Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Does the French Dukan Diet Really Work?

What do you think of the new Dukan diet from France? 

Answer (Published 5/20/2011)

The Dukan diet was devised by a French neurologist, Pierre Dukan, in the 1970s when a seriously overweight patient who had failed on every diet he had tried said he was willing to try again if he could continue to eat meat. According to the New York Times, Dr. Dukan told the patient, a poetry editor, to eat nothing but protein, drink lots of water and come back in five days. When the patient returned, he had lost 11 pounds.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

The story goes that Dr. Dukan gave up practicing neurology to study nutrition and eventually came up with his diet and described it in a book, which has been a best seller in France for years. It has been translated into 14 languages and was published in the U.S. in April, 2011 under the title, The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever.

The Dukan diet is high in protein and low in fat, and is divided into four stages. The first one allows dieters nonfatty protein plus oat bran and lots of water. Stage 2 adds in vegetables but not fruit. In stage 3, you add two slices of bread per day, some cheese and fruit, plus two weekly meals that allow wine and dessert. After that, when you've lost the desired amount of weight, you can eat all you want for six days a week provided that on the seventh day you go back to the first stage - only low-fat protein and water.

The diet has been under attack in France and elsewhere in Europe as scientifically unsound, unbalanced and taxing on the kidneys. I'm sure you can lose weight if you try this plan, but whether you can stick to it over time is questionable. In addition to being unbalanced, it also sounds pretty monotonous. As far as exercise is concerned, Dr. Dukan recommends a daily 20-minute walk and forbids his readers to take elevators - that may be fine advice in Paris where five-story buildings are common, but isn't likely to generate much enthusiasm from New Yorkers or other U.S. city dwellers who live in high rises of 20 stories or more.

As far as I'm concerned, the Dukan diet is just the latest in a long line of fad diets that don't do much to instill healthy habits of eating and exercise. Fad diets are perennially popular, but, in the long run, the best way to achieve and maintain a desirable weight is to eat sensible portions of a wide variety of unprocessed foods - such as those found in my anti-inflammatory diet and pyramid - and learn to be more physically active.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here