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Eating for life

Bill Phillips taught us how to get fit in his book, , and now he's back to help you free yourself from the word with his latest book, . We learned more about his plan when Bill Phillips was our guest on WebMD Live.
/ Source: WebMD

The opinions expressed herein are the guest's alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live, Bill.

Phillips: Hello! I am very happy to have this opportunity to answer your questions about Eating for Life, Body for Life, and anything else you want to talk about. I am looking out at a beautiful snowcapped Colorado Rocky Mountain range and it is warmed up to 3 degrees. Let's see if we can heat things up a bit!

Member question: Bill, there are many ingredients in Eating for Life that most everyone doing BFL considers to be "unauthorized" foods for BFL. Can I really follow EFL while doing a BFL challenge? If so, how will this impact my results?

Phillips: That's a good question! EFL takes BFL to a new, more open, more satisfying level. I have discovered that foods that were authorized in BFL are only the beginning, not the ending. More important than limiting your options are expanding them. EFL helps you do that. It helps this become a lifestyle. Believe me when I say I am eating all of the foods you see in EFL, and my body fat is 6.5 percent.

Lighten up ... and you just might!

Member question: Is EFL for first-time BFLers?

Phillips: Absolutely! And second time, and third time, and, like me, 20th time!

Member question: Bill, I know you owned EAS for a few years and believe in supplements, yet I notice you rarely endorse them in your articles and talks. Why is that?

Phillips: For me, supplementation is a very basic and simple part of my nutrition program. Through my nutrition shakes I'm getting the vitamins and minerals, the protein, the nutrients that I know my body needs. There was a time when I had a greater interest in supplements because I was trying to build more muscle. However, now, I am building a body that's leaner and that I think looks better for my age (going on 40).

Member question: I'm not that crazy about veggies, can I take fiber and vitamin supplements instead?

Phillips: I think with EFL I encourage people to open their minds and try things that they might not be "crazy about" so please consider that. Fiber supplements and vitamin supplements are part of good nutrition, however we don't really know all the nutrients that vegetables and fruit, in particular, contain. So, open your mind, open your mouth, and eat some things that you might not be crazy about!

Member question: Bill, how much weight is typical to lose in 12 weeks?

Phillips: Of course, that varies from person to person. If you visit you'll see an in-depth answer to that question.

Member question: I'm the opposite -- I'm a vegetarian and cottage cheese is about the only thing I like. I force myself to eat chicken, but do you have any suggestions for veggie people?

Phillips: Vegetarians have done very well with the BFL approach. It's simply a matter of choosing how you feed yourself with a "right recipe" -- the right foods, the right amounts, and the right combos at the right times. I think your results will be just as good if you get your protein from soy, as it will from whey. Your results will be just as good if you eat chicken or a vegetarian source of protein.

Member question: Bill, first off thanks for such a great program. I've had more success with it than any other, but I've done the challenge once and was not able to finish more than three weeks. I just kept running into a rut of no variety in foods. With exercising, writing in my journal, and sticking to nutrition, I couldn't find time to throw in variety into my meals. What would you suggest?

Phillips: First of all, congratulations for hanging in there! As far as how to find time for variety, why don't you do a quick inventory of what you "invest" your time in each night. Is there something you're doing each night that isn't paying back a big dividend on your investment? Can you find 20 minutes each night to invest in planning your nutrition for the following day? Think about it ... I'll bet you can find the time for "consistent variety."

Member question: Bill, how can I convince my mother to switch from Atkins diet to EFL?

Phillips: I think your example is probably going to be her best source of inspiration. Personally, I've never had much success telling people what to do ... I've always had to show them in order to inspire them to make a change. Follow me?

Member question: Should I be concerned about the amount of protein in the recipes? They don't seem to meet the 1 gram per pound rule.

Phillips: The what rule? Whose rule is that? I think too much has been made of specific amounts of protein or ratios of protein to carbs to fat and not enough attention has been focused on a more intuitive style of eating. Those who really "get" the Eating for Life style and those who stick with it "for life" will be those who get past the point of counting calories, grams of this or that, and dial in to what it feels like to eat right.

Member question: To gain muscle, don't we need to eat .8 or 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight?

Phillips: That's a generalization. If you eat six portions of protein a day as I describe in both For Life books, you will enjoy the results!

Member question: Why aren't nutritional profiles included with the recipes -- grams of fat, carbs, etc.?

Phillips: That question is somewhat answered above, but I very purposely and deliberately did not include the "nutrition" facts in EFL, as I know that out of the hundreds of thousands of people who have made the transformation the vast majority succeed with learning how to see the proper portions and feel what the right amount is for them to eat. My job is to help keep you focused on what really matters and not distract you with things that don't.

