Do you dream of slim, sexy body only to find yourself disappointed with your reality? Do you want a foolproof way to loose weight while eating only the best food for your body? The 20/20 Diet just may be the answer you are looking for to help you realize your weight loss vision.

The-20-20-Diet-by-Dr-PhilDr. Phil, author of the 20/20 Diet: Turn Your Weight Loss Vision into Reality, claims he has created a foolproof diet solution that can’t fail. Since the release of his first weight loss book in 2003, The Ultimate Weight Loss Solution: 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom, Dr. Phil has extensively studied why diets fail and found proven ways to beat the common diet road blocks. He applied those methods to the 20/20 Diet, promising a no fail diet solution.

Known for his no nonsense style, he promises the 20/20 diet will slim you down and get you healthy without any gimmicks or fads. The 20/20 Diet claims to get you looking and feeling your best the right way.

Read on to find out more about the 20/20 Diet. See if the 20/20 Diet suits you, and if the 20/20 Diet is the ticket to good health and the toned body you have been looking for.

What is the 20/20 Diet?

The 20/20 Diet is 30 day lifestyle plan that is broken down into 3 phases with a long lasting, fourth maintenance phase to help maintain your goal weight. Created by popular television psychologist, Dr. Phil, this approach to weight loss combines some tried and true methods like eating clean foods and combines them with a more unorthodox approach.

Dr. Phil based the 20/20 Diet on eating 20 foods that take a lot of energy to burn. These foods have greater thermogenic, or heat producing, properties. The body uses its energy reserves, or fat reserves, to burn create heat. When the body uses extra energy to create heat, it burns calories. The Mayo Clinic recognizes nonexercise thermogenic activity as an important tool in weight management.

In the 20/20 Diet, Dr. Phil has chosen 20 foods that promote thermogenic activity and incorporates them into a tasty diet plan. He combines the principles of thermogenic foods with his tricks for beating diet road blocks and thus, the 20/20 Diet was born.

Dr. Phil maintains food should be eaten only for nutritional fuel. Food should not fill emotional and psychological needs. According to the American Psychological Association, emotional eaters are more likely to be obese and suffer from obesity related problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.  Dr. Phil reframes thinking about food and supports the principle of mind over matter to get the body healthy. By beating emotional eating triggers, the 20/20 Diet helps you take control of your health and wellness.

What foods can I eat on the 20/20 Diet?

foods-for-20-20-dietNo food is technically off limits after Phase 1 of the diet. Small splurges of your favorite foods are allowed as long as you stick to 100 calories or less. However, the core diet plan focuses on healthy, whole power foods.

Dr. Phil chose the foods on the 20/20 Diet based on their themogenic properties. All the foods listed are clean foods that help boost your metabolism by creating extra heat. These foods not only help your body burn extra calories, they help you feel fuller longer so you don’t get the annoying hunger pangs dieters dread.

The 20/20 Diet removes most processed foods and added sugar. The result is a diet based around eating healthy food only. The following foods are the 20/20 Diet’s power foods:

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

The 20/20 Diet: Phases

Each phase in the 20/20 Diet is slightly different. Phase 1 is the strictest phase, designed to jump start your weight loss results and really rev up your metabolism. As the diet progresses, more variety is added so you won’t get bored. Dr. Phil includes recipes to accompany each phase of the diet.

Phase 1: The 5 Day Boost

Phase 1 of the 20/20 Diet is the strictest phase of the diet plan. During phase 1 of the 20/20 Diet, you eat only foods from the list above. Dr. Phil provides handy recipes in his book for this phase of the diet and suggests you eat a meal every 4 hours to really get your metabolism buzzing.

Dr. Phil uses some seasonings in his recipes for Phase 1 of the 20/20 diet. In this phase, feel free to add the following spices and seasonings to your meals:

  • garlic
  • cinnamon
  • lemon juice

Dr. Phil even recommends certain beverages and amounts to really jump start your slim down. For phase 1 of the 20/20 Diet, he suggests:

  • 16 ounces of water with each meal
  • at least one cup of green tea per day
  • no more than one cup of coffee with no more than 1/4 cup of skim or plant based milk

Phase 2: The 5 Day Sustain

During Phase 2 of the 20/20 Diet, you still eat mainly foods from the 20/20 list. However, this phase is more lenient than Phase 1 so you can now eat some foods that are not included as 20/20 foods. Registered Dietician Andrea Cox tell Women’s Health to be sure to include at least 2 20/20 foods in each meal as you add in other healthy choices. Other foods allowed during this phase include:

  • chicken breast
  • tuna
  • oats
  • brown rice
  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • mushrooms
  • cashews and other nuts
  • sunflower seeds
  • avocado
  • blueberries
  • black beans and other canned, no salt added legumes
  • oranges
  • grapes
  • corn
  • any salt free seasonings

In this phase of the diet, continue eating 4 meals a day, 4 hours apart. Follow the same beverage guidelines outlined in Phase 1 during Phase 2.


In Phase 2 and from this point forward in the 20/20 Diet, you are allowed occasional splurges. Dr. Phil suggests keeping the splurges sensible, indulging in no more than 2 per week. The splurges are supposed to be under 100 calories. Splurge ideas include:

  • 14 potato chips
  • 4 ounce glass of red or white wine
  • 2 chocolate chip cookies
  • 1 ounce of dark chocolate
  • 2 bite sized candy bars

Prior to splurging, Dr. Phil urges you to go through a 30 second mental checklist to see if you really want to splurge or if you are just emotionally eating. Questions to ask yourself before indulging are:

  • Is there an emotional reason why I want to eat this and if so, is there another way I can deal with the emotion without food?
  • Is it enough knowing a splurge is allowed, so I can skip it this time?
  • Am I actually thirsty? Would a glass of water or a cup of tea help the urge to splurge pass?
  • Can I distract myself from wanting a splurge by doing something else like taking a walk or calling a friend?

