The 90/10 Rule
Author: Margot Rutigliano
You’ve probably heard someone, somewhere talk about the 90/10 Rule when it relates to weight loss or health and fitness goals. There are all kinds of rules you might’ve heard of like the 80/20 rule or even 85/15 rule. They’re all getting at a similar purpose which is to maintain healthy habits (mostly eating healthy) that relate to your goal a certain percentage of the time. The larger percentage is the amount of time that you would eat healthy or adhere to your healthy habits with the smaller percentage of the time allowed for “screwing up” so to speak. This smaller percentage would be for “cheat meals” or treats like wine, ice cream and snacks that you wouldn’t normally consume when you’re eating healthy to reach your goals.
When To Use The 90/10 Rule
As I stated above, there are a few rules other than the 90/10 rule. When I work with nutrition coaching clients, I use the 90/10 rule specifically when I have a client who has not reached their goal yet. I suggest the 90/10 rule for the people in the following situations (these are just a few examples):
- You have a specific weight loss goal that you haven’t met yet.
- You have a hard time with “cheat meals”. You’re someone that has a hard time getting back on track once you’ve had a cheat meal. Or you go WAY overboard with your cheat meals and ending up not only eating food that isn’t good for you but your portion sizes are much larger than normal as well.
- You are an athlete and you’re looking to accomplish a specific goal such as strength or time. Nutrition is of the upmost importance for those types of athletic goals.
- You are an athlete, body builder or figure competitor (or some type of physique athlete) and you have a body composition goal to reach.
- You’re looking to improve your health due to blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar issues or a whole host of other reasons.
How To Apply The 90/10 Rule
We tend to underestimate the amount of food that we take in and overestimate our calorie expenditure. This is why what you take in is so important.
- 90% – Clean Eating
- 10% – Open Food Choices
So in a week if you have 21 meals, this would allow for approximately 2 meals to be open food choice meals or cheat meals.
You could apple this to two meals in the same day or pick two random meals throughout the week to enjoy something other than the normal healthy, clean, portioned food you’re used to eating.
Although you are having a cheat meal, it’s still important to keep your portions in check. Just because it’s a “freebie” doesn’t mean you should go crazy and eat as much as you can. See more tips below.
Tips For Cheat Meals
A few tips for cheat meals and weekend eating…
- Keep portions in check.
- Stay hydrated.
- Don’t let your cheat meal drag into a cheat day.
- Be picky about what you eat. Make it worth your while. Make sure you’re satisfied. If you do, you’re more likely to feel satisfied by your choices and less likely to want more.
- Use a journal for everyday use including your cheat meals.
- Don’t feel bad about having two cheat meals in a week. Plan to screw up a little. This is life – not lockdown.