Is It Effective for Weight Loss?

The 20/20 weight loss plan is a weight reduction weight loss plan created by tv star Dr. Phil.

It prioritizes 20 “energy meals” together with weight loss plan and psychological ideas which might be claimed that will help you shed some pounds shortly.

Despite Dr. Phil’s future as a star, you could marvel if a former psychologist has the key to weight reduction and whether or not this weight loss plan is one thing you need to strive.

This article tells you all you have to know concerning the 20/20 weight loss plan, together with whether or not it helps with weight reduction, its advantages and drawbacks, and directions on following it.

Diet overview scorecard

  • Overall rating: 2.88
  • Weight loss: 2.5
  • Healthy consuming: 3.25
  • Sustainability: 2.75
  • Whole physique well being: 3.25
  • Nutrition high quality: 3.5
  • Evidence-based: 2

BOTTOM LINE: The 20/20 weight loss plan emphasizes consuming largely complete, nutrient-dense, filling meals and performing each day train to advertise weight reduction. That mentioned, the preliminary phases are extremely restrictive, pointless, and could also be higher off prevented.

In 2015, Dr. Phil McGraw — higher referred to as Dr. Phil — launched a e book, “The 20/20 Diet: Turn Your Weight Loss Vision Into Reality,” to assist struggling dieters obtain profitable weight reduction.

Dr. Phil has a PhD in medical psychology and has hosted the daytime tv present “Dr. Phil” since 2002.

The 20/20 weight loss plan relies on the thermic impact of meals (TEF), which is the number of calories your body uses to digest, soak up, and make the most of vitamins from meals (1).

According to the e book, 20 “energy meals” require numerous power (energy) to course of. So, the extra energy you burn from consuming these meals, the less internet energy your physique finally ends up taking in.

The weight loss plan contains 4 phases that steadily reintroduce meals restricted within the earlier phases. Along with this, it encourages numerous psychological tips to prevent overeating, akin to brushing your enamel if you’re hungry.

Collectively, the lengthy listing of meals restrictions paired with psychology ideas and common train is believed that will help you shed some pounds.


Created by Dr. Phil McGraw, the 20/20 weight loss plan is a four-phase weight loss plan that emphasizes consuming from a listing of 20 energy meals believed to encourage weight reduction.

The 20/20 weight loss plan consists of 4 important phases: the 5-day increase (section 1), the 5-day maintain (section 2), the 20-day attain (section 3), and administration (section 4).

In addition, the weight loss plan encourages no less than 3–4 hours of moderate intensity and a couple of–3 hours of excessive depth train per week, totaling round 5–7 hours of train per week throughout all phases.

Phase 1: The 5-day increase

Phase 1 is taken into account essentially the most troublesome section of the 20/20 weight loss plan. During this section, you’re solely allowed to eat 20 energy meals believed to assist kick-start the burden loss course of. These embrace:

  • almonds
  • apples
  • chickpeas
  • coconut oil
  • cod
  • dried plums
  • eggs
  • inexperienced tea
  • leafy greens
  • lentils
  • mustard
  • olive oil
  • peanut butter
  • pistachios
  • prunes
  • raisins
  • rye
  • tofu
  • whey protein powder
  • yogurt

You should comply with this section for no less than 5 days. Additionally, you will need to eat each 4 hours throughout waking hours.

Phase 2: The 5-day maintain

Phase 2 permits for some further flexibility, although arguably remains to be very strict. During this section, you could stray from the listing of 20 energy meals however should embrace no less than two at each meal and snack.

Recommended meals so as to add embrace:

  • blueberries
  • brown rice
  • carrots
  • cashews
  • hen
  • mushrooms
  • oats
  • tuna

You should comply with this section for five days.

Phase 3: The 20-day attain

During section 3, you’re allowed to introduce most meals again into your weight loss plan. That mentioned, common consumption of highly processed foods and meals excessive in easy carbohydrates is discouraged.

You may additionally introduce two “wise splurges” per day to keep away from cravings and overeating. According to the weight loss plan, a “wise splurge” is any meals you get pleasure from consuming. However, you will need to preserve it underneath 100 energy.

