The Dukan Diet: A Dangerous Weight Loss Method

It's one of the most famous, yet controversial diets to lose weight. The Dukan diet has supporters and critics, but in this article we'll talk about the risks that it may pose for our health.
The Dukan Diet: A Dangerous Weight Loss Method

Last update: 10 October, 2019

When we get into the world of fitness and sports, we try to maximize our results in both the aesthetic and performance categories. To achieve this, we usually follow nutritional plans that help us to improve them. If we’re trying to lose weight, we want diets that will accelerate this process. The Dukan diet is one of those plans that ensures a fast weight loss without starving.

But beyond the supposed efficiency that many people attribute to this program, let’s look at what’s actually behind the diet: a dangerous weight-loss method.

The Dukan diet: what it consists of

The famous French doctor Pierre Dukan, a weight control specialist, created this diet. One of his patients said that they could quit any type of food with the exception of meat, as long as they could eliminate the extra pounds they were carrying. Doctor Dukan then used this concept literally and began to restrict all kinds of foods except for his patient’s favorite one.

Years later, in the year 2000, he published a book that explained how to follow his regime. This diet is very restrictive in carbs and fats, while only allowing the consumption of foods with very high protein contents.

The steps to follow the Dukan diet

This diet is organized into four phases:

  • Attack phase: this phase lasts for about one week. During this time we can only consume proteins that come from lean meats such as turkey or chicken. There’s no limit as to how much we must eat.
  • Cruise phase: it can go from one to twelve months, depending on our initial weight. In this stage, we start eating green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and green beans along with the foods from the previous phase. You end up alternating one day of eating only proteins to one day of eating a combination of proteins and vegetables.
A woman biting into a piece of meat

  • Consolidation phase: this phase lasts 10 days for every pound lost during the two previous phases. From this point on, you can introduce foods such as whole bread, dairy and fruit again. However, you must still have one day per week in which you only eat protein, as in the attack phase.
  • Stabilization phase: ideally, you should stay in this phase for the rest of your life. It consists of eating healthily every single day, so as to not gain back any of the weight you lost during the first phases.

These four phases are organized in a way that ensures a fast weight loss during the first two stages. It takes advantage of the fact that your body will go into ketosis due to the low intake of carbs.

As a consequence of this, your body gets energy from the ketone bodies that result from the degradation of body fat. The third and fourth phases are, as their names indicate, meant to stabilize the weight loss and prevent the rebound effect.

The problem with the Dukan diet

The Dukan diet has many critics nowadays, and rightly so. Pierre Dukan was even removed from the membership of the Ordre des Médecins because his actions were considered to be damaging for public health. Let’s list some of the reasons why this diet is not something you want to try:

  • It can damage your kidneys: while there’s no scientific evidence for this, some believe that diets that include such a high intake of protein may saturate and damage the kidneys in the long run. Even more so if you suffer from illnesses that affect the liver or digestive tract.
  • A lack of micronutrients: the high intake of protein and the restriction of very nutritious foods such as fruits or some vegetables can lead to important vitamin deficits similar to the ones in groups B or C.
Plates with varied healthy foods

  • It can alter the hormonal system: such a sudden weight loss doesn’t give your body enough time to adapt to the new metabolic situation. Therefore, you can face an important hormone imbalance that causes you to gain back all of the lost weight.
  • It weakens the immune system: any crash diet that restricts elements as important as fatty acids (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated), essential vitamins and minerals can weaken the immune system during the process.


Because of all the reasons discussed in this article, we recommend that anyone who wishes to start a diet plan that focuses on weight loss does so with the help of a professional.

There’s a wide variety of diets that restricts carbs in a moderate way and work better in the long term, even if your results come more progressively. Risking your health to make the process faster is not worth it.

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