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Dr. Phil's 20/20 Diet

Dr. Phil's 20/20 Diet Review: Does it Work?

Dr. Phil's newest prescription could turn your weight loss vision into reality.

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What is it?

Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet is a weight loss diet offering food and dieting tips, as well as claimed results for those who have found it impossible to lose weight. The diet suggests 20 different foods which are said to help increase calorie burning.

The diet also is emphasized to be a scientific way to lose weight. It promises behavioral, cognitive, and behavioral tools. It’s claimed to have been formulated using cutting edge science for weight loss. This review will go over customer reviews, what pros and cons the diet has, and whether or not weight loss is likely. The top rated diet was awarded to 18Shake Diet. It offers a potent metabolism booster and all natural meal replacement that users say helps with weight loss. Learn more about the 18Shake diet by following the link provided here.

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Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet Ingredients and Side Effects

There are no supplements or pre-packaged foods on this diet. It emphasizes selecting certain foods and it provides recipes. The diet is broken down into 3 different phases:

• Phase 1 (1-5 days) “Boost”: Four different meals are allowed, within 4 hours apart. This phase is to keep your metabolism going at a steady rate. You’re also only allowed to eat a few food options, known as the 20/20 foods which are:

•        Whey powder, eggs, rye, tofu, cod, mustard, olive oil, almonds, coconut oil, green tea, dried plums, chickpeas, apples, yogurt, prunes, leafy greens, raisins, lentils, peanut butter,  and pistachios.

There’s no information to back up the claim that these specific foods can help with raising metabolism. Though these can be healthy foods, there’s no reasoning as to why these specific foods were chosen.  It’s likely most of the weight loss is due to the lack of sodium and refined carbohydrates.

         • Phase 2: (6-10 days) “Sustain”: New foods as well as the one’s on the 20/20 plan are available. Every meal and snack has to have a minimum of 2 different 20/20 foods.

The new allowed foods are:

Tuna, chicken breast, brown rice, oats, blueberries carrots, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

The eating schedule stays the same, with 4 meals a day 4 hours apart.

One or two cheat meals are allowed per week.  The foods eaten can’t have more than 100 calories per serving. The kinds of foods suggested as a possibility are a 4 ounce glass of wine or 14 potato chips. Less restrictive options for weight loss are available via the top 10 list of diets.

         • Phase 3 (11-30 days) “Attain”: The same eating schedule is maintained, alongside new foods. A sample of the foods available includes:

• Potatoes, spinach, raspberries avocado, black beans, and quinoa.

If you haven’t hit your goal weight, it’s advised to repeat the 3 phases. Once the targeted weight loss is hit, maintenance of phase 3 is followed alongside following the eating and lifestyle tips.

The registered dietician Ashvini Mashru says:

“sticking to such a rigid meal plan-not to mention that whole eating every four hours thing-may be overwhelming for some”

She also adds that:

“There are no phases or end dates to healthy eating”

According to her the diet:

“has a start/stop date… instructs you to eat super-specific foods for a super –specific period of time is a red flag”

The diet focuses a lot on helping people make lifestyle changes, but there’s no proof that it’s truly supported by real science. It also makes general claims that are already known, such as limiting processed sugars, refined grains, full fat dairy, and processed foods.

A list of the top 10 best diet plans is featured in the link provided here.

The diet also contains the myth that eating more frequently will increase metabolism.  Examine.com has debunked this by saying:

“There is no evidence to support the idea that multiple meals increases metabolic rate”

Not only was there no benefit, but by eating more foods there was actually less of an increase:

“One recently published paper actually finds the opposite”

They also add that:

“Weight gain is due to caloric intake rather than frequency”

Therefore, a big part of D.Phil.’s 20/20 Diet is not backed by science. The diet claims they have used cutting edge science to come up with this weight loss plan, but it’s clear there are some mistakes.  The top 10 list of the best diets is featured when you click here.

EDITOR’S TIP: Combine this diet with a proven meal replacement such as 18 Shake for better results.

Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet Quality of Ingredients

The diet focuses on whole foods which are good, but there can be difficulty in people who have to cook every single meal. It’s especially hard since there are very limited food options. As you’ll see in the “Customer Opinions of Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet” section, it was incredibly difficult for people to follow the diets strict standards.

Especially in the beginning, only 20 foods are allowed. This can make it hard to continue to diet. There’s also no evidence that these allowed foods are any better at raising metabolism than others.  Without any proof, there’s no good reason to believe that the diet will be safe and effective.

The Price and Quality of Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet

The book itself sells for $26 on sites like Amazon.com. There’s also an optional app offered. Most of the price depends on the quality of foods chosen, since the recipes have to be cooked from foods found in grocery stores.

Some followers of the diet did mention that it was expensive to have to keep making dishes based off the allowed foods.

The top 10 list of the best diets is featured when you click this link.

Business of Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet

The creator of the book and diet is Dr. Phil McGraw. He is not a dietician but a psychologist, and there’s no information on how he discovered the 20 foods which are recommended for raising metabolism.

The Federal Trade Commission investigated him after he began to make weight loss claims about his weight loss products. This caused him to remove some brands form the market. The same brand that he pulled off the market was targeted in a lawsuit.

Dr. Phil paid $10.5 million to settle with customers who failed to lose weight. The brand claimed:

“contain scientifically researched levels of ingredient that can help you change your behavior to take control of your weight”

These exaggerated claims were since pulled. It’s now known that there are claimed weight loss solutions from Dr. Phil which have been shown to be promoted with exaggerated and unproven claims.

See which diets were ranked in the top 10 list featured here.

EDITOR’S TIP: The top 10 list of the best diets is available here.

Customer Opinions of Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet

Here are some direct quotes from customer reviews:

“he doesn’t say anything any different than any of the other 100 plus so called diet/eating experts”

“This book is like a recipe for how to set yourself up for a really unhealthy relationship with food”

“Weird food combination and not very effective”

“It’s ridiculously had and requires too much effort to work in the long term”

A total of 898 people have criticized this diet on their Amazon.com page. Many said it was unrealistic; due to the food options being incredibly limited and being difficult to mix into a meal.

There were also concerns of people who felt that the diet didn’t offer any new information. Many of the suggestions and tips were obvious to people, since it excluded known unhealthy foods.

People mentioned the diet would be impossible to keep up with such a limited allowance for cheat foods, and very specific foods allowed.  Functional weight loss is possible; find the top 10 diets by clicking here.

Conclusion - Does Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet Work?

When deciding on a diet plan it’s important for it to be practical, customer approved, and backed by evidence. Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet claims to offer practical tips for weight loss, but many of these are already known. There are also suggestions which have been debunked, such as the claim that one has to eat every 4 hours to keep the metabolism going. This is not proven, and it makes the other claims seem questionable. It’s also suggested that certain foods will raise metabolism but no proof is offered. Lastly, many customers found it impossible to keep up with this diet.

The 2016 best diet of the year was found to be the 18Shake Diet. There are no dietary restrictions, and it promotes weight loss via a natural metabolism booster and high protein meal replacement. There’s only natural ingredients added, and it contains no stimulants or harsh additives. Learn more about the 18Shake Diet when you click the link here.

Many users have left testimonials and glowing reviews to showcase their weight loss results.

The 18Shake Diet’s natural diet pill and nutritionally balanced meal replacement are backed by a full 30 day money back guarantee. Returns are allowed for any reason within these 30 days. Discover more information by looking at the official website offered here.  

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(Page 2 of 3, 47 total comments)

Agnes Bailes


Has anyon else had low blood sugar and have to eat healthy carbs (Fruits) to elevate bs readings. I am a diabetic and use an insulin pump. On phase1 I had 7 or 8 lows . I ate an apple, raisins, or dried plums. I lost 11 lbs.eating even though I had extra snacks to elevate bs readings. Now I am 2 days into phase 2. I can hardly wait to see how I am doing. So far I have not had to eat extra snacks because phase 2 has more carbs.

posted Jan 11th, 2016 2:10 am



This diet is the best. My husband lost 6 pound and I lost 4 pounds in a week. The weight loss will keep us motivated to continue. On Weight Watchers I lost 1/2 pound the first week. The next week the same. THANKS, Dr. Phil.

