Pareto’s principle for fitness and nutrition

Pareto’s principle for fitness and nutrition

by Teo Kai Wen 26 Feb 2020

Every heard of the 80/20 rule? The Pareto principle, identified by Joseph Juran and named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, specifies an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs, namely, that 20% of the invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained. While originally meant to be applied to business, this same principle can easily be applied to fitness and nutrition. 


In fitness, regardless of whether you’re looking to increase muscle mass, strength, or power through weight training, roughly 20% of all available exercises will be responsible for 80% of your results. Depending on your goals for training, different exercises should be performed in order to achieve maximum results.


Key concepts to keep in mind when choosing which exercises to incorporate into your training program would be progressive overload, compound lifts and HIIT. When you apply these concepts appropriately, you minimise time wasted on “fluff” programmes that don't lead to results in the long run.


Similarly, the Pareto principle can be applied to nutrition. According to “The Rennaisance Diet” by Dr. Mike Israetel, consuming the right calorie balance as well as macronutrients accounts for 80% of diet success. Rather than sweating the small stuff and worrying about which supplements to take, focus on your intake of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fats in order to be at peak performance.


In broad terms, utilising the 80/20 principle can be condensed into what’s commonly known as “getting the most bang for your buck”. The trick of course, lies in identifying that which will make the most impact. Most of the time, the answer can be found in the most simplest of solutions. However, simple doesn’t always mean easy, which is why some people tend to look for shortcuts that ultimately fall short of expectations.


It’s easy to get caught in the latest fitness gimmick or nutrition fad but as long as you use this simple principle to guide you on your journey, you won’t be led astray.