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The 20/20 Diet: Benefits, Characteristics and Tips

The 20/20 diet is a weight loss diet based on four phases. In this diet plan, patients are limited to energy foods. Dr. Phil McGraw, who came up with it, says that these foods require a lot of energy from our bodies to digest. This would help with weight loss.

The plan is based on the concept of thermogenesis, which is the energy required to digest, absorb, and metabolize nutrients from food. Besides, it also promises to end emotional hunger. That is, with the act of eating to feel a certain way.

What is the 20/20 diet based on?

The 20/20 diet was created by famed talk show host Phil McGraw, who devised a series of chronological phases for weight loss. Each phase is based on a process known as thermogenesis.

A group of specialists refers that thermogenesis consists of the amount of energy required to digest food. Some products are more thermogenic than others, that is, they need to burn more calories from the body to be fully metabolized. Dr. McGraw called them power foods.

Characteristics of the 20/20 Diet

The 20/20 diet has 4 phases. We analyze them below.

Phase 1: 5-day booster

Eating only the 20 designated power foods is recommended and is considered the most difficult phase. It is the beginning of the weight loss process. It lasts 5 days and you have to eat every 4 hours during wakefulness.

After this phase, the person gradually reintroduces other foods. These are the 20 allowed in this phase:

  • Coconut oil.
  • Olive oil.
  • Almonds.
  • Rye.
  • Cod.
  • Dried plums.
  • Prunes.
  • Garbanzo beans.
  • Lentils.
  • Eggs.
  • Apples.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Mustard.
  • Raisins.
  • Pistachios.
  • Whey protein.
  • Green Tea.
  • Tofu.
  • Green leafy vegetables.

Phase 2: 5-day maintenance

Other foods are beginning to be integrated now. But don’t get too excited, because you can only choose 2 of the 20 energy drinks at each meal or snack. You must do this for 5 days.

The new list is made up of 8 products:

  • Integral rice.
  • Chicken.
  • Cashews.
  • Carrots.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Blueberries.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Tuna.

Phase 3: 20 days achievement

As the phase is titled, it has a duration of 20 days. At this stage you can introduce most foods to your diet, but without the consumption of ultra -processed foods and without those rich in simple carbohydrates or sugars.

At each meal you must eat 1 of the 20 energy foods and free choice is given for 2 favorite foods. However, they should always be below 100 calories per serving.

The list of foods that the plan considers to be part of this phase are the following:

Phase 4: management

The time has come to manage the best eating habits and eat a healthy diet. It’s time to keep the weight off and change your lifestyle. If you gain weight due to carelessness, you will have to return to phase 1.

Benefits of the 20/20 diet

This diet has some benefits, which are several. In general, it could be considered a healthy pattern. We explain why.

1. Promotes weight loss

The purpose of the 20/20 diet is weight loss through the thermogenesis of certain foods. If we add to this regular exercise and psychological strategies for changing attitudes when selecting foods, a caloric deficit will be created.

2. Wide variety of food

In the first phase it is limited to 20 foods. But in 5 days other options can be progressively included, as long as they are healthy. Processed foods are not completely discouraged, but they must be consumed in moderation and spaced out.

3. Encourage physical activity

The diet suggests getting 3 to 4 hours of moderate-intensity exercise a week. As well as 2 to 3 hours of vigorous exercise. Some studies comment on the importance of regular exercise in weight loss and its maintenance over time.

4. Helps maintain hydration

Most people do not hydrate adequately. The 20/20 diet makes it clear that recommendations for hydration depend on variables such as size, activity level and health conditions. He sets a daily goal of 10 glasses of water a day.

5. Take mental health into account

Dr. McGraw is trained in psychology, which adds to the psyche management pros to help his clients with weight management. For example, in his book he talks about the psychology of eating, managing emotions and becoming aware of the environment. Counseling on psychology can help restructure eating habits and make better food choices.

Cons of the 20/20 diet

Although, as we saw, it is healthy. This diet has certain points against it. See what they are.

1. The duration is questionable

The 20/20 diet calls for returning to phase 1 if weight loss cannot be maintained. This suggests the possibility that his followers do not want to return after the road traveled and because of the limitations in the quantities of their favorite foods.

2. Unnecessary restrictions

The first two phases of the diet are unnecessary, since it is most likely that in the last 10 days of both phases, the weight loss will be from water and not from stored fatty tissue. This has been studied by some experts.

On the other hand, there are other foods with higher thermogenesis and more nutrition than those recommended by the 20/20 diet. It’s all about moderation from the start and encouraging yourself to keep exercising regularly.

3. Conflicting rules

In this diet there are some contradictions. For example, stating that the participant can eat based on hunger, but eating is restricted to every 4 hours. Without taking into account that there are people who must eat every 2 hours.

This goes against what the diet proposes as intuitive eating. According to the journal Public Health Nutrition, the participant should give themselves permission to eat when they perceive hunger cues.

4. Nothing is personalized

This type of dietary pattern has a general approach to weight loss. It does not take into account age, genetics or health conditions.

They assume that the same diet will work for everyone. Healthcare magazine reiterates that any weight loss diet should be based on individual needs and requirements.

5. It can cause obsession with some foods

This type of diet also limits preferred foods to less than 100 calories or less. As Simpson and Mazzeo comment, this situation of wanting to eat more and not being able to can create anxiety and obsession with counting calories.

Tips you should not ignore

You must be clear that the 20/20 diet is not suitable for everyone. However, if you want a weight loss plan with some flexibility, you can apply it. Although we recommend going straight to phase 3.

If you want a good diet to lose weight, include a variety of cereals and whole grains, vegetables rich in fiber, protein, healthy fats, and avoid highly processed foods. You should also accompany the diet with a good exercise discipline.

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