Losing Weight: The 90/10 Rule

Woman enjoying weight loss.


Trying to lose weight but still want to enjoy some of your favorite treats? Learning the 90/10 rule can help balance out your clean eating with the option to enjoy a few treats each week too! You’ve probably heard someone, somewhere talk about the 90/10 Rule when it relates to weight loss or health and fitness goals.  There are all kinds of rules you might’ve heard of like the 80/20 rule or even 85/15 rule. They all relate to how many meals in a week you dedicate to eating healthy and in line with your goals versus how many meals you allow yourself to eat out of line with your goals or have “cheat meals”.

So for example, the 90/10 rule would mean 90% of your weekly meals are healthy and would coincide with your goals of weight loss, health, fitness, etc. 10% of your weekly meals are open food choices or cheat meals. This means that you would be enjoying meals or food options that you enjoy but may not necessarily be helpful for you to reach your goals.

What’s the math on the 90/10 rule? If there are 21 meals in a week, 90% eating clean would equal 19 meals. This would give you 2 meals per week to eat what you want. So whether that’s a cheat meal (pizza, burger, etc) or you decide to have a glass of wine or a dessert, you would allow yourself leeway for 2 meals to do what you want.


As I stated above, there are a few rules other than the 90/10 rule. You may find that one or the other works best for you and your goals.

When I work with nutrition coaching clients, I use the 90/10 rule specifically when I have a client who has not reached their goal yet. I suggest the 90/10 rule for the people in the following situations (these are just a few examples):

  • You have a specific weight loss goal that you haven’t met yet.

  • You have a hard time with “cheat meals”. You’re someone that has a hard time getting back on track once you’ve had a cheat meal. Or you go WAY overboard with your cheat meals and ending up not only eating food that isn’t good for you but your portion sizes are much larger than normal as well.

  • You are an athlete and you’re looking to accomplish a specific goal such as strength or time. Nutrition is of the upmost importance for those types of athletic goals.

  • You are an athlete, body builder or figure competitor (or some type of physique athlete) and you have a body composition goal to reach.

  • You’re looking to improve your health due to blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar issues or a whole host of other reasons.


We tend to underestimate the amount of food that we take in and overestimate our calorie expenditure. This is why what you take in is so important.

  • 90% – Clean Eating

  • 10% – Open Food Choices

As stated above, if you have 21 meals in a week, this would allow for approximately 2 meals to be open food choice meals or cheat meals.

You could apple this to two meals in the same day or pick two random meals throughout the week to enjoy something other than the normal healthy, clean, portioned food you’re used to eating.

Although you are having a cheat meal, it’s still important to keep your portions in check as much as possible. Just because it’s a “freebie” doesn’t mean you should go crazy and eat as much as you can. That being said, it’s also important to allow yourself these open food choices because life is about balance rather than all or nothing.


A few tips for cheat meals and weekend eating…

  1. Keep portions in check.

  2. Stay hydrated.

  3. Don’t let your cheat meal drag into a cheat day.

  4. Be picky about what you eat. Make it worth your while. Make sure you’re satisfied. If you do, you’re more likely to feel satisfied by your choices and less likely to want more.

  5. Use a journal for everyday use including your cheat meals.

  6. Don’t feel bad about having two cheat meals in a week. Plan to screw up a little. This is life – not lockdown.

If you need personal guidance, accountability or motivation for nutrition, check out our Health & Wellness Coaching. We coach online or in person: Health & Wellness Coaching

Ready to jumpstart your healthy habits? Join us for a fitness retreat to submerge yourself into a healthy lifestyle at the beach. Packages from 3 – 6 Nights.

We hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please any comments or questions in the comment section below.

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