What Does a 80/20 Diet Really Look Like?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

As someone who works out at least 2-3 times a week, it is a bit discouraging to find that my clothes never seem to fit any looser. So when I started doing the Clean Cleanse and finally saw some results, it confirmed any doubts I had about the popular saying that key to losing weight is 80% diet and 20% workouts.

As much as I'd love to keep eating clean like I was during the cleanse, I know that in the long term, it's not sustainable for me. I love trying new restaurants and having cocktails with friends too much to be clean 100% of the time. So where does this leave me?

In my effort to make 2014 what I call the fittest year of my life, I've decided to apply a 80/20 rule to my diet as well to see where it takes me. This 80% of eating clean feels doable for me. If I was still in school, that would put me in a B- in eating clean, and while not the best, I would pass right? LOL ;)





It's funny because I've always thought that I lived pretty close to this standard until I recently did the math on what a 80/20 diet actually looks like. It was I a bit of a reality check for me, so I wanted to share this info with you.

What a 80/20 Diet Looks Like...


  • If you eat 3 meals a day, 17 meals should be clean/healthy and 4 can be "treat meals" during the week.
  • If you eat 5 small meals a day, that is a 28/7 distribution between healthy and not.

During the past two weeks, I've been trying to limit myself to about 4 "treat meals" a week and it had been hard! It is hard to quantify what defines a cheat meal. For example, if I had a glass of wine to a somewhat healthy dinner, is that a treat meal? I'd like to think not. Also, let's say I do I really crazy food tour on the weekend where I have a very long meal, does that count towards one or two meals?

Since these numbers alone seems ambiguous to me, I've been trying to look at this a different way in terms of calories. Based on a few online calculators, my average calorie intake should be about1500 calories per day if I want to lose weight. This would mean I have 300 calories available for something I see as not too clean. This ultimately leaves me at about 2100 calories per week used on my indulges.

Knowing both how many treat meals and approximately how many calories per week should count towards those meals really helps put things in perspective. Without officially tracking it, I'd say that I am currently at 50/50 with my diet. I will be using this soft guideline in the next few weeks and will let you know about my progress towards making my eating habits a bit more 80/20.

Have you tried or are thinking about a 80/20 rule on your diet? How had it worked out for you? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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