The fact is, many weight loss diets don’t work. This is because many of them promise unrealistic weight loss results, like claiming you’ll be able to lose 10 pounds in a week without consequence. What these diets don’t tell you is that while you might be able to shed pounds of water weight in just a few days, losing weight and keeping it off is hard work. It takes effort – and it’s a commitment you have to stick to from the very beginning.
You are bound to have a much greater chance of losing weight if you can accept up front that there is no such thing as fast weight loss that lasts. This is the main premise of the Dukan diet – how long it takes to reach a goal weight depends on how much weight you want to lose.
You don’t have to be one of those people who tries and gives up on diet after diet because you aren’t seeing the results you were promised. Take a look at how this diet works – it’s not about dropping pounds fast, but instead forming patterns that create a healthy life that lasts forever.
Dukan Diet Plan Basics and Rules
The Dukan diet plan was created based on the principle that the majority of people who lose weight while on a diet regain it. Therefore, it is designed specifically to help dieters reach their True Weight – otherwise known as the weight you can reach and maintain without struggling or suffering even minor health consequences.
True Weight is calculated before the Dukan diet begins, and is measured using a few tools:
- Basic information, such as gender, age, current weight
- Your weight loss history – the most and least you have ever weighed, how many diets you have tried
- Body Frame Size, a basic measurement of your wrist circumference using the thumb and index finger
Reaching and maintaining True Weight on the Dukan diet is designed to be a lengthy but rewarding process – quick weight loss is neither promised nor encouraged. Instead, the diet breaks weight loss down into four separate phases – two which focus on weight loss, and two which focus on maintenance and eating a variety of foods. Each phase has its own set of parameters and rules, which must be followed in order for the diet to be successful.
Phase 1, the Attack Phase – The attack phase, the first phase of the diet, is a complete protein diet. You can choose from a list of 68 different foods, all foods that are high in protein. This phase of the diet is designed to kick your weight loss into motion. It is an effective weight loss tool for a short amount of time because it consists of a variety of low fat, low carb foods that will encourage you to eat better, but less. This phase typically lasts for anywhere from two to seven days. You are also encouraged to engage in 20 minutes of daily exercise during the attack phase.
Phase 2, the Cruise Phase – The cruise phase, the second phase of the diet, is a high protein diet that begins to introduce vegetables back into the diet – 32 of them, to be exact. You alternate between days where you only eat protein (“Protein Days”) and days where you eat both protein and vegetables. This phase is designed to bring you to what this diet calls your True Weight. How long this phase of the diet lasts depends on how much weight you plan on losing – three days for every pound. So if you wanted to lose 20 pounds, you would remain in the cruise phase for about two months. The key thing to remember here is that it does not matter how long it takes you to reach your weight loss goal. The focus is on food, fitness and staying on track. You are encouraged to engage in 30 minutes of daily exercise during the cruise phase.
Phase 3, the Consolidation Phase – The consolidation phase, the third phase of the diet, is all about maintenance, and preventing weight regain. While the previous two phases of the Dukan diet allowed only high protein foods and vegetables, foods such as fruits, cheeses, whole grain breads and starchy foods are reintroduced into the diet. 25 minutes of daily exercise during this phase are recommended. You must also maintain the Protein Day concept, specifically, declaring every Thursday as a protein-only day, in which you are only allowed to eat anything from the original 68 high protein foods list. This phase of the Dukan diet has a specific duration that, like the previous phase, depends on weight loss. It will last five days for every pound lost during the cruise phase. So if you successfully managed to lose 20 total pounds during the cruise phase of the diet, you would spend about three months in the consolidation phase eating a variety of foods and engaging in daily exercise.
Phase 4, the Stabilization Phase – The stabilization phase, the fourth and final phase of the diet, is designed to last for the rest of your life. Now that you spent the past three phases learning to eat healthier and developing healthy eating and fitness habits, the idea is that you can now spend the rest of your life continuing to put everything you have learned into practice. You are permitted to eat foods from all of the major food groups – as much as you want, within reason. There are only three major rules that must be followed during the final phase of the diet. You must walk 20 minutes every day, keep up the routine of eating only pure protein foods every Thursday, and you must eat a total of three tablespoons of oat bran every single day. Everything you have learned throughout your weight loss and healthy eating journey will have prepared you for success in this phase.
Let’s dive into more specifics about the kinds of foods included on The 100 Foods list – the list of foods you can choose from while following the Dukan diet.
Menu and Meal Planning
During the cruise phase of the Dukan diet, you will reintroduce vegetables into your high protein diet. A diet made up of animal proteins and vegetables is probably a little bit more limited than what you are used to, but if you can get creative, and you are willing to try different combinations of foods, this phase will go smoothly and painlessly.
- Fat free Greek yogurt
- Tomato and cottage cheese
- One 3 ounce chicken breast, sliced
- Salad – incl. Spinach, kale, tomato, ricotta cheese (fat free)
- One 3 ounce steak
- 2 cups green beans
- Zucchini noodles
- Cottage cheese
- Kale chips
- Sliced deli ham and cheese wraps
It isn’t until the next phase that fruits, starchy vegetables, all types of cheeses and grains are allowed back into your diet, but you might find that a high protein diet works well for you – as long as you are eating a variety of foods, your body will have all it needs to sustain itself healthfully.
Grocery Shopping List
During the second phase of the Dukan diet, the cruise phase, you are permitted to choose from a list of 100 foods – 68 protein foods and 32 vegetables – to help you reach your True Weight. Here are examples of common foods, broken down into the two main categories, that you can find and purchase while shopping in preparation for this phase.
Pure protein foods:
- Lean meats – steak, soy bacon, beef, pork chops
- Poultry – chicken, turkey, turkey sausage, deli slices of turkey or chicken
- Fish – catfish, cod, salmon, sardines, tilapia, tuna
- Shellfish – crab, lobster, shrimp
- Dairy products – cottage cheese, cream cheese, all fat free
- Green beans
You can find the complete list of Dukan diet approved foods on The 100 Foods List.
Does the Dukan Diet Work?
Overall, the weight loss portion of the Dukan diet is fairly reasonable, aside from the Attack phase. Experts recommend that losing one to two pounds per week is considered healthy weight loss; the Attack phase (the first phase of the diet) promises anywhere from two to eight pounds over a maximum seven day period.
However, a pure-protein diet over just a few days, loss of water weight and eliminating certain foods can lead to more rapid weight loss in the beginning, so it’s not too much of a cause for concern. As long as you continue on to the second phase of the diet, you shouldn’t have an issue. Just be careful.
If you are someone who thrives on patterns and routines, and does well with following diet plans that involve numbers and schedules, you will find the Dukan diet particularly helpful. Everything is laid out for you in advance – you know exactly what you are getting into before you begin. As long as you are willing to take things slow and wait and work for the weight loss results you want, success is not too far away.