The Athlete’s Diet: 80/20 Rule Eating 100% clean, 100% of the time is tough, and for many it isn’t realistic. It’s only natural to have cravings for the stuff that you love, bread, wine, or a cookie. We’re here to tell you that’s OK! Rather than being extreme and sticking to your diet all of the time, we recommend finding balance. Some people do this with a “cheat day” or a “cheat meal”, while others follow the 80/20 rule. This isn’t a hard and fast rule or even a diet, but rather it’s a suggestion that 80% of your diet should be comprised of whole, real and nutrient dense foods...the good stuff. The other 20% of your diet can be comprised of foods that aren’t as nutrient dense, and probably taste a lot better. For example if you eat three meals a day, that’s 21 meals in a week. During that week, you can “cheat” on four meals, or 20% of the meals you’ll eat. Or if you don’t want to have a whole cheat meal, you can break it down by the day and allow yourself one small indulgence a day (a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of red wine), so that 80% of your food that day is high quality and 20% of your food that day is more of an indulgence. The easy thing with the 80/20 rule is that there is no counting, no converting and no measuring. It is a flexible way to think of eating and is easy to maintain. Many elite athletes adhere to this way of eating, but also incorporate another style. Let’s say Lisa is an elite athlete that adheres to the Paleo diet, but also wants to be flexible. 80% of her meals (or 80% of her food in that day) will strictly adhere to the Paleo diet, but the other 20% of her meals (or 20% of food in that day) will be foods that she enjoys but aren’t necessarily Paleo. Instead of being super restrictive with your diet, try some flexible dieting and see what works best for your performance and well-being!