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Running Diet Reviews: Is 90/10 Diet Plan Really Effective?

There’s no rule that says you have to wait until the new year to take a step back and reassess whether your eating habits are fueling your running goals. Now is a good time to start! If you’re ready to try something new, a 90/10 diet plan might be a good option. Go through our running diet reviews of the 90/10 diet plan.

a meal plan among dishes

What is a 90/10 diet plan?

The 90/10 rule is an excellent way to make room in your diet for some less-than-healthy treats:

“The 90/10 rule states that you should eat according to your specific goal-based nutrition plan 90% of the time, and 10% of the time you can indulge in something that is not on the diet. You will not derail your fat loss or fitness goals if you consume cheat meals in this manner.”

Having a 90/10 mindset when it comes to food means that you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to follow every dietary rule perfectly.

In a more understandable way, you allow yourself to be flexible and it’s okay to eat junk food from time to time. But you eat nutritious foods – fruits, vegetables, animal and/or plant proteins, high-fiber grains, fish, fats, and more. – most, or about 90%, always. The remaining 10% gives you room for a drink, dessert, mid-afternoon treat or whatever you may choose.

Here’s how it works: The 90/10 rule means removing the pressure to eat well every day, all of the time.

Runners consider food to be fuel for training, but it should also be enjoyable. Learn how to use the 90/10 nutrition guidelines and make this the first time you reach your goal weight without sacrificing your running goals while still eating your favorite foods.


90/10 diet foods and results

The 90/10 diet has more menu options than most other diets. It includes menus for two weeks for each of the three calorie levels (1,200, 1,400, and 1,600). The lowest-calorie diet plan is designed for women who exercise infrequently, have only two to ten pounds to lose, and want to lose it quickly. The 1,400-calorie diet is appropriate for most women who lead moderately active lives and need to lose between 2 and 50 pounds. The 1,600-calorie plan is suitable for most men, whether they exercise or not, as well as women 5’6″ or taller. There is also a long list of fun foods that can account for one serving (250 calories) per day.

Almost all of your favorite foods are permitted as long as you do not exceed the serving size specified. The menus are fairly bland in comparison to many other diet plans, and the portion sizes are small. A typical day on the 1,400-calorie plan might include scrambled tofu and a toasted whole-wheat English muffin for breakfast, pita pizza for lunch, a baked apple for a snack, fish, sweet potato, and green beans for dinner, and fun food at some point throughout the day. Bauer recently added The 90/10 Weight Loss Cookbook, which contains over 100 recipes that fit into the various calorie-level diet plans.

Young romantic couple is having breakfast on modern light kitchen. Sexy woman in underwear and men's shirt and handsome man are sitting at the table eating sandwiches and toasts drinking orange juice. Healthy lifestyle concept.

Related: What Is Running Diet? How To Make A Stamina Diet Plan?


Running diet reviews: What the experts say

The diet is a low-calorie, well-balanced plan. However, it falls short of the calcium and vitamin D recommendations, and it does not provide enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains per day to meet current recommendations. The calories “spent” on the daily allowance of “fun food,” according to experts, would be better spent on more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

With a little more productivity each day, as well as a calcium and vitamin D supplement, the nutrition would be greatly improved. However, for those who simply cannot bear the thought of giving up favorite foods, this plan provides a realistic way to include them. The 90/10 plan earns a gold star for emphasizing physical activity and allowing you to create your own activity plan.


Why should runners try the 90/10 (or even an 80/20) diet?

Many commercial diets use an all-or-nothing approach, which often results in extreme cravings, weight fluctuations (both up and down), and a low chance of successfully improving health and fitness.

Rather than trying to go all-in, all-the-time with your nutrition, take a step back and try the 90/10, or 80/20, mindset. Again, this is not to suggest that you begin tracking the percentage of time you spend eating the “right” or “junk” foods. Fill your 90 percent bucket with foods that will nourish you and fuel your training, and use the 10 percent bucket to remain flexible and relaxed with your diet mentality.

We can’t make any progress unless we rest. We don’t have a chance to check in with ourselves unless we take a break from drastic changes. Changes to your diet should be approached in the same way that you would a new training schedule: start small and build up to your goal.

