The Ultimate Weight Solution Diet Review: Dr. Phil and emotional eating weight loss advice

Does Dr. Phil Hold The Key To Weight Loss Freedom?


The Ultimate Weight Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom

by Dr. Phil McGraw ©2003

Review written by: Dr. Kendra Pearsall

Dr. Pearsall’s Scorecard (8 out of a possible 10) customer reviews (70% approval out of 262 reviews) 7  
Popularity: number of Amazon reviews and books sold 4  
Accuracy of nutrition information 7  
Well written, organized, engaging, understandable, original 9  
Advocates foods that are whole, natural, clean, organic and raw 5  
Advice on other weight factors (hormones, food allergies, toxicity, lifestyle) 5  
Uses a holistic weight loss approach, addressing the body, mind, and spirit  8  
Sensible meal plans and tasty, healthy quick recipes 5  
Detailed exercise advice includes weight training and cardio 5  
Easy to follow for life 8  
Reviews effective weight loss products e.g. supplements, videos, techniques 2  
Author is an experienced, credentialed professional in the weight loss field 8  
Research studies support the efficacy of the program N/A  
Advises how to individualize program for your unique biochemistry and dietary needs 0  

Grade: B+  8/10 Dr. Phil does a nice job helping with emotional eating, too bad his weight loss advice doesn't work for himself.


Dr. Phil states that there was a period of time in his 30 years as a psychologist that he helped people lose 100-300 pounds and 80% kept it off. The reasons for his extraordinary success are due to the seven keys listed below.

According to Dr. Phil, these keys don't depend on will power, they depend on programming the mind. But before anyone embarks on Dr. Phil's weight loss program you have to have realistic expectations about your weight. Don't expect to be a supermodel. Don't use the height-weight tables, or BMI. Instead look at your waist to hip ratio and use Dr. Phil's Body Weight Standards.

Goal setting is also very important and make sure that your goals can be measured, realistic and manageable. It is also important to assess your readiness profile because if you’re not ready, you will fail.

Key #1: Right Thinking

What you think becomes reality so you must think empowering thoughts. What is your locus of control? If you feel you are overweight due to factors beyond your control, then you will be less successful at losing weight.

On the other hand, if you take personal responsibility for your weight problem, you will be empowered to know that you hold the keys to success in your hand. There are different types of faulty thinking that will sabotage your weight loss success such as self-doubting--"I can't lose weight. I don't have any self-control." It is important to recognize this kind of negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk.

Key #2: Healing Feelings

Many people are overweight because they are eating for emotional reasons. Here are the steps to overcome this:

Step One:Take ownership of your reactions to stress in the world. No person or event can stress you out; you choose to be stressed and then you eat as a reaction to your emotional pain.

Step Two:Resolve life's problems rather than react to them.

Step Three:Tune into your emotional upsets. Do some journaling. Discover the core issue that is causing your negative emotions. For example, if someone yells at you and you feel devastated, is that because you feel unloved when people yell? Where did this come from in your childhood?

Step Four: Challenge your negative thoughts and restructure your thinking.

Step Five: Come up with a Minimal Effective Response to your emotional wound to put closure on the pain. For example, forgiveness (this is very powerful and healing), apologies, legal action, or writing a letter.

Key #3- A No-Fail Environment

Get rid of environmental cues that sabotage healthy eating. Throw out the junk food that is in your house. Stock your kitchen with healthy foods such as fruits, fruit juice, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy, low-fat snacks, and sugar-free beverages.

Key #4: Mastery Over Food and Impulse Eating

Learn to control your bad habits, and identify the payoffs for binging. Create behavior substitutions like walking or reading instead of eating when you are not hungry.

Key #4: Mastery Over Food and Impulse Eating

Key #5: High-Response Cost, High-Yield Nutrition

This wordy title simply means eat the right foods and you never have to count calories. Dr. Phil recommends dividing your dinner plate into fourths and eating one serving of the following: vegetables, vegetables or fruit, protein, starch.

Key #6: Intentional Exercise

Use motivational tools to get on an exercise program like choosing exercise that you're interested in such as tennis, golf, martial arts. Once you have a list of activities you enjoy, schedule your physical activities to make sure that you do exercise. Wear a heart rate monitor to make sure you are working in your target zone of 50-75% of your maximum heart rate. Use interval training for your cardio workouts and weight training.

