Dear Mark: 80/20 Revisited

Since our original 80/20 post a few weeks ago, I’ve gotten a slew of questions and comments from readers. Many tell me how much they love the concept. It’s a feature that makes the PB possible for them. Others suggest that it leaves too much room for backsliding. Finally, some readers have either offered their own interpretations of the principle or asked what it should mean in their daily life. Thanks to everyone for their feedback on this one (and all other posts of course). While I loved writing The Primal Blueprint, I can’t imagine it without the experience and ever-evolving discussion of this blog. Let’s roll up the sleeves and dig in deeper with this one.

First, let’s review. (I know we’re adding new folks all the time.) The 80/20 principle suggests this: in the context of full and earnest commitment, an overall 80% conformity with the 10 Primal Blueprint rules will yield a solidly healthy result.

It’s obviously a general principle and as such is intended to mean different things to different people. Let’s first throw out a few things that the principle doesn’t endorse. It doesn’t mean getting 20% of your calories from ice cream and the other 80% from meats and salads. Likewise, it isn’t intended as a “get-out-of-Primal-free card” for flocking to grains, skimping on fat or protein, or ignoring a continuing sleep deficit, etc. It doesn’t mean working out 10 months of the year and then taking 2 months off to veg on the couch. It doesn’t mean picking your favorite 8 of the 10 PB laws and scrapping the other two. The 80/20 principle isn’t about “cheating” 20% of the time.

In short, it’s a rule of thumb to keep people sane. It’s a feature that makes the PB a fully achievable, continuing lifestyle that reconciles with the grind and disruptions of daily life. But here come the logical questions. Does it mean living 100% Primal 80% of the time or living 80% Primal 100% of the time? Although one of those descriptions might accurately describe how things go in a given week for you, I would suggest that the principle isn’t meant to be a rigid, stagnant formula or manipulated ratio.

It’s a recognition that life isn’t totally predictable and that we’re not in Grok’s Kansas anymore. It encourages folks to focus on the process and not simply the daily details. It’s about treating people like adults in the real world rather than non-thinking subjects in a paternalistic trial. The Primal Blueprint is first and foremost about taking full responsibility for your life and health. No excuses, no guilt. You won’t be thrown off the island if you choose to partake of a few holiday favorites or skip a workout to attend a friend’s wedding.

However, let me be clear about this side as well. It isn’t about only shooting for 80%, and there’s nothing wrong with achieving 100%. If you set out to make your Primal commitment 80%, guess what. It will likely fall below that. If you set out to make your commitment 100%, you’ll probably settle in somewhere between 80-95% based on where you’re at in the PB transition.

Let me put it this way. The 80/20 principle is an acknowledgment that we’re adults who take full responsibility for every choice but occasionally find ourselves in circumstances that don’t allow 100% Primal or in situations for which we knowingly accept reasonable, conscious compromises. Think of it as cushion, not cop-out, not convenience. As I mentioned last time, give your PB plan 100%, and understand it’s O.K. when daily life somewhat moderates the overall picture. Primal success is less about what you do at any one meal or single bout at the gym and more about what you do over the course of a given week or month.

For some people and some circumstances, it’s a matter of feasibility. Travel doesn’t always present the most ideal Primal options. A difficult period in your life (death or serious illness in the family, new baby, etc.) may temporarily moderate your focus or ability to do all the good things you normally incorporate into your routine. And in the more minor elements of the PB, it can be a question of access. I know not everyone has ready access to or the money for grass-fed beef, pastured butter, all organic produce, or a wide diversity of produce year round. Sometimes you just have to do the best you can. It’s not a question of motivation or commitment here but the influence of external conditions.

For others, it’s a matter of conscious indulgence. Perhaps you’re on vacation (whether it be Thailand or New Orleans) and really want the experience of sampling the local cuisine. For you, it’s part of the adventure. You authentically choose within the 80/20 principle to make the most of your hard earned adventure. (Personally, this is my favorite manifestation of the principle.) Maybe it’s a special anniversary or family gathering. You don’t use the situation as an excuse to wildly abandon all PB commitment. You loosen the strings enough to find the best balance between experience and health.

