First of all, let’s talk about the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule is a way of thinking about healthy eating. It states in the 2017 book, ‘The 80/20 principle for healthy eating is one of the easiest ways to reach and maintain a lean body. The simple plan requires that you eat a clean diet 80% of the time and then allow for a few more “fun foods” 20% of the time.”
Ok, before I completely fly off the handle with this quote. I’m going to close my eyes and take a deep breath….Please hold….
Here we go…
I know this concept comes from a published book. I get that. I also understand that Jillian Michaels, Jessica Alba, Miranda Kerr and many other celebrities love this rule and “live” by it. Although, I have major doubts that a super model can eat donuts for 20 % of her diet and still walk the Victoria Secret runway in super tiny lingerie.
I want you to meet two people…
- Ellen is an active woman who has her nutrition dialed in. She understands that balance is critical with her nutritional plan. So she enjoys the occasional cocktail with her hubby or ice cream cone with her kids. Her goal is to lose that last five pounds that seems to be stick around her hips, tummy and thighs. Unfortunately, she just found out that her thyroid is a little under active which is making that weight loss a little bit tougher. She has made a few tweaks to her nutrition and added a little more strength training with her coach to tighten and tone. Ellen has to work very hard to see some progress! She is 100% dialed in with her fitness and about 90% dialed in with her nutrition. She needs that 10% for balance!
- Now meet Janet! Janet is 50 pounds overweight and lives a life of convenience. She doesn’t have the motivation to cook meals for her family. Especially, when she can stop at countless fast food restaurants on the way home from work. She dines on mostly processed foods during the week. Foods like cereal, pizza, cheeseburgers, frozen foods for the oven and various items from the local drive thru menu. She enjoys sugary coffee drinks in the afternoon and beer at night. Exercise is a word that is never muttered in her house. It takes too much effort and walking up the stairs in her home and office should be enough, right? Janet had been consistently putting on weight, day-by-day and month-by-month. At this rate, she will be morbidly obese before she can say, “Yes, I want fries with that.”
Now, let’s talk reality!
What if we put BOTH of these women on the 80/20 rule? What do you think would happen? Would Ellen lose those last five pounds? How would Janet benefit?
Listen, I’m not a mathematician but I do remember the simple lesson from kindergarten and first grade: Greater than, less than or equal to.
If Ellen is 100% dialed in with fitness and 90% dialed in with her nutrition, do you think that LOOSENING the reigns to 80% would slow her progress or even cause her to go backwards? Let’s consider her thyroid, as well. She already has a hard time losing weight. Would the 80/20 rule benefit her? No, probably not. Ellen would get very frustrated with her lack of progress causing her motivation to drop and possibly even falling off the wagon completely.
Now let’s talk about how Janet’s body may respond to the 80/20 rule. Remember that Janet consumes mostly highly processed foods. Let’s just say that she lives more by a 20/80 rule. She eats highly processed foods 80% of the time and whole foods 20% of the time. What would happen if she flipped flopped those numbers? This should be a no-brainer, right? There is no secret answer! YES! She would hugely benefit from this rule. She would lose weight, feel better, gain energy, have better sleep quality and gain confidence. Janet loses 20 pounds over the course of just a few months! Shoot, she may even lace up a sweet pair of new kicks for the gym!
My goal in writing this article is not to tell you that the 80/20 rule is ridiculous and never works. My goal in writing this article is to open up your mind to an understanding. No ONE person is the same. You have a different genetic makeup, different behaviors and a different environment than EVERYONE you know. There are far too many factors to consider when making a claim that this rule works for everyone.
Who does the 80/20 rule work for?
If you find yourself consuming highly processed foods that are convenient and have more than a few ingredients, you would probably greatly benefit from the 80/20 rule. So instead grabbing for chicken taquitos and spicy tater tots from the freezer section, try a yummy chicken slow cooker recipe that contains all ingredients that you know and can pronounce. Maybe, chicken breast, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, green peppers and quinoa. You know what all of these things are and they make a delicious Mexican dinner for you and your family. Making substitutions like this, will greatly benefit your goals, keep you satiated, increase your energy and focus, elevate your confidence levels and improve your quality of sleep. Your body will be forced to lose weight because all these great wellness habits are aligning.
Who may struggle to benefit from the 80/20 rule?
Those people that already have their nutrition pretty dialed in will struggle with this rule. That’s why I struggle believing that Victoria Secret models follow this rule. For people that already have a lean body because they eat right and exercise but may want to lose those last few pounds, it may not be the best strategy. Unfortunately, the closer you get to your goals, the more you have to dial things in so you can continue to see progress. Is it possible to get over plateaus? OF COURSE! That’s my specialty as a matter of fact.
Whether you are an Ellen or a Janet (most of us are somewhere in between), choosing whole foods will always benefit you. They will benefit you in ways you can SEE and benefit you in ways that you can’t see. I can feel myself wanting to bring this article into another post about what GOOD NUTRITION really is…. So before I make this a long ass novel, I’ll stop here and promise another great topic soon.
Until then, friends!
If you find yourself stuck in your health, weight loss or fitness journey, talk to me. Sometimes you need a professional to take a look at what is going on to really learn how to make real progress. Stop trying every diet under the sun and start living a healthy and balanced life while losing weight, getting strong and looking awesome.
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