The 80/20 Approach to Great Nutrition


Just for kicks, this morning I sat down and Googled “Good Nutrition” to see how average people like you and me would learn about eating healthy.

The pic above is just the autofill search, not even the results.  

I found a ton of information. It varied widely in the caliber of research into the subject, the approaches discussed,  the author’s bias to a certain method, the intent of the article, and which supplements were being advertised.

How could someone new to nutrition know where to start?

Nutrition is one of those subjects that can be infinitely complicated if you let it. If you want extreme results you’ll eventually need to go down the rabbit hole and get insanely specific about your nutrition, but you can get a really long way toward your goals before needing to complicate things.

For simple, sustainable healthy eating – use the 80/20 principle. It works like this:

What Is 80/20?
Now, the 80/20 Principle – also called the Pareto Principle – is a simple one. On average, 80% of your results will come from a certain 20% of your efforts.

The 19th Century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noted this phenomenon when he showed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He decided to see if this rule held true across many disciplines and found that it did. In mathematics, sales, sports performance, all the way his garden at home where he noted that 20% of his pea plants yielded 80% of his peas.

Since then the Pareto Principle has been used as a rule of thumb in a myriad of business applications. More important to us, it has held true in exercise and nutrition as it pertains to sustaining a healthy lifestyle.

Applying 80/20 to Your Nutrition
Most folks can get 80% of their results by only tracking 2 things:

  1. Total daily calorie intake
  2. Total daily protein intake to build or maintain muscle mass

Your calorie intake will determine whether you gain or lose weight. The simplest calculation for calorie needs is very straight forward.

Women, multiply your bodyweight by 12. Men, multiply your bodyweight by 14. This is approximately the number of daily calories you need to maintain your current weight. 

To lose weight, subtract 500 calories per day from that number. To gain muscle, add 150-250 calories per day to the maintenance number.

To calculate how much protein you should shoot for, get 1 gram of protein per pound of your goal bodyweight.

Meaning if you’re 200 lbs and want to weigh 180, get 180 grams of protein.

Each gram of protein is 4 calories. That’s how you know how many of your calories for the day are devoted to protein.

For the 200lbs man who wants to lose 20lbs, the math looks like this:

200 x 14 = 2800cal – 500 (deficit) = 2300 cal/day

200 – 20 = 180 (g protein) x 4 = 720 calories of protein (roughly 30% of your diet)

You have up to 1580cal of carbs and fat left over for the rest of your daily calories and the split is up to personal preference.

If that man commits to taking in 2300cal per day and makes sure he gets 180g of protein, he’ll lose 1lb per week for 20 weeks and maintain his muscle mass. 

Manage Expectations
Now, this level of attention probably won’t get you absolutely shredded like Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine. The 80/20 approach will get you about 80% of the way to an extreme physique like his.

You can be very healthy and lean by only adhering to these two things. Your return on the small investment of keeping your calories and protein in check is unbelievable. 

If your stock broker could get you this kind of return you’d never question a single move he made. So don’t second guess this incredibly effective approach to investing in your health.

To get more customized information on reaching your goals as efficiently as possible, contact me and we’ll set up a call.