The 80/20 rule? Or 100% paleo.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 16, 2013 at 2:06 AM

How many people go with the 80/20 paleo rule. I.e. eat paleo 80% of the time and sad foods 20%. It seems to be a common recommendation from cross fitters. Just curious if the benefits are near as good as doing 100% paleo. Although I think I'd have a hard time giving up beer and the occasional treats that fall in the 20% category.

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7 Answers


on February 16, 2013
at 02:45 AM

I don't believe in the 80/20 rule, I think it is best to be 100% paleo. After being paleo for a while you won't have any cravings. Although that's not to say you can't have any treats every now and then, just make sure they're not too non-paleo, meaning that they aren't full of grains, refined sugar and processed oils - basically the big no-nos. Beer isn't too bad, it isn't as high in sugar as wine, so that should be fine. However sticking to 100% paleo is best as you will eventually (believe it or not) despise non-paleo foods and only crave paleo food. There are many paleo alternatives as well.



on February 16, 2013
at 03:19 AM

If you're in good health, then 80/20 is fine, as long as you remain gluten-free.



on February 16, 2013
at 02:53 AM

I know if I don't stick 100% paleo after eating the SAD foods I just continue to crave them and want to binge. I can't really control myself with non-paleo foods. But when I stick to paleo I begin to crave paleo foods and not want the bad things anyway. That's just me though.


on February 16, 2013
at 05:34 AM

My guess is the 80/20 Rule was invented to serve as psychological device. Probably because too many would obsess in "all or nothing" mode. Stress over every detail. Diet would no longer serve life, but vice versa. And if they'd "slip", they feel moral guilt and "fall off the wagon" for days.

Anyone who lives life and who travels outside of a regular routine will find it difficult to strictly adhere to a "100/0 Rule". And in practice, food has sooo many grey areas and scientific unknown.

Therefore, a big + 1,000,000 to Mark Sisson for coming up with the concept.

The concept of 80/20 is not an excuse to cheat or to "game" technicalities. Taken literally, for a growing boy who consumes maybe 3,000 calories, this is leeway for 600 crap calories a day.

The rule is to live as close to 100% Paleo in spirit, while allowing yourself a well-rounded life.



on February 16, 2013
at 06:17 AM

personally i feel like i have to follow the 100% route, because for some reason i've always had the obsessive mentality that if i screw up even slightly, then my whole diet for the day is ruined. and then i think what's the point, and binge the rest of the day on SAD foods.

but i've been paleo for about 3 months and haven't had one desire to break paleo or binge. i've also noticed that my definition of treats has changed. before it used to be ice cream, cookies, chips, etc. now my idea of a special treat is nuts, dark chocolate, and berries with some cream.


on February 16, 2013
at 04:53 AM

I think it depends on your goals. I originally started eating paleo/primal because, from my research, it is the best diet for longevity. My goal is to live a long life and this diet satisfies me from a culinary perspective anyway. I ate the SAD for the first 18 years of my life so if I live to be 100, that will be my 80/20. About 80 years paleo and 20 years SAD.


on February 16, 2013
at 05:11 AM

Beer is the toughest thing to give up in my opinion also.

My rule is, if it's not paleo and I cant live without it (beer, milk, peanut butter, and when times are really good or really bad- Ben and Jerry's) then I call it a 20% day. I also allot for the occasional slip-up.

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