I just finished reading Dr. Phil’s 20 20 diet book and have to say for the most part, it has a lot of very interesting facts that will be profound for most dieters who are only used to a traditional way of losing weight. I do like that he mentioned a lot of unorthodox concepts that aren’t mainstream such as eating foods that make you feel fuller as well as other important concepts.
I knew about them before, but now that someone like Dr. Phil mentions them, it’s high time they received their long overdue praise. I’ll be going over these things as well as providing a fully comprehensive review of the 20/20 diet, the foods within them, sample meals and much more.
The 20 20 diet explained:
It’s a 3 phase diet (really 4 if you count the after diet plan) which lasts for 30 days. The first 2 are 5 days long and the third is 20 days. The foods you eat are supposed to help with thermogenisis which is a state where the body just increases fat burning & metabolism. One thing Dr. Phil is careful about saying if it’s guaranteed to do what it’s supposed to. He just uses the word “May”.
The concept of the 20/20 diet isn’t really the foods you’re eating, but the overall picture Dr. Phil tries to paint which is looking at past mistakes we have made in our dieting efforts, with failed attempts, lessons learned, and in hindsight taking that and making up for it.
That is what the 20/20 aims to do, to make what right what we’ve been doing wrong this whole time. Dr. Phil really goes deep into explaining why other diets have failed using 7 examples of what other diets cause such as hunger, cravings, temptations and other negative effects which ultimately lead to failure. He even bolds the failure part (at least in the kindle edition). These failures are what eventually led him to create this diet plan which is “fail proof” against those 7 failures.
As for how much weight you can lose, that’s not exactly mentioned. What is given is a table with a list of heights and how much you should weight based on that. That is supposed to be your target weight.
Now with that out of the picture, I’m sure everyone reading this is “dying” to know the 20/20 foods and what makes them so special.
Here are some of the 20/20 foods (20):
Coconut oil, Green tea, Mustard, Walnuts, Olive Oil, Almonds, Apples, Chickpeas, Greens from vegetables as long as they are leaf like (cabbage), Dried plums, Lentils, Peanut butter, Pistachios unsalted and roasted, Raisins, Cod (fish), Rye, Tofu, Whey protein.
Note: These aren’t the only 20/20 foods! The ones above will be used entirely during phase 1 as you’re about to learn and in the following phases, including the post diet phase. There will be many more foods within this diet, as well as recipes and they will also be counted as 20/20 foods. Info on the recipes can be found here.
Now let’s see how these foods are going to apply to the actual diet.
Phase 1: 5 day boost
Basics: Lasts for 5 days and you eat 4 meals, 4 hours apart. The foods you eat must contain the 20/20 foods. You are given recipes where multiple foods from the 20 above are put together. For example: Apple walnut parfait, apple peanut butter and many, many more. In terms of drinks, green tear, water and lemon juice is allowed.
It is important to eat within the confines of the list. As you get into the next phases, it’ll become much more flexible.
Phase 2: 5 day sustain
Basics: You can eat whatever foods from phase 1, but with those original choices, you can now add in more foods. Here is a sample list:
Chicken breast, tuna, black beats, oats, brown rice, corn, carrots, tomatoes, mushroom, cashews, blueberries and more.
Again you are given a lot of recipes to combine these foods with phase 1 foods. The same rules apply here in terms of eating 4 meals, 4 hours apart, everyday. You should eat until you almost feel full each time.
Phase 3: 20 day attain
Basics: Again, 4 meals, 4 hours apart, but now you get even more flexibility and more choices. There’s 80 different dishes to choose from and it’s all located in the last parts of the book. In addition to the already many choices you have from the second phase, you can now add in more foods. Here is a sample list:
Avocado, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, peaches, oranges, limes, bananas, cauliflower, mushrooms, onion, parsley, yogurt, potatoes, spinach, quinoa, pita whole grain, black beans, cannelloni beans and more.
Phase 4: Maintenance stage
This is the post diet part where you should maintain a lifestyle change. Basically you continue to eat in a way you’d eat during the 3rd phase. You should aim to eat from the food list provided, including when you go out.
Rules for going out to eat: Dr. Phil provides a list of different restaurants and examples of how you should be eating. Basically you can eat whatever you like, but try to order dishes/drinks that include the foods from the 20/20 list.
There is a “30 second” exercise plan added into the book where you do HIIT exercises. There is a large list to choose from, with things such as squats, dumbbell and other weight like exercises, but the point is that you do them in turn. So you can work for 1 minute, then do 30 seconds of as many exercises from the list as you can, then rest, then go back to regular training, then again for a 30 second explosion.
If you can’t do these exercises, then just do more walking instead of using escalators or vehicles. Run more than you walk (you can also do the 30 second bursts like this). Just basically move more than you sit. Dr. Phil talks about NEAT which is an abbreviation for thermogensis where you simply burn calories by doing very small things such as brushing your teeth, walking, chewing, ect… This isn’t anything special. It just means, be more active and the calorie burning will add up.
- The approach to dieting in this plan is pretty flexible. The hardest parts are the first 5 days.
- Not much restriction on carbs which makes it more manageable.
- The diet is pretty short.
- Doesn’t use traditional approaches to weight loss.
- A huge bibliography is cited at the end of the book giving credit to the claims in it.
- I don’t like that Dr. Phil uses the word “may” so often. It seems like he’s being politically correct.
- A lot of very basic things are mentioned in more complex ways (NEAT) to seem like they are more than they really are. Just move more to lose weight! How much clearer can you get?
20 20 Diet Score:
3 out of 5 stars. Overall good diet, but I feel there’s more flexible, faster alternatives, like this:
Conclusions on the 20/20 diet:
This plan is good, but it’s not overly good either. Focus is more on gradual weight loss so if you need fast results, this might not the option for you. The exercises will help boost results though, just not by that much.
Health wise, the plan makes a lot of sense and I like how Dr. Phil talked about changing your though process on weight loss. To eat for nutrition, not to full fill an emotion as he mentioned using an example of a person who broke up with her boyfriend who begins eating ice cream to calm herself down. This is not how food should be treated.
In the end if you do this diet, you will lose weight. But I don’t know if you’ll be able to keep up with the 20/20 food implementation for the rest of your life, even though there are a lot of choices. If you can do it, good, but make sure that most of your food consumption comes from that list, otherwise your weight might return.