The “80-20” Weight Loss Myth
“It’s 80% nutrition and 20% exercise”. The first time I heard those words was years ago when I was helping the transformation of a nutrition company. That was the mantra of the nutrition industry, a belief that was being hammered in the minds of people looking to lose weight and get in shape.
I never take things at face value. So I put that 80-20 “fact” to the test. I studied the science, I observed many people and most importantly, I experimented on myself.
The truth is that the 80-20 math is incorrect and it won’t get you anywhere. Somehow, I have the feeling this is another marketing spiel to get us to buy product - supplements, diet and nutrition plans.
Let’s put the percentages aside, as they are totally subjective, and specific to the individual. The 5 factors I’ve found to matter the most for being in shape are:
liquids (what you drink)
mood (mental / emotional well-being)
Healthy nutrition has interested me for as long as I can remember. My mother ate only fruit while pregnant. She taught me to eat only fruit before lunch. She studied nutrition over decades, and I soaked up that knowledge from a young age. I plunged into competitive sports at the age of 10, and haven’t stopped since. I haven’t been sick once since then either. I’ve competed in 3 sports professionally, one of them arguably the toughest sport on the planet - water polo. I’ve experimented for years to find the path to a great physical shape.
So I’ve learned a few things about being in shape and losing weight which I want to share with you.
1. Beverages are the most overlooked part of our healthy diet and weight loss.
Calorie-counting, portioning and all other nutrition tactics will fall flat on their face if you don’t manage what you drink.
For 2 consecutive months I had the exact same food and workout routine. The only thing I changed is what I drank. First month, I drank kombucha, coconut juice, and fruit juices (I love sweet and tasty drinks…). Month 2, I drank throughout the day what is now my favorite drink - water with Rose Nectar, chia seeds and Elastijoint (collagen-based powder for joint, connective tissue health). A very low calorie drink with incredibly high nutritional value.
The difference was monumental. In about a week, I shed the extra body fat.
I almost never drink alcohol, but if you do… that’s a MAJOR culprit in managing your physical shape and weight.
2. Experiment with how you eat. There’s no one-size-fits-all. Find what works best for YOU.
A few ideas to try out:
- Start the day with as much water as you can drink. If you are like me, you need flavor, plain water won’t be enjoyable enough to drink enough of it. I choose Rose Nectar - with its subtle rose flavor, it gets me the taste I need, while adding the super essential bioflavonoids to my diet.
- Eat only fruit until lunch time. No heavy breakfast. Big breakfast is likely to get you hungry mid-day. Also, remember, there might be some truth to the fact that we weren’t designed to wake up and have food ready and waiting for us. If you do have breakfast, try a protein shake (protein will make a big difference).
- Try intermittent fasting. There’s a lot of new research showing that it is incredibly healthy to not digest food for 12-16 hours. I’ve seen it work for many people. It doesn’t work great for me. If I don’t eat for a long period of time during the day, I get a headache.
An easy way to mimic intermittent fasting is to eat an early dinner (by 6pm) and have a late breakfast (after 8am). It’s 14 hours of no food right there.
Certain foods have a big negative impact on your physical shape. Sugar. Bread. Cheese.
3. Physical activity is way more than 20% of the results!
Find something that you really enjoy and it won’t feel like a drag. Even just 15 minutes in the morning, when done consistently, will change your day for the better, and will get you incredible results. Exercise increases your metabolism which is a major player in how you burn the energy from the food you ingest. It also floods your body with endorphins, helping you feel much better (I’ll get to “feeling better” in a moment).
Unnoticeably, you’ll get to a point when exercise will feel effortless. You’ll get used to being active and your body will start craving it.
4. Manage your mood / mental well-being.
Here’s the most striking thing I learned about nutrition - people who have a weight problem tend to overeat - for emotional reasons.
When we don’t feel good, we tend to completely overlook what and how much we eat. The sugary treats creep in. The overindulgence sneaks up on us.
You can see how overeating (nutrition) is actually the by-product, not the root cause for the majority.
Focus on your mood, on your emotional well-being. It will pay off immensely.
Prolonged stress is something you want to avoid at any cost. There’s only one instance when I let my weight slip. In fact, I didn’t let it slip. I just had no control over it. I had to let go a partner from a company I started, which cost me 2 months of no more than 2 hours of sleep per night. The next 4-5 months were emotionally the worst time of my life. The cortisol running through my body gradually started breaking down muscle. My body composition changed. Less muscle and more fat. You can read more on the effects of stress here.
5. Diets don’t work. Lifestyle does!
I’ve seen tens of thousands of people go on a diet, get short term results, and then go back to their pre-diet physical shape.
Diets are not sustainable. You can’t solve a lifestyle problem with a short term solution.
As for the lifestyle, here’s the way I’d summarize it.
Move a lot. You were created to do it. The moment you stop moving, your body is deteriorating.
Find time to exercise in the morning. The earlier you do it, the more happy hours you will have in the day.
Drink low-calorie, low-sugar liquids. It’s as important, if not more, than what you eat.
Make a habit to get up a bit hungry from your meal. Eating big meals is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. As the saying goes, “you dig your own grave with your teeth”. Avoid sugar, white flour, cheese.
Sleep well. Your mood and emotional well-being depends on it!
Focus on high vibrations. If you get in a state of low vibrations, stress and anxiety, make it your highest priority to reverse that. It’s your own body’s barometer of your emotional well-being. A happy life is a healthy life for more than one reason.
Tor, founder of Pure Rose
Photo by Dario Luna Marquez