The 80/20 Principal for Weight Loss

There is an observable principal in life known as the Pareto principal or “80-20 rule”. Named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, the Pareto principal states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

Pareto first developed this principal by noticing that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the residents. He begin to notice the 80-20 principal applied to a variety of things in life such as in business where roughly 80% of sales often come from 20% of clients.

The 80-20 rule can be transcribed for weight loss by saying that 80% of your success comes from the 20% of your efforts. In other words, a lot of what is focused on in weight loss doesn’t really help out too much. However, the top 20% of most important things focused on in weight loss is responsible for 80% of your success.

Understanding the 80-20 principal and how it applies to weight loss can help make your diet more efficient. By understanding the important things to focus on, you can reach your weight loss goals and make it look easy by not wasting time on things that don’t really matter too much.

Let’s go over some of the efforts that fall into the 20% of things amounting to 80% of your success as well as other things that people focus on that don’t really matter too much.

The Most Important 20%

So what are some of the things most likely to fall into the 20% of efforts responsible for 80% of the success of many dieters? Think of these things as the “home runs” of dieting:

Exercise. Duh, right? This might seem like a no-brainer but millions of people each year set about trying to lose weight while neglecting the importance of exercising. Can you lose weight without exercising? Sure. It’ll just be harder and take longer. And when you do finally lose the weight, you won’t look as good since your body isn’t toned. Exercise can help lose weight faster by burning more calories, increasing metabolism, increasing feelings of self-worth, building strength, helping your clothes fit better, relieving back and joint pain, and increasing sociability. The un-fun aspects of exercise are far outweighed by the benefits.

Eliminating sugary beverages. For some people, removing the sugary sodas and frap-u-whatevers from their diet is really the only change they need to make to shed those unwanted pounds. Sugary beverages are such a wasteful form of calorie consumption. These empty sugar calories add up quickly and are the easiest thing to cut out of any diet. Drink water, not soda. Drink your coffee or tea black. If this seems impossible, it’s not. Try it. This one simple adjustment to your diet will have a huge impact.

Avoiding starchy, processed foods. There are many foods loaded in calories that offer very little in the way of nutrition. Worsening matters, these foods have a high glycemic index which mean they do very little to curb hunger. This is the reason why it’s possible to eat an entire bag of potato chips: it’s not a satisfying food. By eliminating refined sugars, flours, processed starches, pastas, breads out of your diet, you’ll find it easier to be satisfied consuming fewer calories.

Drink lots of water. Water detoxifies, reduces hunger, makes your skin look younger, aids in digestion, enables more energetic exercising, reduces the risk of some cancers, and helps you to think more clearly. Drink a lot of water every day.

Count calories. The simple act of counting the number of calories you are eating each day means you are paying attention to the most important factor for determining your body weight. This one practice will help keep your mind in-tune with what you are consuming each day. There are weight loss apps that make daily calorie counting a breeze.

The Least Important 80%

In the world of weight loss, there are dozens of things people concern themselves with that don’t really result in much of an impact on their weight loss goals. What things are you focusing on that don’t really matter? Here are some common things dieters pay attention to that unfortunately aren’t usually a very effective use of their time and energy:

  • fat intake (calories are what matter)
  • what time of day they’re eating
  • which supplements they’re taking
  • short-term changes in scale readings
  • worthless exercises (like forearm curls)
  • diet pills or drinks
  • several small meals vs. a couple big meals
  • blindly eating salads (with no regard to calories in dressing)
  • obsessing over carb:protein:fat balance
  • obsessing over “cheat” days
  • … and the list goes on

Take some time to think about how you can make your diet more efficient by focusing on the things that matter and ignoring the things that don’t. Weight loss is much easier when you do the really important things right and don’t waste energy worrying about the rest.

Can you think of more examples of weight loss efforts that fall into the category of 80% of things that only contribute to 20% of your results? If so, we’d love if you would share in our comments section below!

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