Let me say, too, that the 80/20 principle is often most relevant and valuable during people’s transition to the PB. As many of you mentioned, it was the part that made you believe you could take on this lifestyle for the long haul. As the PB cements itself in your routine, it generally becomes easier (and more desirable) to live well above that 80%. Does this apply to me? Sure. I’ve obviously been doing this for a while now, and most months I’d put myself well above 80% in nutrition and exercise. The PB comes naturally for me now because my entire lifestyle revolves around it. My family and many good friends are living the same kind of choices. It’s so much a part of my routine that I don’t often think about it except when I travel.

But keep in mind that the Primal Blueprint encompasses more than nutrition and fitness. For some of us, these are the things that come easily. I’m probably at close to 100% on those aspects most of the time, but I’m still working on the stress bit. If you’re in the midst of big life transitions, that might be the hard part. New job, long distance move, new child? Speaking of children, maybe your biggest challenge is sleep.

In comments and emails, many of you shared personal choices and life/job circumstances that shaped the 80/20 picture for you. As reader Adam suggested, it might mean 70/30 over the holidays but 90% other times. It’s a fluid number. As for what that 20% means, some of you plan out indulgences for special occasions. Others say you take life as it comes and worry a plan might encourage you to go overboard. Some of you mentioned that what fell into the 20% years or months earlier when they began the PB isn’t the same as what they’d put in that category now.

The feedback and stories got me thinking. How do our readers use the 80/20 principle to strike the best balance for themselves? How about a poll? Feel free to share all your thoughts, of course, but here are a couple questions for everyone:

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

As always, thanks for reading, and keep the questions and comments coming!

TAGS:  dear mark

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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75 thoughts on “Dear Mark: 80/20 Revisited”

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  1. The definition of quality of life is subjective.

    I, for example, am in good terms with the fact that I will not stop enjoying beer, wine and old cheeses. This makes me strive for 90%, and I take responsibility for the consequences.

    I am always alert and looking for a chance to jump into more primal alternatives for my poisons though. I am also open to completely replacing my indulgences with primal alternatives if I manage to discover how.

  2. I think if you get too technical about the 80/20 rule, it’s easy to misunderstand it’s value. This is especially the case since we all have different tolerances. Someone who is more sensitive or less healthy could be knocked out for an entire week by a single meal that wouldn’t have any noticeable effect at all on someone else.

    We all have to figure out how to make the 80/20 rule work for ourselves. For example, I have a lot more leeway with stress and exercise than I do with diet. I have to be very strict with my diet, otherwise I usually pay a price that’s not worth the indulgence that caused it.

    As mentioned in the article, I think the 80/20 rule is especially important for people who are new to living a healthy lifestyle. It gives them a little more breathing room which I think increases their chances of staying with it. As people start to enjoy the benefits of better health, they’re usually naturally inclined to become more strict with themselves anyway.

  3. I just look at it as a way to not feel guilty if I slip up here and there while shooting for 100%. Like last night for fathers day I ate a piece of Key Lime Pie that had actual sugar in it. Boy did that taste weird!

  4. So does that mean I can go to the wedding AND have a piece of the cake? 🙂
    My departure from primal is milk. Raw and unpasturized that is, goat and cow. I think it’s primal anyway, I mean I’m sure that in lean times, when the baby goat was eating better than him he thought “hmmm” maybe goat milk OK for me too” and went for it.
    I even make ice cream from it. Let the cream rise to the top. Taek one cup and place in blender (Vita-Mix). Add 3 cups ice that’s made from the skim milk you got the cream from. Add two scoops of vanilla or chocolate protein powder, the kind with no sugar, but sweetened with stevia. Add a couple of free range eggs. Optinal: add some fruit. Blend for about a minutes. Walla! Guilt free ice cream.

  5. I do agree that the 80/20 rule is all relative, and DOES change according to where you are in following the Primal Blueprint. For instance, one of my co-workers who knows that I eat “super healthy” asked me the other day if I were to eat a really “bad food” or make a major indulgence, what would the food be… my response, “I’d probably have a banana.” Of course she shook her head and told me that I was crazy! But there are a LOT of carbs in those bananas and they trigger sugar cravings for me!
    I guess that it is all relative 😉

  6. The 80/20 principle was key in easing into a primal lifestyle. I still had crap in my pantry that I just couldn’t afford to throw away. I didn’t have the money to replace it.

    But what I did do was stretch it. Adding a little crap at each meal with a lot of good stuff after the next time I went to the grocery store.

