The Dukan diet is a high protein, low carbohydrate eating plan designed to help with weight loss. It consists of four phases, each with its own specific requirements and goals. The diet is based on the theory that eating a lot of protein can help people lose weight. The Dukan diet includes 100 foods, and all are either proteins or vegetables. A person can eat as much as they like, as long as they only eat those 100 foods.
The Attack Phase
The attack phase is the first phase of the Dukan diet. This phase consists of eating foods from the “pure protein” list. It aims for rapid weight loss. The theory is that eating a high quantity of protein-rich foods will kick-start the metabolism. During this phase, a person can eat any of the 68 pure proteins listed. These are all lean protein sources and include lean beef, fish, chicken, eggs, soy, cottage cheese, and fat-free dairy. Choices should be low in fat and contain no added sugars. A person can eat as much as they want, and there is no calorie counting. The attack phase usually lasts for around 2–5 days, but people aiming to lose more than 40 pounds might stay in this phase for longer than 7 days. The diet also requires them to eat at least 1.5 tablespoons (tbsp) of oat bran each day. Oat bran is very high in fiber, so the body cannot break down or digest most of this carb. High fiber foods help suppress hunger. During the attack phase, the diet requires a person to drink at least 1.5 liters (l) of water and exercise for 20 minutes each day.
The Cruise Phase
The cruise phase is the second phase of the Dukan diet. This phase aims to lower a person’s body weight gradually by adding 32 specific vegetables to the diet. People can now eat all 100 food items on the list, though they should try to alternate between pure protein days and protein plus vegetable days. The length of this phase will depend on how much weight the person wants to lose. It lasts for 3 days for every pound they want to lose. A person can eat unlimited amounts of low fat proteins and unlimited amounts of nonstarchy vegetables, including spinach, okra, lettuce, and green beans. In the cruise phase, the diet requires them to eat 2 tbsp of oat bran and exercise for 30–60 minutes each day.
The Consolidation Phase
The consolidation phase is the third phase of the Dukan diet. In this phase, the aim is not to lose weight but to avoid regaining it. A person is allowed to introduce some starchy foods. Every day, they can now eat unlimited quantities of protein and vegetables, one piece of fruit, 1.5 ounces of hard-rind cheese, and two slices of whole grain bread. They can also have one or two servings of starchy food and one or two celebration meals each week. In a celebration meal, a person can eat whatever they want. This phase requires them to eat the core diet of pure protein one day each week, preferably on the same day of each week. This phase requires 25 minutes of exercise per day.
The Stabilization Phase
The stabilization phase is the fourth and final phase of the Dukan diet. This phase is the long-term maintenance part of the plan. The person should not expect to lose or gain weight during this time. One day each week, they will have an all-protein day, as in the attack phase. Apart from that, they can eat whatever they want, as long as they follow some simple rules. Eat 3 tbsp of oat bran each day, take the stairs as often as possible, have a “pure protein day” each Thursday, exercise for 20 minutes each day, and continue to drink 1.5 l of water daily. The stabilization phase is a long-term plan that becomes part of the person’s lifestyle. At this point, people can consume artificial sweeteners, vinegars, sugar-free gum, and spices. The diet also recommends taking multivitamins with minerals.
While some research has shown that high protein diets may promote weight loss, it is important to note that the Dukan diet may not provide the full range of nutrients the body needs. Moreover, research has linked it to possible health complications, including kidney disease and liver disease. According to health experts in the United Kingdom, the Dukan diet “isn’t nutritionally balanced,” and “there’s a danger that this type of diet could increase the risk of long-term health problems if people don’t stick to the rules.” Therefore, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting the Dukan diet or any other diet plan.