The Dukan Diet plan can be executed in many different ways depending on many factors (such as: you basal weight, your goal, your age, you medical condition, your genetic predisposition towards obesity etc.) Nevertheless, the Dukan Diet always starts with the Attack Phase that is based on a strict protein menu. The Attack Phase is to provide a strong psychological impetus and an effect of ‘metabolic surprise’ that results in a rapid and motivating weight loss.
This article is a detailed description of the Dukan Diet Phase I menu. If you seek information on the duration of the Attack Phase click here. I also recommend downloading my Attack Phase Memento Printable PDF which is a free, printable, 1-page recap of the Dukan Diet Attack Phase rules and menu.
The Attack Phase Menu in detail
Group #1: Lean (Red) Meat
What Dukan calls lean meat is: veal, beef and, for those who might still eat it, horse-meat, rabbit and game.
Beef: every bit that is fit for roasting or grilling.
Good: beefsteak, sirloin, rump cut, collop, other bits trimmed to zero fat.
Bad: T-bones, boned rib steak, boned loin-chop and other marbled bits.
Veal: the best choices are veal fillets and whatever that is fit for roasting. You can have boned chops but remember to trim the fat before cooking.
Horse-meat, rabbit and game: those kinds of meat are really lean, all parts should do as long as the meat isn’t streaky.
There are no specific restrictions on how to prepare lean meat except that you are not allowed to use any additional fat: no butter, oil, sour / sweet cream (even when the label says ‘light’).
That said, the best ways to prepare you meat are: gilling, roasting, cooking it on a spit, stewing, cooking folded in foil, pan-frying without fat (providing that you’ve got a frying pan that can do that), steaming, boiling etc.
You can cook meat for as long as you see fit. Heat processing melts the meat’s fat so the longer you cook your meat the leaner it becomes. On the other hand, overcooked meat loses most of its taste and flavor.
Some people like to eat raw meat which is pretty healthy providing that your meat comes from a reliable source (it always should!). Unless you use oil to prepare dishes like steak tartare or carppacio, they are diet safe (you can use raw eggs / yolks instead of oil).
All of the above-mentioned kinds of meat can be minced, chopped, grated etc. You can mix your meat in various combinations with other allowed foods.
A few words about steaks. Read the labels or ask you butcher (seller) to learn how much fat is in your beef. A safe fat content in meat that you can eat during the Attack Phase is 10%. Don’t eat any meat that stands above this level. I said ‘meat’ thus this rule doesn’t apply to fish.
Group #2: Offal
There aren’t many kinds of offal that you can eat in the Attack Phase as they are pretty fatty. The list is short: veal / beef / chicken liver and veal / lamb tongue.
Liver is quite nourishing and contains a lot of protein, vitamins (A, B12) and micro-elements (such as: iron, selenium, copper, phosphorus) but in the same time, it is very high in cholesterol. People who are to control their cholesterol level are advised to ease off the liver.
Group #3: Fish
Fish is, in general, very healthy. There are absolute no restrictions here. Every fish is allowed and recommended: greasy, lean, white-fin, blue-fin, fresh, frozen, raw, cooked, conserved (in brine, not in oil), smoked and dried.
Fish: sardine, mackerel, salmon, tuna, sole, cod, perch, burbot, halibut to name just a few.
Smoked fish: salmon, trout, eel etc. They may be considered greasy but the fat content isn’t higher than in a beef steak. Even more, they contain very healthy omega-3 fats. The only concern is that smoked fish is often salty.
Canned fish can be very handy when you need a quick meal or snack. Don’t eat fish canned in oil though. Canned fish in non-oily sauce is OK, provided that you won’t eat the sauce. The best choice here is fish canned in brine.
Surimi is a commercially-prepared product made mostly from white-fleshed fish. It is diet-safe and very ‘portable’. A perfect snack. But read labels and pay attention to nutrition facts. The original surimi is a great food but there are many fakes pumped up with bean-protein, sugar and salt. A genuine surimi should contain about no less than 15% of protein and no more than 7% of carbohydrates (and none of which should be sugar).
Group #4: Seafood
Crustaceans and mollusks including: prawns, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, oysters, clams, mussels, scallops etc.
Everything that comes from the sea will do. In fact, seafood is a very healthy and nourishing food that people often forget about.
Group #5: Poultry
All kinds of poultry are acceptable in the Attack Phase except for duck and goose provided that you won’t eat skin.
Chicken is the most common kind of poultry. The younger (smaller) the chicken the leaner the meat is. The fattest bits are wings and parson’s nose. The leanest parts are, in order of meagerness: breast, thigh and then wings.
