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What is the 80/20 Rule Diet, and Does It Work?


What is the 80/20 Rule Diet, and Does It Work?
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How many times have you struggled to diet and failed? How often have you told yourself, "I'm going to start eating healthy today," and then given up by lunchtime? If you're like most people, the heartbreaking answer is way too many times.

But what if I said there was a way to eat healthily that didn't involve restriction or deprivation? How about a way to eat healthily that lets you enjoy your food? Follow these simple tips, and you'll be suitable for a healthier and happier lifestyle.

What is the 80-20 Rule Diet?

The 80/20 diet is formed on the Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes. In other words, you can get 80% of the desired results by only focusing on 20% of the effort. Applying this to food is a little different. The 80/20 diet suggests eating nutritious foods 80% of the time and relaxing on the remaining 20%.

This way of eating is not a diet plan but a mindset open to individual interpretation. For some people, that might mean eating healthy meals 80% of the time and allowing themselves one cheat day per week.

For others, it might mean being stricter with their diet during the week and allowing themselves more flexibility on weekends.

Ultimately, the goal is to strike a balance that works for you and helps you enjoy your food while still getting the nutrients your body needs.

What Foods Can You Eat on the 80-20 Diet?

The 80/20 diet plan is all about balance. It demands half of your plate be designed with nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits and the other half being devoted to proteins and whole grains. This simple guideline can help you create healthy and delicious meals.

80% Foods

These are the 80% foods that you need to consume to fulfill the 80/20 rule diet.

Fruits and Vegetables

Design the first half of your plate with a quarter of vegetables. Starting your meal with a vibrant array of vegetables is not only healthy, but it's also delicious. Veggies provide an essential source of nutrients and can be cooked in multiple ways to suit any taste. Steaming, sauteing, roasting, and grilling are all great options that can bring out different flavors in your favorite vegetables.

Just be careful to watch out for hidden calories and salt in oils and sauces. Most adults should consume 2 ½ to 3 cups of veggies daily. So go ahead and load up your plate with all the rainbow colors. Your taste buds and your waistline will be grateful.

Whole Grains

Design the next quarter of your plate with whole grains. If you're looking for hearty, filling grains, you can't go wrong with oats, farro, quinoa, or brown rice. These versatile staples can be used in various dishes and packed with nutrients that will keep you satisfied.

However, if you're looking for a quick snack or dessert, you'll want to avoid foods made with refined grains like white flour. These foods can cause a spike in blood sugar and are not as nutrient-dense as their whole-grain counterparts.

When it comes to grains, it's best to heed the age-old adage: moderation is key. Adults should aim for 3 ounces of grains daily, around 3 slices of bread, or 1 1/2 cups of rice. With a little planning, getting your fill of healthy grains is easy.


Include a fine portion of dairy on your plate. It's no secret that dairy products are a wonderful source of nutrition. They're packed with protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients.

However, many people are concerned about the high-fat content of dairy products. While it's true that dairy products can be high in saturated fat, there are a variety of choices for people who want to cut back on fat without giving up dairy altogether.

Fat-free milk, yogurt, and soy milk are all good choices, and nut milk is an excellent alternative for those who are sensitive to lactose intake or have other dietary restrictions. For those who eat dairy fat, low-fat sour cream and cheese are good options. Most adults should aim for 3 cups of dairy per day.


The last portion is the proteins since they are highly nutritious for a healthy diet. You might think that sticking to beef, chicken, and pork is the best way to get your protein fix, but you'd need to include some seriously delicious and healthy alternatives.

Fish, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, soy, and eggs offer a variety of flavors for your taste buds to enjoy, as well as a range of essential nutrients for your body. Adults should aim to get 5-6 ounces of protein daily from all food sources, including around 8 ounces of seafood per week.

For example, you could kick start your day with a healthy bowl of oats topped with fresh berries. You could enjoy a salad made with leafy greens, roasted chicken, and quinoa for lunch. And for dinner, you could have shrimp stir-fried served over brown rice.


Here’s your time to let loose and enjoy your favorite meals. Have a piece of cake or a glass of wine and celebrate your best time, but during your cheat day, beware of the calories you take because you would not want all your effort to go down the drain. Keep in mind the effort you stayed with for most of the part.

When we overindulge, we effectively undo all the work we've put in during the week. So if you're going to cheat, do it in moderation and enjoy every bite!

Exercise With Diet

People often think they can diet, not exercise, and still lose weight. And while it is true that you can lose weight by cutting calories, you will only be able to cut the weight partially.

The only method to deal with this is to diet and exercise. When you diet and exercise, you burn more calories than you are taking in, which causes weight loss. But it is not just about the number of calories you are burning. It is also about the quality of the calories you are burning.

When you exercise, you are burning calories, but you are also increasing your metabolism. This means that you can burn more fat, even when you are at rest. And that is what will help you keep the weight off in the long run. Thus, you need to diet and exercise to lose weight and cut it off.

