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How to Do the 20/20 Diet

Three Parts:Preparing to Start the 20/20 DietFollowing the 20/20 Diet PhasesMaintaining Your Weight After the 20/20 DietCommunity Q&A

If you're interested in losing weight, you might have come across Dr. Phil's new diet plan called the 20/20 diet. This plan was designed to help you lose by weight by focusing on very specific foods that will help keep you satisfied longer. In addition, these foods are supposed to help your body burn more calories through their digestion. The 20/20 diet is paired with a detailed book that provides specifics on the types of foods allowed, the specific diet phases, recipes and emotional eating tips.[1] Although this diet does start off being fairly restrictive and specific, in the long-term it becomes a fairly well-balanced plan that focuses on managing your weight, incorporating physical activity and improving your relationship with food.

Part 1
Preparing to Start the 20/20 Diet

  1. 1
    Talk to your doctor. Before starting any diet, even the 20/20 diet, consider talking to your doctor first. He will be able to provide with you guidance on whether or not this program is appropriate for you.
    • Start by talking to your doctor about your desire to lose weight by following the 20/20 diet. Bring in the book, recipes and allowed food lists so your doctor can familiarize himself with this eating plan.
    • In general, the 20/20 diet can be viewed as a well-balanced diet. However, the initial phase (which is short in length) is fairly restrictive. Talk to your doctor specifically about this phase of the diet and whether he thinks it'd be safe for you.
    • Ask your doctor whether or not he has additional guidance, advice or resources on safe and healthy weight loss for you.
  2. 2
    Write out your meal plan and grocery list. Like many diets, the 20/20 diet is fairly specific - especially in the initial phases. To help make your transition to this diet a little easier, write out your meal plan and a corresponding grocery list.[2]
    • Start by reviewing the allowed foods for whatever phase you're following. Also review the corresponding recipes that incorporate these allowed foods.
    • To make your meal plan, take a calendar or date book and write in what you plan to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and any planned snacks. Do this for one week at a time.
    • Review your meal plan and recipes and write up a corresponding grocery list. This will help keep you on track in the grocery store and prevent you from purchasing things you don't need.
  3. 3
    Set up your exercise schedule. In addition to following a specific eating plan in the 20/20 diet, Dr. Phil also suggests setting up an exercise schedule. He gives some specifics in the diet to help support your weight loss.
    • The first thing to do is to get clearance from your doctor. The diet recommends this and it's a general safe practice follow. You need to make sure exercise is safe and appropriate for you.
    • Write out an exercise schedule for yourself week by week. It should be similar to your meal plan. Write out what type of exercise you want to do and for how long on each day of the week.
    • In phase one, it's recommended to start by increasing your steps and overall endurance. This is especially important if you haven't been overly active previously.[3]
    • However, if you're already in fairly good shape, Dr. Phil recommends that you start the 30 Second Burn Burst Program. This is where you do 30 second bursts of very high intensity activity alternating with lower intensity exercises.
  4. 4
    Consider downloading the 20/20 app. In addition to the 20/20 book, there is also an app that you can download to your smart phone or tablet. This is an extra resource that may prove to be useful as well.
    • The 20/20 app is available for both iphone and android devices. It's free to install with both.[4]
    • The app provides a lot of the same information as the book. However, the sources are less robust as is the overall content.
    • You can find information on each of the phases, lists of allowed foods and a variety of recipes on the app.