Take note of what works for you once you’ve found your groove with foods that give you energy, aid in recovery, and adequately fuel your health and training.

Sportswoman jogging in the city


Tips to ensure your 90/10 diet plan is a success

1. Identify small changes, and start with one at a time

Change your nutrition at the same rate you would increase your running: slowly and gradually. Begin with small changes and gradually build on them to achieve the 90/10 mindset.

  • First:

Keep a food diary for a few days, or simply reflect on what you’ve eaten in the last 24 hours.

Examine it and consider each meal and snack, why you ate what you did, whether you were actually hungry at the time or if you were simply bored (which we are all guilty of eating in this way sometimes).

  • Now:

Determine which habits, or meals in particular, you want to improve. These are frequently obvious; you may find yourself looking at things through the “I should have” lens.

  • Next:

Choose one goal to work on for at least three to five days at a time. Consider the phrase “more vegetables.”

First, turn that into a more specific (S.M.A.R.T.) goal, such as “every day, have a small side salad with lunch” or “snack on sliced peppers and hummus in the afternoon.”

Try to do this every day until it feels normal. It could take a few days, or it could take a week or two.

  • This is important:

Expectations should not be placed on any other meal or snack other than that one. This eases you into the 90/10 mindset.

Take it slow and easy, as if you were going for a long run. Allow yourself time to adjust to this change in your diet, just as you would give yourself weeks to get in shape. Don’t try to make drastic dietary changes all at once.

This relates to tip number one: even if you intend to make a lot of nutritional changes, don’t try to change everything at once.


2. Avoid the urge to change everything about your current routine

It is difficult not only to change your habits, but also to break them. Consider what falls into your 10% bucket and be content with that.

You may need to repeat the process outlined in tip number two (food log for a day, review, identify small changes to make, start with one at a time) several times, and it may be helpful to enlist the assistance of a nutrition professional.

However, it is acceptable to keep a few vices that you enjoy as part of your daily diet.

Fill that daily 90 percent bucket with balanced meals (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) within the two optimal recovery windows after a run, including three to five servings of fruits and vegetables, high-fiber foods (grains, vegetables, nuts), and meals/snacks portioned to your needs.

Keep 10% available for nights out with friends, celebratory desserts or meals, and weekend brunches. Adopting a 90/10 mindset means practicing moderation and avoiding extremes. You don’t want to make drastic changes to your eating habits.

Trying to start over with food will be overwhelming and probably unnecessary.


3. Eat when you’re (physically) hungry

Diet or not, one aspect of nutrition that is often overlooked is physical hunger. We eat for many reasons — a snack or meal can be fueled by stress, time of day, boredom, or another emotion — but we don’t always feel hungry.

Start pausing before eating a main meal or snack to gauge your level of physical hunger.

You may be asking yourself, “Am I hungry?”. Here are some things to think about if you’re not sure if you’re really hungry:

  • “Do you feel your stomach is empty?”
  • “Having low energy levels?”
  • “Do you have trouble concentrating?”

Highly focused on food or what to eat? If you answered yes to any of these questions, eat a meal or snack.

If you are not experiencing the hunger signs listed above, try to identify the emotion you are experiencing.

Is it stress, boredom, anxiety or fear that you are experiencing? Consider what, other than food, might be a better way to deal with that emotion.

On the other hand, people often ignore the physical signs of hunger (for a variety of reasons, one of which could be a weight loss goal).

In this case, being hungry, moody, possibly dizzy or unable to concentrate is a form of stress for the body, and will cause your body to cling to whatever fuel you take in, as it will be afraid of hunger.

Try to eat before you reach this point of extreme hunger. You can do this by having snacks ready or planning meals and snacks ahead of time if you know you’re hungry two to three hours after a meal.

So what’s the point?

Being aware of your physical hunger and respecting it with nutritious foods is one of the keys to eating enough to fuel your workout. In 90/10 thinking, you teach yourself to eat when hungry rather than trying to follow a strict diet of calories, meal times, or diets.

a couple selfie

Whether enjoying the occasional sinful treat or learning to crave healthy food, the key is to allow flexibility and find out what works best for your body. Try using 90/10 diet plan and give us your own running diet reviews!


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