The 80/20 Food Principle

Sustainable & Scalable Nutrition for Today’s Consumer


Food Portions, Macronutrients, Gut Inflammation, Disease, Cancers and Back Pain have all been found to be related to your food.

Did that grab your attention? That’s what headlines are supposed to do right? Okay, apologies for placing click-bait your way — everyone is doing it right??? I’ll save that for a future post but for now…

Is ANY of this truly relevant to you in your life?

“It Depends”

If you have been struggling with weight loss/management and have noticed that your body doesn’t respond the same way as it did when you were 22, then yes having an understanding of nutrition and the food you are putting into your body is detrimental to your health and well-being.

Before we move on, let’s quantify “Health and Well-Being” as those two words have been thrown around the industry and into people’s lives for far too long. First, I invite you to take into consideration all of the research done on GMOs, Organic vs Commercial food, filtered vs non-filtered water and to watch a few videos on how boxed food is manufactured today.

You might be surprised >.>

If you’re still reading this and haven’t closed the page yet because after reading the last paragraph you said, “f*ck another one of these holistic nutrition people shoving down my throat why I need to be “Clean Eating” and looking at labels for certified organic, non-GMO project, fair trade etc.” — I appreciate you continuing to be curious!

Back on track — the focal point of this article is to bring to light what research has shown, how conventional food is made and for you to make your own decision on what is right for you. It’s taken a lot of time of my own experimentation and research to find nutritional guidelines that were sustainable and adaptable to a southern Californian I.T Pro working 14–16 hour days, traveling monthly across oceans, living out of a suit case — all the while competing 2–3 times a year in Powerlifting meets.

Any athlete will tell you that recovery, programming and nutrition are “The 3 Golden Rules To Higher Performance”; this isn’t restricted to athletes, you can totally apply this to you, YOU and yes even U!

That begs the question, “what does performance mean to you?”

Performance may be defined as:

“Optimizing the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to achieve a quantifiable result measured over time”.

What are you KPIs for nutrition especially with regards to what we now know about organic eating and Non-GMO produce? Allow me to paint you a picture of where I was before I became aware of the differences. It’s not pretty so hopefully you didn’t finish eating a rack of ribs before reading this (grass fed and grass finished I hope).

Before I knew the difference between commericial and organic farming I struggled with:

  • Constipation
  • Major acne
  • Going #2 once a week, if that
  • Urine that looked like green gatorade with a hint of Yellow Dye #5

Oh I forgot to mention, during this time of a 20 year span I also herniated a disk in my lumbar spine (which I still joyously have) and dealt with lower back pain along with all the other wonders of life! Excited, I know.

So what’s the punch line here? Well, after taking 3 years to understand, research and experiment in my own body — I found that I was able to remove all of the KPIs listed above without changing much else in my life. I was still getting 6–8 hours of sleep but life stress increased. Normally you would either stay with your current nutritional deficits and collateral health issues but I managed to improve and remove all of them from my life. Except the low back pain, nutrition won’t fix structural integrity but it WILL help as I will explain.

How you might ask?

Let’s look at the 4 main issues I struggled with,

Constipation and not releasing enough fecal matter (around 12” a day) is typically due to two reasons:

#1 — Dehydration

#2 — Gut Inflammation (This also has a direct effect on lower back pain)

Your body will siphon water that is stored in fecal matter if you aren’t refilling the system with at least half of your body weight in ounces daily. Every single biochemical process in your body is dependent on good ol H20 which is why everyone has been saying to DRINK MORE WATER. It’s not an old wives tale there’s actually science behind it.

When water is extracted from fecal matter and your elimination system is attempting to do it’s job, it’s almost the same thing as trying to push a rusty rod through a hole. Yes you can probably get it through, after a few hours of pushing and sweating — not a fun time right?

“Question, you mentioned gut inflammation?”

Yes I did, here’s what I will share that is critical to your health.

When your gut wall is inflamed (think of your gut wall as your basically your abdominals) it is due to free radicals piercing through the wall out into the superficial layers where muscular activation will be affected. Let’s go into a small huddle about this and then move on.

Allergic reactions to food is a common cause of free radicals being introduced into your body. More specifically they are auto immune responses to foreign substances entering your digestive system. Your body is smart and will defend against foreign entities at all costs, a response to attack is the build up inflammation. HUT HUT

So now you have an inflamed gut, what happens? What happens is your kidneys and liver (filtering systems for your body) must work overtime in order to match the increased demand of your immune system. The trouble is, your filtering organs only have so much energy it can produce to perform their primary functions. If you continue to feed the entire system (your body) more junk and inflammation then your kidneys and livers can only process so much before they become overworked.

That’s the physiological response and detriment that is put on the system, what about the mechanical and reciprocal response gut inflammation has on your muscular system and physique of your abs?

