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The 90/10 Rule For Easier Dieting


All In! Giving your diet 100% is by far the best way to get results – but does it make dieting easier? Can you endure it?
What I like to present to you is a adherence technique disguised as a motivation technique. Say What?  It’s called the 90/10 rule or approach for easier dieting. 90% diet meals and 10% cheat/ fun meals.
Let me show you how that’s important:
The biggest issue for most dieters is adherence. It’s the one factor that dominates any complicated diet. The problem is though, that it’s hard to stay on course for ever. Sure, if you would never slip the results would be amazing. But you’re life would also be very sad. No more fun foods and drinks, lame social events because you’re friends think you’re crazy.
Of course there is a time and a place to really buckle down. It all depends on your goals. If you want to step on stage wearing a hint of nothing, sure, you better stick to your diet and work out plan so you look like you belong there!
But for the rest of us? I think it’s a little far fetched to assume you could only get great results when you give it 100% ALL OF THE TIME.
So, today is a little bit of tips and tricks to make dieting easier, but also a bit of putting things into perspective and feeling good about it. Here we go!


Table of Contents

The 90/10 rule for dieting

The idea is to get 90% of your meals from a goal orientated diet/ diet plan and allow yourself 10% of fun foods = cheat meals.That’s enough cheat to satisfy any craving and gives you the allowance to eat what ever you like on occasion. (Don’t make it a game and challenge yourself to see how much junk you can eat in one sitting!)
Most people will use this to enjoy social events or to just get a break from dieting. Please don’t make the mistake and use this to satisfy the craving for junk after a hard day. That’s the kind of behavior that got you where you’re at now and needs to be avoided. For ever.
So, the 90% of the time that you stick to your diet will make sure it actually works. And that it works great. The other 10% are to allow for some wiggle room and feel good about it.
It makes sense to break that down over a week. This way you get nice full meals. Most people eat 3 to 4 meals per day, please use what ever number fit’s you best. Snacks don’t count as meals.

Example 1

  • 3 meals per day = 21 meals per week
  • 10% = 2.1 meals, rounded down to 2 fun/ cheat meals per week
This works great for most people. As Fridays lead into the weekend, so why not celebrate with a cool meal at the end of the day? That leaves you with an additional meal, say for Sunday where you go out with friends and have a piece of cake to your coffee. All without any guilt and remorse.

Example 2

  • 4 meals per day = 28 meals per week
  • 10% = 2.8 meals, rounded to 3 fun/ cheat meals per week
If you happen to eat 4 meals, I assume you’re a bigger person to begin with and eating more calories in general.  Therefore eating an additional meal that’s not a diet-meal can work.
Just make sure to dial it back if progress gets slow, or reduce the size of the fun meals.
I know, that’s not many cheat meals. But here’s the good news:
You are on you’re way to become healthy and fit. Once you reach that goal you can enjoy more fun meals. But, hey, even if you are on strict diet you still get 2 meals per week that you couple with a nice event. Meeting friends, Pizza-night with your family. That’s pretty cool!


Download my printable
“3 and 4 meal stick-to-the-Diet Tracker” now!​

Why 90/10 works so well for dieting

Two major points that make this approach work:

Reason #1

The simple answer is, if you get 90% of your diet straight, the remaining 10% will not have a huge impact. If anything they will ease your mind because you get your occasional fix on whatever you’re craving so badly.
I teased it above a little but it’s actually a very important piece of the the whole thing.
Don’t make those cheat or fun meals a challenge and stuff your self. It’s not a free for all ticket. Get loose, enjoy the meals and feel freed from of the burden of restriction.

Reason #2

The second point is specificity. The more specific your actions are – the more you work you direct towards a certain goal – the quicker and better the results will be.
A fast way to judge if any action you’re doing is helping or hindering is to ask yourself “Is this going to get me closer to my desired goal?”.
  • Going to the gym and having a nutritious and rich meal with laid out macros for dinner?
    -> Helping
  • Playing video games, snacking on cheetoos and ordering pizza?
    -> Not helping
“The goal is to keep the goal, the goal.” – By Dan John, is one of my favorite quotes. It states so beautifully how hard it is to stay focused and work towards our goals. The quote stems from another issue though.
If you begin to see results, you also begin to get sloppy. Sounds familiar? You’re all excited about the new diet plan, imagine how great you will look, how amazing you will feel. And boy, your doing it! Week after week, the pounds are just melting away. So, you go for a treat, skip gym here and there. Only to find yourself a couple weeks later, progress at a halt and you wonder why – or, maybe you know exactly why.
So, to get back to the quote and the learning from it: Stay focused, keep going, enjoy a little goody here and there and if you stray to far from the path of truth and wisdom return to it immediately.

Short diet breaks do not reset your metabolism

A meal or two of non-diet meals do not have the power to reset your metabolism. It will slow down when you diet for very long, lose a substantial amount of body weight/ body fat and are on very low calories. To bring it up again to normal rates will take more than two meals per week if the rest of the week is still in caloric deficit. A couple weeks at maintenance calories (calories taken in is roughly the same as calories burned) is necessary to rest your metabolism.
So, for your metabolism to slow down you need long time and very little calories. If you just started out, your are still fine with a nicely humming metabolism. The two meals during the week are merely to keep your mind happy.

