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Body for Life Review

Analysis of the Body for Life Program by Bill Phillips
By Jeff Consiglio

I’m occasionally asked my opinion of the popular “Body For Life” program and book. Rather than continually responding to this question I’ve decided to write my official review and analysis. So here goes…

For those not familiar with the Body for Life program, it's a system of diet & exercise created by Bill Phillips, and outlined in his best-selling book called “Body-for-Life”.

Bill is a busy man. In addition to being a best selling author, he’s also the publisher of a bodybuilding magazine called Muscle Media, and President and founder of a nutritional supplement company called EAS.

He introduced his Body for Life program to the public through a contest sponsored by and promoted through Muscle Media magazine. Contestants were to follow Bill’s 12-week exercise and diet plan, then submit photographic evidence of their results. Winners received cash, cars and spokesperson contracts with EAS.

Bill subsequently wrote the best selling Body for Life book, highlighting the results and sharing the stories of some of the contest participants. The book also detailed his exercise and diet program called appropriately enough – "Body for Life". Its best seller status is testimony to Bill’s ability to effectively inspire and communicate with people.

At this point you might think I’m a big fan of Body for Life. [BFL]

Well I am... and I’m not.

Let’s take a look at the good and the not so good in Bill's program...

The Good:

1. Concrete Plan instead of abstract theory:
Perhaps the strongest point of Body for Life is that it eliminates all guesswork. Bill presents his readers with a step by step plan that allows them to jump right into the program. His systematic and concrete approach is understandably appreciated by folks who simply want to be told exactly what to do and what not to do. People who don’t care about the theory behind the program.

2. Moderation of carbohydrate intake:
The Body for Life program strikes a good balance regarding total carbohydrate intake. It avoids Atkins style “carb-phobia”, but also does not recommend the ridiculously huge amount of carbohydrates promoted by low-fat diet advocates, most dieticians and the government “food-pyramid”. Not to mention the large food processors who like the high-carb lie because it allows them to pass off cheap ingredients like sugar, starch and high fructose corn syrup as "low-fat" and therefore "healthy".

3. Photographs of proper exercise technique:
Body for Life is to be commended for featuring photographs of people performing various weight lifting exercises. It’s important for people to see the proper way of performing a given exercise before attempting it on their own.

4. Inspirational before and after photos:
Body for Life features many before and after photos of people who achieved dramatic physical transformations on the 12-week BFL program. Seeing the photographic results of “real people” is very inspiring and encouraging to anyone who may have otherwise felt that they weren’t “athletic" or "young enough” to take on the 12-week challenge.

So there you have it. There's obviously a lot of good in the Body for Life program. I respect Bill Phillips for showing “average people” that they CAN make dramatic physical transformations in a relatively short amount of time.


You knew this was coming didn’t you?

Problems with Body for Life, EAS and Muscle Media Magazine:
Warning! Some of the things I’m about to say may be hard for you to believe because they are so diametrically opposed to everything you’ve heard in the mass media regarding diet and exercise. For instance, when I say that saturated fat is healthy, I realize that might be hard for you to believe. That’s ok. Just keep reading this newsletter and you’ll eventually know everything I know. And some of your previously held beliefs about health and diet will most likely be radically changed.

The Bad... and The Ugly...

1. Bill's exercise program requires too much exercise and is time inefficient: Bill Phillip’s “Training for Life” weight lifting schedule calls for 3 workouts per week. It’s what’s known in bodybuilding circles as a “split routine” – you split your body up into various parts trained on alternate days. Bill’s split routine divides the body into essentially two parts; lower body muscles and upper body muscles. One week he has you train upper body twice and lower body once. The next week you switch it around by training upper body only once and legs twice.

While the Training-for-Life resistance-training program is lower in total exercise volume than most weight lifting programs, I feel that it's still too high in total exercise volume for most people.

For example, a weight lifting routine for the chest muscles is outlined on page 73 of BFL which requires three different exercises and ten total sets of exercise. That’s a lot of exercise for just one muscle group!