If your gut wall is inflamed you’ll typically see bloating as a direct response. No matter how many reps of crunches or sit ups you do, the internal battle happening will always dominate any external stimulus you give the human body. That covers the physique part, what about the muscular system and mechanical functions?

Your lower abdominals and internal obliques have innervations (HUH???)

Okay jeez, innervations are basically signals fed through wires that go from your muscles into your spine where your Central Nervous System runs through. If you want to go into Geek Mode check out this article .

So you have wiring that connects your low abs and internal obliques to your spine, hope you’re with me. Why is this important? It’s important because without proper activation and bracing of your spine (that happens by drawing your belly button in towards your spine) especially when under load:

  • picking up a heavy box from the floor
  • lifting up a couch
  • dragging equipment across the floor
  • lifting your nephew off the floor

You run the risk of injury to the discs in your spine (sponge like discs in between each of your vertebral bones). You can only activate your lower abs and internal obliques if your gut wall isn’t inflamed, THAT’S THE PUNCH LINE.

How can you decrease or remove gut inflammation? Well, find out what foods you’re allergic to. How do you tell if your gut is inflamed? If you’re always bloated that’s one sign, another is if you aren’t going to the bathroom daily (taking a dump). Releasing less than 12” a day that’s another one. Urine looking like it’s the birthing area for an alien, yeah you might need to drink more H20.

Performance Defined, How Do I Apply It?

What I have found to work for sustainable nutrition principles that can scale with the stress of life is what is known as the 80/20 Principle.

The 80/20 rule is simply this:

“80% of the time with your food choices you are 100% consistent. 20% of the time you allow for variation within reason”.

Please, Please, Please take to heart that last part — within reason. Many people take the 20% portion to mean cheat meals, entitlement, deserving etc. Listen your body isn’t something to be taken for granted. You have one body, treat it right so the rest of your life can be lived without dis-ease, syndromes, symptoms and becoming another statistic.

Let’s define “within reason” of the 20% variable.

First, you have to be self-aware of your goals. Once you’ve achieved your micro goals of losing or gaining weight you will reach the point after say 3–5 years where maintenance is where you will be at for a long time. Accept that the maintenance phase will test you, don’t give up on yourself no matter how hard it gets.

Second, don’t believe or listen to anyone who tells you take cheat meals because all that invites into your life is taking the easy way out. Cheat meals have become a F.A.D (Falsely Advertised Diet), the only person you’re cheating is yourself and success over time is not built on a cheating system — it requires hard work and discipline.

Lastly, it’s okay to eat food outside of your normal regiment. Don’t alienate yourself from your friends and family because you have chosen to eat organic whole foods. When it comes to birthdays, holidays and celebrations be there for your loved ones. Now the hard part you’re trying to figure out is what to eat at these events right?

Look at what is being offered, reduce your portion sizes by 10–20%. I know, I know you need to eat enough food right? Well think about it this way, if you know eating commercially raised chicken gives you rashes and you can’t go to the bathroom for 3 days are you still going to be dogmatic in your approach to “eating enough food”? What I have found to work, both to keep yourself aligned with your holistic nutrition approach and not be a jerk to your friends, is to reduce your portion sizes at such events. You’ll still be getting “enough caloric intake” but your digestive system won’t have to work to extreme ends to break down food it can’t tolerate.

You will still feel some of the effects of reducing total caloric volume for that particular meal but you can always reduce the collateral effects of these one off events by making choices within reason.

Take Away

The 80/20 principle is one method you can use in your life to stay true to how your own unique biochemical body works without having to sacrifice too much psychologically as well as relationally. Being the victim of cheat meals and feel good foods sucks, it’s not fun nor is it sustainable if you don’t have the mental fortitude to stop your self dead in your tracks.

I believe the discipline can be trained, but let’s face it how many of you actually want to work for it? This isn’t a blanket statement, it’s a cold hard truth and many of you reading this won’t want to retrain your brain because of the difficulty it entails — that’s okay.

You have to do what’s best for you, dogmatic approaches lead to rigid systems of perspective and that will dictate your attitude. Understand, rigid systems founded upon sound principles are okay — but your body isn’t a rigid system. It’s constantly changing and being hit with external stressors daily. Your goal is to adapt and understand how to scale your efforts with an ever changing external force.

The one thing you do have control over is YOU. The invitation here is to understand what your goals are and begin to implement the 80/20 principle into your lives so that each future version of you honors that ritual you have created internally.

With Love and Strength,

David Lee — The P.O.W.E.R Coach

I hope you enjoyed reading this rant, philosophical expression, psycho-something or other post!

If you have 1 second (just one!) please comment or ❤ the post if you liked it! I believe in communication and community which is why i’m here.

Thanks a bunch and follow me around on my journey as a Powerlifter, Yoga Teacher, Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Techie.


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