If you're looking to lose a few pounds without feeling like your diet is really restricting, follow the 80/20 rule. You eat healthy 80 percent of the time and indulge a little the other 20 percent.
Basically, the 80/20 diet really just gives some structure to the not-so-sexy "everything in moderation" mantra that registered dietitians like Sheri Kasper preach day in and day out, and it's the diet she follows to help herself maintain a healthy weight.
Sheri tells POPSUGAR, "I love food and want to be able to enjoy a girls' night out or a birthday party. By eating healthy most of the time, I can indulge when I want and not worry." Here are some tips from Sheri to stick with 80/20 so you can maximize weight loss.
Remember It's a Lifestyle, Not a Diet
Yo-yo dieting is rampant. Why? "Because most trendy diets simply aren't sustainable over the long term, so we jump on the bandwagon, follow the latest diet, but quickly feel deprived and fall off," Sheri says. Not many people are disciplined enough or willing to forego pasta and bread, wine, or treats for the rest of their lives — it's no way to live! When you follow the 80/20 rule, you give yourself permission to enjoy treats moderately. But you have to be able to revert back to healthful eating after each indulgence. It's not all or nothing; it's a lifestyle.
Look at the Whole Week
Doing 80/20 can be challenging for people who like to (or are used to) following more prescriptive diets. With the 80/20 diet, you need to be able to look at your diet as a whole — and planning is key. Sheri says, "If you consider the total number of meals you eat weekly (assuming you eat three meals a day), four of those meals (20 percent) can be less healthy."
Think about your commitments, and then schedule and plan accordingly! Do you have a date? A dinner party? A work function? Plan to use those occasions as your indulgent meals, and eat healthy the rest of the time.
If you're trying to stay healthy, and especially if you're trying to lose weight, Sheri warns to be careful during your 20 percent time. Enjoy a piece of cake at a party, not half the cake. Keep in mind that if you adopt the 80/20 lifestyle, you'll be able to have another piece of cake (or whatever treat you choose) later that week. There's no need to overindulge.
Know What (and How Much) to Eat
Sheri recommends that "at least 80 percent of your diet should consist of nutrient-dense food choices. Be sure to keep your portions in check and include a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, legumes, and low-fat dairy." These foods will support your overall health as well as your weight-loss goals. Take joy in all the fresh-tasting, delicious, nutritious foods you can eat — and it'll make 80/20 that much easier.