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Summary: Are you having a hard time sticking to a strict diet but really want to get fit and lose that extra weight? You should definitely give the 80/20 diet rule a try.
We all hear about new diet crazes like ketogenic, paleo, vegan, carb cycling, etc., and while these can be used as lifestyle choices rather than diets, for those just looking to lose some weight they can be overwhelming. The downside of sticking to a strict diet is that it leaves little room for enjoying food in the way you’re used to. Ketogenic? Forget your mom’s cookies at Christmastime. Carb cycling? Too bad that pasta night falls on a low carb day. No sugar? Forget about joining your friends for frozen yogurt!
Oftentimes, these strict diets can lead people to getting fed up and binge eating the foods that are “off limits.” Then you feel guilty and beat yourself up about it and go back to the strict diet. These strict diet, bingeing, and guilt cycles are unhealthy for both our bodies and our mental state.
This is where the 80/20 diet comes into play. So what is the 80/20 diet? Basically, no food group is considered “bad” or “off-limits.” Sounds good? The important thing to remember, however, is that you can’t just go crazy and expect to see results or feel healthy. The key to the 80/20 diet is that 80% of the time, you eat healthy and in a way that makes you feel good, physically. Then, the other 20% of the time you can enjoy foods that aren’t necessarily healthy. Basically, you make sure the majority of your food choices are healthy, while still allowing room for treats and indulgences, which is much less restricting and easier on your social life and your mentality.
There are, however, pros and cons to the 80/20 diet. The pros are that you don’t feel the need to be perfect all the time, which can be stressful and generally unenjoyable. Life is meant to be enjoyed, right? It can also keep you from binge eating or over-doing it when you finally let yourself have a treat. Generally, it’s much more realistic for the average person and more of an attainable lifestyle.
The downside, however, is that it can be hard to keep track of that 20% and overall, it’s a little vague. You might find yourself slipping into 70/30 or 60/40 and suddenly not feeling as energetic or seeing the scale start to move upward. If you have three meals a day, that’s 21 meals a week. 20% would be about 4 less healthy meals a week, or just 4 pieces of dessert or unhealthy options. The key is to keep track and not get carried away. Planning ahead for your week can be key, and even planning your treats can be helpful because oftentimes the anticipation is just as good or better than the actual indulgence.
If you’re struggling with sticking to something strict or even reigning in the amount of treats you’re eating now, consider trying out the 80/20 rule and see how it works for you and your lifestyle.
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