What's the 80/20 Diet (and Does It Mean I Can Eat Cake and Lose Weight)?

rainbow cake

No matter how lenient a diet claims to be, it’s still, at its core, a diet. And sticking to it 100 percent of the time (with no room to stray) is challenging at best and unrealistic at worst.

Enter the 80/20 Diet, a super-doable method that allows for—and even encourages—splurges.

The basic concept of 80/20? You eat clean 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent, you’re allowed (and even encouraged) to splurge.

Celebs like Miranda Kerr and Jessica Alba are fans, and experts, too, are on board. 

Per Torey Armul, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, "80/20 provides a good balance of eating nutritiously while also enjoying your favorite foods. Both of these things are important for any long-term lifestyle approach, since you're more likely to stick with a diet that allows for flexibility and enjoyment of your foods."

Sounds pretty ideal, right? Like intuitive eating, the 80/20 Diet doesn’t consider any foods totally off-limits, and gives you a lot of control. As a result, you’ll likely develop a healthier relationship with food, since you aren’t depriving yourself of the stuff you really want to eat (and drink). One con, though, is that it’s your responsibility to practice moderation. As in, if you go completely nuts on your cheat days, don’t be surprised if you see the scale tick upward.

But still, as long as your cheat meals are reasonable (think: a slice of pizza, not the entire pie), 80/20 is a great way to have your cake and lose weight, too.

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sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...