80 nutrition 20 exercise- What does it REALLY mean?

80% nutrition 20% exercise

To most of us starting a weight loss program/plan is a daunting prospect and something that takes its toll on us physically and mentally and that before even starting the weight loss program.

The reason behind that is the fact that weight loss programs mean restricting yourself from eating and doing certain things that you used enjoy doing and also changing some of the habits that will interfere with your daily routines and not only that, it affects the people around you too.

According to Gary Foster, Ph.D, Clinical director of eating disorder program at the university of Pennsylvania is that 65% of dieters will gain back the weight that they lost within 3 years.

Autumn Calabrese, celebrity Trainer says that 70% of people that start a workout program don’t go through with it.

To most people the phrase “80% nutrition 20% exercise” probably means some kind of a weight loss plan or some extreme dieting program that is impossible to follow and failure is written all over it.

It’s needless to say, weight loss programs and diets are not a permanent solution and will not last for a long time.

80 nutrition 20 exercise

One of the most important things to remember before you start a new weight loss program is that weight loss should be a lifestyle change that  lasts a lifetime and is not a 2-month weight loss program.

Recently, I wrote an article that talks about 6 effective ways to keep fit and stay healthy, I suggest you check it out if you want some simple but effective ways for  living a healthy lifestyle.

80/20 diet rule and 80% nutrition 20% exercise- what is the difference?

There is so much mix up and confusion between 80/20 diet rule and 80% nutrition 20% exercise that it’s really important to know the difference and how they work?

Let me start with 80/20 diet rule

First of all, 80/20 diet rule is not a weight loss program that you have to follow for a certain number of days or months.

In simple words, 80/20 diet basically means that you eat healthy for 80% of the time and you let loose for 20% of the time and it doesn’t involve any fitness program or anything like that.

The other cool thing about it is that there’s no math and no caloric count involved whatsoever.

As we all know that no one can eat healthy all the time, you just can’t do it 100% of the time.  Humans are naturally rebellious and don’t like to follow rules, it’s just the way we are and we have to find a way to overcome that sometimes for the good of our health and well-being.

Let me ask you this

Did you ever stick to a weight loss program for 2-3 years? NO, why? because it’s impossible and it’s not natural and like I said before it really takes it’s toll on our bodies and minds.

How does 80/20 rule diet work?

It’s very simple.

Let’s say, you eat 3 meals a day, so that’s 21 meals in a week, which means you have 4 meals in the week where you can cheat responsibly and that will count for 20% of your diet.

I know I lied, I said there’s no math maybe just a little bit of math involved, but I think you got what I’m trying to say.

This kind of a dieting plan can make it very easy to adapt to and follow and it can be positive and a life changer in the long run.  It just needs a tiny bit of effort and self-discipline to make it work.

What you are going to do is that 80% of the time you are going to eat ALKALINE and LOW/ MEDIUM GLYCEMIC INDEX foods and 20% acidifying and HIGH GLYCEMIC INDEX foods.

It definitely needs a bit of work to know exactly what alkaline/acidic and low/medium/high glycemic index foods are and then you can manage your diet accordingly and with time, you will be able to transform it into a healthy lifestyle.

What does 80% nutrition and 20% exercise really mean?

80% nutrition 20% exercise is as straight forward as it sounds, it really is!

The idea is to eat healthy 80% and exercise 20% of the time and this theoretically should help us lose weight, gain muscle and transform our lives plus teach us how to follow a healthy lifestyle and gradually make the bad habits disappear.

You will be surprised if I told you that you are already doing it without even realizing it, maybe you are not eating whole and unrefined foods and stuck to the bad eating habits, but the fact of the matter is that we all practicing it in our daily lives to some extent.

Let me elaborate.

We all can agree that we eat more than we exercise. Regular people like you and me eat few times a day and exercise only once a day or every other day if we are active people.

If you are not as active you tend to start some type of exercise program every now and then, which means you are following the 80% nutrition 20% exercise but not on regular basis.

The bottom line is that we eat almost 80% of the time and we exercise 20% of the time, roughly. The thing is that we already accustomed to following 80 nutrition and 20 exercise rule, which means we are half way there and only needs a few tweaking to make it work.

Do you remember when I said that there’s a mix up between 80/20 diet and 80% diet and 20% exercise? The thing is that combining the two lifestyle philosophies make way more sense than just following one of them.


Before I do that let me just make something very clear.

The difference between WEIGHT LOSS and LIFESTYLE is based on how we think of it.