Whether the 80/20 Rule Diet Actually Works

The 80-20 diet is a healthy, balanced approach to eating that allows you to enjoy a few splurges while still cutting down on fattening foods and watching your calorie intake. By following this diet, you can shed a few pounds and get healthier at the same time.

The key to successful weight loss on the 80/20 diet is ensuring that most foods you eat are healthy and low in calories, with only a few splurges here and there. To see if it is a calorie deficit, you have to check the count of calories in your diet. By doing this, you’ll be able to stick to your diet and see results over time.

So if you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, the 80/20 diet may be right for you.

Pros 80/20 Diet

Here are the pros of the 80/20 rule diet to help you decide what is right.


The 80/20 diet is convenient for everybody because it has no limitations in terms of foods you may choose from. You are free to include any meal which is open to everybody. Everyone can give it a try.

20% Favorite Foods

The 80/20 rule diet allows 20% of foods of your choice. Now is when you devour your favorite foods and enjoy cheat days without restrictions. Eat a piece of cake, donuts, and nachos, have drinks and enjoy a party.

Improving Healthy Intake

It develops habits of eating nutritiously healthy foods. It promotes all types of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, and good foods for your diet and perfect shape. If you’re giving this diet a go, eat these foods not only for the diet but continue it for your nutritional value.

Cons of the 80/20 Diet

Here are the cons of the 80/20 rule diet:

May Not Work Efficiently for Everybody

The 80/20 diet is a fantastic way to lose weight if you eat high-fat, calorie-rich foods daily. If not, any deficit will likely be too small and result in no loss of body fat or muscle mass, which can leave people frustrated with their progress toward achieving goals.

You may need to evaluate your caloric intake and adjust food choices, so they fit into the right energy balance for success!

May Not Have Sufficient Structure

The 80/20 rule can be a helpful tool for weight loss, but it is not an excuse to overindulge. On your relaxed days, you should still practice moderation and only choose food options that align with the plan if they differ from what was eaten during rigid stages of nutrition behavior modification. For example: after dinner might mean one slice of chocolate cake rather than three whole pieces.

How to Prepare the 80/20 Diet & Tips

80/20 is a simple concept. Just eat clean 80% of the time, and let yourself give way to 20% of it. For some people, that means eating healthy during the week and then letting loose on the weekends. Others might have a little something every day. The key is to find what goes best for you and stick with it.

The best part of the 80/20 rule is that it allows you to enjoy your indulgences without making you feel like you're getting off your diet. This can be an approach to stability and a healthy diet for most people.

Of course, if you're pursuing this eating pattern to lose weight, you'll need to be careful with your indulgences. 20% doesn't mean 'stuff your face until you can't move.' Moderation is key. And remember, even healthy food can make you add pounds if you overeat. So enjoy your indulgences - just don't overdo it.


1. What are some of the best 80/20 rule diet recipes?

Following the 80/20 rule, there are endless possibilities for delicious and satisfying meals. You could enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries and a dollop of yogurt for breakfast. You could make a simple green salad with grilled chicken or fish for lunch. And for dinner, you could indulge in a delicious pasta dish or a hearty steak with roasted vegetables.

2. What is the 80/20 rule of diet and exercise?

The 80/20 rule is a simple concept that can be applied to many areas of life, including diet and exercise. To lose weight, you should focus on eating healthy foods and exercising regularly and not worry about the occasional treat or skipping a workout.

The key is to make sure that most of your choices are healthy. The same goes for exercise: you should focus on the activities you enjoy that make you feel good and not worry about burning every last calorie. Following the 80/20 rule, you can make lasting changes to your diet and exercise habits without feeling deprived or stressed.

3. What is the 80/20 Rule Diet?

The 80/20 rule diet is a popular way of eating that focuses on consuming healthy, whole foods 80 percent of the time and allowing yourself to indulge in less healthy foods 20 percent of the time.

4. What is the 80/20 Diet App?

80/20 is a new diet app that is taking the internet by storm. The app's premise is simple: you must follow the diet 80% of the time, and 20% of the time, you can indulge in your favorite unhealthy foods. This approach to dieting is more effective than other popular diets, such as Whole30 and Paleo.

5. What is women's health 80/20 diet?

The women's health 80/20 diet is a principles-based approach to eating that can help women achieve their ideal weight and improve their overall health. This balance allows dieters to enjoy their favorite foods while still making progress toward their goals.

In addition to promoting weight loss, the women's health 80/20 diet has improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar control. It can also help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

The Bottom Line

The 80/20 diet is a different approach from the regular diets trending everywhere. With all the means to healthy food, you have absolute freedom to enjoy your favorite foods and, at the same time, rejoice in the golden point — lose weight. Be in perfect shape and eat the best food. But the key is to keep everything in moderation.

This article allows you to understand the concept of an 80/20 diet and choose the right option for yourself.

Reading List

Article Sources

  • Hernandez, Mercedes. ‘80/20 Diet Efficacy in Regard to Physiology and Psychosocial Factors’. Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy, vol. 07, no. 06, 2017. (Crossref),

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