How exactly does the Dukan diet (AKA Princess diet) plan work?

Dr. Pierre Dukan's world-famous diet, also known as the Princess Diet, is hugely popular... but a bit complicated. Allow us to explain.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dr. Pierre Dukan's world-famous diet, also known as the Princess Diet, is hugely popular... but a bit complicated. Allow us to explain.

With so many diet options out there, it can be hard to keep up, but here is a Dukan Diet plan that is so simple and effective that you may not ever need to follow another diet again.

Fewer carbs, more protein. These basic principals apply to many popular diets, but it's much more specific than that.

The Duchess of Cambridge is allegedly a fan and her endorsement is thought to have led to a surge in the diet's popularity. So what do you need to know?

What is the Dukan diet?

The Dukan Diet, also commonly called the Princess Diet, was unveiled by Dr. Pierre Dukan in his book The Dukan Diet, first published in France in 2000. Since then, it's gained a huge following - partly because it was reported that Kate Middleton (and her mum and sister) used the diet to stay to slim.

'It’s a universal and natural method based on 100 foods (72 protein and 28 vegetable sources) that dieters can eat in unlimited quantities,' Dr. Pierre Dukan explains to Marie Claire. 'As a filling food, protein optimises fast and effective weight loss without having to say no.'

The diet consists of four phases, each allowing different combinations and amounts of the approved foods. And, of course, all phases encourage a healthy portion of good old-fashioned exercise.

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Dukan Diet Plan

1. Attack

The first phase lasts two to five days (depending on your age and goals) and is designed for quick and encouraging weight loss. During the Attack Phase, you focus on eating only pure proteins - such as lean meat, tofu, poultry, fish and eggs. It may sound a bit boring - but because there are no portion limitations, you at least know you won't go hungry.

2. Cruise

The second phase introduces approved vegetables into the mix. Dieters alternate all-protein days with mixed protein-and-veg days. This phase continues until your weight-loss goal is reached - about five days for every pound.

3. Consolidation

The third phase eases your new hot body into a more sustainable lifestyle. The rules are detailed - but basically it involves slowly introducing new foods - such as cheese, whole grain bread and fruit - as well as the occasional 'celebration meal.' (Yes, these meals include dessert and a glass of wine.)

4. Stabilisation

The last phase helps dieters slowly return to a more 'normal,' balanced diet. At this point you've already lost the weight and kept it off (yay!). This means you've learned your lessons and can self-regulate your eating more naturally. There are really only three strict rules at this point: Eat three tablespoons of oat bran every day, stick to one protein-only day per week and take the stairs instead of the lift.

Sounds simple enough. (Okay, maybe not simple, per se... but we get the idea.) But what happens if we mess up?

'If you have been cheating badly and often, simply do a few extra natural pure protein days to help you get back on track in the programme and get rid of excess water weight,' Dr. Dukan says.

The doctor explains that he would recommend his approach to anyone 'who is overweight and wishes to slim down.' But he does advise his dieters not to go too far.

'Your goal should not be about extreme or obsessive weight loss but about attaining your True Weight, which is the weight you can most easily maintain without unrealistic daily efforts or the need to deprive yourself,' he says.

If followed correctly, there's a chance the Dukan Diet plan may give you a body like Kate Middleton's. But now the real question is: How do we replicate that hair?

Dukan diet recipe

Dukan diet Piri Piri Chicken

A spicy chicken dish that can be eaten on any day of the Dukan diet

Ingredients (for 4 servings)

8 chicken thighs or 4 chicken breast fillets 2 teaspoons crushed chilli flakes 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon paprika ¼ cup cider vinegar Juice of half a lemon Juice of half a lime Sea salt and black pepper


Mix the cider vinegar, chilli flakes, lemon juice, paprika, garlic and oregano in a bowl to make a marinade.

Place the chicken in the marinade, fully coating each piece. Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours but preferably overnight.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and season with salt and pepper to taste Barbecue or grill on a medium heat until cooked thoroughly. Remove skin for those on Dukan Diet and serve with plain fat free yoghurt with a squeeze of lime juice.

If it's got Kate's royal seal of approval then it's good enough for us.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.