Healthy Eating Mathematics

Happy Friday everyone!

I don’t know what it is about short weeks that makes them feel so long, but that was definitely the case this week. Thinking back it doesn’t feel like we had an extra day off last weekend at all. Whoever decided the work week should be 5 days was a sadist.

Anyhow, this week I spent a lot of time thinking about regular, healthy nutrition for the general public. A few fitness experts I follow on social media have discussed a percentage breakdown, and I think it’s a really user-friendly way to view nutrition – don’t worry, it’s only slightly mathematical.

If you look at your week as an overall percentage – 100% – how many of your meals would you rate as healthy? A lot of people say they eat healthy “most of the time”, but what does that mean?  Obviously it’ll mean something different to everyone who says it – one person might qualify that as 95% of the week is healthy, while someone might consider 60% high enough (granted, that is “most” of the time as it’s above 50%…). We’re not even going to get into what constitutes “healthy” in this post.  Anyhow, while everyone has different goals and needs in terms of their nutrition, as an overall general point of view, I think aiming for an 80/20 ratio is pretty reasonable.

What does that mean?

Well, it means that 80% of your week’s nutrition would fall into the healthy category, while 20% would fall into a less healthy category (please note that I didn’t say UN-healthy – just LESS healthy). When you view it as a percentage, it helps you keep a better perspective on your food intake and makes you think through meal decisions. For example, if you know you’re going out for dinner on Friday and that you really want a burger, fries, and dessert, you can throw that meal into your 20% category.

Find your balance and enjoy life with food.

Find your balance and enjoy life with food.

If you give this a try and find that you’re not happy with the breakdown or with how you feel or look, try a different breakdown. For example, when I was debating about going into competition prep, I used a 95/5 approach – pretty strict compared to an 80/20 week, but had a small mental break built in.

Break out the calculators!

Here’s the slightly mathematical part, but I promise it’s basic math! Added bonus, I’m going to do the leg work for you here (you’re welcome – I HATE math). I estimated that the majority of people eat four times a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack), so I broke that down to see how many meals fall into each category. If you go by the 80/20 “rule”, about 5 of your meals would be less healthy, while 23 are healthy. And yes, I’m aware that this math was NOT difficult.

This killed me.  I'm immature.

This killed me. I’m immature.

Practice safe eating

This outlook does NOT mean I’m advocating to binge eat on total junk five times a week.  This just means that for five meals or snacks you can incorporate a food you really want that isn’t the healthiest option. You’ve been craving something salty all day? Then have a small bowl (not a whole bag) of popcorn or chips after work to satisfy the craving and keep your dinner healthy and balanced with protein and vegetables. That social event on Friday? Go out and enjoy it knowing that you kept your other 20-ish meals healthy.

Who is this good for?

As I mentioned at the beginning, I think this outlook  is good for the general population – those who aren’t looking to make any changes to their body composition, or are looking for a way to stay more on track. If you’re trying to change your body in any way (gain muscle or lose fat) I think you need to take a more in-depth approach to your nutrition to make sure you’re fueling your body appropriately and efficiently. Additionally, to achieve any goals in terms of these changes, I firmly believe nutrient timing is a vital piece to the nutritional puzzle… but that’s a topic for another day.

Have a great, healthy weekend! We’re hitting the road for a training session in Mississauga, stopping at one of our favorite gyms in Guelph along the way – pictures coming next week.

About Ashleigh

I'm passionate about health and fitness. I work as a Health Promotion Specialist, a group fitness instructor, and also a coach for physique competitors / weight loss clients. I grew up as a competitive athlete, and have continued with this passion as a Women's Physique competitor. Research and writing is another interest of mine, which I use to share my knowledge with the general public.
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2 Responses to Healthy Eating Mathematics

  1. Pingback: Bad food vs good food? | Iron Forged Fitness

  2. Pingback: The Clean Eating Disorder | Iron Forged Fitness

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