What is the 80/20 rule diet and how does it work?

12 April 2019

Food

What is the most popular reason for a diet not working out, you might ask? When someone simply does not stick to it! Rigid, limiting diets can leave people feeling so stressed out and too restricted, causing them to completely shift away from healthy eating and going back to old habits.

The most successful ‘diet’ for most people is, in fact, one that you can shift into a lifestyle change. The 80/20-rule diet is maintainable and easy to adapt as a lifestyle change because of the flexibility that it gives you. According to its guidelines, you can enjoy a meal (or drinks!) while out and still lead a healthy lifestyle. Let’s go on to find out what exactly this diet is and how it works.

What is the 80/20-diet?

The 80/20-rule diet stems from the 80/20 rule, known as the Pareto principle in which for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. If you apply the 80/20 rule to nutrition, it teaches you all about balance and enables you to have a healthy relationship with food. The basic idea is simple: with the 80/20-rule diet, you make healthy choices 80% of the time, and treat yourself the remaining 20% of the time. 100% of healthy food choices is an intimidating number, and just isn’t realistic for most people. Moderation is key.

Here is an 80/20-diet example:

You meal prepped delicious and healthy lunches for the workweek, and cooked healthy meals for dinner, too. On Saturday, you have plans to go to dinner and a movie with your husband and on Sunday, you are going to brunch with some friends.

So, following the 80/20 rule, count that dinner and brunch as your 20%. Order that delicious pasta and red wine on your dinner date, and have some toast with butter and eggs at brunch. Because you can! And the best part? You get to enjoy it and not feel guilty! It all fits into your lifestyle decision to consciously eat healthy 80% of the time, and simply enjoy what you’d like the rest of the time. The 80/20 rule offers a sustainable approach to healthy living, and can be applied to nutrition, exercise and other aspects of your life.

Speaking of 80/20... there is even the 80-diet/20-exercise theory, in which it is believed the equation for healthy weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S, co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab and PROMIX Nutrition highlights the importance of a healthy diet, saying, "You can lose weight without exercise, but you cannot lose weight if your nutrition counteracts your energy expenditure through exercise.”

So, choosing a maintainable, healthy approach to nutrition is important for everyone. The 80/20-rule diet gives you the flexibility of indulging in delicious healthy and unhealthy, without sacrificing your health or relationship with food.

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