The 80/20 Rule And How To Apply It

Whilst we should all aim to eat as healthily as we can as often as we can, being too restrictive more often than not leads to weight regain.  Making consistent nutrition changes that suit your lifestyle is the key to losing & maintaining fat loss.  This is where the 80/20 rule can work.

How it works

The principle is simple; eat whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole unprocessed grains, 80% of the time.  This allows you to indulge in foods you love, that may otherwise hinder progress, 20% of the time.  You can choose to do this on either a daily basis or by having a ‘day off’ every week.  We recommend that you do it daily as it will help you to avoid cravings and achieve a more sustainable balance but if you do decide to have a ‘day off’, then you must ensure that you still remain within your calorie allowance for that day.

Focussing on whole, natural foods for the majority of your diet will lead to you feeling more energised, happier and healthier.  You will find that your activity levels along with your mood increases and your results will be far better.

Guidelines on 80% foods

These should come from natural, unprocessed sources such as:


Fish, lean meats, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, protein powders, tofu.

80/20 diet rule


Rice, potatoes (sweet and white), oats, quinoa, vegetables, salad, fruits, beans/legumes.

Transformational Nutrition fibre


Avocado, raw nuts, oily fish, olive oil, nut butter, butter.

This list is my no means exhaustive, it just serves as an initial, informative guide.


Just try to eat the majority of your food from natural sources 80% of the time and do not feel guilty for indulging once in a while.

Have a question about nutrition? Confused about anything that we have posted? PING US and the relevant coach will get back to you with an answer.


Could your food choices be affecting your mood?

Can what you eat really affect your mood? This is a really interesting area of research that is developing and the data we have to date is promising.  

Food is the body’s essential fuel. Alongside oxygen and water, without food, a human being cannot survive. As science has evolved, people are slowly waking up to the evidence that food choices can dramatically influence the quality of your life – your energy levels, your skin, your propensity to avoid illness and disease and one of the latest studies shows the effect of food choices on moods

The SMILES study 

Transformational Nutrition depression and diet

A 2017 Randomised controlled trial, called the SMILES study, set out to investigate whether a dietary intervention could treat moderate to severe depression.  It was a 12 week, parallel group, single-blind study involving 67 participants. The intervention group received 7 nutritional consulting sessions alongside a Mediterranean diet whilst the control group received placebo, social support sessions of the same length and frequency.

The Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale was used to assess the participants at 12 weeks and the results were impressive.  32% of those who received the dietary intervention were classified as no longer clinically depressed at the end of the trial compared with 8% in the placebo group.  This seems to suggest that diet alone can change levels of depression. It is important to note that the participants in this study were seriously depressed and continued to take medication throughout but it would appear that diet as an adjunct therapy did indeed benefit.  It also begs the question of whether diet alone could help to treat those with lower levels of depression so that medication isn’t required. This has not been researched to date but it is certainly something to consider – if you suffer from low moods, could the quality of you diet be the primary cause?  It is certainly something that I investigate with my clients if appropriate.

What was special about the diet?

Transformational Nutrition fibre

Talking of diet then, let’s look a little closer at the composition of the diet implemented in the SMILES study. Firstly, it included 50g of fibre daily; compare this with the UK average of 15-20g. This was provided through the inclusion of plenty of plant based foods.  The participant’s guts were therefore loaded with dietary fibre which we know is good for our gut microbiota. When we digest fibre, we produce things like short chain fatty acids which provide us with energy and keep our colon healthy.  Our gut microbes communicate with our central nervous system, which is where the ‘gut: brain’ axis theory originates, so maintaining a healthy gut could play a key role in managing our mental state.

In addition to a huge increase in fibre, participants were asked to eat the following daily:

  • 1 serving of Nuts
  • 60 ml of Olive oil
  • 2-3 servings of dairy
  • 6 portions of vegetables
  • 3 portions of fruit
  • 5-8 servings of whole grains.