Ideal meals to introduce throughout this section embrace:

  • avocados
  • black beans
  • potatoes
  • quinoa
  • raspberries
  • spinach

Phase 4: Management

After finishing the primary three phases, you enter the administration section to maintain any weight reduction and life-style modifications.

This section is supposed to happen indefinitely except you gain weight, at which level you’d return to section 1.

Ideally, you’d nonetheless comply with the identical consuming patterns as section 3 whereas additionally monitoring your weight commonly, avoiding emotional eating, and stopping a busy schedule from affecting your consuming habits and train routine.


During the 4 phases of the 20/20 weight loss plan, you begin by consuming solely from a listing of 20 energy meals and steadily reintroduce different meals. In addition, you study psychological tricks to forestall overeating and train commonly.

Though the primary two phases are fairly strict, there are fewer meals restrictions within the third and fourth phases. Here are frequent meals allowed and discouraged:

  • Power meals. You’re inspired to eat two meals from this listing at each meal and snack.
  • Fruits and greens. Though some are restricted throughout the first two phases, you could reintroduce most fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and starchy greens within the third and fourth phases.
  • Meat and poultry. You might introduce lean beef and hen after section 1.
  • Dairy. Yogurt is included within the listing of 20 energy meals. You might embrace cheese, milk, and different dairy merchandise sparsely throughout phases 3 and 4.
  • Fish and seafood. Cod is among the 20 energy meals allowed throughout section 1. After this, you could add different fish and seafood resulting from their excessive dietary worth.
  • Healthy fat. Avocado, nuts, seeds, and oils are permitted throughout most phases of the weight loss plan.
  • Simple sugars and refined carbs. These ought to be thought of “wise splurges” and stored to a minimal.
  • Processed meals. Foods generally present in packing containers, wrappers, or baggage ought to be restricted. Examples embrace chips, crackers, and pastries.
  • Fast meals and takeout. The weight loss plan advises in opposition to any behavior that beforehand led to weight acquire. It advises to restrict ready-made meals and takeout to uncommon events.
  • Beverages. Drink 8–10 glasses of water daily. Enjoy different drinks sparsely.

Ultimately, the objective of the 20/20 weight loss plan is to stay with meals which might be filling, low in energy, and minimally processed.


The first two phases of the weight loss plan have various meals restrictions. However, few meals are off-limits over the last two phases.

Though you could shed some pounds on the weight loss plan, it’s not for the explanations the e book claims.

The important thought of the weight loss plan is to eat meals with a excessive thermic impact. In flip, this could result in fewer internet energy being consumed.

While the TEF contributes to roughly 10% of complete each day energy burned, there’s no proof that the 20 energy meals suggested particularly result in higher calorie expenditure (1).

In truth, some meals included afterward within the weight loss plan would even have the next TEF, together with excessive protein meals like hen and beef and excessive fiber greens and complete grains (1).

At greatest, excessive TEF meals might burn an additional 50–100 energy per day, taking part in a minimal function in weight reduction (1, 2, 3).

Rather, individuals doubtless shed some pounds on the weight loss plan as a result of they’re consuming extra complete, high satiety foods which might be decrease in energy, and so they’re concurrently rising their bodily exercise.

Collectively, this ends in the calorie deficit mandatory for weight reduction.


The 20 energy meals are primarily based on the premise that they’ve a excessive calorie-burning impact. Despite this declare, most individuals shed some pounds on the weight loss plan by attaining a calorie deficit.

In addition to weight reduction, there could also be a number of different advantages to the 20/20 weight loss plan.

All meals sparsely

Besides throughout the first 10 days, that are extremely restrictive, the 20/20 weight loss plan permits all meals to be loved sparsely.

Technically, no meals is totally off-limits, which helps cut back the chance of bingeing, resulting from suppressed cravings. That mentioned, limiting “wise splurges” like dessert to 100 energy will not be satisfying or sustainable.

Encourages train

This weight loss plan encourages regular exercise, which is a vital part of excellent well being and weight reduction success.

Further, it emphasizes motion that you just get pleasure from, which will increase the chance that you just’ll keep it up long run (4, 5, 6).

That mentioned, those that don’t commonly train might need to seek the advice of a healthcare skilled and ease into train to stop accidents.