    It took a little over two weeks to go through that week’s worth of crap groceries, but I still felt better in the end because I was able to wade in at least partially rather than procrastinating and perhaps never getting started.

  7. Thanks for all the great personal accounts of the 80/20 principle in action. It goes to show that using it as a generally rule of thumb can help people through any number of unique and common situations no matter where on the Primal path you find yourself.

    1. Freedom to choose is tricky. If someone tells you to do something, often you’ll put up defenses because we all hate to be bossed. Suggestions are better if a reward is offered. In talking to yourself the same principle applies. But the most powerful way to look at this is to realize that you are making hundreds of choices every day, and you are completely free to both go to the wedding AND have no cake. It’s your prerogative to say no, and you can go upstream and make it a matter of freedom.

      You are free to accept the cake. And you are free to refuse it. I’m actually offended now if someone tries to make me have the cake or tells me it’s just a little cake that can’t hurt me in small amounts.. etc… because I now view it as attempting to influence my freedom to choose. I often simply say that I don’t like that cake. People will leave you alone if you don’t like a food more often than if you are exercising a virtue.

  8. 80/20 has helped me with the transition and maintenance of PB personally. I strive to maintain 100% but when the situation arises, most notably visiting with friends who are serving very non-primal meals I don’t feel guilty I simply choose the best options available. I may feel it later, diet affects me pretty strongly, but it would be worse if I was beating myself up over it mentally.

  9. I use the 20% for small bits of indulgences like chocolate or wine or cheese, and then occasional questionable ingredients when eating food I haven’t cooked myself. But I think in general I have to stick to the primal rules as much as possible to avoid the slippery slope into bad habits.

  10. My main cheats are 85% chocolate, red wine and oatcakes (only about 6g carbs each) usually with cheese or nut butter or smoked salmon, and the occasional meal out where I go over the top of my carb allowance. Generally I stay towards the lower end of 50 – 100g/day but have enough leeway now to stuff a few more in the evening on occasion.

    All these have other benefits though.

    Sometimes I give in to the cake well meaning people insist I have but that usually overrides my comfort zone. OTOH the result makes me more determined to toe the line the rest of the time, crashing out from a glucose spike and reawakening my neuropathy reminds me of the path my medics were pushing me down for all too many years and serves as a contrast to how much better I feel most of the rest of the time

  11. I go to lunch with the guys every Friday (As a programmer I almost never get to work with girls). It makes work a easier when you are social with your coworkers once in a while.

  12. I had to go 20% this weekend w/ my hubbie’s family (they are Lebanese). While there was was taboleh, hummus, pita bread etc there was also lots of cookout stuff like baked beans, potato salad, etc. We did manage to go to a great outdoor resturant called The Place (in Guilford, CT) for a truly primal lunch – lobster, clams, shrimp…and homemade salad so that helped. I got right back in my PB diet when we got home (grass-fed burger & local veggies for dinner). That’s the way the 80-20 works for me (and I agree w/Simone, Yummy & Trinks’s posts as well)

  13. My 80/20? A weekend ‘treat’- high % dark choc, berries and cream or a high fat dessert like vanilla cheesecake :). I only feel like that though if I have had a really good primal week and I feel like I have loaded up on nutrients, proteins and fats, Jx

  14. For me, the 20% tends to be when we go out and socialize. During the week, I cook all my food, so being 100% paleo is easy. But when I’m at a friend’s house or we go out to dinner or out for another social activity, that’s when I go for more of an 80/20 approach.

  15. My 20% downfall is high intensity exercise since I’m a spin instructor and I’m paid to teach a high intensity class. I’m still eating some brown rice on class days. When I’m out of rice, I’ll try to teach without the carbs and see what happens.

  16. I drink, and drink heavily during the summer. What can I say, the LA beaches are a fun place to live. I normally try to keep carbs/insulin out with Crown and Diets, but when we’re on the beach and beers are being passed around, I have no problem with it.

    Since college I’ve battled with myself between healthy weeks and unhealthy weekends. I get crazy and am not afraid to admit it. However, I handle drinking 100x better with the Primal Blueprint. Mondays aren’t fun, but you need to get back on the Primal horse and cleanse yourself out!

