What is the Dukan Diet: The Dukan Method Explained

The start of the New Year always prompts a lot of New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight or eat more healthily so it seem appropriate to put together a post which explained the main principles of the Dukan Diet.

Before I start it is important to understand that the Dukan Diet is continually being refined and adapted by Dr Dukan so the information provided may slightly differ from other information that you have read elsewhere on the Internet or even in Dr Dukan’s own Dukan Diet books.  Dr Dukan tries out the refinements and adaptation on his coaching clients who are paying him to help them lose weight and he is able to provide them with these changes straight away.  This information of course takes longer to get into his books.

The changes are usually quite small and designed to make the diet easier to follow or better nutritionally.  Dr Dukan’s has been refining his diet plan for over 35 years since his very first patient asked for a weight loss program that included a lot of meat and Dr Dukan sent him away with instructions to eat only lean grilled meat for five days and to drink only water and to come back and see him.  This very first Attack Phase produced a weight loss of 12 pounds.

In some ways I blame Dr Dukan for the some of the bad press that his diet has received because his marketing of the diet has over simplified his method almost beyond recognition.

The back cover of the UK Dukan Diet book describes the Attack Phase of the Diet  as

“For 2-7 days eat as much as you want of 72 protein-rich foods”

In the Cruise Phase you

“Continue eating the protein-rich foods with the addition of 28 vegetables”

In Consolidation you

“Add fruit,bread, cheese and starchy foods, and two celebration meals a weeks, allowing 5 days for every pound lost.”

Stabilisation is

“Eat what you like without regaining weight by following 3 simple rules, including the famous “protein Thursdays”

 If it really was that simple why would his book need 364 pages!!

Of course my list of 15 points below is also an over simplification of the diet but hopefully it will help you put a little more flesh on the bones of your understanding of the Dukan Diet and if you want to know more you could spend a little more time exploring my site or you could decide buy one of Dr Dukan’s Diet books.

  1. The Dukan Diet is a four phase eating plan that you will be able to follow to lose weight and keep it off forever.  The two weight loss phases are Attack and Cruise and the two maintenance phases are Consolidation and Stabilisation.
  2. At the heart of the two weight loss phases is a concentration on eating low fat, low carb, high protein foods.  The UK Dukan Diet Book lists 72 of these proteins but there are a few more.
  3. In the second phase vegetables are added usually on alternate days but vegetables allowed are low in sugar and starch content.  There are 28 vegetables listed in the UK Dukan Diet book but again a few more can be added.
  4. You don’t count calories on the Dukan Diet but certain foods should be eaten with a  degree of moderation – dairy products should be limited to 1 kg a day and certain vegetables such as carrots, beetroot and artichokes which have higher levels of sugar are limited to one 200g serving a week.
  5. Apart from goji berries and rhubarb all fruit is banned from the first two weight loss stages of the diet.
  6. The Diet restricts the levels of sugar, carbs and fat eaten, not allowing any food with added sugar starch or fat but doesn’t ban them where they naturally occur in the food.  The dairy products contain  natural sugar and as do many of the vegetable and goji berries.  Oat bran is a high carb food and you are now allowed one teaspoon of olive oil or rapeseed oil each day.
  7. Dr Dukan added oat bran to his diet because of the beneficial health impacts in preventing diabetes and reducing cholesterol – he also considers it to be the most satisfying food in his diet.  This one ingredient has certainly provided a lot of versatility to the foods that can be eaten.  He now recommends eating this in one serving rather than several times throughout the day.
  8. It also advises to watch the amount of sodium/salt eaten particularly if you are prone to water retention.
  9. There is quite a long list of additional permitted items which make following the Diet much more palatable for example even on pure protein days you can have small amounts of onion, tomato puree and garlic.
  10. In the Cruise Phase you can add two daily tolerated items.
  11. Daily exercise is a prescribed part of the Diet.
  12. As is drinking enough water.
  13. When you’ve reached your target weight in the third phase, Consolidation you add in certain fruit, certain starchy foods, some cheeses and other foods in a Cein a controlled manner but keep to one day a week of Pure Protein, the famous Dukan Thursday.
  14. It is based on real foods, rather than convenience foods and teaches you a new way of eating.
  15. It is a not a miracle cure, if you do not change your eating habits your weight will just creep back on even if you follow the three Stabilisation rules which are to never take the escalator/lift, eat a daily serving of 3 tablespoons of oat bran and to have a Dukan Thursday – one day of Pure Protein protein each week.


