So What is the 80/20 Rule?

Okay, first up – All those gym junkies and training hounds, crossfitters, compulsive exercisers and endurance athletes. 

It’s NOT 80% exercise, 20% nutrition. It’s the opposite. Wait, what?

If you are an active person who still thinks they can eat what they like, then you might want to read this. I’m not kidding. I have been a lifetime athlete and am now almost 60 years old at the time of writing, and I can honestly tell you, and with decades of experience, that ‘Nutrition Matters’ always. Especially when it comes to performance and being the best you can be.

80% nutrition and 20% exercise is more the performance ratio to be better than you are. Are you squirming yet? Do you hate the writer, calling me names and writing me off yet? ;-). It’s okay if you are, but it is the truth:

“You can’t out train bad nutrition”

The 80/20 rule has been around for a long time, in fact, it seems to go through popular phases, fades out then make a comeback. It’s called the 80/20 rule or law or Pareto principle which is also called the law of the vital few. So what is it? The rules state that 80% of what we get comes from 20% of what we have. For example, 80% of our revenue comes from 20% of our clients, 80% of our nutrition comes from 20% of our food, 80% of our happiness comes from 20% of our hobbies, family members, friends etc.

new leaf owner KP and Air

You can read more about Pareto here however if we stop and really look at some examples in our lives we may see some truth to the 80/20 rule. Just how exactly is the science is unknown (there are mathematical calculations) however for this discussion we are looking at the percentage of nutrition and exercise.

What percentage of importance is nutrition and exercise for us to live a long healthy life? Most people I meet aren’t keen on the word exercise. Many have never been called or ever considered ‘fit’ people even though on some level they like the ‘idea’ of being fit. However, when it comes to making the effort with exercise not everyone is up to the task.

Kai and Air Page Koh Samui

“No worries, I can have this pizza and go for a big run in the morning and burn it off” how many times have we said that or something similar? And how true is it? Can we exercise away our bad eating habits? The short answer is ‘Absolutely No’. The longer answer is yes. You can burn the calories associated with the pizza. However, the damage is already done to the arteries and blood sugar from the ingredients.

That’s where tour saying comes from; “You can’t out-train bad nutrition”

The insanity of the Ironman, Xterra and other endurance event organizers presenting the per race ‘Pasta Party’ the night before the big event. it’s still commonplace at events and it is incorrect.

The idea of ‘carb loading’ is craziness, especially with pasta that spikes your bloodstream and converts the carbs into sugars then fat way before the race. This attitude is slowly changing with the advent of ‘good’ nutritionists infiltrating sports and training, thankfully.

At New Leaf, over 90% of our guests ‘get it’ realise the difference between ‘real’ hunger and a ‘craving.’ Nutrition information can be a little overwhelming, but we try to keep it as simple as possible. A balanced eating lifestyle will set up a complete balanced lifestyle. One follows the other. The 80/20 rule here is 80% of our nutrition comes from 20% of our food. Making sure we have nutrient-dense foods. Even 20% will feed a healthy lifestyle. Of course, we can always do better, but this is a great start.

While a New Leaf Detox Wellness fast is an excellent ‘kick start’, we want all our guests to understand it’s about long term lifestyle change, and while we love seeing our guests return, we love more when they return healthier than the last visit. It’s not healthy to abuse ourselves with food, and getting to the underlying issues of that is something we all may benefit from looking at.

We coined another saying for this:

new leaf guests

“You Can't Out-Juice Self Abuse”

On a New Leaf Detox program, we teach balance and understand how nutrition and exercise can fit into any busy lifestyle if the balance is there. We often see people who have punished themselves with food, alcohol and prescription medications land in Thailand ready to take on the world and want to detox and train it all away. While our bodies are amazing and can adjust quickly we need to understand what we are doing so we don’t just go right back to repeating what we did before. Yoyo’ing weight gain and loss are extremely dangerous. We have a number of helpful articles on motivation and doing some exercise and finding a balance.

The good news, for those not wanting to do a lot of exercise, is that nutrition is 80% of any fitness regime and long-term lifestyle maintenance. It is possible not to do any ‘structured’ exercise and still be very healthy providing you move your body. Choose walking and not the stairs, park the car further away from the supermarket doorway and walk. You get the idea.

KP Korea Xterra

As a lifelong athlete and sportsperson, I have made the mistake of thinking I can train away from my diet. I grew up eating anything I wanted and because I was so active as a teen and into my 20 ‘s I was able to burn all the calories associated with anything I ate or drank. However when I got older and my metabolism slowed, my training and racing moderated and my eating stayed the same, my weight increased and my body slowed. Of course, I had a basic knowledge of nutrition but not enough to keep off the kilograms and I soon started looking like a chunky version of myself. Once I understood that nutrition was 80% and exercise was 20% and not the other way around, I was able to balance out my weight and support a healthy lifestyle.

If you would like more information about wellness and our detox, weight loss packages please contact us or visit the wellness programs page.

80/20 Rule Image