And the following weekly:

  • 1-4 portions of legumes
  • 3-4 servings of red meat
  • At least 2 portions of fish
  • 2-3 servings of poultry and up to 6 eggs.

They were, therefore, getting plenty of folate from the fruits, veggies and whole grains, vitamin B12 from dairy, eggs and red meat, omega 3 and selenium from the nuts and fish.  All of these important nutrients have been shown to help improve mood and symptoms of depression.

As you can see, it was a well-balanced diet that included plenty of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats which would have met the energy requirements of the participants whilst providing them with all the necessary vitamins and minerals for a healthy functioning body.

I appreciate that vegetarians won’t like the presence of meat in the study. Non-meat eaters might want to replace meat with more fish, dairy, eggs or legumes depending on what their diet allows though I cannot promise anyone will enjoy the outcomes in the trial.

Can we put it all down to diet?

Transformational Nutrition family eating depression

In addition to all this, participants were asked to exercise daily and enjoy meals with others.  Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit from a positive boost in mood and suffer less with depression.  Socialising over food may also have had an impact on; it promotes more mindful eating which has proven benefits for both our mental and physical health.  It prevents eating on the go in a stressed state which helps digestion and thus plays a part in promoting emotional well-being.


In summary, then, it would seem that we can, in fact, improve our mental health through our diet and lifestyle.  Such simple interventions could in turn help to manage and/or prevent the development of mental and physical disease.

So if you suffer from moods or depression, this study strongly suggests that you can positively affect this with your choice of food and remember that food does not have the negative side effects of some medication.


Protein Packed Overnight Oats – The Secret to Effective Weight Loss

Whilst is it a myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, a good breakfast can certainly set you up for the day, especially if you have a busy one ahead.

Two of the biggest mistakes that my clients make are the following:

  1. They don’t plan ahead, leave the house on an empty stomach and then end up starving on their commute to the office.  This means they inevitably go for that huge croissant or pain au chocolat.
  2. They fail to include protein.  So whilst that tasty pastry fills a gap momentarily, they find themselves hungry again at 11 am.  So, what do they do?  Grab the next most convenient thing which is usually not the healthiest.

The Solution

You need a breakfast that is quick, easy, satisfying and can be easily transported for whenever hunger strikes.  For this reason I want to share with you the recipe that helped one of my clients lose a stone in 6 weeks – protein-packed overnight oats!

It can very easily be prepared in advance and will last up to 5 days in the fridge.  This means you can make a big batch on a Sunday night that is ready to go as you rush out the door every weekday morning.

As it is high in protein, fibre and contains slow-releasing carbohydrates, it will keep you full until lunchtime which my client said really helped with curbing her ‘elevenses’ cravings!


The Recipe

I am sharing the basic recipe here which can be adapted to suit your own personal taste.  The great thing about this is that you can vary it each week or even make 2 versions per week.

It also means you can add any ingredients you have readily available.

This makes one serving but you can amend it according to how many days you want to be super prepared for.  Once it is ready, you can transfer in to separate pots.


  • 150g Greek yogurt
  • 30 g rolled oats
  • 150ml milk of choice
  • 1 scoop whey protein (flavour of choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Preferred fruit
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)


  1. Whisk all of the above together and then transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Top with berries when ready to serve (optional)

To conclude

So there you have it – super simple hey?? You can go ahead and play with different variations.  I like to add nuts and seeds sometimes or my favourite sugar-free syrup for a sweeter taste.  A little shaving if dark chocolate on the top is also a great way to add some indulgence without sacrificing too many Kcals.  The possibilities really are endless….

Weight loss does not need to be complicated; it is achieved through small habits practiced every day.


Identity Based Behaviour Change – the key to long term weight loss

Do you ever wonder why, for some people, being ‘healthy’ appears so effortless?

It must be part of their genetic makeup, you tell yourself – ‘I could never be that disciplined,’ is probably your self-narrative.

