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Here’s Why the 80/20 Diet is Considered One of the Most Flexible Diets

80-20-food-list
Last Updated on June 4, 2022

The 80/20 diet is a concept coined by world-renowned Australian chef Teresa Cutter. Although she’s an advocate of healthy cooking, she lets her fans in on a secret: She eats healthy 80% of the time, splurging on indulgent foods the other 20% of the time.

A laundry list of celebrities who’ve shared their journey on the 80/20 diet includes Tom Brady, Kate Bosworth, and Miranda Kerr.

If you’re curious to see what all the hype is about, we’re here to help. Read on to learn about how this diet works, its advantages, and its downfalls.

How the 80/20 Diet Works

hamburger and salad on a white plate

The 80/20 diet is based on this theory: You eat nutritious foods 80% of the time, leaving the remaining 20% for indulgences. 

But here’s where the challenging part comes in—it’s up to you to decide what foods are “nutritious” and “indulgent,” along with determining what approximately 80% and 20% of your food intake look like.

Despite some dieters seeing this as vague, many nutritionists support the concept of the 80/20 diet, saying that it promotes a lifestyle of moderation. Furthermore, you don’t have to restrict any food from your diet, making it easier to transform it into a permanent lifestyle change.

Foods You Can Eat on the 80/20 Diet

fruits and vegetables on a wooden board

The 80/20 diet doesn’t have any restricted foods. Nevertheless, you should focus 80% of your calories on nutrient-rich sources. Examples include:

  • Fruit

  • Vegetables

  • Whole grains

  • Lean protein

  • Healthy fats

Brown rice, oatmeal, leafy greens, berries, legumes, low-fat yogurt, and lean turkey are some of the many excellent food choices for the 80/20 diet. 

The great part about that is you’ll have a near-limitless choice of meals, ensuring you don’t tire of eating the same rotation of foods as some diets require.

Foods To Eat In Moderation

Although the 80/20 diet has few rules, it offers guidelines on the food that should fall under the 20% consumption rule. They include:

  • Butter

  • Fatty meat

  • Alcohol

  • Processed foods

  • Sugary foods

Essentially, you’ll want to monitor your saturated fat, added sugar, and carbohydrate intake. However, the caveat is that not all carbohydrates are the same. 

Whereas white pasta or bread should fall under the 20% category, the same version in whole wheat falls under the 80% category, as long as you’re eating it in moderation.

80/20 Diet Pros

Unlike Fruitarianism, which most medical experts frown upon, many doctors and dietitians support the concept of the 80/20 diet. Below are some reasons why.

Well-rounded Nutrition

The 80/20 diet promotes eating foods from all nutritional categories, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fat. Therefore, as long as you ensure your meals contain a balance of foods from these groups, you shouldn’t have to worry about significant nutritional deficiencies.

Focuses on Moderation

Some people can take the 80/20 diet to the extreme. But the basis of this diet is a sustainable, healthy lifestyle change, using the base of eating unhealthy foods in moderation. As a result, it’s often easier for people to stick with the 80/20 diet since they know they can splurge on a treat every day.

Doesn’t Discriminate Against Special Diets

People from vegans to those with gluten allergies can participate in the 80/20 diet. Since this diet encourages people to choose their own foods that they view as healthy and suitable for their needs, they can adapt it to their dietary preferences.

No App Tracking

Some diets require you to log into an app to count your calories, carb intake, and more. The 80/20 diet is refreshingly simple since all you have to do is estimate 80% of your food intake as falling under the “healthy” category.

80/20 Diet Cons

Despite the pros of the 80/20 diet, below are some downsides to consider.

The Diet Can Be Too Restrictive

A quick search of celebrity headlines for the 80/20 diet reveals that some celebrities have taken this diet too far. Since what’s healthy and unhealthy is mainly up to the individual, some people classify healthy foods as fruits and vegetables and leave the remaining 20% for meat, bread, and other “treats.” The result can be too much weight loss and nutrient deficiencies. 

You Can Be Too Lax

On the other hand, some people are too lax on their definition of “bad” food. Alternatively, they might overeat seemingly healthy foods, like whole grains, cheese, and healthy fats, causing them to gain weight and experience several health issues.

No Set Plan

When people start a diet for weight loss or another health goal, they often do well by having some sort of plan laid out. So, the fact that you have to determine what 80% and 20% of your food intake is on your own can lead to confusion, frustration, and ultimately giving up this diet.

What Are the Risks of the 80/20 Diet

The most significant risks of the 80/20 diet include being too restrictive or not being restrictive enough. If the former happens, your body will suffer from a lack of nutrients. In the case of the latter, you’ll likely experience weight gain which may increase your chances of diabetes and heart disease.

Will You Try the 80/20 Diet

The 80/20 is an interesting concept that resonates with many people—eat primarily healthy food, but allow yourself treats in moderation. 

Nevertheless, applying this diet realistically to life can be challenging, given that it’s hard to eyeball the percentage of the food you’re eating. However, many nutritionists see the benefit of following the 80/20 diet, so consult with your doctor if you have questions about incorporating it into your life.

References

The Healthy Chef, retrieved from https://thehealthychef.com/

Lisa Ryan, Celebrities Are Obsessed With the 80/20 Diet,retrieved from https://www.insider.com/celebrities-obsessed-with-the-8020-diet-2016-6

All About Carbs, retrieved from https://www.hri.org.au/health/your-health/nutrition/all-about-carbs

The Fruitarian Diet: Is It Good or Bad For You? retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/fruitarian-diet-is-it-safe-or-really-healthy-for-you/

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