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20/20 Diet

By Editorial Team (Y)
August 21, 2022


Nowadays, people try to find different diet plans that build up weight loss and health benefits. One of such weight loss programs is the 20/20 diet invented by Dr. Phil McGraw, which encourages eating 20 power foods. The 20/20 eating program represents a four-phase program that induces weight loss based on the concept of “power foods”. This dining plan boosts weight loss due to the thermic effect of the products.
Along with eating 20 power foods, you will be provided with diet and psychological hints that will contribute to your weight loss results.
In accordance with the author of the 20/20 diet program, “power foods” involve products that consume a lot of energy to digest. So, your body has to perform extra work to digest such foods. This excess energy is released as heat. Therefore, the digestion of the “power food” generates the release of heat. This is cited as the thermic effect of food. As your body burns more energy to digest food, fewer calories are absorbed, leading to the weight loss effect.

Key points

The 20/20 eating program is comprised of four phases:

  • Phase 1 is called “The Five-Day Boost” and involves consuming only 20 power foods designated by the author. The power foods list includes green tea, lentils, apples, tofu, mustard, prunes, pistachios, rye, olive oil, raisin, leafy greens, coconut oil, cod, peanut butter, almonds, dried plums, eggs, chickpeas, whey protein, and yogurt.
  • Phase 2 is referred to as “The Five-Day Sustain” and implicates the addition of products other than 20 power foods. However, you must include at least two products from the 20 power foods list in each meal or snack.
  • Phase 3 is also known as “The 20-Day Attain” and represents a less restricted and more structured eating program. During this phase, each meal must include at least one product from the 20 power foods list. In addition, you can indulge in two “sensible splurges” per week, provided they are under 100 calories.
  • Phase 4 is called “Management” and aims at sustaining new eating habits and your weight loss progress. It would be impeccable if you followed the same eating program as in phase 3, along with escaping emotional eating. Moreover, try to plan your daily schedule in a way that will help you keep your eating and exercising habits.

In addition to the changes in your eating plan, the 20/20 diet promotes at least 2-3 hours of high-intensity workout and 3-4 hours of moderate-intensity exercises per week during all phases.
Even though no foods are strictly off-limits in the 20/20 eating program, there are some products that should be avoided. You should avoid goods with refined carbs or added sugar for maximum. Such products include baked goods, white pasta, white bread, candy, etc.
In addition, The author of the 20/20 diet program recommends avoiding fast food.
Whether you follow a vegan, vegetarian, paleo, low-carb, or another eating plan, you can adapt the 20/20 diet to suit your preferences because, in this eating program, no products are genuinely off-limits.


People with a history of eating disorders should avoid following the 20/20 diet program.

How to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies

The 20/20 eating program poses a certain risk of developing iron, potassium, or magnesium deficiency. To avoid a lack of nutrients, consider listed products when planning your meals.

  • Iron: shellfish, liver, spinach, legumes, pumpkin seeds, red meat, quinoa, turkey, tofu, broccoli, and fish.
  • Potassium: sweet potato, avocado, spinach, watermelon, legumes, coconut water, beans, tomato paste, Swiss chard, potato, pomegranate, beet, and fish.
  • Magnesium: nuts, fatty fish, avocado, whole grains, bananas, legumes, tofu, leafy greens, and seeds.

You may also consider taking supplements to enrich your body with healthy nutrients. Nonetheless, you should consult with your healthcare provider before taking supplements.

Tips on improving your dieting experience

  • Talk to your physician. Before starting any diet, even the 20/20 diet, consider talking to your doctor first. They will be able to provide you with guidance on whether or not this program is appropriate for you.
  • Compose a grocery list and plan your meals ahead. The 20/20 eating program is restrictive – especially during the initial phases. Writing the grocery list and planning your dishes can make sticking to this diet easier.
  • Download the 20/20 diet app. You can find helpful tips on how to make your dieting less challenging in the 20/20 program app.


The 20/20 eating plan is a weight loss program that should be combined with exercise and stress management to get the most effective results. Nevertheless, this eating pattern is not suitable for everybody.
The 20/20 diet is beneficial because it promotes regular exercise and avoiding processed foods. Nevertheless, phase 1 and phase 2 are too restrictive and may lead to nutritional deficiencies and eating disorders.
Therefore, focusing on a healthy lifestyle, eating nutrient-dense, whole products, and exercising is better than following the 20/20 eating program.

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