understanding 80/20

The 80/20 rule.  80 % good, 20 % bad.  We use it to talk about movement patterns, intensity, and eating habits mainly.  Hopefully after reading this you will understand the rule better. 

We will talk about nutrition and 80/20 here.  Let’s break down eating this way of eating for a day, a week, and a month.  For our purposes, we are gonna go with eating 5 meals a day because it makes the math easy for me.  We will also assume that you are trying to eat Paleo because it is the easiest to adhere too.  80 good 20 bad, got it right? 

If you follow it on a daily basis, 4 meals will be good, 1 bad.  You nailed the percentages for the day.  But what happens to those percentages over a week?  7 days in a week equals 35 meals for you.  28 good meals, 7 bad meals.  And what about in a month? 140 meals, 112 good meals, 28 bad meals.  That is sticking to the rule right? WRONG!  The percentages are correct on your MEALS.  But if you think you can eat 28 sandwiches/bagels/8 pack chicken nuggets/medium fries in a month and you tell us you are “on Paleo hardcore” and “eating super-clean” you are only kidding yourself, because you aren’t kidding us, we know better.  And the results you want are not gonna happen, all because you followed the 80/20 rule wrong.

What is correct way to eat 80/20 Paleo then? That is gonna vary from person to person, despite being easy to follow with basic guidelines for all, the diet is not cookie-cutter.  I would say that 80 good 20 bad is 1 meal off the wagon with your food or drink per week.  For that one meal a week, if you need it, have a “cheat” meal or have some booze to feel like an adult. 

What that cheat meal is will be determined on your goals.  If you are trying to lose serious weight (20+ lbs.) or training for a competition, that meal may be a bacon-cheeseburger with a lettuce bun and sweet potato fries.  If you are not training for a competition or don’t have big weight loss/body composition change goals then your cheat meal might be 6 or 8 beers on Sunday afternoon. 

What that percentage looks like MEAL wise is out of 140 meals, only 4 will be bad (that is 97/3 for MEALS).  Now, most people will fall somewhere between the 28 bad meals and the 4 bad meals, but try to stay under 16 bad meals total per month(89/11) to see any positive results (body comp or performance).  Again, these meals do not include booze.  If you eat crappy and drink SEVERAL dranks, you are probably closer to 55/45 than 80/20.

Don't forget to factor these into your "clean" eating.

Now I don’t want you to feel Catholic guilt over your one bad meal a week (or month) either.  That will just lead to negativity that we are trying to eliminate.  We want a positive self-image and our diet is the number one thing that can help us with that and help maintain discipline in our chaotic lives.  Eating clean (or bulking) requires a ton of willpower and will require you to make some sacrifices, but it is just a question of how much you to get to your goals. 

Forgive me father, for I ate gluten and dairy this week.

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2 comments on “understanding 80/20

  1. […] let me try to help you some more.  Reread real life paleo.  Reread understanding 80/20.  Go reread it again.  Reread competition nutrition.  Not exactly as clean as I would have […]

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