The Dukan diet: The diet you ‘can do’?

Carole Middleton (left) with her daughter Kate Middleton. Carole is a fan of the Dukan diet.

It’s ‘The Diet’ of the moment, with sophisticated celebs such as Giselle, Jennifer Lopez and Kate’s mum Carole Middleton, all swearing allegiance to it.
But whether The Dukan diet (pronounced do-can) is the revolutionary diet at fighting the flab that it claims is still up for discussion.
If you haven’t heard of it, as far as the diet obsessed celeb culture is concerned, you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years. Wondering what all the fuss is about?
Let’s have a look…

What is the Dukan Diet?

The Dukan Diet isn’t just one diet it is, in fact, four very different eating plans that each follow on from the other.
Put simply, for people like Carol Middleton, it was a way of dropping four pounds in a day before the eyes of the world watched her daughter marry a prince.
For Dr Pierre Dukan, its French creator, it has been way to re-educate people on how to eat healthily.
The philosophy is simple. It follows the general belief that the French are slender because they follow a specific low-fat and low-carb diet. It starts with a rapid weight loss, and leads on into a more realistic, real-life regime that, hopefully, allows you to maintain your new size and shape.
It claims to be a diet for life, rather then a fad that sees you yo-yo up and down, a la Oprah Winfrey.

What are the stages?

Phase One: The dubiously named, attack stage. In this phase you are meant to eat nothing but low-fat protein and drink a whole load of water. The protein you are allowed during this stage should come in the form of meat such as beef, chicken, turkey or fish. For the vegetarians out there, there are also dairy options such as yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs and tofu. Unlike the Atkins diet the goal is low-fat meat. You also add some oat bran (1.5 tablespoons per day) to the mix and a 20 minute walk every day. In the first five days, it’s been rumoured that you can lose as much as seven to ten pounds.

Phase Two: Also known as the Cruise phase, (not to be confused with the Scientologist actor married to Katie Holmes.) You have days of eating only protein alternated with days of nothing but protein and veg. You continue the oat bran (2 tablespoons per day), the water and the walking (which increases to 30 minutes a day, briskly).
This phase could apparently last for months if you have a lot of weight to lose. To calculate when you’re meant to end phase two you can use the calculator on The vegetables you are allowed to eat are limited because some vegetables contain heaps of carbs. Carrots, peas, corn and potatoes are out. Anything green is in: lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and onions are all your friends.

Phase Three – Also known as the consolidation phase, this phase starts once you reach your target weight. Now you need to stop losing and start maintaining. The consolidation phase adds a little fruit, bread and cheese to the mix, as well as one ‘celebration meal’ per week. You can continue eating protein plus vegetables to your heart’s desire, (but after many weeks of this, let’s face it, you may not want to.)
You get one fruit a day – the watery fruits like watermelon, oranges and apples. You now get two slices of whole-grain bread too. Be stingy with the butter. You get one serving of carbs per week. This might be pasta or rice. By now, it has probably been six or eight months since you had real food.

Phase Four – Go back to eating whatever you like, but continue to use the basic rules of the consolidation phase eg. eat unlimited protein and veg, one piece of fruit a day, two slices of wholemeal bread, a portion of cheese, two starchy foods and two celebration meals a week. Try not to lose the run of yourself.

Why Oats?

Throughout the Dukan Diet you are allowed a tablespoon of oat bran every day.
Oat bran is rich in sugars and protein. Its benefit lies in the high levels of soluble fibre, which absorbs water in the gut, swelling up to 20 times its size.
This helps you feel full and satisfied and eases constipation (which can affect people in the early stages of the diet).

Pros and Cons


  • Obesity is becoming big health problem inIreland. It can lead to an increased probability of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. If you can lose a lot of weight, those risks generally decline and that’s a very good thing.
  • Look and feel great – Nothing is better then that feeling of fitting into your skinny jeans again!


  • Headaches or Dizziness – Some people have an initial reaction to the loss of carbs in the diet.
  • Cholesterol – Generally speaking, losing weight helps cholesterol long-term, although cholesterol may go up during the initial part of the diet. If your doctor has you on cholesterol medication, you should mention the diet.
  • Constipation – During the attack phase the high concentration of protein in the diet might cause constipation in some. The water and oat bran are designed to aid this.
  • Weight regain – After losing the weight, if you go back to eating 5,000 calories a day, then you will gain all the weight back. The idea is that the consolidation phase changes your eating habits and exercise habits while maintaining a stable weight.

Where can I find out more?

The Dukan Diet, The Dukan Diet Recipe Book and The Dukan Diet Life Plan by Dr Pierre Dukan are all available online at or in Easons RRP €19.80.