Focuses on the psychological facet of consuming

Unlike many diets that focus solely on consuming low calorie meals, the 20/20 weight loss plan contains numerous ideas that will help you higher manage your eating habits.

Trained in psychology, Dr. Phil emphasizes the significance of the psychological psyche and its contribution to overeating and weight acquire.

In his e book, he dives into the psychology of consuming, akin to emotional consuming and environmental influences that drive individuals to eat.

These ideas might assist you higher perceive the explanations behind your meals decisions and use numerous methods to encourage wholesome consuming behaviors.


Benefits of the weight loss plan embrace consuming meals sparsely, taking note of the explanations behind meals alternative, and inspiring common train.

Despite some advantages, there are quite a few downsides to the 20/20 weight loss plan.

Unnecessary restrictions

Though the weight loss plan permits for flexibility previous section 2, the primary two phases of the weight loss plan are pointless. Considering each phases in complete final 10 days, any weight reduction achieved is most definitely water weight than precise fats loss (7).

Instead, introducing the idea of moderation from the get-go and inspiring common train would set up higher long-term behaviors with out unnecessary food restrictions.

In addition, the 20 energy meals are arbitrary, and lots of different meals even have the next TEF whereas being extra nutritious and filling.

May not be sustainable

Despite having a remaining administration stage, the weight loss plan states you could have to return to section 1 in the event you regain any weight.

This might recommend the weight loss plan is not sustainable long run, since contributors might not keep on with the suggestions within the remaining section — probably resulting from its low calorie nature and limitations on “splurge” meals.

May result in disordered consuming

This weight loss plan includes chopping out giant teams of meals and slowly including them again in. For some, this will result in a negative relationship with food (8).

What’s extra, the weight loss plan limits indulgences to 100 energy or fewer which might create nervousness surrounding meals decisions and a rising obsession with calorie counting (8, 9, 10, 11).

Contradictory messaging

Despite claiming to embrace intuitive eating (consuming primarily based in your physiological starvation), the weight loss plan has strict guidelines that solely go in opposition to the premise of intuitive consuming (12).

For instance, the weight loss plan has a inflexible guideline of consuming each 4 hours. Yet, some individuals have to eat each 2 hours whereas others can go for much longer with out feeling hungry.

This goes in opposition to listening to hunger cues and giving your self unconditional permission to eat (12).

One-size-fits-all method

Despite the various components that will result in weight acquire — akin to age, genetics, historical past of weight-reduction plan, and well being circumstances — this weight loss plan is a blanket method to weight reduction.

Rather than designing a weight reduction program primarily based on every particular person’s distinctive wants and circumstances, it assumes the weight loss plan will work for everybody, regardless of analysis suggesting weight reduction is very particular person (13, 14, 15).


Major downsides of the 20/20 weight loss plan embrace its lengthy listing of meals restrictions, problematic weight loss plan messaging, and one-size-fits-all method.

The 20/20 weight loss plan just isn’t for everybody.

If you’re searching for an easy weight loss plan to comply with that also permits for some flexibility, then you could profit from it. However, it’s most likely greatest to skip phases 1 and a couple of and go on to section 3.

That mentioned, if in case you have a historical past of disordered eating or wrestle with restrictive diets, you’re higher off avoiding it.

Instead, the perfect weight loss plan is one which doesn’t vilify meals and contains a wide range of complete, minimally processed meals wealthy in fiber, protein, healthy fats, and complete grains.

Additionally, make sure to give attention to different facets of well being akin to train and stress administration.

The 20/20 weight loss plan is a weight reduction weight loss plan created by tv star and psychologist Dr. Phil.

There are some optimistic facets of the weight loss plan, akin to consuming mostly minimally processed foods, taking note of your causes for consuming, and common train. Collectively, these might assist you shed some pounds.

However, the weight loss plan may be very restrictive for the primary two phases, which can result in a disordered relationship with meals. Further, it limits treats to 100-calorie servings, which will not be satisfying or sustainable.

Instead of attempting the 20/20 weight loss plan, you could be higher off specializing in sustainable wholesome life-style habits like consuming complete, nutrient-dense meals, exercising commonly, managing stress, and growing a optimistic relationship with meals.

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