The term WEIGHT LOSS means a short-term plan that we follow or try to follow for 2-3 months and when that is done we go back to our old habits.

The thing about weight loss and short-term plans is that when we are done with it, we feel this HUGE relief and weight came off our shoulders. You have to admit that this kind of thinking just doesn’t feel natural and it’s not a real solution.

Short term plans and especially when comes to weight loss are LOSS-LOSS situation and a vicious cycle that will benefit no one. The short-term change is not going to have a permanent and positive effect on your life and that’s why weight loss plans simply don’t work and will never do.

LIFESTYLE on the other hand, the first thing  comes to my mind when I say LIFESTYLE is a lifetime commitment. You will make that change a permanent change and you stick to it for the rest of your life.

It’s mightily important that when you commit to something, you have to be 100% sure that the change is going to affect your life permanently.

So, it’s fair to say that



Now, let’s go back to why we need to combine the two rules to make this a lifestyle change.

Combining both ideas gives you the freedom and the flexibility to change your lifestyle  gradually, and lets you indulge yourself with foods that you always going to crave and want to eat.

It irons out the bad eating and living habits and it doesn’t exhaust your body and mind into thinking that you are going through an extreme makeover and gives you time and space to overcome any obstacles and barriers to make this permanent change and a long-term solution.

80 nutrition 20 exercise

The whole idea is to not make it feel like you have to start an extreme weight loss plan and then you cannot wait for the day when it’s finally over.

The true meaning of 80% nutrition and 20% exercise and 80/20 diet rules is PERMANENT LIFESTYLE CHANGE.

Nutrition and exercise are mental and physical issue

As you can see already that weight loss and lifestyle change is a delicately balanced equation, where your body and mind need to be prepared and are willing to go all the way to make this happen.

There are endless studies that were conducted to explore the relationship between nutrition and exercise and our physical and mental well-being.

The findings of ALL these studies show that the reality is so frightening on how changing simple things in our lives can either wreak havoc on our mental and physical health or it can have an extremely positive effect on our lives.

That’s where combining 80% nutrition 20% exercise and 80/20 diet can solve so many physical and mental challenges and have the positive change we are desperately seeking.

So you are going to eat healthy, exercise, and halt your craving by eating your favorite foods to keep your body and mind in check.

How do I achieve this? 4 easy steps

1-Batch cooking

I cannot stress enough the importance of batch cooking. It epitomizes the success and the failure of any healthy and unhealthy lifestyles.

I can confidently say that batch cooking counts for 60-70 percent of making this new healthy lifestyle work. If you are not going to make this part work then count this as short term change that will NOT last for a long time.

One of the main (if not the only one) reasons why we buy takeouts or eat outside is because we don’t have food in the fridge or we didn’t cook enough food to last for the whole week.

That happens to all of us for a lot of different reasons like working for long hours, kids and family, there are millions of reasons and they are perfectly understandable.

But, the trick is to find a way to work around that to make it happen.

2-Easy and quick recipes

Hopefully, I have convinced you to give batch cooking a try.

To make batch cooking work you need to find easy and quick recipes so you don’t start procrastinating and finding yourself gradually going back to the old habits and that is the last thing we want to do.

Naturally, when we start new things in our lives we tend to be full of energy and enthusiasm regardless of how complicated and difficult these things are but after while it becomes very challenging to stick to and everything goes down hill after that.

Cook and prepare recipes that don’t take you the whole day to finish, this is a crucial part of making this last longer.

So, keep it simple and easy to follow, so it doesn’t become an obstacle in the future.

3-Inexpensive and readily available foods

Try to find foods that are available in most supermarkets. So, you don’t have to spend the majority of your time trying to find what you are looking for.

The are so many delicious and healthy recipes but the problem they are expensive and that can be an issue for most people, especially when you trying to do big batches, it can easily add up and not practical in the long run.

4-Short but high-intensity workouts

Short High-intensity workouts have been proven to be as effective as the longer workouts. There are so many workouts that you can do at home like Beachbody workouts or at the gym.

There are absolutely no excuses when it comes to working out, I’m 100% sure you can find the time to do a 30 mins workouts.

Final thought

To overcome the mental and physical challenges, combining 80% nutrition 20% exercise and 80/20 diet can be very effective to complete the transition and reach your goals to make them a permanent lifestyle change and hopefully you can stick to them for life.

Hopefully, I have been able to show you in some way or another some solutions and ways to positively affect your life. And I would love to hear from you and if you have anything to add please do so in the comment section.

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Bachelor's degree in Pharmaceutical science and extensive experience working in the health and dietary supplement industries

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