How much does the Dukan Diet cost per day?

by Marshall Brain

In one of the comments there was a question about the daily cost of the Dukan diet. It is more expensive to eat a lot of protein than it is to eat carbs – there is no question about that. In this post I tell the story of Johnny’s recent purchase at the dollar store this weekend. He went in with $1.10 and came out with a box of six Mrs. Freshley’s individually wrapped honey buns. Each one has 210 calories and 27 grams of carbs. So for $1 he bought 1,260 calories and 162 grams of carbohydrates.

I am eating about 1,500 calories a day right now, and I imagine I could put together 1,500 calories for well under $2 a day at the dollar store. But, realistically, that would be a mostly-carbs diet, and from being on the Dukan diet I have learned that I would have hunger pangs and sugar spikes if I was eating those kinds of foods. See What if everything that we are taught about carbs is actually propaganda? – I may never eat another honey bun again…

Anyway, back to the question. On the Dukan diet I am eating mostly protein, so how much I am spending per day?

Let’s say I were to get my protein from chicken breasts. I can buy chicken breast, depending on whether it is frozen or fresh, for $2.50 to $2.80 per pound (we do most of out shopping at BJ’s, so these are BJ’s prices). A pound of chicken breast contains 440 calories, so if I get my calories from chicken breast it would cost something like $8.75 to $9.75 to put together 1,500 calories.

If I get my 1,500 calories from Tilapia, the package says that six ounces has 160 calories. So I need 56.25 ounces (3.5 pounds) to make 1,500 calories. Frozen Talapia was $3.80 a pound when I started this diet. It is now up to $4.50 a pound at BJ’s. So it costs $15.80 to put together 1,500 Talapia calories.

Cottage cheese is $3.80 for 32 ounces, and a 32 ounce container contains 720 calories. So 1,500 calories of cottage cheese costs about $8.

Plain Yogurt costs about the same as cottage cheese but only contains 560 calories per container, so it is $10.20 for 1,500 calories. However, if you make your own yogurt you can cut the cost of yogurt in half (or better) and it becomes one of the cheapest options.

Large eggs cost $2 per dozen. An egg has 80 calories. So 19 eggs would cover the calories for the day at a cost of about $3.15. The only problem is that the Dukan diet only allows 2 eggs per day because eggs contain a lot of fat.

Salmon is also high in fat, but at least it is “good fat“. But if you look on the web, it is hard to figure out how many calories salmon contains. According to this site, salmon has about 1,000 calories per pound. This site puts it closer to 830 calories per pound. It is now $8 per pound for farm-raised salmon at BJ’s. So it’s $12 to $15 per day for 1,500 calories.

Beef round steak is pretty lean and costs $3.50 per pound at BJ’s. It has about 870 calories per pound. So it only costs $6 to put together 1,500 calories. Too bad beef is a “red meat” that isn’t supposed to be as good for you as chicken or fish.

Then add in some vegetables, depending on the day, which are pretty expensive but don’t usually add many calories. Example: raw broccoli has 150 calories per pound. So you need 10 pounds of broccoli to reach 1,500 calories, and broccoli might be $1 to $2 per pound depending on the time of year, whether you can buy it at the farmer’s market or not, etc. On any given day I eat at most 8 ounces of broccoli though, so it is adding in maybe 50 cents or a dollar to the daily cost.

And there is the oat bran. That is costing me about 25 cents a day the way I buy it.

So, if we put all this together, I get my protein each day from some arrangement of chicken, fish, cottage cheese, eggs, yogurt and beef. Looking through the above list, I am going to say that $10 or $11 is the average cost per day of that protein. Then add in say $1 per day for the vegetables and oat bran. So I am spending $11 or $12 per day on the Dukan diet if I eat all three meals at home. If I was living in New York city or San Francisco and unable to shop at BJ’s, I suspect prices would be a bit higher. Maybe somebody in a big city can provide some thoughts on that in the comments.

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