Dukan Diet Complete Guide, its Secrets, its Advantages and Disadvantages
Dukan Diet, is a diet dominated by a high intake of protein and very low in carbohydrates.
In its basic concepts, it is very similar to the Keto Diet.
It is acclaimed by people seeking immediate and effective significant weight loss.
This novel eating plan is structured in four well-defined phases: attack, cruise, consolidation and stabilization.
These dietary guidelines seek to regulate macronutrient intake by biasing it towards protein and reducing carbohydrates, but do not place restrictions on the amount of food that the individual concerned should eat.
The Dukan diet is classified within the diet regimens popularly known as “miracle diets” or “author diets”, thanks to the enormous advertising impact it has had.
An article published in the prestigious magazine PLoS One (2014) assures that among the dietary commercial plans, the Dukan diet was the most cited by those surveyed, both by men and women.
Although an individual’s effort to lose weight is minimal, there are conflicting opinions among nutritionists and health professionals about long-term effectiveness.
If you want to lose a little weight and you’re hesitating to implement the Dukan diet in your life, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article we will describe in detail this eating plan, we will show you how to do it, as well as discuss the positive and negative aspects of eating a diet high in protein.
Do not forget that before making a decision, you should consult a professional, so that the change of food is safe.
Dukan Diet, Historical Perspective
The Dukan diet was designed in the mid-1960s by French-born nutritionist Pierre Dukan.
Dr. Dukan’s inspiration was the overweight patients, who stated that they felt comfortable eliminating several items from their diet – with the exception of meat.
Although it didn’t seem to be very successful in the early years, this changed in early 2000. In fact, the method’s popularity reached extraordinary levels: in 2011, a book entitled “I can’t lose weight” based its techniques on the Dukan diet and reached the first places in Spanish sales.
The leap to fame of “Dukanian” eating styles led the international nutritionist community to focus on the guidelines of this novel plan.
Over the years – and due to the high number of criticisms that Pierre Dukan received at the beginning – I modify the high protein diet, making it less restrictive and more friendly to the organism of the person who wishes to acquire this lifestyle.
Currently, although the method is implemented by a large number of people, it has not been controversial.
And, unfortunately for Pierre, some countries like Spain have advised against its use, issuing official positions in front of important nutrition associations.
Structure: the famous four phases
One of the most interesting – and useful – aspects of this meal plan is that it gives users who wish to follow it a well-marked methodology.
Thus, the Dukan diet is divided into four phases: attack, cruise, consolidation and stabilization. The first two focus on weight loss and the remaining two seek to maintain it.
Before starting the first phase and “attacking” the overweight, we must set a goal.
To do this, the Dukan diet proposes to establish your ideal weight, or following the terminology of the diet, the true weight.
Besides, to do this, multiple user parameters are taken into account, such as age, weight loss history, among other factors.
Next we will describe what each stage consists of:
Phase 1: Attack
In the initial phase, the aim is to attack overweight, and the menu is based solely on protein products.
According to its author, this phase reduces overweight as effectively as a fasting diet would, but without the sacrifice of eliminating the food for a prolonged period of time.
Establishing a time frame for the first phase is complicated. The author expresses such a wide range, ranging from a single day to a full week.
We must clarify that no food – with the exception of egg white – is composed exclusively of proteins. Therefore, we will restrict the menu to foods high in protein.
Foods allowed in this first phase include a wide range of animal products such as eggs, beef, pork, poultry without skin, fish and shellfish. Always making sure the product is low in fat.
In addition, vegetable protein sources such as tofu and seitan may be included to encourage dietary variation.
As for hydration, it is strongly recommended to drink more than 1.5 liters of water during the day, which can be supplemented by lemon juice.
Phase 2: cruise
Now we move on to the second phase of “cruising”, where days of pure protein alternate with days where we can integrate certain vegetables along with protein products. The idea of this stage is to reach the desired weight.
The duration is calculated according to the pounds lost in the previous stage: for each pound, we will add three days of cruise phase.
Moreover, the list of vegetables allowed is the cruise phase is almost endless, giving us flexibility in the kitchen and increasing creativity in our preparations.
We can incorporate spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, aubergines, cucumber, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, pumpkin, carrot, among others. If any type of dressing is added to the preparation, it should not exceed 5 mL of oil.
Phase 3: consolidation
The third phase is crucial in the success of the diet, and the main goal of consolidation is to prevent weight gain which generally follows diets where weight loss is initially rapid.
In this period, the body is particularly vulnerable to gaining weight quickly, so it must be done correctly.
There is a “magic formula” proposed by Dukan: for every half a kilo of weight lost, there are five days of consolidation phase..
For example, if you lost 1.5 kilos in the previous phases, your consolidation phase will consist of 15 days.