If the answer to all the questions above is no, go ahead and have a splurge. Do make sure you have exercised and that you are following the rest of the diet perfectly that diet.

Phase 3: 20 Day Attain

This phase of the 20/20 Diet allows the most flexibility and variety. In this phase, continue eating 2 of the 20/20 foods with each of your 4 meals. Keep eating 4, properly portioned meals spaced 4 hours apart. However, feel free to add in:

  • eggs
  • other fish and shellfish
  • lean poultry including turkey breast
  • bell peppers
  • broccoli and cauliflower
  • onions
  • squash
  • pineapple
  • strawberries
  • mangoes
  • peaches
  • quinoa
  • wild rice
  • corn tortillas
  • whole grain products
  • red potatoes
  • peanut butter
  • pesto

The Maintenance Phase

woman-holding-weight-scalesThe 20/20 Diet’s maintenance phase is all about maintaining your weight loss results through a lifelong healthy lifestyle. The maintenance phase happens after you meet your weight loss goals, going through however many cycles of the first 3 phases as you need.

In this phase of the 20/20 Diet, you follow the same principles as in the other phases. Eat 4 meals per day spaced 4 hours apart and choose from any of the foods that the first 3 phases approved. Keep splurges to a minimum. In this phase, pick from any of the recipes in Phase 2 or 3 but avoid Phase 1 recipes.

Continue to build your plate carefully at mealtime, sticking to the portions Dr. Phil advises. If you decide to stray from the recipes Dr. Phil provides during the maintenance phase, make sure each meal includes the following:

  • 1 portion of protein
  • 1-2 portions of produce
  • 1 portion of starch
  • 1 portion of fat

Be sure at least 2 of your choices are 20/20 power foods in any given meal.

Does the 20/20 Diet work?

According to The New York Post, some dieters are finding success following the 20/20 Diet. Chris Bohinski participated in a weight loss challenge for the publication and chose to follow Dr. Phil’s diet. One month in, he found success applying Dr. Phil’s principles to his life though he did have trouble sticking with it under extenuating circumstances.

Amazon users have mixed reviews of Dr. Phil’s book The 20/20 Diet: Turn Your Weight Loss Vision into Reality. While the majority of its readers left positive reviews praising the book’s helpfulness and practical approach to dieting, others aren’t buying into the hype. Dissatisfied reviewers lament a lack of originality and the craze brought on by having a celebrity endorse a diet plan.

Real 20/20 Diet followers shared their results on an episode of “The Doctors.” You can check out what they have to say here.

Who is the 20/20 Diet best for?

Dieters looking for a long term approach to healthy living may like the 20/20 Diet. Based on creating a sustainable lifestyle, this approach will not suit those who are looking for a quick weight loss fix. Emotional eaters may also benefit greatly from Dr. Phil’s advice on managing emotions and food.

The 20/20 Diet: Pros and Cons

If you are considering the 20/20 Diet, it’s important to examine all the pros and cons before making the lifestyle commitment the diet requires.


  • The diet gives a flexible approach to dieting while still providing structure.
  • Scientifically based and backed up methods get results.
  • After the first 5 days, no food is off limits.
  • The diet doesn’t restrict carbohydrates, meaning no horrible crashes or hunger pangs.


  • Dr. Phil’s writing style doesn’t suit everyone.
  • The first phase of the diet is a challenge.
  • Eating 4 meals per day is a major adjustment for some.
  • Exercise isn’t really covered in depth in his plan.

The 20/20 Diet FAQs

Get answers to frequently asked questions about 20/20 Diet:

Are the portions different for men than they are for women?

Yes. Dr. Phil outlines different recommendations for men than women. As a rule, men and women have different caloric needs based on age, and activity level. Dr. Phil accounts for this difference in his book.

Do I need to exercise on the 20/20 Diet?

While exercise is only briefly covered in the book, it is a must. The Mayo Clinic recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week for good health. Not only does exercise keep you healthy, it also burns more calories and really revs up weight loss results.

What foods can’t I eat on the 20/20 Diet?

No foods are entirely off limits after the first 5 days. However, it is recommended that you eliminate sugar, processed foods including refined carbohydrates, and caffeine outside of the sensible splurges.

Is the 20/20 Diet a fad diet?

Technically yes. The 20/20 Diet is a fad diet based on the hype that having a celebrity author a weight loss plan causes. It shot to popularity after its release and got tons of attention.

However, just because the 20/20 Diet is a fad diet does not mean it is unhealthy. This is a fad diet worth a second look because it is based on creating healthy, sustainable habits through good eating and banishing bad habits like emotional eating.

Is there anyone who should avoid the 20/20 Diet?

Before starting any diet plan, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor or another medical professional. This diet should be safe for almost everyone. Pregnant women should steer clear of this and any diet unless under direct orders of a doctor.

Would you recommend the 20/20 Diet?

While the 20/20 Diet is not the only way to lose weight, it is a safe, reasonable way to achieve a lasting weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. The 20/20 Diet has the power to be a potent tool to help you overcome emotional eating and beat the excess pounds once and for all so that you can turn your dreams of your sleekest, slimmest body into your reality.

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