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The 20/20 Diet – How Effective is for Weight Loss?


The 20/20 Diet – How Effective is for Weight Loss?


Dr. Phil McGraw, commonly referred to as Dr. Phil, published “The 20/20 Diet: Turn Your Weight Loss Vision Into Reality” in 2015 to assist dieters who struggled with losing weight.

The 20/20 diet was devised by Dr. Phil, a well-known television personality. It focuses on 20 “power meals,” as well as nutrition and psychological advice, to promote weight loss rapidly.

Overview of 20/20 Diet

The basis of the 20/20 diet is the thermic effect of food (TEF). As per research, TEF refers to the amount of calories the body requires to digest, absorb, and utilise nutrients from meals.

As per the book, processing power meals takes significant energy (calories). Hence, the body takes in a few calories due to the already calorie burn from consuming these meals.

The diet gets divided into four phases, each of which gradually reintroduces previously limited items. Additionally, it promotes numerous psychological methods to avoid binge eating, like cleaning your teeth whenever hungry. The broad list of dietary limits, psychological suggestions, and regular exercise aids weight loss.

A five-day boost (phase 1), five-day sustain (phase 2), twenty-day accomplish (phase 3), and management (phase 4) are the four primary stages of the 20/20 diet. Furthermore, the diet recommends a minimum of 3–4 hours of medium intensity and 2–3 hours of high-intensity activity each week, amounting to 5–7 hours of exercise every week throughout all the stages. 

Phases of the 20/20 Diet

You begin phase one, the “five-day boost,” by consuming only 20/20 foods, that include coconut oil, green tea, mustard, olive oil, almonds, etc.; you will be given recipes and told to eat four meals, at four hours intervals, for five days. The weight reduction during this phase is primarily water weight (due to eliminating processed foods, refined sugars, and salt from your diet). 

The “five-day sustain” programme begins in phase two. You can now include chicken breast, tuna, oats, brown rice, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, cashews, and blueberries in addition to the 20/20 list. In addition, you must incorporate two 20/20 items in every meal and snack. You eat four meals, at four hours intervals, for five days, prepared using the recipes provided in the plan. You can have one or two “smart splurges” to prevent temptation. However, it should not exceed 100 calories.

Phase three, sometimes known as the “20-day achieve” phase, requires you to consume four meals, four hours off from one another, for 20 days, with one or two “smart splurges” every week. You can also try new foods throughout these 20 days, such as avocado, raspberries, mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, quinoa, and black beans.

When you’re ready for the final stage, keep your dietary habits from phase three while incorporating new healthy lifestyle habits that will help you maintain a healthy weight for the rest of your life. It includes keeping a weight diary and not allowing your routine (or emotions) to interfere with your diet or physical activities.

Foods to Include

  • Vegetables- green leafy vegetables (cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach)
  • Fruits- Raisins, prunes, dried plums, apples
  • Dairy- Yoghurt, tofu
  • Fats- Coconut oil, olive oil
  • Non-veg- Eggs, cod
  • Nuts- pistachio, almonds 
  • Legumes and pulses- chickpeas and lentils
  • Cereal- rye 
  • Grain- mustard 
  • Other foods-Green tea, whey protein powder, and peanut butter

The HealthifyMe Note

Dr. Phil’s “power foods” are included in the 20/20 diet. Green tea, apple, eggs, leafy green vegetables, cod, mustard, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, olive oil, apple, peanut butter, and pistachio are among the foods that will be consumed and used in various recipes. The 7-day diet plan gets particularly used in the initial phase of this diet, and the dieters are only limited to these foods. Avoid white bread, baked goods, refined sugar, white pasta, white rice, ready-to-eat foods, sugary beverages, and candies.

Advantages of the 20/20 Diet

Weight Loss

The diet can cause weight reduction. The diet’s primary goal is to consume items with a strong thermic impact. As a result, there will be fewer net calories eaten.

As per research, although the TEF accounts for around 10% of daily calories burnt, no data exists to prove that the 20 power meals recommended increased calorie burn. People on this diet consume more whole, high-satiety meals while enhancing their physical activity.

As a consequence, the calorie deficit required for weight reduction gets created. This approach is appropriate for individuals with related health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.

Addresses Mental Angle of Eating

The 20/20 diet contains a variety of ideas to assist you in better controlling your dietary habits. With a psychology background, Dr. Phil emphasises the significance of the mental psyche and its role in binge eating and weight gain.

His book delves into the psychology of appetite and eating habits, including emotional eating and social factors that impact people’s dietary behaviours.

These suggestions can assist you in properly understanding the cause behind your food choices and using various techniques to promote healthy eating habits.

Encourages Exercise

This diet promotes regular physical activity, essential for overall health and weight loss. Furthermore, it stresses enjoyable activities like exercise, which raises the possibility of long-term commitment.

Along with a healthy diet plan, it requires people to have an active lifestyle. As per studies, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the prime causes of weight gain and other serious health issues.

Moderated Diet Plan

Except for the first 10 days, which are quite rigorous, the 20/20 diet enables you to eat whatever you want in moderation. Under this diet plan, no meal is off-limits.

It reduces the risk of overeating as a result of suppressed urges. Restricting “reasonable splurges” such as dessert to 100 calories, on the other hand, might not be satisfactory or lasting. People were given the option to try new foods throughout the diet regime like avocado, raspberries, mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, quinoa, and black beans.

The broader range allows for more flexibility in planning meals. It can make your tastebuds happy and prevent you from giving up on a diet.

Disadvantages of the 20/20 Diet

Unnecessary Restrictions

The first two stages of the program are not required, even if the diet provides flexibility following phase 2. According to studies, during the beginning of any weight loss diet, the weight reduction is primarily water weight rather than fat loss.