    If I’m also on a big surfing trip, such as this past weekend, I won’t mind a few more carbs as I’m spending 10x hours in the ocean anyway. But yes, I do pay for it, and could write a great post on how to recover from cheating.

  17. It’s been a long time since I’ve commented, but this made me get back in the game. I was only fully primal for a few months last year, but then gradually weaseled my way out of it. Of course the 20 lbs I lost weaseled their way back into me. 🙁 So… I’ve been planning on going back to primal, but for some reason this time around seemed a lot harder. But when I think of it as 80/20 I think I can weasel my way back in! (Weasel is the word of the day.) As usual Mark, excellent timing on the post!

  18. I do the week(80)/weekend(20) bit mostly. I allow myself some indulgences over the weekend, and thats also my rest time from gym/excercise (unless its fun oriented like soccer with friends or something).

    I had, what I think was, a sugar/carb hangover yesterday actually. Same symptoms as will a regular hangover, just I had no alcohol the day before. What I DID have was some dessert. A Fruit tart and gelato. I’m not sure if that was 100% the cause. I did experience similar headaches from sugars/carbs previous summer when I had cut carbs and sugars entirely out, but would indulge(20%) on weekends on ice cream :).

  19. As always a top class post. I really enjoyed the chapter in the book and love to live the primal lifestyle especially when its 80/20. The thing is sometimes I will be nearly 100% and other weeks I will slip down a bit, its all give/take hit/miss but allows us to keep our sanity in todays world….

    1. I’m about half way through the book The Primal Blueprint. In the meantime, my husband & I are eating up what carbs we have in the house so once they’re gone, we can start with Primal eating. I have a few questions I wasn’t clear on – is soy milk or skim milk allowed? which is the best of the two? i currently use half ‘n half in my coffee – should i change this? when buying cheese should I continue to buy 2% or whole or none at all? what about salad dressings? EVOO & vinegar only or what about dressings at restaurants? what about Newman’s Own All Natural dressings? do i buy regular mayo or reduced fat? i thought i read in the book to avoid bacon? what about turkey bacon?

      if anyone has any answers, i would really appreciate the guidance.

      thanks so much!

      1. I’ve been stomping around MDA for years now… here is a couple answers – though definitely go back and read Mark’s “Definitive Guides”.

        NEVER go for low-fat or reduced-fat ANYTHING. Fat is awesome, and most packaged low/reduced-fat products are just chock full o’ sugar/HFCS or fillers.

        Dairy isn’t 100% primal – but a sensible vise. I’d say use it sparingly to follow the PB, but remember – quality of life is an issue too. Some people would NEVER give up cheese. But definitely shoot for whole milk, cheese, etc. Half and half in the coffee is probably alright, but heavy cream tastes AMAZING and adds a good dose of fats. Beware of the ultra-pasteurized, super-homogenized stuffs.

        Of course, for dressing EVOO and vinegar is a good choice – or you could make your own dressings… if you buy bottled just read the label for sugar content, and again HFCS ends up in there a lot of the time. At restaurants I usually go for V and O, but a lot of restaurants make their own ranch which is usually just sour cream and herbs… that could be the 80/20 rule in effect.

        And bacon isn’t bad – REAL bacon most likely wins over turkey bacon (which just sounds like a byproduct-sodium-fest). Just watch out for the nitrates and other crap they are often chock full of… Bacon DEFINITELY has it’s place in the PB – my hubby and I consider it the “Ultimate Condiment”. But that is what it should be, a condiment. Eating plates of the stuff probably isn’t a good idea.

        If you have a question about something, type the key word into the search on this website – Mark has written about ALMOST everything! 😉

        I hope that I helped with your questions – quickly! But there is info regarding all of that stuff on this site – you just have to find it!

      2. hey Kathy –no soy anything if you can help it- it’s an estogen enhancer & no good for anyone. go for full fat milk 9cow or goat) & make it non- homoginized, low pasturized or raw if you can get it. the higher the fat the lower the carbs. some folks have a hard time with cheese (weight loss issues or latose intolerance) so again go for full fat, raw milk cheese…soft is great, and goat & sheeps milk are excellent as they are easier to digest. make your own everything- salad dressing is a cinch with EVOO & lemon juice & herbs. Dining out- well, that’s your 20%! mayo- full fat but I suggest making your own from eggs & olive oil (again, as easy as pouring into a blender- takes 5 minutes). as for turkey bacon- I just tried it for the 1st time this am- it’s 95% lean & 100% yum. But pig bacon is fine- make sure you get uncured, w/o nitrates. hope this helps!

