Up until the time I wrote your best female figure plan in 2011 I wasn't really following the 80/20 eating rule. I would eat healthy all day every day for weeks on end then I would get sick and tired of being good and I would do what ALL my personal training clients and go on a cheat food bender for a 3 day weekend. A few times I even did that for 5 days straight which is about as long as I can stand eating not so healthy meals.
I didn't lose or gain weight by doing that and according to my doctor I was one of the healthiest people he had ever seen in his office his very long career as a doctor. So what was the problem right? Well I didn't exactly have the body shape and level of fitness that I knew I could have and I was tired of it. I looked like the pic below and that was good for most but not great to me!
I also didn't like
the idea of evil foods vs. clean food mentality and was tired of feeling like a big fat
cheater when in reality I eat cleaner than a majority of the American
population as well as other trainers I know. I also believed that if I
could come up with a solution to my not so clean eating episodes that I would
be able to help many of my clients who struggled on a daily basis with this
type of Jekyll & Hyde disordered eating.
Luckily right around the time I decided to fix my "good vs. evil food" eating issues, I received a book for review titled The Dieters Paradox by Alexander Chernev. This book shed light on so many issues that I had and that many of my clients struggle with as well. It was like a gift from the Universe and I wrote various articles about it for Bellaonline when I was still an editor there and also wrote about the Dieter's Paradox here at ybff site.
What I learned from this book is that we don't need to be perfect eaters to be healthy eaters. What we need is a healthier mindset about what it really means to eat healthy.
So I began to adjust my mindset according to the healthy eating guidelines that Chernev shared in his book and it transformed my eating in ways I never imagined. Not only did I feel less restricted but I made better choices most of the time. I also didn't feel the need to justify my unhealthy choices when I had those because I was now looking at the bigger picture of food intake.
I started calling this style of eating the 80 20 eating rule and I began documenting it in workout videos back in 2011 and with daily pics that I posted on ybff blog or facebook. When I actually sat down and wrote out an ideal eating plan for ybff customers, who like me wanted something simple and unrestricted to follow that would also get them the body they wanted, I realized I already had all the food pics so ybff fatloss meals guide practically wrote itself. I just added tons of other practical sane eating tips that I had written about for 12 years as an editor at bellaonline.
So what does 80 20 eating rule really mean? It's a formula that I devised from tracking healthy and unhealthy food pics for months on end. The formula is simple, you take the average number of meals and snacks you have per day then multiply that by 7 days per week to get your total per week then you multiply that total by 80% and you have the number of healthy meals you need to have per week. The remaining meals are your 20% meals that you can indulge IN MODERATION....
For example I usually eat 4 x per day so 4 x 7= 28 x 80%=22 clean healthy meals and 6 indulge
meals per week. In the pic here you can see what
it looks like over a 3 day period including 1 skipped meal which is typical for me a few times a week. So
three days at 4 meals per day is 12
meals x 80% = 9 clean healthy meals plus 3 indulge meals.
Notice how I skipped one meal entirely (it's the pic of the fork cutting into burlesque pasties). That would count as an intermittent fast which is the equivalent of a healthy meal according to many experts. Also I would count my wine intake with a meal just as an indulge meal even if I had a super clean healthy meal with the wine (more on that below).
**I limited the pics to 3 days because 3 days is easier to digest mentally :)
Now let's talks about what an indulge meal should look like. This isn't a free for all eat everything and anything you like meal like you've read on other sites and blogs. Your indulge meal has to stay within your daily calorie needs meaning your indulge meal has to have portion control and be within the number of calories that your body needs to maintain daily. So if a typical meal for you is 300-400 calories then that is where your indulge meal needs to be too.
How that works for me is if I choose to go to Starbucks and indulge in a blueberry scone which is one of my favorite treats ever (pictured above) then I am not going to also indulge in a specialty coffee because that would take me well over my calorie needs for a mid morning meal. I would order a small black coffee with a splash of soy milk and that would be it until my next meal.
Another example is if I choose to eat pizza with my family (also pictured above) then I only get 2 very small slices (not 2 huge slices) and I eat a spinach salad on the side. I actually chose these examples which are also pictured above because these are indulge meals I have regularly and do not feel the need to apologize or justify them to myself or to anybody. I also feel that they help keep my booty and body from getting too skinny but that is a whole other article!
Now 80 20 eating isn't always so simple; it can sometimes get a bit tricky when you add an indulgent food to a super clean healthy meal. An example of this is dessert or alcohol which is something many of my clients, family and friends struggle to do the healthy way. If you're going to add dessert or drink alcohol with your healthy lunch or dinner then you just made that meal a 60% meal and if you choose to have several helpings of dessert or 2-3 cocktails, beers or wine glasses with dinner then you just dropped down to 50% healthy so can you still do it?
Sure but you have to adjust the rest of your day or week to compensate. It's trickier when you're adding alcohol or desserts or other unhealthy foods to a healthy meal but it can be done, you just have to figure out where to moderate in other areas i.e. starchy carbs, fats, dairy, fruit, protein portion, etc. The only thing to NEVER replace with an indulgence is veggies!
An 80 20 meal is a bit more tricky than clear cut 80 20 eating weekly but as long as you are reasonable about how you apply the 80 20 rule of eating it will all work out in your favor.