Following the 80/20 rule is less of a diet and more of a lifestyle. On the 80/20 plan, you eat clean, good-for-you foods 80 percent of the time, and the other 20 percent, you can indulge in whatever you want. This keeps you consistent most of the time, but gives you the flexibility to enjoy your favorite foods in moderation so you don't feel deprived. It's also much more manageable than trying to be on a strict eating plan 100 percent of the time.
However, sticking to the 80/20 principle may not be as simple as it sounds. Personal trainer Max Weber, NASM, ACE, proved how people can easily get off track when trying to eat well with a Instagram post on the 80/20 rule. In the posted photo, the eating plan on the left shows how if you're eating five small meals a day, about eight of these a week can be indulgences. The meals on the right, however, show what happens when you start out eating well for every meal, then let your indulgences overtake your healthy meals. Although there's nothing wrong with the eating pattern on the right, it probably won't lead to weight loss and is definitely not 80/20.
"Keep in mind that these numbers (80 percent healthy foods and 20 percent fun foods) are rough estimates. You might be closer to 70/30 or even 90/10 depending on how dialed in you are, and how precise your goals [are]," Weber wrote in the caption.
If you want to truly follow the 80/20 rule and eat three square meals a day, then three of those meals every week can be indulgences. If you eat five small meals a day, then seven to eight of them can be cheats. As the photo proves, it's all about balance; if you indulge in several cheat meals or drinks a day, then get back on track the next day and stay consistent throughout the week. Just because you indulged one day doesn't mean your entire week is ruined — balance is key!