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80/20 Diet

By Editorial Team (A)
August 26, 2022
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Introduction

What associations do you have with the term “diet?” Many people couple diet with deprivation, rules, restrictions, starvation, etc. The hardest part of weight loss is giving up your favorite foods and feeling unsatisfied with “healthy” meals.

The 80/20 Diet is a nutritional approach that balances healthy eating with enjoying the less healthy foods you love. The concept of this diet involves choosing whole, nutrient-dense foods 80% of the time and going for some treats for the rest 20%. Such an approach helps you not feel deprived and, therefore, increases the chance of sticking with the diet. In addition, the 80/20 Diet allows you to enjoy foods you love without feeling guilty for eating, beneficially impacting your mental health.

Key points

The only rule of the 80/20 Diet is making 80% of your meals nutritious and balanced while letting yourself indulge in less healthy options for the rest 20% of the time. However, verifying that you do the calculations right and that 20% of treats don’t become 30 or 40% is essential. For example, if you typically have three meals per day or 21 meals per week, 80% of the healthy, whole, nutrient-dense foods comprise 17 meals.

To get the most benefits of the 80/20 Diet, base 80% of your meals on nutritious, whole, unprocessed, or minimally-processed foods, including:

  • fruits, berries, and vegetables
  • lean proteins
  • whole grains
  • whole wheat bread and pasta
  • healthy fats
  • dairy products

You can still eat refined sugars and carbohydrates, saturated fats, and processed foods 20% of the time. However, remember that moderation and portion size control are key in this nutritional approach. In addition, you want to avoid alcohol most of the time but can allow yourself a glass of wine or a beer once a week or more rarely.

Contraindications

People with a medical condition should consult the doctor before starting the 80/20 Diet to ensure that it is suitable for them and won’t worsen their health.

How to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies

Since the 80/20 Diet doesn’t involve completely cutting out a particular food or food group, you are unlikely to develop nutritional deficiencies while following this eating pattern.

Tips on improving your dieting experience

While reading about the 80/20 Diet, you may wonder what if you won’t be able to stop once you allow yourself to indulge in your favorite foods. Here are some helpful tips that you can use to prevent binge eating:

  • Control portion size. By eating a measured portion instead of snacking right from the big pack, you consume fewer calories and do not overeat.
  • Drink water before the meal. It will help you naturally reduce the portion size.
  • Don’t rush during mealtime. Instead, eat slowly and properly chew every bite. It will help you enjoy the food and feel satisfied with the smaller portion.
  • Don’t go for the additional portion right away. Instead, wait at least 10 minutes since it takes time for your stomach to signal to the brain that you are satisfied. 
  • Halve treats. According to the research, you will feel equally satisfied 15 minutes after eating half or a whole piece. 

Conclusions

The 80/20 diet is a flexible nutritional approach that allows learning how to practice healthy eating habits without restricting favorite foods. Overall, it can be a well-balanced diet that provides you with essential nutrients, energy, and enjoyment. However, it is necessary to ensure that you don’t fall into binge eating or increase the proportion of “indulged” foods.

The 80/20 Diet can help lose weight in some people. Nevertheless, this nutritional approach cannot guarantee weight loss if your initial diet is relatively healthy. You may also switch to a 90/10 diet plan to reach the goal weight, and once it is done, go back to the 80/20 Diet.

It is recommended to consult a doctor before following this nutritional approach, especially if you have certain medical conditions.

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