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Sunday, 29 November 2015

80:20 diet

 Evil soup? Not exactly. It is vegan :-)
For many people finding a good balance with their diet is hard.  They go super-strict, then after a while they slip up and suddenly they go to the opposite extreme with a real binge session.  This is a recipe for dietary disaster.  You will fail to ever make constant improvements if you do not have some control over your food, however the idea of super-strict dieting will doom most people to complete failure. A way around this issue is to include some flexibility into the dietary plan.  For most people the aim of 80% healthy food and 20% of things that aren’t ideal is a good approach.  Imagine you are craving a slice or 2 of vegan pizza.  With normal dieting you would never plan on pizza, so that craving would go unfulfilled.  For many people the temptation is to eventually crack.  However when they do crack all thoughts of moderation go out of the window they will binge and all that deprivation will be wasted.
There is another option though.  You can allow yourself a little leeway in your diet.  Let’s look at the 2 scenarios:

Scenario 1

You diet 100% healthy food.  You do well for a few days, then you are out, or at a party, or just really craving something.  You have resisted loads of foods already this week, but this time you just crack.  After the first failure you think “What the hell.  I have failed anyway, so I might as well eat whatever I like.”.  You binge, you drink too much alcohol as well.  The next day you are hung-over and feel terrible, you don’t get in that days exercise session.  Before you know it you find you have completely derailed your diet and training momentum, it is 6 weeks later and you have added extra pounds of fat and lost muscle.  You start again, but soon afterwards repeat the same disastrous cycle.

Scenario 2
Your diet has planned allowances for less healthier options.  After a while of pretty good eating you get a desire for a slice or 2 of pizza.  It is Monday.  You think to yourself “OK, I won’t have that pzza tonight, but on Thursday I am going out with friends we can split a pizza.  I will even have a glass of wine.”.  You know the plan for Thursday, so when you go out you split that pizza, have a couple of slices with friends, a glass of wine and even a small dessert.  It is ok, it is in the plan, you do not binge and the next day you get the training session in and the diet is back on-track.  6 weeks later you are really starting to see the changes and everyone is noticing how good you are looking.

The odd treat may actually help keep you ontrack, as long as they are planned

That is 2 of the possible outcomes. I know which one I prefer. Scenario 2 allows for real world living and gives you some enjoyment, it doesn’t force 100% obedience to a dietary plan.  If you are out, or suddenly caught without any options you can give yourself a little leeway without the diet collapsing completely.  A dietary goal is usually to be able to look good, but it should also improve your entire life.  Ignoring the fact that you enjoy some foods that aren’t 100% healthy will not enhance your life.  If your goal is to hit the bodybuilding stage, then yes, you will need to deprive yourself, but for the average person who wants a flat stomach, a little abdominal definition, but also enjoy life allowing a little indulgence is vital for success.

So, you may ask, assuming I use this system what do I do if I am gaining unwanted fat? I would look at several things.  Firstly, I would look at portion sizes of your everyday meals and food choices for your ‘healthy eating’ phase.  Are you either eating too much, or not actually eating as healthily as you could be?  Secondly I would look at your less healthy eating choices. A few slices of pizza, a glass of wine and a small dessert is fine, but downing a dozen beers, eating a whole pizza, cramming some fried food followed by a tub of vegan ice cream will more than off-set any healthy eating done that week. Practice moderate eating of the less healthy foods. Thirdly look at your training.  You have to be working out reasonably hard to create muscle.  Muscle can make you look more toned, tighter, and getting better physically will allow you to accomplish more. Look at sleep and stress.  Sleep and stress are somewhat related, keep stress as low as possible and try to get enough sleep to feel refreshed.
If you consider all of the above you should soon find the reasons for any unwanted fat increase or muscle loss you can then make the necessary corrections if you notice you are slightly off-track.
So, to sum up.  Eat mainly healthy whole vegan foods, supplement that with a few treats a time or 2 a week. Have the odd dessert or the odd less healthy option.  Train hard, recover fully and keep stress low. If you can keep that up consistently most people will do exceptionally well, find the programme easy to stick to and make the most progress over the long term.

 Purezza a 100% vegan pizza place in Brighton. Useful to know of you are visiting!

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