrots sticks just arent cutting it!! Help

  2. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Kathleen, if you want to look like J Lo you are going to have to exercise as hard as J Lo!

    Have you tried to Dukan diet? It worked for J Lo, but she did also workout a lot.

  3. Is that all you eat at first? Just meat? and fish? What about breakfast? What about fruit? I don’t know if i can survive with out fruit! :D It sounds like its working for other people I am just afraid that i will go in to shock of I do not get the proper nutrient that my body needs.

  4. MotleyHealth says:

    I have not done the Dukan Diet myself but I did do the Atkins many years ago. The induction phase is very restrictive, but this is a short phase, usually just 2 weeks. It is designed to end your sugar addiction and stabilize blood sugar levels, which helps control appetite and aid fat loss by also reducing insulin and increasing glucagon hormones.

    If you have been following a reasonably varied diet previously then you should have plenty of nutrients in storage to get you through the 2 week induction without any ill effect. Make sure that you read the whole book, where most people went wrong with Atkins was that they just read the first chapter and then spent months on the induction phase and never moved on to the next much healthier stages.

  5. What are some good protein foods to eat during the Attack Phase?

  6. MotleyHealth says:

    Dukan diet in the news – Dr. Dukan under fire for comments about basing exams for school children on their weight.

  7. Hye-wonRyu says:

    I’m a Korean teenager who looks fat compared to her super-thin schoolmates!
    Is there a more faster way to lose fat then that? I don’t want to be called names, and I need to look good in front of this special some one. Please help!
    P.S. I will be waiting for an answer every single day!

  8. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Hye-wonRyu, no need to wait every day, we reply the same day! You need to do 2 things:
    1. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Stop all junk food and sweetened drinks – you only need water.
    2. Exercise daily. Get fit. Does not matter how you exercise really, just do something every day. Running, dance, swimming, martial arts, circuit training etc. they all will get you fit and burn extra calories.

  9. Hye-wonRyu says:

    Is rice, kimchi, etc. (google Korean foods for more) okay?
    It’s what I eat every day, so I got a little dizzy when I found on my websearch for ways to lose fat that whole grains and the things I eat can make you GAIN fat. Also, thank you for replying quickly. The time for short pants/T-shirts are coming soon, and I don’t want to look fat in them!

  10. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Hye-wonRyu, any food is really OK in moderation. The problem with rice is that it is very high in energy and people often consume more than they need, which leads to weight gain. Also, the white rices are quite high GI, which means that your body breaks the sugars down quickly leading to raised insulin levels and faster uptake of sugars into fat storage. Fried rice obviously has the added fat content too, making it even worse. Smaller portions is the key though.

  11. What about snacks? is there anything you could have thats healthy?

  12. MotleyHealth says:

    High protein snacks are OK.

  13. hi, i am a korean teenager as well, trying to lose weight. i found some other sites that said spicy foods boost metabolism, is this true? also, on the dukan diet no fruits or vegetables at all??

  14. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Jeaeun, spicy food can boost metabolism a little, but this additional boost is nowhere near enough to burn off the excess energy from eating too much food. If it did, people who ate spicy curry every night would be slim.

    The Dukan diet has some strange rules. These rules are often for specific phases of the diet and not permanent. Like any diet system of this nature, parts of it will seem extreme. If you follow it, it will probably work. However, if you find this type of diet too alien you will not follow it.

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