All About the 20/20 Diet, and If It’s Worth Trying

All About the 20/20 Diet, and If It’s Worth Trying

Is Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet worth trying? Maybe. Whether or not a new diet becomes a lifestyle change depends on you. The 20/20 diet might be that change.

Diet trends come and go. While some are worth a look, many may make you gain more weight in the end.

So, does Dr. Phil know what he’s talking about when it comes to food? We think, yes and no.

If you haven’t already heard about it, the 20/20 diet is a weight loss program developed by the infamous Dr. Phil.

While Dr. Phil McGraw is better known for being a psychologist with a popular television show that “galvanizes people to ‘get real’”, his diet plan has proven to be just as marketable.

But does it really work? Here’s the low-down.

How it Works



Dr. Phil’s 20/20 diet revolves around eating 20 specific “power foods” in the hopes of increasing your metabolism. Followers are required to consume foods that take a while to digest, on a particular schedule, over a series of weeks.

Related: Eating a Daily Serving of Pulses Can Help With Weight Loss

Dieters are instructed to eat 4 meals a day, 4 hours apart. They must follow a plan that spans 4 phases over about a month.

If you’re on the plan and you reach your weight goal within that time, good for you. If you don’t, the diet has you go back and repeat phases and steps until you get to where you want to be.




Is it a good diet to follow? On, Ashvini Mashru, R.D., author of Small Steps to Slim cautions that any diet with a rigid meal plan and tons of food prep, like the 20/20 diet, can be overwhelming for some people. It can be hard to stick with.

Related: The ‘Worst’ Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss

In addition, Mashru points out that healthy living isn’t a something that has a beginning and end date. Because of this, she gives this diet a red flag, suggesting that it might not be a great method for finding a permanent weight loss solution.



What do others think? gives the 20/20 diet a lousy 37/100.

However, this site rates a diet that uses a meal replacement shake as the number one solution on their list. It then goes on to provide readers with a 40% discount coupon for buying a whack of these magical drinks, and so one has to wonder about the integrity of the advice on the site.




Dr. Phil’s 20/20 diet book has over 2,500 reviews on and manages to get 3.5 out of 5 stars, so it must be OK, at least for some people.

The diet does get you eating wholesome foods with recipes that you can follow (no manufactured protein shakes here), which could be incorporated into your eating lifestyle over the long term (ie, for the rest of time).

Related: A Fat Burning Gene That May Help Weight Loss

In this way, it could be a good way of getting yourself off of bad eating habits and onto new, better ones, and so maybe it isn’t a ‘diet’ at all, but a lifestyle shift.

Relationships with Food



The biggest plus with the 20/20 diet seems to be that, as a psychologist, Dr. Phil gets dieters to think about their relationship with food, in order to make long term changes. This, in itself, seems like a winner.

Don’t we eat foods that are “bad” for us, primarily because of emotional and psychological cues that we generate to convince ourselves to do so?

The 20/20 diet can help followers tune into ‘legit hunger cues’, and reflect on how to avoid setting yourself up for bad choices- things like visiting the chip aisle and the frozen food section every time you go to the grocery store.

While it may not be a solution for everyone, the 20/20 diet could be worth a look, if only for some new recipes, exposure to new foods, and some time for reflecting on why we eat what we do.

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