The consolidation phase allows the incorporation of one fruit service per day, including melon, apple, orange, pear, nectarines, kiwis, among others.
Also two slices of bread a day are allowed, but you must be aware when spreading it and avoid adding butter high in fat. Two servings of pasta, legumes, or potatoes a week are allowed for a starch platter.
As for “celebration meals,” these can be included twice a week, including: a main appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. A glass of wine is allowed for drinking.
Phase 4: stabilization
Finally, the stabilization phase relaxes the limits and food barriers, but is maintained one day a week of strict protein intake.
As final advice, the author of the diet proposes three rules that are unbreakable, if you want to continue with the Dukan diet and get positive results:
- Choose one day a week where you only eat protein foods.
- Be physically active, or in Dukan’s words: use the stairs, never use the elevator.
- Take three tablespoons of oat bran.
Who should follow the Dukan diet?,
Usually people who join this initiative have one common goal: massive weight loss.
It is no secret that obesity – understood as an epidemic involving an incredible number of people – is a condition that not only affects our health, but also our self-esteem.
For this reason, if you feel like you’ve tried everything and no eating plan can eliminate those extra pounds, you might consider following the diet explained here.
Let us remember that we must not suffer from any medical condition to consult a health professional before undertaking a drastic change in diet.
If your goal is not rapid weight loss, we advise you to look for other meal plans that meet your short and long-term goals.
Who shouldn’t follow the Dukan diet?
If you suffer from any metabolic disorder or any other pathology, seek professional advice. Precautions are also available for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Dukan Diet Benefits
1- Weight loss is notorious
As mentioned, the almost immediate result of implementing the Dukan diet is weight loss.
Evidence suggests that people who want to get rid of large amounts of weight can do so without much effort.
A defect in many eating plans is that it takes a long time for the person to see the results, causing discouraging and, eventually, abandonment of the diet.
2-No quantity restrictions
When following a diet, one of the most tedious and impractical elements is the quantification of calories and the amount of food to be eaten.
Fortunately for those who wish to establish the Dukan meal plan, the amount of food is not a problem.
The program focuses on what you will eat, not how much you will eat. Thus, protein increase and carbohydrate restriction promises the user that he will get the desired weight loss.
From the above, one can conclude that the first and second points contribute to the fact that the diet is considered a low frustration diet.
3-You won’t go hungry
A direct consequence of the above is that the regime is not considered for extended periods of hunger.
Since there are no limits on quantities and most products are meats that have the power to satiate, the chances of breaking the diet due to hunger are very low.
Mistakes in following it
First, the main cause of diet failure, both in the short and long term, is not maintaining a link between the eating plan and physical activity.
This is not true exclusively for followers of the Dukan diet, it seems to be a common error factor in the vast majority of people who apply some kind of commercial diet.
It is necessary to clarify that any diet must be accompanied by physical activity, since the latter will depend on the effectiveness of weight loss, and the maintenance of the ideal weight, once acquired.
What does science tell us?, Does Dukan Diet work?
Unfortunately, there are few studies whose objective of study has been the Dukan diet – despite its enormous popularity for over a decade now.
In the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), they state that there is a low number of diet-related studies that are limited to assessing the user’s knowledge and perception versus the most popular modern eating plans.
Some scientists say that the Dukan diet, and other diets that are characterized by minimizing carbohydrates are not as far-fetched as it seems, and seek sustenance in evolutionary biology.
According to this position, our “ancestral” physiology would serve as support to validate this regime.
The diet of our ancestors was basically made up of protein, and these researchers see no problem in keeping it that way.
Therefore, the Dukan diet and other low-carbohydrate diets, such as the ketogenic diet and other popular alternatives, are not considered destructive.
Conversely, it has been proven that diets containing high concentrations of carbohydrates are related to the development of multiple pathologies from those with metabolic bases to the development of cancer cells – particularly those with a high glycemic index.
In conclusion, this group of scientists (see Soto’s book The Truth About The Dukan Diet for more information) consider that we should maintain the diet of our ancestors and move away from “modern”, highly processed foods.
Is there a vegetarian version?
Today, more and more people are joining the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
Logically, we have described a diet practically based on meat and products of animal origin.
It is therefore important to know whether vegetarian users are completely excluded from this lifestyle.
The first thing we need to clarify to answer this question is, what do we mean by vegetarians? Currently there are many modifications of this diet.
Firs of all, if you are a “flexible” vegetarian who occasionally eats fish, eggs and dairy products, if you can adapt your diet to these products.
In fact, there is a variant of “vegetarians” that even include chicken on their menu. With this kind of vegetarianism we will be able to create (with a little creativity) our version of the Dukan diet.
Besides, in addition, there are multiple sources of vegetable protein, such as tofu, soy, etc.
