The 80/20 Nutrition Rule – And Why Sugar Isn’t Evil After All

SUGAR IS EVILLLLLLL (Dr Evil Voice from Austin Powers).

During these last nine years I’ve spent in the Fitness Industry I have witnessed several nutrients being demonized as the root cause for all of Americas health and obesity issues. Some of these ostracized foods would be:

Dietary Fats.

Gluten.

High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Carbs.

And lately it’s been sugar.

Most people blindly follow the demonization of these nutrients because there are several books, magazines, articles, and media “experts” publicly saying these foods are bad.

If the experts are saying it’s bad, then it must be bad right?

Wrong.

Why is there so much misinformation when it comes to demonizing certain foods you ask?

Because lies and hysteria sells, baby (Austin Powers voice…I guess I really like that movie!)

It’s much easier to demonize sugar for all of our health issues, and then conveniently come out with a sugar free detox book as the holy savior to all of our sugar and health issues! (eye roll)

There is a really shitty fact about the fitness industry that I discovered over the years. You ready for it?

Most people don’t give a damn about you, your health, and your results.

They only care about reaching their sticky fingers into your pockets and stealing your hard earned money in exchange for some bogus program or product they created to monetize your fears.

Please read that line again. It sucks, I know. But it is the truth. The truth will set you free but it’s going to piss you off first.

The good news is there is a select few of us putting out really truthful and credible information when it comes to the SCIENCE of nutrition. Which brings me to the important lesson I’d like to install into your for long term nutrition success.

The 80/20 rule.

I teach my coaching clients to make 80% very good nutrient dense food choices. I talk about this concept more tin-depth in my Fat Loss Nutrition Hacks E-Book but for example the bulk of their intakes come from nutrient dense foods like:

*Lean proteins such as: salmon, 90/10 or better ground beef, turkey, chicken, tofu, greek yogurt, eggs, etc.

*Healthy dietary fats such as: nut butter, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, fats in fish like halibut and salmon.

*Whole grain and starchy carbohydrates such as: whole grain breads, beans, legumes, quinoa, cous cous, rice, potatoes, etc

*Fruits & Veggies such as: I don’t think these needs to be explained 🙂

No brainer right? Eat a majority of healthy, nutrient dense foods.

But what about that other 20%?

Do we just eat random crap?

This is where I educate my coaching clients to enjoy “fun foods”, not bad foods. I don’t believe in labeling food as good or bad.

This is where I don’t want a client to feel GUILTY or DEPRIVED for enjoying some of their favorite foods in moderation such as:

Dinners out with family or friends.

Ice cream.

Pizza.

Special occasions (holidays, birthdays, anniversaries)

 

What About All The Noise Surrounding Sugar?

You have probably heard CRAZY things like sugar is toxic, sugar is MORE addictive that heroin, and sugar should be avoid completely.

First off, anything in too HIGH of a dose is toxic. Water for example, is essential for life but also toxic in high enough levels causing hyponatremia and hypokalemia (low sodium & potassium) and will straight up kill you if you over consume. #straightup.

The estimated toxic dosage for sucrose (table sugar) is around 450g per serving.

I don’t think you could literally force that much sugar down your mouth to even worry about over dosing on it.

These people who are toting these lies are usually trying to SELL you their book, product, or program that demonizes sugar and offers some bogus solution.

One person who comes to mind is Dr Mark Hyman (a known Paleo advocate who sells books on the subject) biased maybe? Mark made one very questionable claims such as:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of someone breaking into a home to steal money to fuel their sugar addiction. And I have yet to see sugar rehab facilities popping up next to the heroin rehab sites. This is a PERFECT example of using hysteria to sell a product or book. Now, I’m not saying EVERYTHING Dr Hyman says is BS. I’m sure he has some credible information out there. But non-scientifically sound claims like this tend me to question his true motives. Promote truth? Or, sell books?

I think the following meme sums up my feelings on this subject.

So can I back up my claims with research?

I am SO glad you asked! #evidencebased

Layne Norton did an excellent brief research review here citing multiple articles that demonstrated the following facts:

* A group of researchers found NO difference in weight loss when two groups of individuals consumed either 11g of sugar or 118g of sugar per day WHEN protein, fiber, and calories were controlled for both groups.

* Several studies also confirm when protein, fiber, and calories and controlled in a moderate sugar diet vs a low sugar diet, that there was NO difference in blood chemistry such as blood pressure, blood lipids, glucose (sugar) levels, insulin, thyroid, and inflammation markers.

I highly suggest reading the full article as Layne dives a bit deeper and explains limitations of the studies and practical application.

So What Does This Mean For You?

You may be thinking I just gave you the green light to eat endless amounts of sugar and just “fit it into your macros”.

Not at all.

Sugar offers minimal nutritional benefits such as satiety, vitamins, or minerals and should be consumed sparingly.

BUT it is by no means evil and can be worked into a flexible approach to nutrition.

A question you may be thinking is: “Tony, does eating high sugar foods slow down my progress?”

The answer is absolutely not, as long as total calories are controlled as Laynes review proved.

Total calories, protein/carb/fat/fiber goals are things I break down for all of my coaching clients on an individual basis but for this context let’s use an example:

Let’s say my Private Coaching Client Mary is eating 1800 kcals on her workout days. 180g of protein, 135g of carbs, 60g of dietary fats.

She eats healthy foods for the majority of the day, but then she decides she wants a Reeses Cup which is 230 kcals 4g of protein, 23g of carbs and 13g of fat. She decides to fit that into her daily numbers and still hits her total calories, protein, carb, fat, and fiber goals at the end of the day.

That’s how the 80/20 rule works! This isn’t exactly 80% and 20%, but you get the idea.

Did her fat loss come to a screeching halt? Nope.

Is she now a sugar addict living homeless on the streets begging for money to fuel her addiction? Nope.

Did the clean eating society banish her for life because she practiced moderation? Probably.

Does she NOT feel restricted or deprived? Yes.

Is she more likely to stick to her nutrition plan because she has the FREEDOM and FLEXIBILITY to fit in foods she enjoys while still staying on track? BINGO!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here: We are attracted to anything that retreats from us, especially food.

So why not adopt a flexible approach to nutrition and practice moderation?

Why not enjoy your favorite foods in MODERATION and still see results?

That sounds like an approach we can stick to in the long term 😉