The 80/20 Diet

The world seems to have this skewed idea that each diet must be all or nothing, with little inbetween. It’s either all protein or no protein. All carbs or no carbs. No fat and no sodium. The huge diet myth is that it takes extreme changes to get results.

That is surely not the case. A healthy diet is all about moderation and is sustainable. An ideal diet is one that can be happily kept for an extended period of time. The ‘sustainable’ part is what gives results. A diet should be around 80% clean and 20% whatever the hell you want. Although society says otherwise, eating a couple of cookies after a whole day of eating healthy is not going to ruin everything. Society has the flawed idea that people must be perfect in how they eat, or what they look like is impossible or irrelevant.

The most important thing to know is that calories trump what you eat. If you eat too much calories, period, you will gain weight no matter what you eat. And vice versa.

I know this. As a person whose weight has been all over the spectrum due to eating disorders, I got to see how society treats my diet. When I was at my highest weight (not overweight) no one would bat an eye if I ate an entire box of oreos at a party. When I was 98 lbs, people would laugh that I needed to eat a donut, and roll their eyes if I chose something low calorie. And now as a bodybuilder, people look at me sideways and question me if a slice of pizza is going to help me reach my fitness goals. Ok then. A lot of people don’t know what a healthy and sustainable diet is.

A healthy and sustainable diet is mainly healthy, with a side of fries or a bowl of ice cream for dessert a couple times a week. But always plan it in with your daily calorie count.

It’s obvious that crash dieting and deprivation is ineffective long-term. Cutting out entire food groups or types of nutritional content is ineffective. Most of the time, it isn’t sustainable (except veganism and vegetarianism). Eating 80% healthy is enough to keep the human body functioning at its best, while the 20% gives a person a bit of humanity.

That doesn’t mean dieting itself is bad. It’s what you have to do if you want to lose weight. The word has bad connotation, associated with starving and deprivation. It makes me laugh how far from the truth it is. Dieting is such a loose term. Even eating choices that don’t involve calorie restriction is a diet. Diet, to diet, is what guides your food choices. Nothing more, nothing less.

Regardless of whether or not your trying to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your weight, the 80/20 rules is a good guideline. Eat healthy the majority of the time, and treat yourself 20% of the time. Do it rationally. If you eat two days worth of calories in your 20% it won’t work. If you 80% is truly clean eating, you’re fooling yourself. Be sensible and consistent. Then results will come.

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