The 80/20 Weight Loss Rule
When it comes to achieving fat-loss results, there is absolutely no way of getting around one essential truth: The primary determinant of your progress is your diet plan. Far too many people get stuck on the idea that as long as they are exercising, they don’t have to watch what they are eating as carefully. These people are going to be very disappointed in the results they see.
Let’s say Susan goes into the gym five days a week and burns off 500 calories per workout. This means she is creating a deficit of 2500 calories over the course of the week. That sounds pretty good, right?
Susan loves to eat, however, and isn’t watching her diet all that carefully. She figures that since she is so active, she can afford to indulge a little here and there. But since she isn’t counting calories or keeping a food journal, she’s actually giving in to temptation more than she thinks.
Over the course of the week, she eats:
- A large bagel with 2 Tbsp. cream cheese as a snack after a hard workout (500 calories)
- A slice of cheesecake at lunch out with a colleague (800 calories)
- 2 large cocktails during Friday night out with the girls (600 calories)
- A large fruit smoothie when she running afternoon errands (400 calories)
- Steak with a loaded baked potato on date night with her husband (1000 calories)
If you add all of these up, they total 3300 calories.
She has completely undone those workouts with a few indulgences, and altogether Susan’s treats to herself contributed more calories to her diet than she burned off through all her workouts.
So at the end of the week, she could actually gain body fat despite her diligence in the gym. And that’s considering that Susan ate the right portion sizes of healthy foods at every other meal that week!
If you stop and really think about how much exercise you have to do to burn off a few poor food choices, it becomes quite clear that you are never going to do that much exercise in an average week unless you’re an athlete. Not only is there no time to spare in most people’s schedules, but too much exercise can also lead to burn out or repetitive stress injuries.
There is no way to overcome a bad diet with exercise alone. That type of calorie deficit simply can’t be kept up in the long term, meaning if you lose weight, you’ll eventually gain it back. It is far easier to make a few smart adjustments to your food intake to create the calorie deficit you need for fat loss to take place.
This isn’t to say exercise isn’t important – just that you will get far faster results by watching your diet than by adding loads of exercise to your routine.
That brings us to the 80/20 rule:
80% of the results you see will be thanks to your diet plan.
20% of your results will be because of working out.
If you can keep this in mind as you go about your fat-loss program, you are going to see far better overall results, and it’ll be a lot easier to stay motivated at mealtime.
But if it all comes down to calories in, calories out, does that mean convenience foods are still on the table? Dieting is never that easy.