Often times we tend to struggle sticking to a meal plan or being consistent with our eating. This can be attributed to an abundance of things such as: boredom, lack of discipline, scheduling, etc. A meal plan should be simple and not require you to torture yourself on a day-to-day basis. Yes, eating “clean” may require giving up some of your favorite treats- it requires diligence. However, it should also be something that you learn how to enjoy and fit into your everyday life. This is where the 80/20 rule comes into play.
The 80/20 rule goes under the premise that if you are eating clean and healthy 80% of the time, then it is okay to be not so good or indulge a little the other 20% of the time. The 80% should include whole foods, vegetables, lean protein, and avoiding processed food. Now, this can be easily misconstrued; what the 20% really means is that it should be consumed once per week and not allocating 20% of each day to unhealthy foods. If you have about 21 meals each week (breakfast, lunch, dinner), maybe 3-4 meals are less healthy. Think of this as a more indulgent home cooked meal and not binging on fast food. This “20%” can also be called your “cheat meal.” Sometimes a well timed cheat meal can help you stay on track mentally.
A well timed cheat meal may balance the hunger hormones levels in your body, both of which are correlated with an increase in metabolism and aid in weight loss. One of these hormones, leptin is released into the body as you eat and leaves you with a satiated feeling. When leptin levels are low, ghrelin, the appetite hormone, levels are high. After you eat, ghrelin levels will drop as your digest, helping you feel satisfied. Another benefit of having a cheat meal may be that it gives you something to look forward to.
A meal plan is easy to stick to if you know that Saturday night you can indulge a bit for dinner. If you’re looking for a plan that you can stick to long term or trying to incorporate healthier eating, give the 80/20 rule a shot!
By Tyler Palmquist