To be perfectly honest, I never really understood the whole 80% diet 20% exercise rule.
First off, what does 80% diet even mean? Losing weight is 100% based on net calories. Whether that’s done through diet and/or exercise is completely up to you and your personal needs.
However, I believe that eating clean and healthy can only help you so much if you are already “fit” or “skinny” to begin with. Eating healthy should really be a solid foundation must always be established. But eating super clean can only take you so far (not to mention it’s also unsustainable if you feel like you’re restricting yourself from eating foods you enjoy). Once you reach that point where you’ve lost most of your weight and eat clean most of the time, then it’s time to overcome that plateau and step up the exercise regime.
My advice? If you’re just starting your fitness journey, sure 80% diet and 20% exercise will definitely lead you to good results, especially if you’re used to eating unhealthy to begin with. Do your whole routine of eating X amount of calories a day and having one cheat day a week. Slowly start to love the feeling of eating healthy and notice how you’ll feel like crap after eating something super unhealthy (not because you feel guilty but because it’s all useless empty calories that don’t even really fill you up anyways).
Once you’ve become comfortable and knowledgeable on what foods and nutrients you need in your body, start to realize that allowing yourself cheat meals once a week isn’t really something that can be sustained for the rest of your life. It’s all in having a healthy relationship with food and eating foods that you enjoy (not to mention you’ll find yourself craving less junk food). And if you’re still looking to drop some weight? Then go out and exercise!
After what seems like 2-3 years of trying out different methods of losing weight, I’ve only recently come upon something that I truly believe will be sustainable. I LOVE food, so I noticed that I get the fastest and most efficient results when I focus less on eating super duper clean and more on being active every single day. I never really have cheat days anymore because I eat what I want in moderation. Hell, I had almost 3 slices of pizza for dinner last night and didn’t even go over my net calories because I ran 3.5 miles that day. No guilt whatsoever!