Body-for-Life is a six day a week program of diet and exercise. The promise is that if you follow Bill Phillips plan for the recommended 12 weeks, you'll end up in the best shape of your life.
Your workouts are broken down into three cardio sessions and three weight training sessions per week. You're also instructed to eat six small meals a day, carefully choosing your foods from recommended lists. On the seventh day each week you get a break from working out, and are allowed to eat what you want, within reason.
Chicken or Turkey breast, fish and egg whites. Brown or steamed wild rice. Whole-wheat bread and vegetables. Water consumption is encouraged with the goal of drinking 10 glasses every day.
Calorie counting isn't important on this diet but portion control is. Each portion is supposed to be no larger than your fist. The breakdown of foods are supposed to be between 40 and 50 percent protein, and 40 to 50 percent carbs. The remainder can be fat.
Finally you are encouraged to take nutritional supplements sold by another Bill Phillips company.
How it Works
Even if you didn't follow the diet strictly, you would probably still lose weight with all the exercise. The three days of cardio exercises burn fat, while the three days of weight training builds muscle and increases your metabolism. With a higher metabolism, you burn more fat.
The recommendation that you eat several times each day is also generally a good idea, as long as you adhere to the "no portion is larger than your fist" mantra. By eating several small meals your body tends to use stored fat as energy and you are less likely to have cravings or engage in binge eating.
Pros and Cons
This is a very low-fat diet and may take some getting used to. In addition, people with kidney disorders may have problems because the increased levels of protein may put an undo strain on the kidneys.
Suggesting people change from three large meals to six small meals a day is a good recommendation, as long as the total number of calories you eat throughout the day don't increase.
The regimented exercise program is also reasonable, and it's one of the rare books that detail what exercises you should perform, and for what duration. But working out six days a week will be a daunting task for someone who's never engaged in a fitness program before. It may take more serious dedication than the casual dieter is willing to provide.
If you have injuries or other medical conditions that make exercise more difficult, Body-for-Life is definitely not for you.
The Bottom Line
Assuming you don't have injuries that will prevent you from following the exercise program, AND assuming you are able to work through any injuries you sustain while training at the higher intensity Body-for-Life recommends, AND assuming you are able to keep eating the prescribed foods, AND assuming you don't have a kidney disorder that may make the excess protein intake a problem, THEN you will probably find Body-for-Life one of the best investments in long-term health you could make.
But those are a lot of assumptions. We also have a problem with any diet book that recommends nutritional supplements provided by the authors' other company. If it were truly unbiased advice, Body-for-Life would recommend the supplements and a list of competing companies, so consumers could make informed decisions. But it doesn't.
Body-for-Life is a mixed bag. There is enough good information in the book to warrant a closer look by people already in fair shape. But you should ignore the nutritional supplement information, be cautious of the strenuous exercise program (until cleared by a doctor) and be warned of the potential problems the excess protein diet may bring.
For the majority of people, we cannot recommend Body-for-Life.
CAUTION: You should NEVER attempt any diet without the supervision of a Medical Doctor or licensed Nutritionist.
General Reference Links
American Heart Association
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institutes of Health
United States Department of Agriculture