The Dukan Diet: Is a high protein diet right for you?

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Dukan Diet
The Dukan Diet has sold more than 1.5 million copies, and was one of the best selling diet books in Britain when it was first released thanks to its celebrity fans including Pippa Middleton, Katherine Jenkins and Jennifer Lopez. It's thought that even Carole Middleton is a follower of the eating plan, with rumours suggestiong she used it to slim down before the Royal wedding!

A 'breakthrough' diet book by Dr Pierre Dukan launched in April 2010, his low-fat eating, high-protein eating plan has been credited with quick weight loss for people that might otherwise find dieting difficult.

And now you can eat gourmet food and still lose weight! Diet guru Monica Grenfell gives us the lowdown...

Dr Pierre Dukan's high-protein diet has been a favourite with French women for 10 years' says Monica. 'You need discipline to follow it: the rule is no fruit, no treats, no alcohol and no carbs for as long as it takes to lose your excess weight.

Your reward will be the pounds rolling off. And now the new book with recipes by a Michelin-starred chef has made this a gourmet's diet, too.'

How does it work?

Dr Dukan devised the weight-loss method around 4 phases: two for losing weight, and two for stabilising the weight you get down to, all using a list of 100 'permitted' foods from which you can eat as much as you want.

The 4 phases are called: Attack, Cruise, Consolidation and Stabilisation. In the first two, you are limited to the 100 foods permitted, which are used to make up tasty recipes.

Phase 1: Attack

You start with 72 lean protein foods during Attack, including: steak, veal, liver, reduced fat ham, reduced fat bacon, cooked chicken or turkey slices, cod, sole, haddock, salmon, sardines, tuna, shellfish, virtually fat-free cottage cheese, virtually fat-free quark, fat-free yogurt, skimmed milk, eggs and tofu.

First 5 days
You kick-start your weight loss with five days of eating only protein on the Dukan Diet - from the 72 high-protein foods, plus 1-2tbsp milled oat bran a day for fibre.

In the first phase of the diet, you can eat high protein foods such as cheese, milk and yogurt

Example Menu
Coffee/tea with skimmed milk
Fat-free yogurt
Dukan pancake
-Stir 1½tbsp oat bran with 1½tbsp non-fat fromage frais, 1 egg, sweetener or salt. Cook for 2 mins each side)
Serve with Dukan nutella
-Mix 1 egg yolk, 1tsp reduced-fat cocoa powder, 2tbsp sweetener and a little water)

Egg, smoked salmon and Dukan mayonnaise
-Combine 1 egg yolk and 1tbsp Dijon mustard. Season and add 1tbsp chopped parsley or chives. Gradually stir in 3tbsp virtually fat-free fromage frais or quark

Rosemary meatballs
-Mix 1 diced onion; 750g minced beef; 2 crushed garlic cloves; 1 egg, lightly beaten; 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce; 2tbsp Chinese plum sauce; 2tbsp rosemary, 1-2tbsp mint or basil, all finely chopped; salt and black pepper. Shape into balls the size of a walnut. Cook in batches over a medium heat, for 5 mins or until golden. Drain away fat before serving.

Lemon Mousse
-Soak 2 gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for a few mins. Add 2tbsp sweetener, the grated zest of ½ lemon and 50g fromage frais to 1 egg yolk. Whisk, then warm in a pan for 2 mins. Remove and stir in the drained and squeezed gelatine. Whisk 200g fromage frais and fold into the lemon cream. Beat 1 egg white until stiff and fold in. Refrigerate until set.

Phase 2: Cruise

Then add the 28 vegetables during Cruise, including: artichoke, fennel, onions, asparagus, French beans, aubergine, leek, beetroot, courgette, mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage, pepper, carrots, pumpkin, celery, tomatoes, salad leaves and swede. Follow until you reach your goal weight

In the Cruise phase of the Dukan Diet, keep eating all the foods you were allowed on Attack, and add the 28 vegetables to your diet. The idea is to alternate days of protein only with protein and vegetable days. You stay on Cruise until you have lost all the weight you want to shed.