        1. I once stood in the salad dressing section reading all the bottles… even the Newmans were made with veg &/or soy oils. The ONLY dressing made with olive oil was that which I made at home.

  20. Summertime comes around, and I can’t resist those long bike rides and trail runs (i.e., steady-state suffer-fests of several hours duration – the antithesis of PB). I try to justify the chronic cardio by telling myself that I’m getting some Vitamin D and de-stressing.

    The other thing that sometimes my wife feels like making something with some grains in it, or we feel like a dessert, baguette or some chips and salsa with margaritas or beers. If I really feel like it, I’ll have it, and I don’t notice many if any ill effects – as long as its a once-in-a-while thing (though I’ll note that the longer I’ve been following PB, the less I desire/miss these foods). In fact, in certain instances, the stress associated with trying to avoid carbs could very well be more anti-PB than the consequences of eating them.

    Ultimately, we have to be aware that there are trade-offs between certain pleasures and longevity, but I’m personally willing to sacrifice a few days from my lifespan to make my living days more enjoyable.

  21. For me, the 20% is wine on the weekends (I had a FULL bottle on Friday) 🙁 – and then some high % cacao (dark chocolate) occasionally on the week days. I do have Greek Yogurt for dessert, 1x a month…yummmmmm.

    But mostly, my 20% is not being able to afford GOOD, grass-fed beef & Organic produce. I just found a local farm, though, that has grass-fed beef at WAY below the normal supermarket price!!! AND it’s a mere 1/4 mile from my front door! (Thanks Oh, and throw in lack of sleep!

    Crud. My 20% looks more like 30 or 40% on ‘paper’ 🙁

  22. I’ve probably been close to 80% since i started in January 2009 – I haven’t touched a grain of wheat (or speck of flour), grain of sugar, or a single legume since I started. The areas that fall into my 20% include alcohol (I try to stick to wine, but not always), very dark chocolate as many others have mentioned, and that only occasionally, full fat milk, and the occasional bad fats I must accidentally ingest when eating otherwise healthy fare at restaurants. I’m experimenting with levels of carbs to see what my body can deal with – occasional fingerling or sweet potatoes with tons of butter, the occasional smattering of rice here and there. Still undecided about corn, but end to try and avoid it.

  23. Also don’t forget that the 80/20 rule doesn’t always work in some situations.

    A Celiac can’t go 80/20 on gluten, and I suspect that a hefty percentage of gluten-sensitive individuals would be best off 100% gluten-free (a natural component of the PB diet).

  24. It’s good to see that most of our vices are dark chocolate and wine (preferably together!). Those are my two and I am trying to reduce them even more and see what it is like not to crave especially the chocolate (I actually bought cacao powder instead the other day and will be experimenting with that).

    Funnily since eating primal I actually don’t miss pasta, rice, bread and cereal and only have a distance memory of what they taste like (white sludge maybe).

    Also with regards to my exercise if I don’t manage to get to the gym I know there is always another day and since I have been trying to get more Grok like activities into my day (hunting and gathering by walking to the shops through the park) it doesn’t matter and my stress levels have reduced dramatically.

  25. I can’t kick dairy.

    I don’t drink much milk or eat much ice cream but I love cheese, cream and yogurt. I buy the more expensive raw milk cheese though, that way I have to make it last.

    I also have to save most of my 20% for when my mother-in-law comes to visit every couple months and brings brownies, ice cream, cookies, and pies…she gets offended if I don’t have at least one thing:)

  26. At the moment I’m keeping a tight grasp of my eating, as I am still trying to shake these last 5.5kg (9.5kg down…).

    It’s the lifestyle part that is being sacrificed at the moment – I don’t get much sun (it’s winter), and I don’t sleep as much as I need to. My body likes a good 9 – 10 hours, but during the week I’m luck to get 7 – 8. The scales tell me off when I cut it back!

