Denise Austin has been in the health and fitness industry for 40 years. Courtesy Denise Austin

  • Fitness expert Denise Austin said she kept going back to the 80/20 rule after trying many diets.

  • That means eating healthy 80% of the time, with lots of protein and vegetables.

  • The other 20% can be treats that you enjoy that can help you stick to your diet over the long term.

  • You can find more stories on the Insider homepage.

Related: This digital gym doesn’t use weights, but it will kick your butt

Denise Austin tried everything. From the low-fat craze of the 90s to vegan and vegetarian diets on low carbohydrate Atkins and their resurgence than the keto dietThe home fitness pioneer has spent her entire career searching for the best advice on healthy eating.

After 40 years in the health industry, she keeps returning to the same diet rule: eat healthy, nutritious foods about 80% of the time and save the other 20% on foods you enjoy, regardless of nutritional value.

Sometimes called the 80/20 rule, this is a healthy eating strategy that you can stick to for years and even decades, Austin that was recently introduced Fit over 50 magazinesaid Insider in an interview.

“I love food and I believe in having fun,” she said. “I’ve learned so much more about how to eat well for healthy aging, and it’s also about feeling good.”

Include plenty of protein and vegetables in your diet, along with a daily indulgence

Austin who has a number of protein snacks called Better and bettersaid she was trying to balance healthy sources of carbohydrates, fat and protein for most of her diet.

Got enough protein can help you feel more satisfied and energized throughout the day after you eat. Austin also recommends prioritizing fruits and vegetables for their vitamins as well Micronutrientswhich are important for a healthy digestive system.

The other 20% of Austin’s calories are for fun foods, whether it’s an after-dinner dessert or a margarita at the end of the day. About one treat a day, like a donut or ice cream, is a good frame of reference.

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Try new things, but don’t be afraid to drop things that don’t work for you

Austin said she loved learning about fitness and nutrition trends and the evidence behind them.

“I’ve tried everything because this is my livelihood and what I love, so I really want to know what works,” she said.

During her forays into other diets, she has benefited from several trends. For example, she did not adhere to a high-fat, low-carbohydrate keto diet, but she said trying to do it made her more careful to stick to healthy sources of carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables rather than refined grains.

Similarly, preoccupation with the paleo diet has highlighted the importance of whole, unprocessed foods, she said.

“I’ve always believed in balance. I like a little bit of everything,” she said.

Eating a balanced and flexible diet can help you stay in line with your diet over the long term, experts say.

For example, when you try Eat healthier for the summerit is best to find one Diet you enjoy enough to stick to after that, which means avoiding too many restrictions.

“If you think cutting carbohydrates is most effective but makes you die inside, don’t do it.” Georgie scared, a registered nutritionist, previously told Insider.

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