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 suggestions which are claimed that can assist you drop some weight shortly.

Regardless of 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 it’s best to strive.

This text tells you all you could 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.

Eating regimen overview scorecard

  • General rating: 2.88
  • Weight reduction: 2.5
  • Wholesome consuming: 3.25
  • Sustainability: 2.75
  • Complete physique well being: 3.25
  • Vitamin high quality: 3.5
  • Proof-based: 2

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

In 2015, Dr. Phil McGraw — higher often called Dr. Phil — launched a e book, “The 20/20 Eating regimen: Flip Your Weight Loss Imaginative and prescient Into Actuality,” 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 is predicated on the thermic impact of meals (TEF), which is the variety of energy your physique makes use of to digest, take up, and make the most of vitamins from meals (1).

In response to the e book, 20 “energy meals” require numerous vitality (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 regularly reintroduce meals restricted within the earlier phases. Together with this, it encourages numerous psychological tips to stop overeating, akin to brushing your tooth once you’re hungry.

Collectively, the lengthy checklist of meals restrictions paired with psychology suggestions and common train is believed that can assist you drop some weight.


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 major phases: the 5-day enhance (section 1), the 5-day maintain (section 2), the 20-day attain (section 3), and administration (section 4).

As well as, the weight loss plan encourages at the least 3–4 hours of reasonable depth and a couple of–3 hours of excessive depth train per week, totaling round 5–7 hours of train per week throughout all phases.

Section 1: The 5-day enhance

Section 1 is taken into account probably the most tough section of the 20/20 weight loss plan. Throughout this section, you’re solely allowed to eat 20 energy meals believed to assist kick-start the load 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

It’s essential to comply with this section for at the least 5 days. Moreover, you should eat each 4 hours throughout waking hours.

Section 2: The 5-day maintain

Section 2 permits for some extra flexibility, although arguably remains to be very strict. Throughout this section, you could stray from the checklist of 20 energy meals however should embrace at the least two at each meal and snack.

Really helpful meals so as to add embrace:

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

It’s essential to comply with this section for five days.

Section 3: The 20-day attain

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

You may additionally introduce two “smart splurges” per day to keep away from cravings and overeating. In response to the weight loss plan, a “smart splurge” is any meals you get pleasure from consuming. Nonetheless, you should maintain it below 100 energy.

Very best meals to introduce throughout this section embrace:

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

Section 4: Administration

After finishing the primary three phases, you enter the administration section to maintain any weight reduction and way of life adjustments.

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

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


Through the 4 phases of the 20/20 weight loss plan, you begin by consuming solely from a listing of 20 energy meals and regularly reintroduce different meals. As well as, you be taught psychological tricks to forestall overeating and train commonly.

Although the primary two phases are fairly strict, there are fewer meals restrictions within the third and fourth phases. Listed here are widespread meals allowed and discouraged:

  • Energy meals. You’re inspired to eat two meals from this checklist at each meal and snack.
  • Fruit and veggies. Although some are restricted in the course of the first two phases, you could reintroduce most fruits, non-starchy greens, and starchy greens within the third and fourth phases.
  • Meat and poultry. You could introduce lean beef and hen after section 1.
  • Dairy. Yogurt is included within the checklist of 20 energy meals. You could embrace cheese, milk, and different dairy merchandise moderately throughout phases 3 and 4.
  • Fish and seafood. Cod is likely one of the 20 energy meals allowed throughout section 1. After this, you could add different fish and seafood attributable to their excessive dietary worth.
  • Wholesome fat. Avocado, nuts, seeds, and oils are permitted throughout most phases of the weight loss plan.
  • Easy sugars and refined carbs. These must be thought-about “smart splurges” and stored to a minimal.
  • Processed meals. Meals generally present in packing containers, wrappers, or luggage must be restricted. Examples embrace chips, crackers, and pastries.
  • Quick meals and takeout. The weight loss plan advises in opposition to any behavior that beforehand led to weight achieve. It advises to restrict ready-made meals and takeout to uncommon events.
  • Drinks. Drink 8–10 glasses of water each day. Take pleasure in different drinks moderately.

