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80/20 Rule


Why is it that sometimes a seemingly easy task can become so difficult and complicated? This has become the case with food and nutrition.  Sure, nutrition can get really complicated if you want it to but it can also be pretty simple.  The most common question I encounter as a PT is “My body has plateaued, why can’t I shift anymore weight?” As long as their workouts are effective we’ll then look at their eating habits.  Two problems I often seen are, clients either not eating clean enough or they’re being extremely strict then bingeing.  One effective way to get round this is the 80/20 rule.

The Pareto Principle states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.  This theory has application in more than economics and business, it plays out in our general lives. In this context, it affects the way we train. When people who work out frequently and mix between hard and active recovery still can’t seem to shift the weight they want to, the problem is often found in their diet. 80% of the impact of working out is nutrition and about 20% is the actual workout.

So how do we make sure that our diet is good enough to have our workout affect our bodies? We find that the 80/20 rule not only applies to our workout and nutrition balance, but also our actual diet content. So how does this work? 80% of the time we make healthy choices and eat “clean”. The other 20% of our food can be something we like to indulge in, certain treats and foods at social occasions. It is difficult to eat “clean” 100% of the time and it can also be mind-numbingly dull. This rule not only helps you manage your weight but teaches you healthy eating habits and how to eat in moderation. This isn’t a diet but a way of life. It takes a lifestyle change and a mind shift to bring this to the different aspects of your everyday routine.

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