Starting with the notion of moderation and supporting regular physical activity will build healthier long-term habits without the need for excessive dietary restrictions.

Contradictory Regime

Proposing to support intuitive eating, which is eating in response to physiological appetite, the diet contains stringent guidelines that contradict intuitive eating’s foundation.

The diet, for instance, includes a strict requirement of eating every four hours. However, some people require food every two hours, while others may go for a considerably extended period of time without going hungry. It does not align with the diet’s principle of intuitive eating and allowing yourself complete freedom to eat.

Blanket Standard Approach

Weight loss varies from person to person. Despite the numerous elements that might contribute to weight gain, like age, genes, dieting history, and medical issues, the 20/20 diet is a one-size-fits-all strategy for weight loss.

It presumes the plan will apply to everyone instead of developing a weight reduction programme based on every person’s specific requirements and situations.

Not Sustainable

The diet has a final maintenance stage; still, it advises that if you acquire weight, you might have to revert to phase 1. It might indicate that the diet is not long-term viable, as people may not follow the rules in the final stage, possibly owing to its low-calorie content.

The HealthifyMe Note

The 20/20 diet may not work for everyone since every individual is unique. This diet is restrictive and limits an individual to these 20 foods only. Therefore, one must understand one’s body before committing to such diets. The nutritionists from the HealthifyMe team will assist you in building a well-crafted plan that will help you in a successful and healthy weight loss. 


The diet has several advantages, such as consuming primarily lightly processed food and getting frequent exercise. These, used together, may aid weight loss. With the initial two phases, the diet is quite restricted, which can lead to an unhealthy association with food.

Furthermore, it restricts servings to 100-calorie portions, which can be insufficiently fulfilling or lasting. Rather than attempting the 20/20 diet, you might be better suited to concentrating on long-term healthy lifestyle practices like eating complete, nutrient-dense meals, exercising frequently, managing stress, and building a positive connection with food.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What can you eat on the 20-30 diet?

A. The 20-30 diet promises to help you lose 20 pounds in 30 days by altering seven key hormones that make losing weight difficult, including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like testosterone and oestrogen. It aims for 20 to 30 grams of protein for each meal to stay more satiated, including around three ounces of chicken, fish, or beef, a bowl of lentils or tofu, or a cup of Greek yoghurt or cottage cheese. 

Q. What is the 80/20 rule with food?

A. If you consume nutritious meals 80% of the time and engage in less healthful cuisine for the other 20% of your mealtime, you can still experience weight reduction. This ratio emphasises that weight loss is feasible when a decent diet gets paired with exercise. It states the importance of combining activities with a healthy diet to stay fit. You cannot lose weight if your calorie intake exceeds what you burn.

Q. What foods are allowed on the 21-day meal plan?

A. For lunch, dinner, and snacks, the 21-Day diet permits limitless non-starchy veggies. Only lean meats, eggs, low-sodium veg burgers, berries, lemons, limes, non-starchy veggies (no potatoes or maise), legume-based kinds of pasta, quinoa, and brown rice are allowed. One of the most difficult aspects of this plan is no sodium-containing condiments or spices.

Q. What are the 7 hormones that prevent weight loss?

A. Hormones like leptin, insulin, ghrelin, cortisol, testosterone, oestrogen, and thyroid hormones can sometimes make weight loss tough. For instance, insulin is responsible for energy storage in the body. Any imbalance with insulin causes excess fat accumulation, adding more to weight. Similarly, any problem with ghrelin secretion (hunger hormone) can cause you to binge eat, adding to your body weight. 

Q. Can you have peanut butter on Whole30?

A.No, peanut butter is not allowed on Whole30 since peanuts are a legume rather than a regular nut, and legumes like these include lectins, a protein our systems can’t process and can induce digestive problems. Certain other nuts and nut butter are included in the Whole30 plan—for example, healthy fats, magnesium, manganese, and copper found in cashew butter. 

Q. How can I drop 20 pounds fast?

A. Many supplements are available that include active substances with significant biological effects. It may make them dangerous in particular settings and harm or complicate your health, but it might assist in losing weight fast. Some supplements have more active chemicals than their labels indicate. Furthermore, hazardous chemicals and even toxins have been discovered in certain supplements. Therefore, it is advised to have a realistic goal and adopt a slow and steady approach to weight loss for long-term health care. Cut down on excessive calorie intake and burn more calories than you consume. Consume more proteins and fibres and get sufficient sleep.

Q. Is rice allowed on Whole30?

A. Rice is a grain, and grains of any type get excluded from the Whole30. Grains have tough proteins for our digestive system to work on, making it harder to extract nutritious value while also generating inflammation. When processed, grains lose their nutritional value and can create blood sugar and insulin problems. Thus, rice is not allowed in the Whole30 diet. 

Q. What is included in the Mediterranean diet?

A. A Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional diets of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. These countries include Greece, Italy, and Turkey, among others. The Mediterranean diet primarily comprises plant-based foods, including whole fruits, grains, and legumes. 

Q. Is it true that losing weight is an 80% diet?

A. Consuming nutritious meals 80% of the time and avoiding other unhealthy foods 20% of your mealtime can help reduce weight. This ratio emphasises that weight loss is possible when a balanced diet gets followed by physical activity.

Q. What is the 5 to 2 diet?

A. This diet includes eating anything you want for five days per week, and the other two days, drastically reducing your calorie intake. This part-time dieting emphasises the way you eat rather than what you eat. Dieters are advised to eat a ‘regular’ quantity of calories five days every week and subsequently eat only 25% of their regular calorie intake on two non-consecutive days – 500 calories for females and 600 calories for males.

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