Some diets fail because they’re so limited and require so much commitment and willpower, we just can’t sustain it. That’s why some folks love the 80/20 diet, which lets you eat healthy whole foods 80% of the time and then gives you the other 20% to splurge, within reason.
The idea is that if you’re eating nutritious foods 80% of the time, you can enjoy some fun foods without derailing your progress. But does it work? Well, as with most eating plans, there are upsides and downsides to the 80/20 diet, here are the pros and cons.
- It’s more sustainable than some diets - It’s more of a lifestyle shift than just a way of eating. There are no banned foods, so you won’t feel as restricted and you can indulge in treats of your choice for your 20%.
- Your social life isn’t as limited - You won’t have to worry when you do to a wedding that you won’t be able to eat anything because if you’re eating three meals a day, you can “indulge” in four meals a week for your 20%.
- It leads to healthier habits - Like learning to have balance and how to indulge while still eating clean the rest of the time.
- It's easy to overestimate 20% - So you’re allowed to treat yourself, but it’s not always easy to judge how much is enough but not too much. We’re no good at counting calories, so estimating 20% of our diet may be tough too.
- It can be hard to stop indulging - Allowing yourself to have that treat could be a gateway drug for some, when they take a bite, they open the floodgate and can’t stop it. So the 80/20 plan could be harder for anyone prone to binge-eating.
- It involves significant food prep - It’s a lot of work to have all that healthy food prepped and ready to go when you get hungry.
So if you want to try it, but you’re not sure how successful you’ll be, you could always try a modified version, like a 90/10 diet. That way, if you go over on your 10% treats, you won’t be over the 20%.