In the second phase, you can add 28 vegetables to your diet, such as beans, leek and broccoli

Protein and Vegetable Day
As Phase 1 (Attack)

Quick gazpacho
-Poach 4 tomatoes in boiling water for 30 secs, then peel and deseed them. Grill 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper for 10-15 mins until charred. Place in a plastic bag to cool, before peeling away the skin and seeds and cutting into chunks. Blend the tomatoes and peppers with 2 cucumbers (peeled, deseeded and chopped) and some mint in a blender. Season and serve chilled.

Chicken with mushrooms
-Thinly slice 600g button mushrooms. Sprinkle over a few drops of lemon juice and put them in a non-stick casserole dish. Season, cover and cook over a gentle heat until all their water has evaporated. Drain and put to one side. Brown 1 chopped onion in a casserole dish in a little water. Add 800g chicken breasts, cut into cubes; 2 chopped tomatoes; the mushrooms; 2 chopped garlic cloves; 250ml low-salt chicken stock; salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a gentle heat for 20 mins.

Phase 3: Consolidation - One night off a week

Once you have reached your goal weight, the Dukan Diet moves on from the 100 natural foods to allow bread, pasta and fruit. You have one evening a week when you can eat whatever you like. Thursday remains a protein-only day to help you keep to your goal weight.

Calculate how long you need to stay on Consolidation by multiplying every pound you lost by five, e.g., 7lb x 5 = 35 days

In phase 3, you're allowed to eat bread and pasta again. Hurrah!


  • As much protein and vegetables (together) each day as you want.
  • 1 fruit a day - but not high sugar bananas, grapes, cherries or dried fruits. Watermelon, an apple or papaya are best.
  • 2 slices wholemeal bread per day, with reduced-fat butter.
  • One serving (40g) of hard cheese per day - avoid blue cheese, soft cheese or goat's cheese.
  • One serving per week of 'starchy foods' such as pasta or rice in the first half of your Consolidation phase, increasing to two portions per week in the second half.
  • Pasta and tomato sauce. You may also have chickpeas, lentils, couscous, polenta and potatoes.
  • Relax a little and enjoy one night out or ‘special' meal in the first half of your Consolidation phase, increasing to two in the second half. In this meal you really can eat anything you like!
  • Make Thursday your protein-only day.

Phase 4: Stabilisation - Staying slim

Congratulations, you've done it! So now you can relax and return to eating and drinking normally, but make sure that every Thursday remains a protein-only day to help you keep the weight off for good.

Meet Dr Dukan!

We got a chance to chat with Dr Dukan himself, to find out why it's one of the most popular diets in Britain, and whether it really does work...

So how does the Dukan Diet work?
'The Dukan Diet is easy to understand, easy to do and you can eat as much as you like of certain foods so you're never hungry. The diet is structured so in the first two phases, the Dukan Diet Attack Phase and the Dukan Diet Cruise Phase, you lose weight and in the second two phases, the Dukan Diet Consolidation Phase and the Dukan Diet Stabilisation Phase you maintain weight.

Phase 1: Attack - the first stage is the attack phase, where for 2-7 days you can eat as much as you want of 72-protein rich foods.

Phase 2: Cruise - next is the cruise phase where you continue to eat the protein rich foods with the addition of 28 vegetables.

Phase 3: Consolidation - the third stage is the consolidation phase where you can add fruit, bread, cheese and starchy foods and two celebration meals a week.

Phase 4: Stabilisation - finally, you have the stabilisation phase where you can eat what you like without regaining weight by following 3 simple rules: 1) Adopt a 'safety platform' using the basic foods from the consolidation phase. 2) Three tablespoons of oat bran a day for life. 3) Make every Thursday a protein only day.'

Who should try the Dukan Diet?
'Anyone that is looking to lose weight with direction and guidance and to be coached the whole way through. This is the reason we have the website to help give people daily support 24/7. You are coached everyday and have a customised plan.'

Why is it different?
'People often ask me why it's different and my answer is simple, it's a life plan that works. There's no calorie counting or excluding carbs and there is no hunger. The Dukan Diet is the only diet that has a stabilisation plan and a roadmap for a concrete future. There is also continual online support for people that struggle with dieting.'

Is the Dukan Diet suitable for anyone?
'The Dukan Diet is suitable for someone that has struggled with their weight for a long time, someone that has tried fad diets but wants a structured diet, guidance and coaching. Someone who wants to achieve dieting results in a healthy sustainable way.'