posted Jan 11th, 2016 1:14 am



How was your first day? I am getting ready to start my first day on this diet and I'm a little scared. Scared that I will fail, again. After reading this reviews I am pumped up and ready to go. I have 40 pounds to lose I know I can do it. Thank you to those of you who gave honest feedback and were inspiring to me!

posted Jan 6th, 2016 4:26 pm

Patricia Melnik

I am 68 years old and i have gained at least 50/60 pounds in 3 years...i have trouble bending and putting my shoes on.I am very active all day everyday. My whole body hurts. I need some help Where do i start?

posted Dec 30th, 2015 5:09 pm


It is a good book and diet. I like Dr. Phil!

posted Dec 28th, 2015 6:48 pm user comment


I really want to try this. I am in my late forties and really don't feel healthy and need to drop about 50 pounds. My problem is I do not like very many vegetables. Its a texture and flavor thing. So, how do I get through any diet without liking the veges??

posted Dec 28th, 2015 6:12 pm


The only review that is correct is from Ryan. Just as beachbody, the supplement industry and the idiot Dr. Oz who are all profiting from your lack of knowledge on changing your body composition. Dr. Phil is NOT an example of health and fitness and should rely on his own personal fitness accomplishments instead of relying on other people (who obviously wrote most of this book). Anyone with a brain should do some research and discover it's not about the types of foods you eat. You can lose body fat eating ANY type of food. You just need to be in a calorie deficit. PERIOD. Scientific fact. You can gain fat by overeating chicken breast and broccoli!!! Yes you should eat healthy choices but if you can live on any type of food you like and keep your caloric intake under control then you should. You need to love your fitness journey. If you want to go further and gain or maintain muscle you need to focus on your macronutrients (proteins, carbs and fats). Go and Google a TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calculator and find out approx what your body burns in a day. With this calculator you can enter your estimated daily activity as well. Then take that number and reduce it by 500 calories per day. Go to "my fitness pal" and enter the foods you want to eat and it will give all the calorie info and multiple nutrient breakdown of each food you enter. You should only loose 1 to 2 pounds per week. If more than that or less adjust your calories up or down by 100 per day until you get it right. THERE IS NO STEPS, PHASES OR TIME LIMITS. It's for the rest of your life!!!!! Start there and LIFT WEIGHTS! Cardio or burst bs is not necessary. Men lift in the 4 to 6 rep range and women in the 8 to 12 rep range (unless you feel you are comfortable with 4-6 rep range). Contrary to what you may have heard high reps don't "tone" your muscles. Do 4-6 exercises 5 to 6 days a week. Should take 45 mins to an hour to complete. No one should follow "a diet". You have to enjoy what your doing or guess what? It WONT WORK. If there was a perfect "diet" for everyone then there would be no more books or programs. There is no need to spend a dime on DVDs, books, fad diets etc to change your body. You can find all the free info you need online. Just look to see what most speak about in common. The more people that discuss the same ways about changing body composition the more you know it works. Plus look at people that practice what they preach. Mike Matthews, Greg O'gallagher, Nate Myaki just to name a few. These guys have tons and tons of you tube videos and they get it. So please stop wasting your money on the next best thing. It doesn't exist. There are simple steps to follow and then YOU MUST DO IT. You can have all the knowledge in the world but it won't help if you don't get off your butt and do it. Make it enjoyable and correctly educate yourself so you can sustain the lifestyle. Email me for more info. sbelott@nycap.rr.com and I will answer any questions and put you on the correct path.

posted Dec 27th, 2015 6:46 pm


i lost 20lbs in 7 weeks on this diet, my cravings for sugar has gone, foods are great and easy to make.

posted Dec 23rd, 2015 11:10 am


I just ordered the book and like everyone else (even the negative ones) I am searching for a way to not only lose the weight but maintain the ideal weight once I reach it. Foreign foods/mixtures on the palette, especially those ones that are unsweetened or unseasoned are definitely NOT the ones we desire to put into our mouths.

But let me ask one question....

