The 80/20 Principle

Too much of anything good is bad for you; at least that’s how the saying goes. Surprisingly, even with an ultra-healthy lifestyle like the Paleo/Primal life, going overboard can become mentally strenuous and detrimental to your overall being.

Enter, the “80/20 principle.” This Primal principle, coined by none other than Mark Sisson explains that if we are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle for 80 percent of the time and 20 percent of the time we fall short somewhat, we’re still doing a very good job, because in the grand scheme of things, 80 percent of your life is a long time.

So let’s talk about “falling short.” Don’t think that 80/20 is to be used as an excuse to completely fall off the wagon and make a sprint over to Golden Corral to take a bath in the “chocolate wonderfall.” Not at all guys. The 20 percent is meant only as a little bit of breathing room, so we don’t have to constantly think about whether the Primal Police are going to come by and bust us for the piece of 21st birthday cake we eat.

The 20 percent of not-so-perfect Primality should come almost naturally in the course of your day-to-day life. Here’s an example:

David is a varsity basketball athlete at a Division III college and has been Primal for a few months now. He travels with the team, sometimes spending long hours on a coach bus to arrive and spend the night at a small motel near the opposing school’s campus. While traveling on the bus, moving traveling from school to school, eating options are limited to quick-and-easy places like Wendy’s, McDonalds and the occasional Subway if he got really lucky. Being Primal, David makes the smart decision of eating at McDonalds, simply because he’s hungry. He orders a burger and skips the bun, fries and soda, eating all the veggies (he may even ask that they slap on some extra tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles) that come with it. David is one of the many Primal kids just trying to fit into a non-Primal society.

As you can see, David is a classic example of what 80/20 represents. The unfortunate situation presented itself in David’s life where he had to adapt to the food choices surrounding him and make a Primal meal out of a non-Primal restaurant.

The 80/20 principle also applies to those once-in-a-lifetime food opportunities. If you find yourself in Florence, Italy on a weeklong vacation and you’re presented with arguably the best pasta you will ever see in your life, indulge! Most of us don’t get the opportunity to be in that situation in the first place, so live a little bit. Just remember what Primality is all about when you get back home.

The Primal lifestyle relies heavily on self-discipline, and yes, you do need to cut the grains, excess sugar, and unhealthy additives, but don’t kill yourself deciding whether or not to eat at a restaurant because their meat isn’t grass-fed and finished and organic free-range. It’s all about adapting to what life throws at you; 80 percent of the time live and eat like a caveman! But allow yourself a natural 20 percent of breathing room for those times when it’s just not possible to be perfect.

Stay Primal!

And stay tuned for a post about beer and alcohol on campus!

About The Author


As a recent recent high school graduate, I've seen a lot of kids struggling with health and fitness over my years in school. I went Primal when my physical trainer helped me really focus on my physical well-being in training for my baseball career. I credit a large percentage of my health and well being on and off the baseball field to my Primal lifestyle. An idea came to the my mind to create a website where kids going into college could find great information on health and nutrition as well as functional fitness. I am extremely excited to be able to write about health in the college world, as a lot of times kids forget how to eat healthy when they go off to the college world. While we saw this as an opportunity to reach out to the college world, we also wanted this site to be a resource for people of all ages struggling with their health as a place for them to go and find great resources and information. Feel free to email me or Max at with any questions you may have. Email Josh at

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