Created by French doctor Pierre Dukan, the Dukan Diet is a four-phase diet designed to get you to your ‘true weight’, which is worked out based on your highest weight, lowest weight and height.
You get to eat from a list of over 72 ‘allowed’ protein-rich foods in the first phase of the diet, known as the ‘attack’ phase, when dieters can expect to lose up to 7lbs in their first week.
After this, you move on to the ‘cruise’ phase which is more laid back and gradually reintroduces a list of 28 vegetables, slowing weight loss down to a projected 2 lbs a week.
Once the majority of weight loss has been achieved you are allowed to move on to the ‘consolidation’ phase where ‘normal’ foods such as fruit, bread and cheese are reintroduced.
After reaching your weight loss goal you are then in the ‘stabilization’ phase, which Dr Dukan recommends you follow for the rest of your life – you can eat whatever you want but you can avoid weight gain by having a phase one-style ‘protein day’ once a week and eating oat bran every day. Dukan really, really loves oat bran.
Breakfast: Oat bran porridge with skimmed milk and sweetener
Lunch: Ham slices with low-fat cottage cheese
Dinner: Baked fish with eggs and herbs
The ‘attack’ phase gives you noticeable results in a short space of time. The shock of switching to a protein-only diet for the first 7-10 days of the Dukan diet means that the weight will start to drop off and this can be extremely encouraging.
Slowly reintroduces “normal” food. If you’re worried about the protein-only aspect of the Dukan diet it helps to know that it is only for a maximum of 10 days, after which you start reintroducing more and more food at every stage of the diet.
There is a dedicated UK website for Dukan followers where you can access a busy forum and hundreds of recipes as well as motivating articles and tips from Dr Dukan himself.
Named the ‘number one diet to avoid’ by the British Dietetic Association in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Every year, the BDA compiles a list of the worst diets around and the Dukan Diet has topped the list for 3 years in a row, only knocked off the list by the ‘breatharian’ diet (which involves living on fresh air, sunlight and Pranic energy alone). Reasons for this include the rigidity and complexity of the diet.
There are a lot of side effects. These include constipation, bad breath, reduced energy levels, a dry mouth and more extreme (although admittedly less likely) consequences such as kidney stones, gout and high cholesterol levels.
There are a lot of rules. Although most weight loss plans have a lot of rules, with the Dukan diet there’s a lot to think about – the allowed food list changes based on what phase of the diet you’re on, you have to remember to incorporate oat bran into your meals every single day (unless you want to end up constipated), you’ll need to remember to keep having protein-only days and when you’re in the consolidation phase you have to ration out your consumption of the new food allowances, or in the words of Dr Dukan himself, it’ll be like ‘puncturing a balloon with a needle’ and you’ll be back to square one.
The Dukan Diet website where you can access the coaching element of the Dukan diet
Read about other popular diets in our guide to diet plans for men