Key #7: Your Circle of Support

Have a support group who encourages you and keeps you accountable. Have a plan for how you will deal with the saboteurs such as someone who tempts you with unhealthy food. Tell your family about specific ways they can support you.

When You Can’t Lose Weight

At the end, Dr. Phil describes how in 2001 when he turned 51, he experienced fatigue and weight gain. Even though he said he ate a totally healthy diet and has always been a lifelong athlete, his lab tests showed dangerously elevated triglycerides and elevated blood sugars which he successfully treated with supplements, diet and medication.

Therefore, Dr. Phil advised those who were weight loss resistant like himself to get laboratory testing to test for low-thyroid, metabolic syndrome and estrogen deficiency all of which are biochemical abnormalities that can lead to weight gain.

Praise For The Ultimate Weight Solution:

The Ultimate Weight Solution is a well written book with a refreshing emphasis on the mental and emotional aspects of weight loss which are ignored in most diet books. In addition, there are questionnaires in each chapter to assess which issues are a problem for you, followed by a chapter of information on how to overcome each issue. I thought this was an excellent tool to assess your problem areas.

Seventy percent of the Amazon reviewers recommended the book. One comment made often was:

"This book really opened my eyes to the underlying feelings and emotions that were driving my eating. The key to finding success through this book is yourself. You have to be honest and willing to evaluate your life and change bad habits."

Criticism of The Ultimate Weight Solution:

1. Should An Overweight Person Write A Book On Weight Loss?

One-third of the Amazon reviewers did not like this book and one of the reasons is that they thought that Dr. Phil was a hypocrite. Read some of their responses:

"In the old days these guys were known as snake oil salesmen, hucksters, and charlatans. how the heck does the fattest guy on tv outside of 'the biggest loser' put his name on a weight loss book? unbelievable..."

"Move over fat boy Phil. I read Dr Phil's life strategies which I thought was a pretty good book. However, once Dr Phil decided to write a book about weight loss, I started losing respect for him. It is quite clear that Fat boy Phil, decided a buck was to be made and he jumped at the opportunity."

"Oprah Cult Running Amok , January 10, 2005. This guy is overweight, let's all buy his diet book. This guy is a divorcee, let's all buy his raising-a-great-family book. When this bald guy releases his eventual hair care book, let's all buy it! Why? Because Oprah says so! Yaayyyy!!!"

Comments From Amazon Readers Continued...

"Dr, PHIL, LOOK IN THE MIRROR YOU ARE FAT, September 28, 2005. DR phil is an enigma......... he wrote a book on how to keep a happy family and happy marriage and yet he is divorced.... He is writing a book on weight loss and yet he is a cow. To make things even more interesting he was helping Oprah with all of her mental problems and she is as big as a house. I have to confess that I did not read the book, I got the book on cassette.......what a waste of time. Dr phil weight loss is not based on emotions. IT is based on calories. I have friends that are huge and they really have no issues. Obesity is based mostly on genetics, lack of exercise and calories. This is basic science. Apparently Phil missed this class. IN the time he was writing this book he could have actually gotten his arse on the stairmaster and lost about 50 lbs."

2. Ideal Body Weight Controversy

According to the standard height-weight tables and the BMI (body mass index), at 6'4" and 240 pounds, Dr. Phil would be considered overweight. Therefore, it is understandable that he tells readers to ignore these methods of ideal weight estimation and instead he created his own ideal weight chart with much larger ideal weight ranges that give overweight people like Dr. Phil a false sense of security.

Although I agree that the standard height-weight tables are dated and inaccurate for very short and very tall people and children, I do think the BMI is a worthwhile measure (although it is inaccurate for people with a high muscle mass such as bodybuilders). Other helpful tools of progress along with the BMI are clothes size, tape measurements around different areas of the body to measure fat loss, and scales that show body fat percentages.

3. Don’t Use Dr. Phil’s Lab Values

Dr. Phil’s last chapter provides the normal ranges for the lab tests low-thyroid, metabolic syndrome and estrogen deficiency so that you can see if your labs are normal. Although these ranges are correct by conventional medical standards, these ranges are based upon a sick population and are much too wide.