That being said, if you really want to know the numbers, you can find them at, but even there I don't make it all that easy for you to get access.

Member question: I have not gotten the ELF book yet; I have been trying to follow the BFL eating rules, yet I still feel hungry after the hand/fist portions. If I was to increase the portions should I increase the carbs/protein/both or just add more veggies to all meals?

Phillips: Try the latter first.

Member question: Bill, when I am in a hurry and can't prepare a meal, isn't it OK to get a grilled chicken sandwich from a fast food restaurant?

Phillips: It is what I would call "Plan C," Plan A being that you prepare your own meals as I describe in EFL. Plan B, for me, is a Myoplex or Balance bar, which I'll carry with me, especially when I travel. And for Plan C, try to find the best of the worst choices at a fast food joint.

Member question: Hi, Bill. I enjoyed both of your books. I am currently eating for life and training for a marathon. Are there any modifications you recommend, especially the week of the race?

Phillips: I've met quite a few people who enjoy the challenge that a marathon presents, and the idea of incorporating weight training into an endurance program certainly has its benefits. However, the week before a marathon I would suggest cutting out the weight training and doubling up carbohydrate portions for three of your six daily meals. Other than that, as you are well aware, rest is your best "advantage" leading up to a race.

Member question: Bill, as a working mom of a 3 year old, I try really hard to make the right food choices but sometimes things get hectic and I might have an extra portion of carbs that I shouldn't have. If I incorporate an extra cardio workout into my week can I help balance this? This doesn't happen often.

Phillips: No. Let's not get in the habit of trying to make up for meal mess-ups with extra exercise. EFL is not perfect; I am not perfect; you are not perfect; we are going to make mistakes. What we need to do is focus on each day's planning and not focus on what we might have missed or messed up in the past. If you eat a little too much today, that doesn't change tomorrow's plan. Each day is an opportunity to get it right

Member question: As a 2003 BFL competitor I learned SO much (thanks Bill). One big lesson was to cook extra portions and freeze them so I would always have a good choice available. Are there recipes in EFL good for this cook-ahead practice?

Phillips: That is a very good habit! In EFL the concept of making meals ahead of time is called preparing "planned overs" as opposed to the accidental "leftovers." Many of the meals in EFL can be prepared ahead of time and frozen or refrigerated so you've always got good food a microwave minute away.

Member question: Bill, I'm on the road a lot of the day with my job and when I'm not driving I'm meeting people for breakfast and lunch and that's when I get into trouble, especially when the breakfast/lunch is catered by someone else. How do you stay on track all of the time while traveling?

Phillips: Planning really is the key. I travel a lot also, and when you put yourself in a position where you are hungry, around the wrong foods and around people who are eating the wrong foods, you have very little chance of getting it right. So plan ahead of time and make decisions to put yourself in the right situation.

If you go to these breakfasts or lunches having already had your nutrition bar, a nutrition shake, or a healthy meal, you'll be satisfied, and, when you think about it, won't you have more time to engage in meaningful communication with the people you're sharing time with?

Member question: Six small meals of carbs and protein seem like too much food for someone that doesn't work out in the BFL way. Should those amounts be reduced? Especially for women?

Phillips: Good question. Why aren't you working out? Maybe you are, but not in the specific way I describe in BFL. Still, I recommend six meals a day, each balanced in protein and carbs, but the key is the proper portion. Smaller portions are better than skipping meals.

Member question: Bill, thanks for the book. I don't like fish -- at all -- so I take a super omega complex that includes flax, borage, omega 3, 6 and 9, and CLA. Helpful or a waste?

Phillips: What do you have against fish? I hope you're not mad about cow! The supplement form of essential fatty acids will help. And don't forget that other natural sources of good fats are found in foods like spinach.

Member question: I have tried several recipes in EFL; even my teenagers enjoyed the recipes. How can I adopt some of our favorite recipes to fit the BFL plan? We especially like Thai cooking.

Phillips: Well, we are beginning to prepare the second EFL book already, titled Eating For Life: Second Servings, and questions like yours will help us design the recipes and direction of the follow-up book. If you have any suggestions or recipes that you would want to share, feel free to stop by after this chat to share your ideas.

Member question: Bill, I turn 40 in three days and have noticed a change in my body and metabolism. I lost 20 pounds on BFL three years ago and am ready to start the plan again with the help of Eating for Life. I love the four- and eight-week incentive programs. All that is missing from the program is a personal visit or phone call from you! Is there anything I should change in my routine since I will be in the "over 40" category?

