Monday, July 20, 2009

90/10 Philosophy

I was reading a US based fitness magazine yesterday, and there was a personal trainer who introduced a very interesting concept. It’s called the 90/10 philosophy. The philosophy is really quite simple. What you need to do, is eat healthy 90% of the time and treat yourself (with unhealthy stuff which we all love) 10% of the time.

So if you were to break it down by each week, your eating plan would look something like this.

If you were to eat 3 meals a day, that is a total of 21 (3 meals x 7 days) meals for the whole week. This is of course assuming you don’t snack on anything in between. Now out of those 21 meals, you will be entitled to 2.1 meals or let’s just round it up to 2 meals, where you can let loose and eat that pizza, fast food or anything else which other diets ask you to stay off.

What if you do snack a lot? Simple, make sure you are snacking on healthy stuff, and you can use your quota for “treats” to eat some unhealthy snacks once in a while. If you are snacking on unhealthy stuff, well need I say what you need to do?

So I took a look at my current daily eating plan. Everyday, I make sandwiches for breakfast which is very healthy. I usually try to eat a light home made dinner. My main problem area is lunch and of course the weekends. Looking at it now, I am probably doing a 70/30 philosophy currently. So instead of jumping straight to 90/10, I thought of easing my way into 80/20 and then after a few weeks, jumping to the 90/10.

So what I recommend for you, is to take a look at your current eating habits. If you snack ocassionaly on unhealthy stuff, knock it off completely. Since its occasional, you probably don’t really need it. If you snack regularly, then this will count as one meal and you will have to make a concsious effort to make sure you start snacking healthily. What are healthy snacks? Muesli Bars, high fiber crackers, fruits (try freezing fruits like grapes, rambutan and manggoes – sucking on it makes it taste better than candy), dry and loose muesli, high fiber cereal. As you can see, you do have quite a few choices. So make the switch. Most snacking is psychological and you just eat because you want to put something in your mouth – and not that you truly desire that goreng pisang or Twisties.

Once you have roughly determined what % you are at, you can start planning on how to increase the healthy portions while reducing the unhealthy treats till your reach a 90/10 ratio. Once you do, you can feel proud of the results you have achieved.

What’s so great about the 90/10 philosophy?
1) It does not say “no treats at all”. It actually allows you to enjoy and live a normal life… which translates to you actually sticking with this, rather than quitting.
2) It is an open system anyone can adopt. Whatever your eating habits are right now, you can quickly apply this. You don’t have to make drastic changes to the number of meals you have just to make this work
3) It answers the all important question – How often am I allowed to indulge or Is it OK for me to eat that cheesecake? Well now you know.
4) You can start from where you are right now and progress slowly – You don’t have to set next Monday as the dreadful day your tongue ceases to taste anything good. Move slowly and swapping certain meals each time. It’s easier to do.
5) It works – If all of you really follow this, you will actually get to see results. Best of all, without that much pain and suffering.

So go ahead. Track what you eat for one whole week. Mark the number of meals that were healthy and the number of meals that were unhealthy. Now you will know your ratio. From here, you can start your journey towards healthier eating. Try it and see. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.


The Corporate Athlete said...

great tips .... I think I am at 80:20 now. During race season, I'll be at 60:40....gulped!

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

oh boy, at this current rate i'm pigging in, i'd say i'm at 30:70. yes, thats how unhealthy my lifestyle has pretty much been. and like you, weekend means wallop, so fat chance la i only have 21 times of meal a week.

the muesli bar sounds interesting. i may opt for it whenever i crave for desserts, which i only take occasionally.

Rajan said...

CA: 60/40 is OK during your race time, since you are loading on carbo and energy for the race.

Kerp: hahahaa... no worries man. But this does give you a new perspective to look at your eating habits. Now you have a benchmark of where to go.

anfield devotee said...

Actually Rajan, many of us face the probelm of having little or no choice in office cafeterias.

As fer packing food, some of us may not have the time.

So mon-fri, its crap canteen or mamak food fer many of us, unlike Kerp who eats like a Fooking King in & out of home (bastard . . . .)!

Rajan said...

AD: very valid point and i understand where you are coming from.... but i still think it's possible to eat healthily no matter where you are.

Actually i have received lots of feedback on this, so i am going to take it as a challenge to educate people that you can eat outside just about anywhere and still keep it relatively healthy. I guess i will cover one eatery per posting. so look out for that.

But back to your question...Dinner & breakfast can be easily sorted out since most of us eat at home. Lunch is the killer, but making food need not take much time. Try making sandwiches for work. You can buy ready to srpead Tuna, ham (just slap it on), Egg sandwich (fry one egg... only takes 3 minutes), sugar free peanut butter... there are many options if you are willing to take a little effort. Not asking you to do this everyday, but if you can eat healthily 3 out 5 time, its still better than eating unhealthily 5 out of 5 times.

But yes... i will cover these concerns in my future postings and hopefully it will be useful info. that's the whole idea of this blog... how to be fit and healthy, without having to live like a monk and say no to every pleasure in life.