There are tons of weight loss tricks out there, and most of them, unfortunately, aren’t effective. The newer 30/30/30 method, however, is actually rooted in science and may be worth a try if you’re trying to lose weight. The 30/30/30 method involves eating 30 grams (g) of protein within the first 30 minutes of waking up, and following it up with 30 minutes of exercise.
This method was first proposed by Timothy Ferriss in his book “The 4-Hour Body,” but was made popular by biologist Gary Brecka on TikTok. Brecka claimed it can help you lose weight and get control over your blood sugar and insulin levels.
Here’s all you need to know about the 30/30/30 method, and whether it’s right for you.
With the 30/30/30 method, you start with consuming 30 g of protein within the first 30 minutes that you’re awake. Carbohydrates and fats can be included too, but the most important part is making sure your breakfast has about 30 g of protein.
The next step is getting in 30 minutes of exercise. With the 30/30/30 method, its recommended that you do steady-state cardiovascular exercise. This means low-intensity cardio exercises that get your heart rate up a little, but not too much, like walking or leisure bike riding. The goal is to keep your heart rate at, or below, 135 beats per minute (bpm). A good rule of thumb is if you can carry on a conversation while jogging or biking, then you’re probably at or below 135 bpm.
Consuming protein at breakfast and engaging in cardiovascular exercise are known to have multiple health benefits and contribute to weight loss. “There is ample scientific evidence that consuming more protein, especially at breakfast, can help reduce calorie consumption throughout the rest of the day, as protein helps you feel fuller for longer,” Josten Fish, a registered dietitian, told Health. “Some studies have also shown that people consuming more protein (but the same number of calories) still lose weight faster.” Additionally, “eating an adequate protein rich breakfast can help stabilize blood sugar and combat insulin resistance, a cause for stubborn weight loss” Michelle Routhenstein, a registered dietitian nutritionist and cardiology dietitian with Entirely Nourished, told Health.
As far as the steady-state cardiovascular exercise, it keeps you limber, strengthens your bones, helps you control your weight, and has many other benefits. And there’s evidence that steady-state cardio, in particular, may help you burn more body fat, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
This are the steps to do the 30/30/30 method correctly.
Step One: Eat 30 Grams of Protein
Eat 30 g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning. To make this happen, it might be best to have your breakfast prepped the night before. You should be able to hit your goal with meals such as:
- Three scrambled eggs, topped with cheese
- A fruit smoothie made with protein powder
- Greek yogurt topped with nuts
- Cottage cheese with pineapple
- High protein bread topped with nut butter or eggs and cheese
- A bowl of quinoa topped with tofu, eggs, beans, or cheese
Step Two: Exercise for 30 Minutes
Have your exercise clothes ready, and plan out which type of exercise you’ll do in the morning. The focus is on cardiovascular exercise, not strength training. You’ll want to exercise hard enough that you feel like your heart is beating faster, but not so hard that you couldn’t carry on a conversation if you wanted to.
Here are some ideas that should get your heart rate into the correct zone:
- Take a walk either on a treadmill or through your neighborhood
- Take a leisurely bike ride
- Turn on some music and dance
- Go jogging
- Try a cardio machine at the gym, like the stair stepper or elliptical
- Swim laps in a pool
The idea behind the 30/30/30 method is that it can burn body fat instead of lean muscle. According to ACE, any time you get your heart pumping above your resting heart rate, you’ll be improving or at least maintaining your fitness. And getting your heart rate into that sweet spot is good for burning body fat.
Consuming protein at breakfast can also support that fat-burning goal. “By consuming 30 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes of waking up, individuals can jumpstart their metabolism and provide their bodies with essential nutrients,” Fish said. “A protein-rich breakfast can help control appetite and regulate blood sugar levels.”
Science backs up this up. A 2021 study found that the combination of more protein and cardiovascular exercise resulted in less body fat, lower cholesterol, less inflammation, and improved insulin sensitivity.
While doing cardio exercise early in the morning has benefits, any exercise at any time of day is beneficial. ACE says that high intensity workouts burn carbs before body fat, but your metabolism will stay higher for longer after the workout, burning body fat later. This is known as the after-burn effect. So, either way you choose to exercise, you will be burning body fat at some point.
How high your insulin levels are may play a bigger effect in how you lose fat. Insulin is your body’s fat storage hormone. It allows your body’s cells to use sugar and other carbs, either for energy or fat storage. When your carbohydrate intake is high, your insulin levels will also be high, which means your body is using carbs for energy instead of its own fat reserves. To ensure that you are burning body fat, consider lowering your carbohydrate intake.
Another consideration is that not all people are hungry right when they wake up. You may not necessarily want to force yourself to eat if you’re not hungry. Fish recommended eating 20-30 grams of protein per meal. “While I don’t think it’s necessary to eat immediately after waking, I do suggest intuitively eating within the first hour and don’t find it harmful to aim to eat in the first 30 minutes,” Fish said.
Additionally, some people may experience digestive issues if they eat close to working out. “If that’s the case for you, adjusting to having the protein shake after you work out may be a better option,” Routhenstein added.
The 30/30/30 is a weight loss method that involves eating 30 g of protein within the first 30 minutes of your day, and following it with 30 minutes of light exercise.
It is rooted in sound science, and it could be a good way to increase your capacity to burn fat, while keeping lean muscle. “The 30/30/30’s combination of nutrition and exercise could be a powerful tool for those seeking to improve their overall health, energy levels, and productivity from the moment they rise,” Fish said.