Why the 80/20 Rule is the Key to Sustainable Weight Loss

Shed pounds quickly without sacrificing your favourite foods by following the 80/20 nutrition rule. Learn why this balanced approach to eating is the best for weight loss and get started today!



Are you tired of chasing after the latest diet fad and rebounding back to your original weight? You’re not alone, I’ve been there!

Losing weight can be a daunting task, especially when it requires cutting out your favourite treats. But what if I told you there’s a way to indulge in your favourite foods and still lose weight sustainably?

Enter the 80/20 rule. I’ve mentioned the 80/20 approach in many of my blog posts and my eBooks, and always recommend it. So in this post I wanted to explore in a bit more detail exactly how the 80/20 approach to nutrition can help you achieve sustainable weight loss without sacrificing your favourite foods.

This post will break down what the 80/20 approach is, why it works for weight loss, how to implement it into your diet, meal planning tips, and the benefits of sustainable weight loss.

So, if you’re ready to transform your relationship with food and achieve long-lasting weight loss, let’s dive into the 80/20 rule.

What is the 80/20 Approach?

The 80/20 approach to nutrition is based on the rule that around 80% of your diet should consist of nutrient-dense, whole foods, while the remaining 20% can be made up of “less healthy” options. This doesn’t mean you can eat junk food/ultra processed food all the time and still lose weight, but it does mean that you can indulge in moderation without derailing your progress.

80/20 can be used alongside calorie counting, or as a way to practice gentle nutrition without the need for tracking. It’s not a strict diet plan!

Why Does the 80/20 Rule Work for Weight Loss?

The 80/20 approach has proven to be effective for sustainable weight loss because it eliminates the need for strict deprivation and instead promotes a healthy balance of nutritious foods and occasional treats. The strict, all-or-nothing approach to weight loss can be difficult to maintain long-term and often leads to binge eating or giving up altogether. By allowing for flexibility in your diet, you can enjoy your favourite foods in moderation while still making progress towards your weight loss goals.

It encourages mindful eating and listening to your body’s hunger cues, rather than relying on strict calorie counting or restrictive meal plans. Additionally, by making sure the majority of your diet is made up of nutrient-dense foods, you will most likely be consuming more protein and fibre, which will increase the satiety of meals and leave you fuller for longer. Not to mention that ultra processed foods are often designed to leave you wanting more to eat, so it’s a good choice to cut down on these where you can.

‘Nutrient dense whole foods’ includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. When indulging in less healthy options, such as processed snacks or sugary desserts, it’s important to practice moderation and be mindful of portion sizes. With consistency and balance, the 80/20 rule can be a sustainable and effective approach to achieving your weight loss goals, whether you do it alongside calorie counting or not.

Quick Read:

  • 80% of foods being made up of whole nutrient dense foods reduces the chance of overeating, as they are naturally more filling
  • Completely cutting out food groups can often lead to binges, so instead treat yourself to these 20% of the time
  • 80/20 encourages mindful eating
  • Most sustainable method
  • Majority of diet should be made up of whole-grains, fruits, veggies, lean protein and healthy fats

How to Implement the 80/20 Rule

Incorporating the 80/20 rule into your weight loss journey requires a mindful approach to a healthy diet. By focusing on nutrient-dense, whole foods for the majority of your meals and allowing for occasional treats in moderation, you’ll find a healthy balance that promotes sustainable weight loss.

  • Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure that the majority of your meals are healthy and nutritious.
  • Focus on whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains for the 80% portion of your diet. When deciding if a food is a “whole” food, check to see how many ingredients are listed. Some foods are minimally processed for preservation but still hold all their nutritional value, i.e. frozen fruits/vegetables, tinned foods etc.
  • Limit your intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and snacks high in fat and sugar to the 20% portion of your diet and be mindful of portion sizes when indulging in less healthy options.
  • Listen to your body, make sure you physically hungry and not emotionally hungry, and stop eating when you feel full.

Remember, the 80/20 approach is not a strict rule, but a flexible guideline to achieve a balanced and sustainable approach to nutrition. Try not to get too caught up on it being exactly 80% and exactly 20%.

Quick Read:

  • Plan meals ahead of time
  • Check how many ingredients food has to determine how processed it is
  • Limit ultra-processed foods
  • Pay attention to how hungry or full you are before and after meals

Meal Planning Tips

Incorporating the 80/20 rule into your weight loss journey can be a challenging task. Here are some tips to help you get started with meal planning to make it easier:

  • Include a variety of food groups in your meals, including lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
  • Plan your meals ahead of time to avoid last-minute unhealthy choices
  • Choose healthy cooking methods, such as grilling, baking, or steaming, instead of frying
  • Be mindful of portion sizes and aim to fill half of your plate with high-volume low calorie foods like fruits and vegetables
  • Incorporate healthy snacks, such as nuts or fruit, into your meal plan to avoid unhealthy snacking
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and avoid sugary drinks
  • Don’t skip meals, as this can lead to overeating later in the day
  • Experiment with different herbs and spices to add flavor to your meals without adding excess salt or sugar
  • Consider seeking the advice of a registered dietitian for personalized guidance on healthy meal planning

Quick Read:

  • Plan ahead of time
  • Keep healthy snacks available
  • Be mindful of portion sizes
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make sure you have plenty of variety of fruits/veg
  • Bulk out meals with low calorie high volume foods (volume eating)
  • Practice healthier cooking methods

The Benefits of Sustainable Weight Loss

Sustainable weight loss is not just about shedding pounds, it comes with a plethora of other benefits. For starters, maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. It can also boost your energy levels and improve your overall mood and self-esteem.

Additionally, sticking to a balanced diet can help you develop a better relationship with food. When you learn to recognize and control your cravings, you’ll be less likely to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Instead, you’ll find other ways to manage stress and increase your well-being.

Moreover, sustainable weight loss can positively impact your social life. When you have more energy and confidence, you’re more likely to participate in social outings and activities with your friends and family. This can lead to a stronger support network and a more fulfilling social life.

Lastly, and most importantly, sustainable weight loss is more likely to be maintained in the long term. As you learn healthy habits along the way, and haven’t relied on crash diets that can’t be maintained.

Quick Read:

  • Improve health – Being at a healthy weight reduces chances of certain illnesses
  • Can boost energy levels, which can also give you a boost to incorporate more exercise into your routine
  • Improves mood and self esteem
  • Better relationship with food
  • Is more likely to be maintained after weight loss


In conclusion, the 80/20 rule is a sustainable approach to weight loss that promotes smart choices most of the time and indulgences in moderation. By implementing this approach, you can achieve long-term results without feeling deprived or restricted.

With the 80/20 rule, you can change your relationship with food for life and enjoy flexibility and enjoyment in your eating habits. As the saying goes, “progress, not perfection” is the key to success, and the 80/20 rule embodies this philosophy.

So, if you want to break free from fad diets and achieve sustainable weight loss, give the 80/20 approach a try. Remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about making progress towards a healthier and happier you.

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