Body for Life advocates 27 sets of exercise per workout on average.

27 sets of exercise x 3 days of training = 81 sets of exercise per week!

My own “Maximum Impact Fitness System” requires just ONE workout per week. And it only requires you to perform ONE set of about a dozen exercises. And it is possible to achieve as good or better results than those achieved on the BFL program.

Since most of us have busy lives, why exercise 600% to 700% more than you have to?

2. BFL incorrectly states that saturated fat and cholesterol are unhealthy:
I’m not surprised Bill got this one wrong. The false characterization of saturated fat and cholesterol as dietary villains so permeates our culture that most people accept this bogus theory as proven fact. But it is not a fact. It’s a total myth. I’ll be writing a full-length article on the saturated fat/cholesterol lie in a few weeks. Until then I suggest that you read a short article by one of the world’s leading lipid [fats] experts at...

3. BFL incorrectly claims coconut oil is highly prone to being stored as bodyfat: Once again Bill makes an inaccurate statement about a healthy food. This one is a close cousin to the saturated fat myth. Because coconut oil is high in saturated fat Bill seems to believe that it will make a person gain bodyfat easily. But saturated fat is no more fattening than anything else. This is especially true of the medium chain saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil, which are very difficult to store as bodyfat. In other words, coconut oil is actually LESS fattening than other fats or carbohydrates.

4. Bill advocates the use of highly processed “egg-beaters” over the use of real eggs: God gave us real eggs. They're a very healthy food. Fake egg products like “egg beaters” are spit out of factories. Which one do you honestly think is best? Has man done a better job on eggs than God has? A recent experiment conducted at Burnsides Research Laboratory clearly demonstrates the superiority of real eggs. In the experiment, one group of rats was fed real eggs and another group of rats was fed eggbeaters. The rats fed real eggs thrived. But the rats fed eggbeaters had stunted growth and all dropped dead before reaching maturity. You can draw your own conclusions.

5. BFL advocates unnecessary restriction of carbohydrate choices:
BFL places unnecessarily severe restrictions upon the variety of carbohydrate foods allowed. BFL presents the reader with a list of “Authorized” carbohydrates that only include 18 different carbohydrate foods. While this does make menu planning very simple, it restricts freedom of choice to a ridiculous degree. I’m also disappointed to see refined white pasta and “whole-wheat bread” makes the list of acceptable foods. Pasta made from refined white flour is pure junk food, and most so-called “whole wheat” bread is little more than white flour with just a smattering of whole wheat thrown in.

6. Bill suggests high protein intake in the presence of dietary fat restriction": Protein is best assimilated into muscle tissue in the presence of dietary fat and fat-soluble vitamins; particularly vitamin A. Furthermore, fat and cholesterol provide the raw material for the production of hormones that help build calorie-burning lean muscle tissue. A high intake of protein without adequate dietary fat is just plain stupid and unhealthy for many reasons. I’ll eventually get around to writing an entire article explaining the vital importance of dietary fat and the fat soluble vitamins [which only work in the presence of dietary fat] for the building of lean muscle tissue. Until then you’ll just have to trust me on this.

7. Muscle Media magazine features soft-porn images of females:
Is it really necessary to turn a health and fitness publication into a pseudo Playboy style magazine? Would you want your Mother, sister or daughter to pose that way? Enough said.

8. EAS sells “legal speed” as a weight loss supplement:
EAS sells so called “thermogenic diet pills”. I call it “legal speed” because they’re loaded with herbal extracts that rev up your central nervous system too aggressively. Just like illegal speed does. Such products do not provide true energy. They provide chemical stimulation. Additionally, thermogenics provide only a slight increase in fat burning in the short term. In the long run they may actually make you fatter by disrupting the chemical balance of your body. That is not a good thing.

Final thoughts:
In general, I have a lot of respect for Bill Phillips. But I can not recommend his BFL program or book. BFL does have certain strengths but there are too many false premises forming the foundation upon which the Body for Life system is built. I therefore must give the Body for Life book and program a “thumbs down”.

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