  27. In may case my IBS gives me fairly rapid feedback when I backslide into grain based foods. That has helped to keep me on track — if I want less pain and discomfort — more adherance to paleo/primal is needed. I’m still undoing decades of vegetarian/vegan thinking. It’s still hard and it is still at times tempting. I won’t lie — that bag of real swiss muesli was mighty tempting when we were shopping at Jungle Jim’s — but I was good and left with tins of mackerel instead. Sometimes, instead of focusing on the 80/20 “big picture” I just focus on the one decision at hand — do I want to go for a walk now? Do I really want to eat a donut now? And sometimes, integrating more Grok-like principles into our lives means finding a new solution for an old problem. I am such a slow wake up I have trouble cooking myself eggs for breakfast, and I just can’t take micro-eggs. I bought an egg cooker gizmo. That will help me avoid the temptation of breakfast burritos and other foods I should not eat by making it easy to cook myself food I like that is good for me. It’s a process of personal development and finding what works. We love Grok, and we ask “What would Grok do??” all the time, and even if Grok’s answer is not practical “Grok hungry NOW, Grok hunt and KILL auroch — and eat whole thing by himself!” Grok makes us laugh, and that kind of laughter is what helps us get through when we are being too hard on ourselves — or feeling upset that we made a choice that was not one hundred percent compliant to primal. But we grow in our understanding of what works, and that is reward in and of itself. Thanks, Mark, for putting all the resources together in this way and giving us Grok. It helps!

  28. I too will keep my indulgences to dark chocolate and good preservative free wine once a week. I believe the 20% for me will be those indulgences and backup for when things cant be primal for one reason or another. I am so excited I have just ordered 10kg of grass fed beef beautiful cuts, that will be delivered to my door next week for $170 Aussie dollars (pretty good price for meat that is of such a high quality) and the farm is just 1 hour drive across the way. Never new it existed, they are a small family farm all grass fed nil CV additives. I can get lamb as well but they only come in 20kg packs and not sure that would fit in my freezer. Time to hunt for organic chicken now….Grok on….

    1. What part of Aus are you in Kaz? I’ve found a farm(s) in Victoria which sells organic, grass fed beef, lamb and chicken – Received my first custom order this weekend – delicious! My freezer is packed, for just $211 delivered 🙂

  29. My 20% has typically always been wine and chocolate as well .. although I do love to indulge in bread on weekend brunches out from time to time!

    I think it’s important to have the 80/20 ‘rule’ in place as a fallback, but that certainly doesn’t mean we should plan to make up the 20% if we do find ourselves doing things perfectly from time to time.

    However – for those occasions when we do ‘cheat’ I think it’s worthwhile having a plan of sorts. For example, if I know I’m going out to dinner and am going to eat pasta or pizza, I make sure I have some protein first, so at least the meal isn’t a total loss. Or if I really want candy, I’ll choose chocolate almonds over jelly candies. I call this smart cheating. I once had the comment on my blog that it doesn’t make sense to ‘plan to cheat’, that if it happens it happens, but to me it’s all about taking an element of control over those occasions when I do go non-primal.

  30. My exceptions are: Goat milk Kefir and the occasional birthday party binge.

    I’m also currently experimenting with carb cycling a good complex carb every few days, but this will be ending in a few weeks.

  31. Full fat Greek yogurt, plain, with almond butter. Red wine on social occasions. Sleep…Yikes – bedtime already! Gotta go!

    1. Greek Yogurt with Almond butter (or Hazel nut butter) is AWESOME. for a REAL treat, add in a teaspoon of organic buckwheat honey(I know, not entirely PB).

  32. I tell people I’m not super strict.

    For me its when guests have me for dinner – I eat whatever they give me, and when I travel I aim for the most primal food on the menu, which sometimes isn’t primal at all.

    I ate non primal for decades and didn’t feel to bad for it so a few days here and there wont hurt.

  33. I relaly enjoyed “The Primal Blueprint”. Actually finished it last night. My girlfriend bought it and I stole it from her to read first. After all I introduced her to this site!
    The 80/20 rule is a great thing. I strive for 100% all the time, knowing that if there is a time when I can’t conform everything is going to be ok. When we are out I try to do the best I can with what I have to work with. I will say though that whenever I do “cheat” it hurts me now more than ever. Sugar sends me off the deep end with a fast heart rate and the inability to sleep. Even in small amounts. So with that in mind I really strive for 100% at a 95%/5% difference.

    Thanks for all you do Mark!

  34. thanks to those of you who answered my previous posted questions!!! i really appreciate it!

