Dr. Phil's Ultimate Weight Solution
Dr. Phil's Ultimate Weight Solution claims it can help people achieve weight loss. Find out if the self-help guru really delivers on how to fix your relationship with food.
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass, III, MD, MPH
Self-help guru Phil McGraw, PhD, turned his attention from relationships to dieting when he wrote his book, Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution. Actually, his weight-loss advice is centered on improving your relationship with food. Using psychology, his promises include helping you change the way you approach food as well as understanding why you eat and how to regain control of your weight.
Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution: What Is It?
At the core of Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution is what he calls the “seven keys to weight loss freedom.” Among these seven steps are reasonable and solid recommendations such as breaking the cycle of emotional eating, choosing better foods, and establishing a regular exercise routine.
“This diet plan focuses on behavior modification and cognitive restructuring to tackle issues like emotional eating and negative self-talk,” says dietitian Marisa Moore, RD, president of the Georgia Dietetic Association and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). “This is important for anyone with a goal to achieve and maintain weight loss."
Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution: How Does It Work?
Using his seven keys, Dr. Phil delves into advice about diet, nutrition, and exercise. For example, Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution divides foods into two groups: high response and low response.
The list of high-response foods, which are described as foods that require “effort for ingestion or preparation, support good eating habits, and provide excellent nutrition,” includes:
- Chicken Caesar salad
Low-response foods, which the book says are easy to get and eat, are “weak in nutritional quality and lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.” They include candy, chocolate, pizza, pasta, and noodles made with white flour. Eat the high-response foods, says Dr. Phil, and you’re more likely to feel full and lose weight.
He also talks about the importance of exercise and enlisting a circle of supportive people to help you achieve weight-loss goals.
Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution: Sample Diet Day
Here’s what you can expect a typical diet day to look like:
Banana, oat bran, low-fat milk, coffee or tea
Apple, meal-replacement beverage
Tuna, vegetable soup, salad greens and sliced tomato, whole-wheat roll, reduced-fat salad dressing
Sirloin steak, baked potatoes with fat-free sour cream, broccoli, green beans
Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution: Pros
Elements of Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution are sound and potentially helpful. For example, the idea that behavior changes are important for weight loss, though not new, is certainly something health experts agree on. “He advocates a realistic version of your body and healthy eating,” says dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic and also a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
The diet advocated in Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution is generally a low-calorie diet, and the exercise tips are particularly good, according to the ADA. He also acknowledges that weight loss is “not quick and easy.”
Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution: Cons
While Dr. Phil claims that the diet, nutrition, and health advice is based on the most current research found in psychological and medical literature, many references are a few years old and come from non-peer-reviewed publications.
Also, Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution assertion that measuring food is “the wrong approach” contradicts many nutrition experts who believe that understanding portion sizes is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy diet.
The meal plans in Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution skew high in cholesterol and are deficient in some important vitamins and minerals. Taking away the recommended meal replacement shakes and bars — which contain fudge syrup, sugar, and palm kernel oil, and are high in sugar, fat, and calories — improve the nutrition aspect a bit. “The sample meals encourage primarily lean protein sources and limited grains and starchy veggies, and fats,” says Moore, “but meal replacements should not be used regularly to meet nutrient needs.”
Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution: Short-Term, Long-Term Effects
Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution suggests a low-calorie diet, so weight loss is a likely short-term effect.
But some of the book’s questionable nutrition advice, like the assertion that the supplements may be of some benefit for those who are “weight loss-resistant,” could make it difficult to maintain weight loss and healthy eating.