Turkey: pan-fried (without oil) fillet and roasted turkey are the best choices. Other related poultry that is diet-safe: guinea fowl, pigeon, quail and game birds like pheasant, partridge or even a wild duck (which is much leaner than a farm duck).
Group #6: Lean Cured Meat
The cured meat that falls into this category is nothing like slow food smoked pork ham. The only cured meat that you can have during the Attack Phase is the one that contains 4-5% of fat. That kind of cured meat is usually made of turkey or chicken. It’s not as tasty as the traditional ham or smoked sirloin but it excels in other areas. It’s lean, it contains a decent amount of high quality protein, it is often sliced, vacuum-packed and odorless thus easy to carry and ready-to-use. The main downside of the lean cured meat is usually high contents of salt, preservatives and various artificial additives. Nevertheless, packed lean cured meat can be a life-savior when you get hungry unexpectedly.
Group #7: Eggs
You can have eggs in any form: as an omelet, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, fried (with no oil or butter or any other fats), stuffed, raw (tip: scald the shell before eating raw eggs) , and scrambled.
Some people have eggs intolerance, some have cholesterol related issues. In both cases you should avoid egg yolks or at least limit yolk consumption to 3 or 4 per week. The egg white on the other hand is cholesterol free and should not cause any health-related problems.
Group #8: Low-fat Dairy
In my opinion, when it comes to nutritional value, this is the second most valuable food group on the list right after fish. And in terms of taste and ‘usability’ dairy is my number one. Throughout the entire Attack Phase milk products are an unrivaled source of calcium which, if consumed in sufficient amount, will ensure the weight loss success, especially if you are calcium deficient.
Calcium deficiency and weight loss
The latter case is nothing rare as all the junk food we consume nowadays leaches this valuable mineral out of the body on the regular basis. Let me quote after Angelo Tremblay and his team at Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine:
Professor Tremblay and his team have studied the link between calcium and obesity for several years. Their first findings, published in 2003, revealed that women who consumed diets poor in calcium had more body fat, bigger waistlines, and higher bad cholesterol levels than those who consumed moderate or large amounts of calcium. A second study showed that the more people reduced their consumption of dairy products over the six-year period examined, the more weight and body fat they gained and the bigger their waistlines grew. In 2007, Angelo Tremblay and his team established a direct link between calcium and a lower cardiovascular risk profile among dieters.
There’s no low-fat (or non-fat) dairy product a can think of that isn’t Dukan Diet compliant. You can have them all: skimmed / non-fat milk, low/non-fat yogurt, Greek yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, cottage cheese, curd, quark (aka farmers cheese or white cheese) etc. There are so many different local milk products that have different local names that it is hard to list them all.
The only thing you should remember is that it is non/low-fat dairy (so, things like whole-milk, full-fat cheese or cream are prohibited).
Fermented Milk Products
In general, fermented milk products (like yogurt, pot cheese, cottage cheese etc.) are better than fresh milk and its non-fermented derivatives. They have nutritional benefits beyond those of milk. This is because the fermentation process converts the lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid. Fermented milk products can usually be consumed by people with moderate lactose intolerance. Here’s another quote on the connection between yogurt, calcium and weight loss:
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity (11 January 2005) also found that the consumption of low-fat yogurt can promote weight loss, especially due to the calcium in the yogurt.
I encourage every dieter that follows the dukan diet or any other weight loss program to eat dairy regularly, especially when you are a coffee or (diet) soda lover. Here you can read more on how diet coke and coffee leach the valuable minerals out of your body and how to counterbalance the calcium deficits.
For more information on Dairy in Dukan go to Food List: Dairy
Group #9: Water
You need to drink at least 1.5 L of liquids a day. This one is obligatory and there are no exceptions to the rule. During the Attack Phase your body will need much more fluids than it normally uses (read about ketosis here).
You can partially substitute water with tea (green, herbal, black) but don’t go crazy with it (especially with the black tea)
Dr Dukan claims that coffee is as good as tea and other fluids but I think otherwise. In my opinion, substances like coffee, strong black tea and coke are no match to the hydration potential of pure water.
You can drink coffee, tea and even diet coke but regardless of what you drink (or in what quantities) you can’t deviate from drinking pure water.
All kinds of water are acceptable. Mineral, still water would be the best choice but sparkling water will do as well. If you need a detailed instruction on choosing the ‘right’ water, read my in-depth review where I ponder on the pros and cons of various kinds of drinking water.