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What You Need to Know About The 90/10 Diet

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Updated February 15, 2014

90/10 Diet

The 90/10 diet allows you to enjoy "fun foods" regularly.

Photo: © www.pricegrabber.com

What is the 90/10 diet?

The 90/10 diet can be found in a book written by nutritionist Joy Bauer called The 90/10 Weight-Loss Plan: A Scientifically Designed Balance of Healthy Foods and Fun Foods.

How much does this diet cost?

The book can be purchased for approximately $18 online or at other book retailers. There are no required foods or expensive recipes necessary to follow this plan.

What is the diet like?

The basic premise of the 90/10 plan is that you eat a healthful diet 90 percent of the time, and enjoy what Bauer calls “fun foods” 10 percent of the time. Bauer’s theory is that by allowing yourself your favorite foods some of the time, you will feel less deprived and more able to stick with the healthy changes the rest of the time. The book outlines diets for three different daily calorie levels -- 1,200, 1,400, and 1,600.

What is the food like?

There are two weeks worth of meals outlined in this plan. Once you are accustomed to practicing portion control, monitoring your calories, and planning your fun foods, you will also be able to customize your meals to your own preferences as long as you stay within your caloric allowance.

During my trial of the diet, a typical day’s menu was oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, a tuna melt with low-fat cheese for lunch, an apple for snack, chicken and vegetables with brown rice for dinner, and chocolate chip cookies as my fun food.

What is the best part of this diet?

What I liked about this diet was being able to continue to allow myself a controlled portion of nearly any food as long as I followed the guidelines the rest of the time. I was able to enjoy “old favorites” that other diets forbid. (So many other diets ask you to go "cold turkey" on favorite foods, especially during the first week or so, or during the first “phases” of the plan. I often find those diets too difficult to stick to for any period of time, but did not have that problem with this plan.)

What is the most challenging part of this diet?

The only "catch" to this plan is that you have to work the fun foods into your daily calorie allotment; I was on the 1,600 calorie plan, so those 260 calories from my cookies left me 1,340 calories to utilize for the rest of the day. Since my calorie allotment was on the higher end, I did not often have a problem working in everything I needed to round out my day’s food intake.

However, I can see that this may be challenging to someone on the lower end of the spectrum, at 1,200 calories, especially if you are not accustomed to monitoring your food or calorie intake. For example, let’s say you plan tomorrow morning for a 300 calorie treat as your "fun food" and then you decide to have a soda with it, too. If you only have 750 calories remaining for your entire day after your treat, you have used too many calories and did not allow sufficient calories for other more nutritious, filling choices. That’s why planning is so important so you “spend” your calories the best way possible.

What are the long-term effects of this diet?

During my 30-day trial of this plan, I lost just under eight pounds. I found this plan to be effective and reasonably easy to follow.

You can easily track your daily calories and search for foods’ caloric content at a free Web site such as Calorie Count Plus. I searched their food database on a daily basis to find out the calorie counts of foods that I did not have a nutrition label for.

In my opinion, the inclusion of “fun foods” makes this diet ideal for people who have found other diets to be too restrictive. I think most people would be able to stick to this plan. If you are allowed 1,600 or 1,800 calories you will undoubtedly have enough calories to eat plenty of the healthy foods recommended on the plan and still have your “fun foods”.

Maintenance may be a little more challenging for some after following this plan; you will need to continue being conscious of your food choices and caloric intake. Once you’re at your goal weight, you will need fewer calories than you were previously accustomed to eating before you lost weight, so it is important that you continue monitoring you caloric intake (You can do so easily by tracking your food intake with Calorie Count Plus.). Remember, if you return to consuming more calories than you need -- after this or any other diet -- you will begin to gain weight again.

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