Would it be called a 'diet' book if those recipes were laden with sugar, fats or other artery blocking components?

Did you think this was going to be easy? or possibly so very delicious, like those creamed sauces or gravies that you pour over your buttery mashed potatoes? That 4 letter word in the title of the book kind of spells it out doesn't it?

yes, I agree with some comments made here that some famous TV celebrities make their money and get fame by selling anything they can, whether it be true or not.

But...in saying that - don't all store personal, car salesman etc. do that? No one would have a job for long if they referred you to another store, dealership etc. for a better deal or product would they? You don't here to many sales people say "oh this coat will keep you very warm and don't worry how fat you look it". You decide if you're buying a coat for the warmth or just the appearance.

Just like losing weight. You decide what you need and how you want to go about meeting your goal. Lots of options out there. Trainers and boot camps are almost a guarantee to meet your goal but take a huge chunk out of the wallet. Prepared diet meals delivered to your door, but what happens when you stop the delivery? who will teach you which foods to make to reach/maintain your goal weight? or there is the diet books. which one is right for you? only trying them will give you the right answer. Guaranteed though, if you keep an open mind each one of them will give you some knowledge you didn't know before hand.

Everyone in the publics eyes and just out in the working force are out to make money and you may just go broke trying them all. Who is to say what will work for each of us.

I have tried a whole lot of inexpensive and extremely expensive products out there, from diet books, gyms, trainers, dvd's, gadgets to slim band ($25, 000 dollars for the last) yes you read it right and no I am NOT made out of money, just desperate. I read great reviews and horrible tales about the slim band, but I was desperate to lose the weight and I did lose 75 pounds, only to start to gain 25 pounds back this past year.

Reason is simple: I can't say that I didn't know WHY I was eating the foods (depression, boredom, hangover etc.) I just couldn't stop from NOT eating it. Didn't have the knowledge as to what I should substitute food wise to curb that craving and more important to make the fullness feeling last. Just stuff the face and the belly was happy, but mentally I was not. guilt and shame just etched another notch in my memory bank.
so I began to closet eat.

So now I am going to learn the right way to lose /maintain the weight. Find out why I crave the foods that I do, when I do and how/what to do BEFORE I shovel that super sized bag of chips down.

And I believe that Dr. Phil in his psychologist way has an answer for me.

I am not saying that the meals will be by any means as delicious as those chips or burger or well you get where I'm going. Nor am I saying that I will make it my life long standing only food choice.

I am saying that I will give myself 1 month at a time to analyze each goal I reach and each downfall I have so that I can say I did learn something about myself and who knows when I get on that scale at the end of each month the surprise may make me want to go another round.

I am tired of yo yo dieting and being a failure in the one vital part of my life. I work full time on my feet, extremely demanding career, Nursing home. I have another 12 years to work before I can consider retiring and I am 55 years now. How long can I keep this pace up at the rate of weight gaining that I am doing? Don't know and DON'T want to find out.

I have read reviews from this book. I know it is not for the lighthearted or for those that want a 'quickie' weight loss answer. I am preparing myself for the worst sugar, salt and fat food withdrawals that I have ever gone through but I am looking forward to the reward at the end of each month.

will keep you posted.


posted Dec 23rd, 2015 5:51 am


I am on Day 2. I am not drinking coffee. Sticking with the plan. Feeling sleepy during the day. I think I have a bit of brain fog as I "detox". Is that normal? I must admit -- I HATED the lentil walnut salad recipe--the mustard & garlic & lentil combo is gross. But I really liked the Apple Coconut Salad and the Apple PB smoothie. I went to the gym on Day 1 and took a brisk walk on Day 2. Already lost 2 lbs.

posted Dec 15th, 2015 4:50 pm


@Shirley, 11 pounds in 12 weeks that's almost a pound a week. That's the right amount of weight to be loosing on a diet and keeping it off. I'm asking myself what you expected to loose in 12 weeks.

posted Dec 15th, 2015 4:13 am


I have been on this "lifestyle change" for a little over 7 weeks and have lost 12 inches overall and a total of 21 lbs. I feel wonderful! My IBS flare-ups are gone, by joints do not ache nearly as before. This is all without exercise, only because I have a sciatic issue and hoping to be released to being after the new year. Just like anything, if you stick with it, it can work. This is not a diet for me, it's a beginning!