Part 2
Following the 20/20 Diet Phases

  1. 1
    Start weight loss with phase one. To start off your weight loss on the 20/20 diet, you'll begin by entering phase one or the "5 day boost" phase. The goal here is to help kick start your weight loss.[5]
    • The 5 day boost phase is the most restrictive part of the 20/20 diet. There is only a small list of foods that are allowed at this time. All are whole foods, that are not processed and are naturally lower in carbohydrates.
    • Start by gathering the list of foods that are allowed during this phase. They include: coconut oil, green tea, mustard, olive oil, almonds, apples, chickpeas, dried plums, prunes, leafy greens, lentils, peanut butter, pistachios, raisins, yogurt, eggs, cod, rye, tofu and whey powder.
    • During this kick start phase, you'll need to eat 4 meals a day about 4 hours apart. Writing yourself a meal plan will help you stick to this schedule.
    • If you purchase the 20/20 diet book, there are recipes provided for this specific phase.
  2. 2
    Add in new foods with phase two. After you move through the 5 days of the boost phase, you'll enter phase two which is called the "five day sustain" phase. You'll continue your weight loss, but are now able to eat a wider variety of foods.[6]
    • In phase two, there are additional foods that you can eat. However, you need to continue with your current eating plan. Aim to have 4 meals a day about 4 hours apart.
    • In addition to the approved 20 foods, you can also add: chicken breast, tuna, oats, brown rice, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, cashews, and blueberries.
    • At each meal, you can add some of these new foods, however you still need to include 2 of the original 20 approved foods. This helps continue your weight loss.
    • Another addition that you can do during this second phase is to incorporate two "sensible splurges" each week. These splurges need to be calorie controlled and total no more than 100 calories per splurge.
  3. 3
    Continue weight loss with phase 3. Phase three or the 20 day attain phase is very similar to phase 2. You do get to add in more foods and your main goal is to work towards attaining your goal weight.[7]
    • In this last weight loss phase of the 20/20 diet, you are able to add in even more foods. These include: avocado, raspberries, mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, quinoa, and black beans. They include more carbohydrate rich foods, but are still very nutritious and low in calories.
    • Again, the eating plan doesn't change. You're to aim for 4 meals about 4 hours apart and can still include the 2 "sensible splurges" for 100 calories each.
  4. 4
    Assess whether or not you need to lose more weight. After the first 3 phases, you probably will have lost a significant amount of weight. However, to decide whether or not you should transition to maintenance, decide whether you want to continue with further weight loss.
    • The 20/20 diet recommends that you evaluate your weight after phase 3 comes to an end. Do you still want to lose more weight? Or are you content with your current weight loss?
    • If you'd like to lose more weight, it's recommended that you restart from phase one and go through all three phases again. Repeat this sequence until you've hit your desired goal weight.[8]
    • If you're content with your weight loss, you can transition to phase 4 which focuses mostly on weight maintenance.
  5. 5
    Start weight maintenance with phase four. The last and final phase of the 20/20 diet is the maintenance phase. This is the final phase and the habits and eating patterns you've adopted shouldn't change.
    • In order to prevent you from regaining the weight, the 20/20 diet recommends that you stay in phase 3 (with the occasional sensible splurge) long-term.
    • You're encouraged to continue trying new recipes and monitoring your diet so that you stay on track with the 4 meals daily about 4 hours apart.
    • Another important phase of maintenance is the continued work on your relationship with food and managing your desires to eat.

Part 3
Maintaining Your Weight After the 20/20 Diet

  1. 1
    Continue with regular exercise. When you've hit your goal weight after following the 20/20 diet, there are many lifestyle habits that you'll need to continue in order to maintain that weight. One of the is regular and consistent physical activity.
    • Research shows that one of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight or a weight loss is by including regular physical activity.[9]
    • The 20/20 diet in addition to most health professionals will recommend that you include at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity each week. Also include 1-2 days of strength training in addition to your cardio.
    • For cardio, you can try: the 20/20 diet's 30 Second Burn Burst Program, running or walking, using the elliptical, hiking, dancing or taking a spin class. For resistance training, try: lifting weights or taking a yoga or pilates class.
  2. 2
    Moderate your "splurges and cheats." One place that many dieters slip up, is when they increase how much they snack or cheat during their maintenance phase. Too much of this behavior can cause weight regain.
    • The 20/20 diet specifically emphasizes that you should monitor your splurges and cheats. It allows you 2 sensible splurges long-term, so use those wisely and make sure you stay accountable to those 2 splurges.[10]
    • You may want to keep a food journal or diary during your maintenance phase. This can help you plan for and remember splurges so that you don't overdo it.
    • If you do notice some weight regain, one of the first places you should evaluate is the amount of splurges you've been having.
  3. 3
    Review the 20/20 diet's guidelines about emotional eating. One unique aspect of the 20/20 diet is the emphasis on emotional eating and your relationship with food. It suggests continually monitoring this relationship and to work on controlling your cravings and desires to eat when you're feeling upset.[11]
    • The 20/20 diet says that your emotions play a big part in how much you eat and what you choose to eat. You need to continue to be aware of this so you don't fall back into old habits.
    • The book associated with this particular diet gives a lot of great advice and tips on how to continually manage this aspect of your weight loss.
    • For example, if you have a craving for junk food, try brushing your teeth first to help distract you from the craving.
  4. 4
    Weigh yourself regularly. In addition to regular exercise and sticking to a sensible eating plan long-term, it's also recommended that you weigh yourself regularly and to track your weight long-term.
    • The 20/20 book and many health professionals note that when you weigh in regularly and keep track of your weight, you're more likely to continue losing weight and have a much better time maintaining your weight loss.[12]
    • Try to get on the scale at least one time per week long-term. Weighing daily isn't necessary since day to day fluctuations in weight are common and don't necessarily reflect an accurate overall trend.
    • If you notice your weight creeping up over time, revisit your exercise schedule and food journal to see what's causing your weight gain. You'll need to adjust what you're eating so your weight starts to go back down.

Community Q&A

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  • Although the 20/20 diet seems to be a well balanced eating plan, make sure you follow the instructions so that you are getting in enough vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
  • Like any diet, if you discontinue following the plan and revert to old eating habits, you may regain the weight.

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