Strict ‘all or nothing’ approaches to food plans for clients are common amongst personal trainers and nutritionists. Often they result in failure due to their lack of flexibility. I’m all for being fit, healthy, and looking the part, but if a diet doesn’t have variety or allow me to indulge in foods I love, I’m not interested. Nonetheless, there is a diet option where you can literally, ‘have your cake and eat it too,’ and that’s by applying the moderation guideline. The moderation guideline is the 10-20% rule which is outlined in greater detail by leading nutritionist Alan Aragon.
In essence, the 10-20% rule allows you to eat whatever you want but still look great naked! Well, not quite, but with all things in life, everything should be in moderation. The basis of your diet should still come from whole and minimally refined foods. Reaching your minimum daily protein and fat intake (which varies for each individual) is still vital. If you are ticking these boxes, then consuming your go to indulgence foods is perfectly fine, as long as they are in moderation (10-20% of your daily Calorie target). Often dieting is too much of a psychological battle to stay within the parameters of a food plan because of lack of flexibility and variety, but with the 10-20% rule, this allows for indulgences more often than just the common ‘cheat meal.’ Of course, if someone chooses to have 0% of their food coming from sweets or processed food, that’s also perfectly fine.
As Alan Aragon has said, “Honouring personal preference is one of the most powerful yet underrated tactics for achieving optimal health and body composition.” Remember though, greater dietary flexibility is achieved by how high or low your physical activity levels are. So basically, consistent exercise is very important.