  35. I have a couple questions if anyone can help me out. I eat Ezekial Hamburger Buns which are considered a “complete protein” but they of course have wheat in them & are a grain. I assume this is not a PB acceptable food?

    As to sugar in my coffee – should I just use a “pinch” of organic sugar?

    i currently drink Shakeology drinks from Beachbody. Is this acceptable? i usually add ice & fruit.

  36. Sushi. And, although I almost collapsed from bread and butter, I’ll buy a loaf of French sour dough bread once a month and knock myself out. This thread has been a lot of fun, thanks all.

  37. The real “80-20 Rule” or “Pareto principle” does not apply like this. What it means is that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. So in business, 80% of your profits are likely because of 20% of your staff; the idea is to illustrate that a minority of causes provide the majority of results.

    The fact that it adds up to 100% is purely coincidence, and is one reason so many people misapply the principle.

    I’m not disagreeing with what you wrote – it makes perfect sense not to require absolute adherence to the PB – what I’m disagreeing with is your use of the phrase “80-20 Rule.”

    A simple change in wording would appease the statisticians among us.

  38. I agree with Clark that calling this method the “80/20 principle” is misleading since your interpretation does not relate to the Pareto principle, which is the more established 80/20.

  39. Clark, Laurie,

    Yes, it can be a little confusing, considering 80 and 20 are used both in the Pareto principle and the 80% rule I use in The Primal Blueprint; which is one of the reasons I dedicated 2 posts to the the topic. My 80% rule is about doing your best and realizing that not being 100% compliant can be ok in many cases. Sure, the Pareto principle, adds another helpful nuance to the discussion. Additionally, I often say:

    Eighty percent of your ability to reduce excess body fat is determined by
    how you eat, with the other 20 percent depending on proper exercise,
    other healthy lifestyle habits, and genetic factors.

    Thank you for your thoughts/comments. I appreciate them. Cheers!

  40. I’m just so OVER putting a ton of effort into managing my food and exercise. PB is my default. But if my friends all decide to go eat at Old Spaghetti Factory, or my fiancée and I want to curl up on a cold winter’s night with a cup of cocoa, I’m not going to worry about it. It doesn’t kill me, my weight, or my routine. I just want to life my life happily. I also refuse to call my dark chocolate, dairy, or bananas “cheats.” I’m not cheating anything or anybody! I’m still getting vital healthy nutrients and fats when I eat those things! I don’t eat them in copious amounts and I don’t want to. So they aren’t cheats or even indulgences. Just variety. So that’s my take on the 80/20. I know I’m doing good on PB. I see it and feel it and that’s all that matters to me.

  41. very new here and its all interesting.

    right now I don’t do breads but have 2 tortillas a week (corn, I was hoping a slice of homemade wheat bread would be okay, but apparently its not.

    saw that flan made with almond milk, so thats cool..
    is there a newbie area? that would be cool to meet people rotating into this as well and track our results/support each other…just an idea..Matt

    1. I didn’t bother to check the date of the post before I commented, so I’m not exactly timely…ah, well. I agree that a forum or something for newbies would be great! I would love to talk with others and compare notes, plans, recipes, and ideas…great suggestion!

  42. Well, I’m am just starting to ramp up to this lifestyle that I eventually want to embrace. As a single mother with three kids, though, I certainly can’t afford to just chuck a bunch of food out and start over.

    I have committed to eating properly for breakfast and lunch during the work week, and then I am trying to use up the foods or ingredients that I will no longer stock slowly in the evenings and on the weekends.

    What I made last night was 2 of the breaded MorningStar Farms chik’n patties, and split those up on four big yummy salads. I had to go with the Ranch on hand, but I definitely plan to try Mark’s recipe once we’ve used up the dressings I already have. Not a huge change, but I eliminated the buns, and probably chips or fries that I would have served, so I feel good about that meal.

    Anyway, I’m probably closer to 50/50 right now, but it’s going to take me some time to plan the changes in our lives slowly and steadily. I feel like I’ll have a better chance of success if I can incorporate the changes incrementally…I am 100% determined to succeed as well if that counts 🙂

  43. I thought the 80/20 concept was that 80% of the results come from diet, and 20% from your workout routine. My diet and workouts both conform to the 10 rules all the time. Math is hard.