You’re probably wondering why I’m bringing up a rule that was introduced by an Italian economist over 100 years ago and developed by a Romanian-born American master of management techniques and principles. For starters, it works! Second, the principle can be applied to almost any field of life: work, family, health, etc. As an example, linguists use it to help teach languages. If you understand 20% of the words in a language you’ll understand 80% of the conversation. So, how does this relate to strength and fat loss?
THE 80/20 OF NUTRITION
Many of us have heard the phrase, “You can’t out train a bad diet.” This is one of the best quotes to summarize the 80/20 principle for fitness. You want results? Spend 80% of your effort focused on healthy eating and 20% on physical activity. The “effort” is often confused with time. You’re clearly going to spend more time on physical activity: 3-5 hours a week of exercise and many more hours of general physical movement. However, the effort only takes a few hours of general meal and snack prepping. If you’re lazy when it comes to the prepping portion of your diet then you’re negating the other 80% of movement. Again, you will be spending more time on physical activity. Spend 20% of your effort on your meal prepping.
So, what should you eat? This is wear the 80/20 rule can go in a thousand different directions. Since the 80/20 rule is meant to keep things simple in their understanding here are the 2 things to focus on when it comes to fat loss and strength building:
- Fat Loss: 80% caloric DEFICIT, 20% what you’re eating
- Strength Building: 80% moderate-to-high protein intake, 20% moderate-to-high carb intake
A 30-year study conducted on thousands of participants showed any diet, ANY DIET, can work for fat loss as long as you’re in a caloric deficit (only 10% reduction is necessary). Of course, you don’t want to eat McDonald’s ® every day. You want good quality food. But still, you can lose weight on a McDonald’s diet (not recommended).
The basic building blocks for every cell in the human body, especially muscle fibers, are BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids), aka protein. Without it, it becomes very difficult to increase muscle fiber size and strength. However, carbs are the energy kick-starter to help with the training to enhance muscle breakdown and rebuilding. Plus, carbs help with protein synthesis. Focus on the protein but don’t neglect the carbs.
THE 80/20 OF TRAINING
I may be biased when it comes to strength training over cardio training but I like using science to back up my opinions and, as of the last 50 years of research, strength training beats cardio 99 times out of 100 for overall body composition change. This does NOT mean cardio is not necessary. It is absolutely necessary, just not to the degree most fitness studios would have you think. To enhance your training for fat loss and muscle development follow this rule:
- 80% of training on strength
- 20% of training on cardio
There are multitudes of strength training programs: split routines, full-body routines, push/pull routines, etc. It takes time to figure out which one you will enjoy and which one your lifestyle will permit. To keep it simple I suggest most people perform a 3-day a week, full-body routine. Simply pick 1 upper body push exercise (pushup), upper body pull exercise (pull-up), lower body exercise (squat), and carry exercise (farmer’s walk).
While there are many cardio programs, it is much easier to break it down into 2 categories: steady state cardio and conditioning. Steady state is going for a nice, long jog with little to no rest periods. Conditioning is sprinting for less than 1 minute with long rest periods. This part can be broken into it’s own 80/20 rule by making conditioning cardio 80% of your cardio workouts and steady state cardio only 20%. Again, science backs this up. However, do what you enjoy. Something is better than nothing.
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!