The 90/10 Weight‑Loss Plan: The Truth Behind the Best-Seller

by | Apr 29, 2019 | Last updated Feb 15, 2022

Author: Stephanie Santoro

The questions are always the same. Does this or that weight loss fad really work? Is it the right one for me? Some people try them all. Some get results. And the weight almost always comes back—if it ever goes anywhere in the first place. Humans are complicated and vastly different from each other, so why do we keep buying into these ideas that are designed for the masses?

The 90/10 Weight-Loss Plan, Not Very Scientific (or Very Original)

Joy Bauer’s diet book, The 90/10 Weight-Loss Plan: A Scientifically Designed Balance of Healthy Foods and Fun Foods offers an approach she suggests is realistic and has lasting results. It projects a vibe of positivity and originality, but her critics say it’s not much different than other common diet brands that have limited results. From a scientific design standpoint, it is true Bauer is a registered dietician—but take note the plan is not clinically tested. It also overlooks the lack of vitamin D and calcium you’d miss in following 90/10 long-term.

The 90/10 Weight Loss Plan Overlooks Key Demographic

The idea is to eat 90 percent sensible foods and 10 percent “fun foods,” plus follow an exercise routine. Depending on the number of pounds you’re looking to shed and your typical level of activity, you will fall into one of three calorie limit categories: 1,200 calories per day for women who don’t exercise much but have 10 or less pounds to lose, 1,400 calories per day for women who exercise moderately but have 2 to 50 pounds to lose, or 1,600 calories per day for women 5’6” or taller and men, whether they exercise or not.

But what about women or men who need to lose 2 to 50 pounds but don’t exercise at all? And what about anyone who needs to lose more than 50 pounds? Isn’t this the more likely group to be seeking weight loss guidance? The categorizing here feels narrow and dismissive of those of us who need the most help.

90 Percent Bland, 10 Percent Tease

With 90/10, the menu items on the 90 percent side are items you prepare yourself, unlike similar programs that are more subscription-based and sometimes come with prepared meals. Then there’s the buzz around small cheat meals or “fun foods,” so you don’t feel forbidden to eat your favorite things.

But does it really make you feel like you’re getting away with something if the “fun foods” are the only ones with any flavor? Not to mention the portions for these cheat foods are limited to 250 calories, once per day. Maybe it tricks your mind from feeling deprived so you don’t cheat-cheat? But on a diet consisting of mostly rigid, bland, and laborious means, it’s still a rule that’ll beg to be broken at some point.

90/10 Weight-Loss Plan: How Long Can You Stand It?

The psychological game of allowing cheat meals might work temporarily or delay the inevitable for some, but concepts like this never work for long. It’s just another attempt to disguise the truth—that losing weight effectively doesn’t work without breaking down real mental barriers that affect lifestyle change and lasting results.

Noom can help with this by applying real psychology methods toward a personalized plan that takes your individual needs and lifestyle into account. In a program where you’re individually evaluated and interact with coaches on a human level, you’re more likely to succeed, develop good habits, and keep the weight off throughout your lifetime.

90/10 – Generic, Basic, Repetitive

Bauer’s 90/10 weight loss program no doubt has good intentions toward genuinely helping people succeed. But if it’s designed for people who are already the most likely people to lose weight easily, it’s just not very innovative. The simplicity that makes this plan seem doable to a beginner washes out as generic, repetitive, and maybe even condescending to those of us who have been through every disappointing gimmick on the market. Generally, the beginners get hip to its limitations quickly and the long-tired weight loss seekers start looking elsewhere—for solutions that are actually realistic and based in real science. Noom has the built-in flexibility for designing a customized weight loss plan for your individual needs and helping you develop sustainable lifelong new habits.