posted Dec 14th, 2015 9:13 pm


Heading into phase 3. I'm one of those people everyone hates.. I've always been able to eat whatever I want and never gain a pound. Usher in the 40's and all of a sudden, its all I can do to maintain the 10lbs I've gained and not gain more. So I told my husband I'd do this with him. Here's the deal... The food tastes good, BUT even I, who ate the same breakfast every day for 2 years, am getting bored. You can only combine the same sets of food so many ways. Also, it IS a lot of prep and planning... I admit this is a problem in my household. We are busy running kids non-stop. When we DO have time, we have no desire to stand in the kitchen prepping. I'm a big whole, fresh foods person, but I need more variety.

posted Dec 10th, 2015 12:43 pm


I began the diet, and after phase 1, 5 days, I lost 5 lbs. the recipes are super easy and very tasty. it is easy to follow. I started phase 2 today. as w/ all diets water and exercise are key. I have a ton of energy and clarity. doing yoga and walking for exercise! I love this diet so far. it also makes eating v healthy pretty inexpensive once you buy the nuts and other basics since you don't use much.

posted Dec 5th, 2015 6:30 am


I began the diet, and after phase 1, 5 days, I lost 5 lbs. the recipes are super easy and very tasty. it is easy to follow. I started phase 2 today. as w/ all diets water and exercise are key. I have a ton of energy and clarity. doing yoga and walking for exercise! I love this diet so far. it also makes eating v healthy pretty inexpensive once you buy the nuts and other basics since you don't use much.

posted Dec 5th, 2015 6:28 am


Wow! After reading the reviews that's all I can say! You people are a bunch of whiners. You haven't even given it a chance. Did you even read the book or did you jump right to the menu? This is a learning process. We wernt born to eat all the crap we do. We learned to eat it , and now we need to learn to eat better. If you always eat healthy and cook healthy, why do you need to lose weight? READ THE BOOK AGAIN! COME ON PEOPLE. REALLY?

posted Nov 30th, 2015 10:34 pm


Does anyone else have a problem with an unfit 'anyone' publishing a diet book?? Dr. Phil is milking his fame into more profits. There is nothing new in this book. Lose some weight Phil....than i might read what you have to say

posted Nov 25th, 2015 10:57 pm


I started this diet 5 days ago today. I lost 5 lbs and over 3 inches total from the areas of measurement. I have agree with some of the reviews above in the fact by the 3rd day I was choking down the Dijon Mustard, which I normally enjoy but not this often. I was also choking down the unseasoned fish. I also before this was a healthy eater eating mainly fruit and veggies and fish, cooking in Extra Virgin Olive Oil also using fresh garlic in most of my dishes. I would have one cup of coffee a day but other wise I have always drank Green Tea and Herbal Teas the rest of the day . But I put on over 60 lbs in the last 21/2 years. I believe the weight gain is due to a mixture of health problems and medications. Figured maybe because my body has changed that I needed to look at a different way of eating healthy by learning new ways of combining the proper foods together. So am giving this diet a try. So even though I had to do a lot of choking down a few things in phase one, I kept at it and will continue to see how the rest of the phases go

posted Nov 22nd, 2015 12:18 pm


I have been on this diet for 12 weeks exactly with no no cheating and have lost only 11 pounds. I am not happy with results.

posted Nov 21st, 2015 10:41 pm


This is working for me. Took a few weeks to get in the groove of 4 small, carefully planned & measured meals per day. I have lost 14 pounds in about 7 weeks and my BP, which was quite high is lower than it has ever been 115/65! This is my lifetime diet of choice after trying so many. It's lean, interesting and healthy. I never get too hungry and I never get too full. I HIGHLY recommend this plan.

posted Nov 16th, 2015 10:19 pm


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BACKGROUNDBACKGROUND Start the Diet Now Advertisement

Dr. Phil McGraw's newest book -- released January 2015 -- reveals what he sees as the secrets for putting an end to the diet roller coaster. In this no-nonsense, get-real style that he’s known for, he addresses the top seven roadblocks to weight loss by applying the latest research and theories that have developed since his last book, “The Ultimate Weight Solution."