How easy is it to stick to?
'The Dukan Diet is incredibly easy to do and really easy to follow - there's no calorie counting and no watching your carbs. People like to be coached when dieting so our online help works well. There's an online community where people can chat to other dieters, get advice and share their stories.'

Is it a long term diet plan?
'It depends on the weight you want to be - you can use the free weight calculator on our website to find out your natural weight and the time it will take to reach it.'

How much weight can I lose?
'Many people have lost lots of weight on the Dukan Diet but it depends how much you need and want to lose. The main thing is getting to your true and natural weight and maintaining it. True weight can be calculated online for free and considers sex, age, height plus the maximum and minimum weight you have been in your life.'

Is it healthy?
'I'm a Doctor and have been one for 35 years and with that experience I know what is healthy and what works. All the food in the Dukan Diet is natural and avoiding processed foods where possible will only benefit your health. No processed meats or fish. It's like what we used to eat years ago, so it's the healthiest diet possible.'

Are there any celeberity followers?
'There are lots of celebrities who follow the Dukan Diet - everyone from Jennifer Lopez and Penelope Cruz to Pippa Middleton to Katherine Jenkins.'

Continued below...

Will you be giving the Dukan Diet a go? Or maybe you have already? Let us know in the comments below!

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This diet is nothing but a waste of time. I used to be thin but to be thinner i tried this. I even bought the book and stuff and its a total lie. It made me gain 10 kg. High protein diets dont work well. The best diet is a balanced one. I tried 30 dietsso far and if u want a fast solution diet then try: Cabbage soup diet Juice Diet 17 day diet The Beverly Hills Diet Soup Diet but if u want a diet that worksslowly but helps u keep the weight u've lost then I would recommend: Weight Watchers Sonoma Diet Jenny Craig The other diets are not so perfect. A high exercise diet is Jillian Micheals program for example but it just doesnt have the suitable meal plan in it. The exercises are hard but fun but the meal plan is so unhealthy it makes u gain wieght. Anyway, I hope anyone who wants to loose weight would find the most suitable diet for them cos after all we're all different- a diet depends on the person really....

Katie goodtoknow

Hi Belinda Congratulations on your weight loss! We think 1 stone 5lbs is very significant! Katie

Belinda in France

This is my fifth week on Dukan. So far, I have followed the diet to the letter and have lost 9kg (1 stone 5 pounds.) This may not seem 'significant' to some, but it is to me. Why? Because of my underlying health issues. The doctor had threatened me with beginning medication for my cholesterol, well, it is NOW coming into a normal range! Plus, I have type 2 diabetes and have been able to half the Metformin I take. Due to my last favourable blood test, my doctor has halved it again! So, instead of one tablet, twice a day, I now take one tablet every other day. My diabetes specialist said that soon I may be cured completely of diabetes. THAT for me is significant! Yes... since I am also anaemic, and take iron, I have had a problem with constipation, but a bit more walking, adding wheat bran to the 'galette' and eating more high fibre vegetables has made it a lot better. I also take an herbal supplement to help. I have never had a headache, never felt faint and I am NEVER hungry, a completely new experience compared to some diets I have been on in the past. BUT as Brucie said above, I drink 1.5 -2 litres of water per day, have the oat bran every day in the 'galette' and walk a minimum of 30 minutes a day. I am feeling absolutely great! People who see me tell me I look years younger, my skin is clear, hair looks great, heh, I'm a happy woman! I'll just say, I'm glad I bought the book and read it.... I think anyone who REALLY wants to lose weight, permanently, should give this 'regime' a go. If you follow it and apply the principles, you WILL lose weight. But save your sanity and health!


It is the best diet I have ever tried - and I have tried loads! ;) I have lost consistently since I started and feel much better. My BP is now normal as is my cholesterol and triglycerides often being really high. I might be able to come off my medication for that soon. Are you sure you followed it correctly? The Attack stage should be no longer than 10 days .- and that is only if you have loads to lose. You must eat the Oat Bran every day and drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day. So far I have lost nearly 3 stone. Just 3lbs to go!!


Me and my friend both did this diet for 2 weeks i lost 2 lb she lost 4lb in all it wasnt worth it as we both became ill, headaches dizziness and really bad stomach pains plus constipation. I have done countless diets this is the worst by far i actually cried in pain, but each to there own hey.

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