Phillips: You and I are about the same age -- man, did that happen fast!

From my experience, it's best to continue to let your body evolve and not just accept, but enjoy, the process of how it changes. I don't have as much muscle now as I did when I was in my 20s. Maybe you don't, either. But you still have a body that is your absolute best, and you can build that with the aerobics, the strength training, and the great nutrition that is the foundation of BFL.

By the way, I wouldn't trade an ounce of wisdom each year has given me for a solid pound of that old muscle. Would you?

Member question: I know that you have tried most supplements on the market today -- in EFL you said you pretty much stick with protein shakes. How do you feel about creatine, ZMA, etc. -- supplements other than a protein shake or vitamins? Are you staying away from them for good because they have obviously been beneficial to you and so many others over the years?

Phillips: Here's the quick run-through on supplements that I would recommend to someone who is trying to gain muscle while losing fat:

Creatine: Yes CLA: Yes ZMA: No Fat burners: No Antioxidants: Get them from food Pyruvat: Are you kidding?

Member question: Why NO to ZMA?

Phillips: It just isn't worth the investment, from my experience.

Member question: Why no to fat burners? My boyfriend is addicted to them and he doesn't listen to me, perhaps if you mentioned it he'd believe me. I worry.

Phillips: I certainly have not seen the thousands of people who successfully transformed with Body for Life giving credit (honestly) to any particular fat burner. Your body burns fat just fine on its own. It's usually the mind that hangs on to it. And when you change your mind, focus on what you want to look like, what you want to feel like, and you allow exercise and proper nutrition you to get there, you will succeed.

Member question: Bill, I'm very concerned about the obesity in our children. I applaud your American Transformation goal because heart disease will be worse with our kids than it is now and it's the No.1 killer. Do you have any plans on making pleas to the powers that be to have healthier school lunches offered? And with so many kids coming home to empty homes what's the best food to have around so the kids WILL eat them instead of fast food?

Phillips: Now, there is a topic worthy of discussion! On January 20, I will be in Washington, D.C. speaking with the Department of Health and Human Services about what we need to do to address the obesity epidemic we see with today's children. Certainly, we need to be conscious of the fact that children will do what we show them, not what we tell them. Healthy parents will have a much better chance of having healthy children.

Also, the school curriculum absolutely has to change. We need to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, AND exercise and nutrition. Kids should be coming home from school with positive ideas about exercise and nutrition that they can share with their folks.

And, this country's food manufacturers have to start developing quality, nutritious, snacks instead of supplying just high sugar, high profit margin junk.

We'll talk much more about this in the future; you can count on it!

Member question: Bill, I am unable to work out at a gym. What would be the basic equipment necessary to work out of my home the BFL way?

Phillips: I work out at home. I have a set of dumbbells and an exercise bike. When I'm at my home in Hawaii I walk or run three days a week and do a simple weight training workout three days a week. In Colorado, especially on ice-cold days like today, I do my aerobics indoors. It's very simple.

Member question: Is there a particular quality that stands out among the people who have successfully transformed their bodies by following the BFL program that you've noticed?

Phillips: Everyone who reads BFL and EFL will discover the exact same information. That information is honest, straightforward, scientifically sound, and it works. So why doesn't everyone transform who reads the books? That is a very good question. And as far as I can tell the answer comes down to how much a person wants to change. Some change before they have to; others don't change until they don't have a choice. So the quality that allows those success stories to be written is the quality of wanting to change more than you want to stay the same.

That's the question you need to answer. Do you want to change more than you want to stay the same? Answer yes each and every day of the 12-week program, and you will succeed.

Member question: Is the book Energy for Life still planned for publication?

Phillips: Energy for Life is in the works. And those of you who waited forever for Eating for Life know that when I say "in the works" I mean it is cooking, but I don't know exactly when it will be done. I hope that those of you who have seen the quality of Eating for Life realize that I am determined to produce the most beautiful, the highest quality, and the most meaningful books. That's what you deserve.

Moderator: We are almost out of time. Do you have any final words for us, Bill?

Phillips: Thank you very much for sharing this time with me! Thank you for the questions, and even though we can't get to all of them, I will continue to answer those that I can on future chats and also at, and, of course, through future books. Have a great day, you guys!

Moderator: Thanks to Bill Phillips for being our guest. For more information, please read Eating for Life and Body for Life. For information and support on nutrition and weight loss concerns, please visit our , where you can post questions and comments for fellow WebMD members and WebMD health professionals.