Yet, the truth is that people who practice healthy behaviours day in, day out, have made this a part of who they are – their identity.  This is the key to long term success, whatever your goal.

Identify Based Behaviour Change

Transformational nutrition goal setting

Whether intentionally or not, people who get results are people who have internalised positive behaviours, they no longer have to think about doing the ‘right’ thing, it just occurs naturally.

They also do not have the mindset that they have to eat veg all day tomorrow as a punishment for eating badly yesterday.  Nor do they see the gym as a short term fix to reach that magic number on the scales.

Quite the opposite; they have identified with the ‘thing’ that gets them results.  They have BECOME the person who eats veg every day or the girl who lifts weights.  It has become effortless because it is a part of who they are.  They never ‘forget’ to add broccoli to their evening meal or have to muster up the energy to get their gym gear because it comes as naturally as brushing their teeth in the morning.

It most likely did not happen over night, however.  They identified the habit they wanted to instil and they practised it over time.  It is this accumulation of efforts that gets results.

The issue for so many of us is that we give up far too soon; the progress is not immediate and so we do not allow enough time to identify with the person we truly want to be.  We tell ourselves it is an impossible dream and end up back in the same rut.

How To Implement Identity Based Behaviour Change

Transformational nutrition self belief behaviour change

In order to believe in a new identity, we have to first believe that it is achievable – that we can be the person we desire to be.  This means pushing self-limiting thoughts aside and remembering that we are ultimately in control of how we act, react, talk and listen each and every day.

Of course, life happens.  Situations, often difficult ones, occur each day to test us.  It is how we respond to those challenges that makes all the difference.

In order to develop true self-belief, we must prove we can do it.

The most effective way is to first identify the small things you want to work on immediately that will ultimately lead you to your overarching goal.  Perhaps you need to be more active – start by increasing your steps by 500 each day.  Maybe sleep is an issue – go to bed 10 minutes earlier each night to begin with.

Decide your focus then write it down; this will be your personal contract.

Then, follow these steps:

Attach it to an existing goal

Maybe you need to remember to take a supplement each day.  Great, put it next to your kettle to take with your morning brew.

Maybe you have vowed to do 20 squats; do them while brushing your teeth.

Attaching a new habit to an existing one means that you are less likely to forget or neglect it.


Make it part of your routine by doing it each and every day.  Don’t just do it for a day or two – keep repeating over and over so it becomes ingrained in your memory.


When you have repeated the habit for an identified period of time, i.e. 7 consecutive days, reward yourself.  No, not with a huge chocolate bar!  Try a nice bath or a relaxing massage.

Monitor progress

Transformational utrition goal setting

Once you have started, begin a habit check list to positively reinforce your new habit.  You can do this on a calendar or create your own chart, whatever works for you.  Motivation will probably be high initially but this inevitably dwindles.  A visual reminder of how you have come can, however, be a powerful way to keep you focused.

If you do miss a day and the chain breaks, don’t give up.  Start again and aim to improve on your last score.  If you find that this happens regularly, however, then you may need to rethink your habit; was it too ambitious, maybe you need to strip it back a  little.  If you have never been active before and suddenly try to run 5k a day, you will find it hard to keep it up!!

It takes an average of 66 days, not 21 like some will have you believe, to make a new habit stick.  Missing one day has no log term effect if you get back on it.  It is the summation of positive action that makes it part of our identity.


Our habits are ultimately a reflection of who we believe ourselves to be.  If you perceive yourself to be someone who cannot lift a weight in a gym or who cannot cook from scratch, then you will live that out. But is this who you really want to be?  If so, crack on!!

If, however, you want to be that girl who can wear a bikini on the beach this year or that bloke who can bench three times their body weight.  Or even that parent who always has enough energy to run after their kids, then start working on becoming that person TODAY!

If you would like more advice and guidance on how to achieve your health and fitness goals, please get in touch.