21 Responses to “What is the Dukan Diet: The Dukan Method Explained”

  • Carol on December 1, 2017

    Are there guidelines on the 2 slices of 100% whole-grain bread that begins in Phase 3? Is the sugar content restricted? Or are other added ingredients restricted?

    • Amber on December 20, 2017

      Hi Carol

      There are no guidelines on the nutritional content of the wholegrain bread in Phase 3 but calories are calories so use this to guage the best bread to chose.

      Best wishes


  • Lena on June 3, 2012

    Thank you for a great site. I live in Sweden and I am a member of a Facebook-group for “Dukaner’s”. I often quote you, you are my “go-to-source” of information. I just read your article with 15 points explaining the Dukan diet, and point 4 worries me some. First of all it was news to me (and to all Swedes) that not only carrots and beetroot were on the restricted list, but asparagus as well. The information we have is that carrots and beetroots shouldn’t be eaten with each meal on PV days. But what is this about one 200 g serving a week? Can I just have asparagus once a week? Or is it a total of 200 g per week? If it’s just one serving of these 3 vegetables I have done it totally wrong, as have we all… I have been doing this for 10 weeks now and lost 10.5 kg, so I can’t have been doing it all wrong…

    • Amber on June 3, 2012

      Hi Lena

      Congratulations! As you say if you’ve lost 10.5kg in 10 weeks you can’t have been making too many mistakes!

      The problem with the Dukan Diet is that Dr Dukan is constantly making minor changes to his diet and these changes appear in the paid coached version of the diet first. Both books that I’ve got only restrict carrots and beetroot and only go as far as stating “not to have them at every meal”.

      I’ve been all though the records that I’ve got trying to find the reference that I found that restricted asparagus and couldn’t find it. I’m now wondering whether I’m got asparagus and artichokes confused as here is an extract I saved from an online chat of 5 August 2011 on the UK Dukan Diet Site. As you can see Sonja on of the Dukan coaches clearly advises that carrots, beetroots and artichokes should only be eaten once a week.

      Cooper2010 : it says only green veg allowed in cruise but I have tomatoes in my virtual fridge. So does that mean I can eat them?

      sonja : Hi Cooper and welcome to the chat! You can eat any type of vegetables except for starchy ones such as corn, kidney beans, chick peas… And carrots, beet roots and artichokes that you cannot have more than once per week. We usually suggest to have some green vegetables to avoid constipation but again don’t worry you can go for tomatoes no problem!

      Here is a link to the forum pages of the UK Dukan Diet which also mentions the 200g serving for carrots.http://www.dukandiet.co.uk/en/340,17,28576,the-forums-community.html

      As long as you are losing weight successfully I would not worry about changing the vegetables you are eating

      • Lena on June 4, 2012

        Hi and thanks for your answer.

        I actually interpret the second sentence you linked to differently. There’s no mention of ONE SERVING.

        It says: “Carrots you are ADVISED to resrict the amount you at to 200g a week because of theri high sugar content.”.

        There’s no way that I eat 200 g carrots a week, but I do eat them more than once a week.

        No I am not changing anything as it’s going so well, but it’s interesting to know the facts. It must be even more confusing for people who have paid lots of money to be coached, and then they change the rules all the time. We who do it just with the book and websites like this, may be doing it wrong as to the latest facts, but we are probably not as confused…

        Thanks again for a great site!

        • Lena on June 4, 2012

          Just one more thing… I looked at the link above and went to the FAQ in the Forum and found this:

          Carrots and beetroots are justly renowned for containing sugar. However they do not containt hat much sugar. But still, these sugars have got a quick penetration effect especially baked carrots. So the answer is : carrots and beetroots are allowed in decent quantities by avoiding sauces and oil. However if you can’t restrain yourself from eating only a few carrots and if you can’t eat them without any dressing well keep away from them. Finally, always prefer raw carrots to baked ones, because they are a little bit more slow to penetrate into the blood.

          • Amber on June 4, 2012

            Hi Lena

            You are right it is difficult to keep up with all of the tweaks that Dr Dukan keeps making!


      • Linda K on June 4, 2012

        Besides carrots, beetroots and artichokes … parsnips were added to that list Dec. 25, 2011 🙂 It’s hard to keep up with all the changes. I think you did mention it shortly after that showed up on the chat history on the UK website.