80/20 vs. 90/10

You are probably familiar with the Pareto Principle. It states that 20% of the work will give you 80% or the results. For the remaining 20% of the results you have to put in another 80% of work.
In the case of dieting and nutrition those 20% are the diet your on and making sure you do it long enough for the results to show up. The six pack is made in the kitchen as the saying goes.
That also means that you get 80% of freedom if you take care of the relevant 20%. Don’t get stressed out about all the things you could also do. Make sure to work hard on the big players. Over time that gets easier and easier. Once you mastered those challenges you can start and work on additional things or go deeper into the details.
That could mean you start without counting calories and macros and simply eat healthy foods most of the time. Get some activity in and watch what happens.
After some time this will feel easy. (That’s the 20% effort going to 0%)
Now you can begin to get work on the details. Work out some macros and prep all your meals for the week. Have a detailed training plan.  (That’s you building up to a new 20% effort)
Need help working out a meal plan with calories, macros and foods you love?
Check out The Complete Meal Prep Guide:

It's okay to go 50/50 when starting out

A way to gradually move towards new, good habits and leave the old ones behind is to improve a little bit, get better over time and being consistent.
If you find the idea frightening to only eat 2 fun meals a week, why not start with a 50/50 approach and work your way up? At three meals per day/ 28 meals per week, that would look like this:
  • Week 1: 50/50 = 11 Diet/ 10 Cheat meals (I know that’s not exactly 50/50)
  • Week 3: 60/40 = 13 Diet / 8 Cheat meals
  • Week 5: 70/30 = 15 Diet / 6 Cheat meals
  • Week 7: 80/20 = 17 Diet / 4 Cheat meals
  • Week 9: 90/10 = 19 Diet / 2 Cheat meals
It goes without saying that the progress you’re making will get better the closer you get to 90% or 100% diet meals. During the beginning expect slower weight-loss/ gain rates.
You might notice something funny when you start with a 50/50 split: It almost feels bad eating foods that are not on the diet plan although you are some what allowed to. Eating junk during the week gets strange. Therefor planning to have cheats on the weekend makes a lot more sense. The example progression over 8 weeks will shorten its self sometimes, once you notice that diet meals are tasty. The misses and I are always excited about the salads we’re making because they are so tasty. And they are pretty much the opposite of junk food!

Some people go all-in on from day one and never look back. If that’s you, here’s my salute! For the rest of us, working towards a goal often works better.

With dieting there are so many things that change anyway:

  • You start working out, prepping your food and watch what you’re eating.
  • You make sure you stick to your goal and avoid any threats like the secret stash of chocolate bars.

That’s hard work!

If you’re just starting out, chances are you are very motivated and want to see things change in a good way. And that’s great! Go for it with all the power you have! But it’s okay to go there gradually and ease into your new life.

Track progress with a calendar


The best tool to track your progress is a calendar where you can mark off the days that you ate like you’re supposed to. Have it hanging in an exposed area that you pass during your day and where you can see it often.

Make it obvious what your task for the day is (to eat as planned) and feel good about making progress.
You can make an easy template yourself with a motivating headline like “I eat healthy every day!”.
Or download this free template that you see in the picture above.
You might have guessed it: The smileys show where I head a fun meal with friends and family 😉
The great thing is that it gets really exciting when the days roll in on which you get to eat out. But it’s the momentum that we’re looking for when you have several weeks hanging in your kitchen and watching as the rows build up.The momentum keeps you going which ultimately builds the new habit.
Without you noticing these things will happen:
  • Eating healthy will feel normal and good
  • The idea of cheating when you’re not supposed to will feel strange and undesirable
  • You will feel great because you stick to your plan
  • You will enjoy fun foods even more
  • Lastly: You will feel amazing because you eat a lot of healthy foods


Stay Consistent With My Free Diet Tracker Download The Printable PDF-Files For 3 And 4 Daily Meals Now!​

To build Mental strength: Go even further

Making a little challenge of this is a fantastic way to push yourself even further. It’s like a little experiment you do on yourself. How long can you go with out a cheat meal? Two cheat meals per week will keep you on track, but what about a two week cycle with only two cheat meals?

This wont make your diet progress better by a lot, because your not saving a ton of calories on cheat meals. But it builds mental strength. And it’s actually easier to wrap your head around, because the time frame is very manageable. Two months? That’s a long time! But two week? Sure, I could do that -that’s easy! And after that you KNOW you can go that long, because you just did.


Let’s wrap it up for today:

  • The 90/10 rule is a great tool to stay on course and keep focused on the things that have the greatest effect on the success of your journey.
  • Eating 90% of your meals from a laid out diet plan makes sure the diet works.
  • 10% of fun/ cheat meals is enough to give yourself a mental break on a regular basis which eases your mind.
  • Use Pareto’s principle: Work hard on hitting your goal to have that 20% of effort do the work to get 80% of the results.
  • Track your progress with a calendar to visualize how you’re doing. This is a great way to stay motivated and it’s really fun to watch the check marks pile up.
  • It’s this the momentum that builds the new habit of eating healthy.
  • Increase mental strength: Challenge yourself and see for how long you can go without a cheat meal.
  • Be proud, you’re doing great!

Once it sunk in that eating healthy is the way to go your will notice a feeling of lightweight, like a big load has been take off your shoulders. That’s your subconscious, thanking you, for finally doing that healthy living thing. Lets make it happy, shall we?

Are you keeping track of how many diet meals vs fun meals you have? What’s was your longest run without interruption? Share in the comments and let’s help each other to reach our goals.
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Stay Consistent With My Free Diet Tracker Download The Printable PDF-Files For 3 And 4 Daily Meals Now!​

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