In the end, the aim of the 20/20 weight loss plan is to stay with meals which are filling, low in energy, and minimally processed.


The primary two phases of the weight loss plan have quite a few meals restrictions. Nonetheless, few meals are off-limits over the last two phases.

Although you could drop some weight on the weight loss plan, it’s not for the explanations the e book claims.

The principle 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.

Whereas 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 actual fact, some meals included in a while 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 entire grains (1).

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

Somewhat, individuals probably drop some weight on the weight loss plan as a result of they’re consuming extra entire, excessive satiety meals which are decrease in energy, and so they’re concurrently growing their bodily exercise.

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


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

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

All meals moderately

Moreover in the course of the first 10 days, that are extremely restrictive, the 20/20 weight loss plan permits all meals to be loved moderately.

Technically, no meals is totally off-limits, which helps scale back the chance of bingeing, attributable to suppressed cravings. That stated, limiting “smart splurges” like dessert to 100 energy is probably not satisfying or sustainable.

Encourages train

This weight loss plan encourages common train, which is a crucial element of fine well being and weight reduction success.

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

That stated, those that don’t commonly train could wish to seek the advice of a healthcare skilled and ease into train to stop accidents.

Focuses on the psychological facet of consuming

In contrast to many diets that focus totally on consuming low calorie meals, the 20/20 weight loss plan contains numerous suggestions that can assist you higher handle your consuming habits.

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

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

The following tips could assist you to higher perceive the explanations behind your meals decisions and use numerous methods to encourage wholesome consuming behaviors.


Advantages of the weight loss plan embrace consuming meals moderately, being attentive to the explanations behind meals alternative, and inspiring common train.

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

Pointless restrictions

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

As a substitute, introducing the idea of moderation from the get-go and inspiring common train would set up higher long-term behaviors with out pointless meals restrictions.

As well as, the 20 energy meals are arbitrary, and plenty of different meals even have the next TEF whereas being extra nutritious and filling.

Is probably not sustainable

Regardless of having a ultimate administration stage, the weight loss plan states you could must return to section 1 in the event you regain any weight.

This will likely recommend the weight loss plan shouldn’t be sustainable long run, since contributors could not persist with the suggestions within the ultimate section — probably attributable to its low calorie nature and limitations on “splurge” meals.

Could 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 adverse relationship with meals (8).

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

Contradictory messaging

Regardless of claiming to embrace intuitive consuming (consuming primarily based in your physiological starvation), the weight loss plan has strict guidelines that totally 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. But, some individuals must eat each 2 hours whereas others can go for much longer with out feeling hungry.

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

One-size-fits-all strategy

Regardless of the various elements which will result in weight achieve — akin to age, genetics, historical past of weight-reduction plan, and well being circumstances — this weight loss plan is a blanket strategy to weight reduction.

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


Main downsides of the 20/20 weight loss plan embrace its lengthy checklist of meals restrictions, problematic weight loss plan messaging, and one-size-fits-all strategy.

The 20/20 weight loss plan shouldn’t be for everybody.

For those who’re in search of a simple weight loss plan to comply with that also permits for some flexibility, then you could profit from it. Nonetheless, it’s in all probability greatest to skip phases 1 and a couple of and go on to section 3.

That stated, when you’ve got a historical past of disordered consuming or wrestle with restrictive diets, you’re higher off avoiding it.

As a substitute, the very best weight loss plan is one which doesn’t vilify meals and contains quite a lot of entire, minimally processed meals wealthy in fiber, protein, wholesome fat, and entire grains.

Moreover, remember to concentrate on different points 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 points of the weight loss plan, akin to consuming principally minimally processed meals, being attentive to your causes for consuming, and common train. Collectively, these could assist you to drop some weight.

Nonetheless, the weight loss plan could be very restrictive for the primary two phases, which can result in a disordered relationship with meals. Additional, it limits treats to 100-calorie servings, which is probably not satisfying or sustainable.

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


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