4. Nutritionally Incorrect

DO NOT follow Dr. Phil's nutritional advice unless your goal is to weigh as much as him. His nutritional advice is dated by 30 years, rife with the standard nutritional misinformation.

For example, Dr. Phil advocates that fat is the culprit in weight gain and encourages the replacement of whole milk products like whole milk, cheese and ice cream with low-fat derivatives such as skim milk, soy milk, ice milks and sherberts. What Phil does not know is that because these foods are low in fat they do not provide satiety, which makes you want to eat more to feel full. More importantly, the fact that the ice milks and sherberts are low-fat gives people a false sense of security that they can eat them until the cows come home. This isn't true because these desserts are high in sugar and sugar makes you fat.

Also his breakfast suggestions were high in carbs and low in fat (cantaloupe, sugar-free yogurt, and a bagel) which would surely cause a blood sugar spike and crash by mid-morning. His suggestion to eat sugar-free yogurt and sugar-free drinks everyday is dangerous as sugar-free products contain artificial sweeteners which are toxic for the body. He lists diet sodas as "healthy choices" but this simply is not true. For more information on the dangers of artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda and Equal, read the book Sweet Deception: Why Splenda, Nutrasweet & The FDA May Be Hazardous To Your Health.

Dr. Phil recommends multiple servings of dairy every day. Unfortunately, conventional dairy is ruined by pasteurization, homogenization, growth hormones, antibiotics, making dairy into a liquid "Frankenfood". If you do consume dairy, it should be raw, organic, grass-fed and unprocessed which is extremely difficult to find. You will find further information about the politics of food in my weekly newsletter.

Dr. Phil also doesn’t understand the difference between good and bad fats. He states that canola, margarine (trans-free) and vegetable oils are good but butter is bad. Actually the reverse is true (using organic butter).

Dr. Phil says you should avoid saturated fats like butter and coconut oil because they lead to heart disease and insulin resistance. This is not true. Excessive carbohydrates lead to insulin resistance. Coconut oil actually helps people lose weight and is one of the few safe oils that can be used in cooking because other oils are destroyed in the cooking process.

If you don’t believe my critique of Dr. Phil’s dietary recommendations, just read the end of the book in the "When You Can't Lose Weight" section. Dr. Phil reveals that in 2001 he had symptoms of metabolic syndrome (overweight, high triglycerides, high blood sugars) even though he followed a "healthy diet" like the one he recommends in his book. People who eat healthy diets don't get metabolic syndrome. Phil was probably consuming excess carbs and bad fats. If he had followed a better diet he would not have had to resort to drugs which only mask symptoms of an unhealthy lifestyle.

Amazon Critics of Dr. Phil’s Advice:

"So, in summary, the book has its uses, but it my opinion Dr. Phil needs to stick with his specialty. Dr. Phil giving nutrition advice is like Dr. Atkins giving psychological advice - it just doesn't work because neither knows much about the other subject."

"I count myself as one of Dr. Phil's biggest fans, but this book came as a huge disappointment to me. Everything mentioned in the book is very obvious, known by any dieter and mentioned in every issue of every slimming magazine in the world? Dr. Phil, did you even thought [sic] it could be a good idea to browse through one before publishing your book?"

"You Can't Be Serious, After reading this book, I have come to this conclusion. Its nothing but common sense what he says. The fact that people are buying this and thinking it’s so great is scary. If you can't see how he is basically repeating the same thing that has been said since the beginning of time, I feel sorry for you. After reading all these reviews, I now fear the future of humanity."


Most diet books focus on what to eat to slim down. The Ultimate Weight Solution focuses on what to think to slim down. It truly is essential to address emotional and even spiritual issues in a weight loss program because if these issues are not healed, they will sabotage any efforts to lose weight.

I do recommend this book for good advice on how to help yourself on a psychological level. Keep in mind though that Dr. Phil was trained in a cognitive-behavioral model (think different thoughts and use tricks to change your behavior). This model has been around for a long time.

However, over the last 10 years, a revolutionary form of psychology has emerged called "Energy Psychology" which I've seen resolve lifelong emotional issues in a single session. I highly recommend that you learn some form of energy psychology such as Emotional Freedom Technique and/or work with a therapist trained in Energy Psychology to help resolve your emotional issues.

Do not follow any of Dr. Phil's nutritional advice. He is not trained in nutrition and doesn't know what he is talking about.


About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)