Bill Phillips, a supplement company owner and magazine publisher, wrote Body for Life: 12 weeks for physical and mental strength in the mid-1990s. Phillips, a long-time bodybuilder who published a bodybuilding magazine and owned a supplement company, wanted to bring a bodybuilding program to the masses.

The eating program recommends eating six small meals a day, consisting of a balance of lean protein and “good” carbohydrates throughout the day. This is done to speed up your metabolism by eating throughout the day, and also curbs your hunger by never running out of food. The exercise portion consists of working out six days a week alternating between high-intensity cardio and weight lifting. The focus of his exercise regimen is high-intensity, with Phillips recommending interval training instead of long-distance runs and high-intensity short-reps for weight training.

The most controversial thing about this diet are the dramatic before and after photos of the participants who have entered the Phillips weight loss challenge. They show what many believe to be impossible transformations in a supposed 12-week period.


  • Solid Plan: At the end of the day the program recommends a simple philosophy; eat right and exercise. There’s no question that exercising six days a week and eating a balanced diet of lean, healthy foods will make you slimmer and healthier.


  • False expectations: The real trap of this diet is the false expectations that it could invoke in some of its users. My claim is not that the before and after photos are fake, but rather that the people who took them have probably been in good shape at some point in their lives. Muscle memory is a very real thing, and it’s much easier for someone who was once fit to get back in shape than it is for someone who was never fit.

Bottom line

While Phillips has his heart in the right place, he seems to encourage an all-or-nothing mindset for weight loss. Overall, though, this is a very solid and sensible approach to weight loss…albeit a bit regimented.

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