        It’s 7 months today that I’m in Stabilization 🙂

        • Amber on June 4, 2012

          Hi Linda

          It is great to hear from you. You are right about the parsnips. Another “new” vegetable that can be eaten in unrestricted amounts is seaweed but it isn’t something that I could eat a lot of!! I think I will need to start another post which lists these additional foods so that we can keep track of them!

          Best wishes


  • Naiily on February 23, 2012

    Hello there,

    Thanks for all the great information on your site. I have read the book and intend to get started soon, I do though have a question which I hope you can help me with, Do you know what the minimum amount of protein to be consumed a day on the diet is please?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Amber on February 23, 2012

      Hi Nalily

      There is no minimum amount of protein to be eaten but it is the protein which powers the weight loss in this diet. When you reach Cruise it is recommended that you base your meals on 2/3 protein 1/3 veg. Protein is a more satisfying food that takes more effort for your body to digest so it produces less net calories and keeps you full for longer.

      Kind regards


      • Naiily on February 24, 2012

        Thanks for the prompt reply.

        The reason I was asking was because I have tried this diet once before, but not being a huge meat / egg eater I find it hard to eat a lot of protein, a friend who has had great sucess on this diet told me the reason I didn’t loose much weight was due to the fact I don’t eat enough protein, she mentioned you were supposed to eat 1.5g of protein per kilo you weigh or something along those lines except I can’t recall the exact amount she said and I can’t find this information anywhere. Could this be the case?
        Anyways I do intend to try again!

        What I did like about the diet though is even though I wasn’t eating that much I wasn’t hungry, so it did work, but my weight loss was around 1 pound a week which is low from what I have heard anyways.

        Sorry for the long post! Thanks again.

        • Amber on February 24, 2012

          Hi Naiily

          There are no guidelines on the amount of protein to eat in either of the copies of the books that I have and I’ve never seen this. It might be that your friend read an article like this one

          As I said protein is what powers the weight loss so eating less protein could very easily explain your lower weight loss.

          Good luck and let me know if there is anything else I can help with.


  • cvd on February 14, 2012

    Love your site and the diet!!! Great help!

    I am at the end of the consolidation phase (7days to go!) I actually lost 17lbs (started at 133 down to 116= goal weight) but in the consolidation phase I have gained 5-6 lbs back. This weight gain has been consistent for 1-2weeks. What should I do? Go back to attack phase? If so then what? Do I do more of the consolidation phase again after that? Help!

    • Amber on February 15, 2012

      Hi cyd

      I would go back onto Cruise until you are back to target weight and then I’d follow Consolidation for a few more weeks to try to stabilise your weight before moving into Stabilisation.

      Kind regards


  • Tuya on February 2, 2012

    Hi, Amber
    I am happy that i found your helpfull site. I am on 5th day of attach phase, i have lost not a lot. Shall i continue up to 7 or 10 days. How many days shall i conitnue the attack phase? Also, is there any limit taking a sweetener because i use sweetener with plain yogurt and cofee as well.

    Thanks. Betty.

    • Amber on February 2, 2012

      Hi Betty

      How long the Attack Phase should last depends on how much weight you need to lose.


      It is always very tempting to extend this period in the hope that you will lose a lot of weight but this can be counter productive as your body reduces the rate at which it burns calories because it thinks there is a food shortage.

      Sweetener is limited to 8 teaspoons a day to help reduce your desire to eat sweet things.

      Kind regards


  • Jodie on January 19, 2012

    Hi Amber,
    I live in Australia and started the Dukan diet on 9th January, I have so far lost 3.4kgs. I am currently on the cruise phase, I read the book prior to commencing but have found your site to be extremely helpful. I do have one question though – Can I eat small amounts of Philly lite cream cheese it has under 5% of fat. Thanks

    • Amber on January 19, 2012

      Hi Jodie

      I’m pleased you’ve found my site helpful. You can have this cream cheese as one of your tolerated item – 30 g is a serving.

      Kind regards


      • Mary S on May 1, 2014

        Yum…I have an excellent, very simple recipe for baked cheesecake filling that I adapted from Atkins that comes out great w/ fat free cream cheese. The recipe as is is for single-serving cups w/ no crust but I’m going to try using the crust recipe that you posted for your Pumpkin Cheesecake, maybe w/ an appropriate single portion in the bottom of each cup–helps w/ portion control.

        • Amber on May 1, 2014

          Hi Mary

          Perhaps you could post your recipe?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.