The 90 Percent Rule of Nutrition

Do you know about the 90 percent rule? It’s the theory that you can slack off (within reason) from your regular nutrition plan up to 10 percent of the time and still meet your nutrition and fitness goals.

90 Percent Rule

“I would be happy if I could just lose two more inches of belly fat”, is a phrase that I hear quite often. “What exercises can we do that will help me lose that?” is usually the next question. When my response involves focusing in on the nutrition, there always seems to be a roll of the eyes that say “I knew you were going to say that.”

Most people who have adhered to a consistent exercise program struggle with that last bit of body fat, the body fat that just won’t go away. They’re looking for that workout or exercise that will get them over that plateau, but know all along that being a little stricter with the nutrition will get them there.

Change Your Perspective

I could talk all day about Zone Diets and my philosophy on nutrition. If you’re interested, I’ll even send you the download link to my eBook about how I eat, “A Nutrition Plan That Works.”

When I begin to discuss nutrition, I get this sense from people that they begin to fade away. They’re trying to absorb what I’m saying, but it’s a lot of information and a haze of confusion begins to set in.

That’s when I bring it back to simpler terms and bring up the 90 percent rule. “Look”, I say, “it doesn’t matter what diet plan you like to follow. Your nutrition plan could be paleo, vegetarian, Zone Diet, or South Beach Diet. If you feel that one of these diets can work for you, if you could only stick with it, then change your perspective in regards to how you think about it. If you stick to your nutrition plan 90 percent of the time, you will more than likely have success with it.”

If you stick to your nutrition plan 90 percent of the time, you will more than likely have success with it.” tweet this

Let’s put that into perspective like this… Let’s say that you eat 5 meals per day (3 meals and 2 snacks = 5). Since there are 7 days per week, you multiply 5 x 7 to determine that you eat 35 meals per week.

Now let’s apply the 90 percent rule. If you eat according to your nutrition plan 90 percent of the time, then you are allowed to slip up 10 percent of the time. Let’s determine what that 10 percent is: 35 meals per week times 10 percent looks like this 35 x .10 = 3.5. Let’s also be generous and round up to 4.

Out of the 35 meals that you eat per week, you can totally blow it on 4 of them and still be doing really well. Heck, when I was in school I would take a 90 percent any day. 90 percent is still really good, and depending on the grading scale, is usually an A.

90 Percent = Success!

Unless you’re an absolute perfectionist (which isn’t healthy, get some help!), then you can consider eating according to your nutrition plan 90 percent of the time as a success. You don’t have to beat yourself up over little slip-ups, throw out an entire day of clean eating, or feel like your plan is too strict to be doable.

I feel that allowing you some “wiggle room” is a good way to approach this mentally. Don’t take it too hard when you stray (a little), and focus more on what you’re doing right, as opposed to where you’re failing.

My last thoughts for today about this are:

  1. The farther you are from reaching your goals, the stricter you’ll need to be. Remember that falling below 90 percent will be the equivalent of taking steps backwards. YOU have the power to CHOOSE. Will you reach your goals sooner, later, or not at all?
  2. Changing your perspective, even a little, can go a long way towards approaching your nutrition with a positive mindset.

Let me know if you have any questions about the 90 percent rule, or if you have any comments about weight loss and nutrition in general. I’d love to continue this conversation in the comments section below!