Can It Help You Lose Weight? – Cleveland Clinic

When you’re trying to lose weight, you’re also hoping for something long term: You don’t want to gain it all back down the road. Sustainability is key — so it’s understandable that an eating style like the Dukan diet might sound appealing.

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“Lose the weight and keep it off forever” is the promise of French nutritionist Pierre Dukan’s namesake diet, which he created in 2000. It’s a four-step diet plan that claims to work in perpetuity — which is to say, well, forever.

But is it too good to be true? Slow down before jumping in. Registered dietitian Kendra Weekley, RD, cautions that the Dukan diet is too restrictive, and you may miss out on key nutrients while you’re following it.

What is the Dukan diet?

The Dukan diet is based on the premise that 95% of people who diet eventually return to their pre-diet ways of eating and gain back the weight they lost. It says it can “redesign your eating habits and help you permanently stabilize your weight” in four phases (steps).

“Essentially, this is an elimination diet,” Weekley notes. “Any diet that eliminates a number of nutrition-dense and calorie-dense foods will facilitate rapid weight loss.”

Phases of the Dukan diet and what you can eat

The Dukan diet is made up of four phases, all varying in length and rules that can last up to 12 months.

The first two phases are the weight loss phases; the third phase is about developing behavior changes to prevent the weight from coming back; and the fourth phase and final phase is a maintenance phase, designed to last for life.

“During each of these phases, you choose from a very limited list of foods that you can eat an ‘unlimited’ amount of,” Weekley says. “Many of these foods are also digested slowly so that you will feel fuller longer, which can then lead to a decrease in calorie intake and promote weight loss.”

Here’s a look at what each phase entails.

1. The Attack phase


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