However, for the more orthodox vegetarians, there are logical dietary restrictions and it is not considered very suitable for this group of individuals.
Possible side effects
Today, there are countless popular diets – she is the Dukan diet – that promise to give us the figure of our dreams if we submit to their low-calorie plans or if we restrict our diet to those foods they call “forbidden”.
Although we can make an effort to adapt to these new and restrictive eating plans, it may be that in the long term the fast to which we subject the body will result in health problems.
So, is it worth the weight loss?
We have to understand that a change in the amount of macro-nutrients we consume produces a kind of shock in our body, due to the lack of any particular macromolecule – in this case carbohydrates.
Despite the remarkable success of the Dukan diet and the few reports suggesting a negative effect of this feeding modality, health and nutrition experts advise to be attentive to the following inconveniences or health problems:
Yo-yo or rebound effect
The “yo-yo” or rebound effect may occur, i.e. we lose the desired amount of weight very quickly and efficiently in the first few months, and regain them in the same way.
Besides, this depends on how closely we stick to the meal plans (particularly in phase 3), as it is very unlikely that we will follow an excessively restrictive plan for more than a couple of months.
The problem with weight loss and gain in very short time intervals is that they tend to enhance skin problems such as stretch marks and cellulite.
We must therefore ensure that weight loss occurs within a gradual time frame. In addition to this, there is the problem of lack of exercise on the part of the user that we commented in the previous section.
Damage to certain organs
Exaggerated consumption of proteins in the long term tends to have problems of acidification of the body, which results in damage to the kidneys, problems related to the heart and circulatory system in general, digestive tract and liver.
Pathology related to acidification in the blood tends to have an extremely low frequency. However, occasional cases of keto-acidosis have been reported.
An example of this was research by Freeman and his collaborators published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Eating excess meat can lead to gout production.
One of the degradation products of this food is uric acid, an insoluble molecule that precipitates and accumulates in the joints, generating a painful type of arthritis.
Additional side Effects
Finally, nutritionists have listed a number of side effects, such as dehydration, high blood cholesterol levels, etc.
It is also possible to develop certain food allergies.
As the central food of the diet are proteins, the excess of these lead to deficiency in the values of vitamins such as A, D, E, K, B1, B2, C etc; and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium and potassium – indispensable for cellular processes.
Therefore, if we want to embark on the Dukan lifestyle we must be attentive and constantly perform medical examinations to prevent the deficiency of these molecules so important to our body.
Conclusions: know your body
To conclude we want to emphasize that, in whatever diet we decide to follow, we must feed curiosity to know how our body works and understand the role of each food group in them.
The Dukan regimen provides a system with very clear instructions for a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, whose primary goal is effective and rapid weight loss.
We must not forget that beyond body image, we must prioritize our health.
So before immersing yourself in the Dukanian lifestyle, evaluate at your own discretion (and following the instructions of your trusted physician) the pros and cons associated with this system.
If you want more information about this diet, you can purchase the book (or download it for free on-line) The Dukan Diet, written by its creator, Pierre Dukan.
You can also visit the thedukandietsite.com diet website. Try to supplement the information with the opinions of other nutrition professionals, to have a broader picture and diverse opinions.
We hope this article has been helpful in explaining what the Dukan diet is all about. And remember to accompany all food plans with daily exercise, to see and feel healthy.
- Dukan, P. (2018). The Dukan Diet: The Revised and Updated Edition for 2019. Hachette UK.
- Freeman, T. F., Willis, B., & Krywko, D. M. (2014). Acute intractable vomiting and severe ketoacidosis secondary to the Dukan Diet©. Journal of Emergency Medicine, 47(4), e109-e112.
- Julia, C., Péneau, S., Andreeva, V. A., Méjean, C., Fezeu, L., Galan, P., & Hercberg, S. (2014). Weight-loss strategies used by the general population: how are they perceived?. PloS one, 9(5), e97834.
- Marset, J. B., Bassols, M. M., & Rodríguez, E. B. (2012). Hyperproteic or proteinized diets to lose weight: unnecessary and risky. Dieta Dukan y método PronoKal® como ejemplo. FMC-Formación Médica Continuada en Atención Primaria, 19(7), 411-418.
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- Soto, A. C. (2013). The Truth About The Dukan Diet. Hachette UK.
- Stipanuk, M. H., & Caudill, M. A. (2013). Biochemical, Physiological, and Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition-E-Book. Elsevier health sciences.
- Wyka, J., Malczyk, E., Misiarz, M., Zolotenka-Synowiec, M., Calyniuk, B., & Baczynska, S. (2015). Assessment of food intakes for women adopting the high protein Dukan diet. Roczniki Państwowego Zakładu Higieny, 66(2).