The best selling author and TV personality covers strategies to help readers take control of their eating and exercise, and discusses topics such as foods that increase caloric burn or amplify the feeling of fullness.

Dr. Phil dictates 20 key foods (called the 20/20 foods) which studies have shown to help enhance thermogenesis, or caloric burn, and help satiety, or the feeling of fullness.

In addition to the nutritional focus, Dr. Phil utilizes his skills in well-rounded counseling to reveal his cognitive, behavioral, environmental, and social tools to finally "turn your weight loss vision into reality."

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  • Well-rounded holistic approach to weight loss with nutrition, exercise, and mental emotional support

  • Research-based principles

  • Lots of strategies to foil previous excuses like deprivation, cravings, boredom, etc.

  • Promotes intuition and following your own personal body signals to guide dietary choices

  • Covers portion control, tips for eating out, and how to splurge mindfully

  • Available in hardback, Kindle, and audiobook

  • Rigid structure may be off-putting for some

  • Requires lots of food preparation and meal planning

  • Book reads like a novel, not easy to flip through to find references nor read more on a given topic

  • Phase I recipe choices are extremely limited

  • Language may get a little too clinical and scientific for some


Dr. Phil's 20/20 Diet is built around three phases, which work together to help your body start fresh and learn new habits of eating.

Phase 1: The 5-Day Boost

  • Helps your body reset and find new dietary balance

  • Most important phase to jump-start the rest of the program and build motivation

  • Choose your meals and snacks from a list of simple recipes created by using only the 20/20 foods

  • 4meals/snacks per day, spaced about four hours apart

Primary Goal: Tune into your body's signals and learn how to distinguish between physical hunger, habit hunger, and mind hunger using Hunger and Fullness Scale.

Phase 2: The 5-Day Sustain

  • Build off your new positive pattern of eating certain foods and certain times

  • Expand on your progress by adding new foods into the mix

  • Each meal includes at least two 20/20 foods

  • Splurge Safely: you won’t be set up to rebel

Primary Goal: Recognize flavors better because the meal plans dont rely on salt, sugar and artificial sweeteners

Phase 3: The 20-Day Sustain

  • Continue eating two 20/20 foods per meal

  • Maintain steady weight loss, and trimming inches

  • Dine out without slowing progress using strategies outlined in book for eating at restaurants

  • Discover variety: enjoy more foods and flavors to inspire healthy food preferences


Exercise is an included component of the 20/20 Diet. Chapter 10 covers extensive academic research on the different theories on exercise, the types of exercise, and studies on perceived exertion (workout intensity).

Dr. Phil encourages regular physical activity, but is also very clear in promoting whatever amount of time fits into your schedule. He recommends shorter workouts to blast the system and boost metabolism as opposed to long, drawn-out cardio sessions. This is called his 30-Second Burn Burst Exercise Program.

Choose an activity that you enjoy like brisk walking, slow jogging, dancing, jumping jacks, etc. and after your warm up begin a 30-second blast of high intensity movements. Repeat 8 times and work up to 10-12 times over the program.

During Phase 1, Dr. Phil advises to get clearance from a doctor to exercise, and then if you can begin the 30-Second Burn Burst program. If you're not ready, use phase one to start increasing your steps per day and build up to start the program in phase 2.


Overall, Dr. Phil has created a multi-faceted approach to weight loss in a very no-nonsense, tough-love kind of way that is characteristic of him. There is a lot of good information about other factors to weight loss besides nutrition and exercise, such as tuning in to your own body signals of cravings, fullness, habits, environment, and mental/emotional support. This is what makes his 20/20 Diet approach stand out from many others.

Including more “20/20” foods overall would be beneficial for anyone, whether they are on a weight loss journey or not.

Common MisspellingsCommon Misspellings

Doctor Phil 20/20 Diet, 2020 Diet, Twenty Twenty Diet, Dr. Phil 20 Diet

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