Experts Explain the 30-30-30 Diet Plan: Does It Work?

Maybe you’ve seen it 30-30-30, the three-part morning routine touted on TikTok as a weight loss miracle. The simple approach to organizing your day focuses (obviously) on the number 30 and applies it to diet and exercise.

The 30-30-30 plan isn’t even really a diet, at least not in the traditional sense, but more of a daily practice meant to lay the foundation for a solid morning and a successful day. Although some proponents of 30-30-30 claim the approach can help you lose weight.

Can such a simple approach really help with weight loss? And is the whole 30-30-30 thing scientifically correct? Let’s see.

What is the 30-30-30 diet?

THE 30-30-30 PLAN blew up when biohacker Gary Brecka described it on TikTok, though the diet itself dates back to the 2010 book The four-hour body by Tim Ferriss. The method is simple: eat 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. Then do 30 minutes of steady, low-intensity cardio, keeping your heart rate below 135 beats per minute.

Many social media influencers are touting 30-30-30 as a weight loss strategy (Brecka has said he has never seen a diet that “removes fat from a human” like this one.) The supposed mechanism on how 30-30- 30 works for fat loss: By eating a protein-rich breakfast, you protect your muscles, so that during the training that follows you burn fat and not lean body mass.

Does the 30-30-30 diet work?

THAT’S KIND A complicated question, in large part because 30-30-30, while based on some important practices for good health, also oversimplifies diet and exercise by leaving out a few crucial components.

But first, let’s start with what makes sense.

Protein is a smart breakfast product.

Research shows that high-protein diets can reduce body fat and preserve muscle mass by keeping you full and satisfied so you eat less overall. Experts recommend 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per day for every kilogram of body weight.

So why not start right away with 30 grams? “This method allows us to get a good dose of protein first thing in the morning, which may make it a little easier to reach protein goals throughout the day,” says Sarah Keathley, MS, RD, LD, nutritionist at Top Nutrition Coaching. A recent study review published in Nutrition Reviews even showed a link between protein-rich morning meals and greater muscle mass.

An early breakfast is a good breakfast.

While there’s no magic in the 30-minute window before breakfast, eating early is probably a good idea. A recent study in BMC Nutrition showed that the sooner people ate after waking, the healthier their breakfasts were, perhaps because they weren’t grinding long enough. Another study in the European Journal of Nutrition suggests that eating early is associated with better metabolic health, including insulin function, in men, perhaps because blood sugar processing is most efficient after a night’s sleep.

A morning workout can help get you moving.

A rule like this can keep you honest about exercise. “Since many of us lack physical activity, this can be a benefit, especially getting active first thing in the morning before sitting at a desk all day,” says Keathley.

You immediately start thinking about your health.

A less obvious benefit of the 30-30-30 plan is mindfulness, says Keathley. “It makes you think about food, your nutrition plan for the day, how to exercise and hopefully the quality of what you eat,” she says.

Those are all good things. And it is Good. But where 30-30-30 falls flat, science has not yet proven whether there is any magic in the combination approach. More research is needed to show whether combining them in this way works. “There are currently no direct research studies examining the exact 30-30-30 method and its effect on a group of individuals,” says Keathley.

And while 30-30-30 is simple and easy to remember, its simplicity can be a problem. These are the disadvantages of the strategy.

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30-30-30 Ignores calories.

Technically, you could meet your morning protein requirement of 30 grams with a Breakfast Baconator™ combo from Wendy’s. But that meal probably won’t help you lose weight with 710 calories and a paltry 1 gram of filling fiber.

“Although protein is an excellent macronutrient that our bodies need to function, weight loss primarily comes from a calorie deficit,” says Keathley. “During a calorie deficit, our body uses stored fat as an energy source, leading to weight loss.” (Here’s how to find your daily calorie count.)

The one-size-fits-all training plan may not work for you…

The 30-30-30 plan “doesn’t address whether each individual needs a different level of physical activity to best meet their own health needs,” Keathley says.

…Or work at all.

Low-intensity cardio has shown mixed results in studies. In a study published in Medicine and science in sport and exerciseMiddle-aged people who did workouts similar to the steady light cardio in the 30-30-30 plan didn’t lose weight for 24 weeks. Another study published in the journal Obesity showed that similar levels of exercise helped participants lose about six pounds in twelve weeks, but it didn’t matter whether they exercised in the morning or evening.

“Exercise alone rarely leads to weight loss,” says Leanne Redman, MS, Ph.D., FTOS, professor of clinical sciences at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, “and there are several reasons why that is so.”

Your morning workout can only do so much. First, if you don’t track your overall training and adjust your diet, you can easily eat more calories than you burn. Plus, when we burn calories while exercising, we often burn fewer calories elsewhere during the day, “so the net impact of exercise on daily calories is small for most people,” she says.

Should you follow the 30-30-30 diet?

MAYBE? THE 30-30-30 Dieting probably isn’t the secret to dramatic weight loss, but it can help you build a healthy morning routine. “Be careful and when implementing a plan, make sure it fits your own lifestyle so it becomes realistic,” says Keathley. “The end goal of any nutritional journey is to create healthy and sustainable habits.”

For a high-quality breakfast with at least 30 grams of protein, try the following:

Protein drinks

If you’re not a big eater in the morning, protein drinks (ready-made or mixed with protein powder) can help you get in 30 grams quickly. View our favorite recipes.


Each large egg contains about six grams of protein. Combine some with lean meat and a high-fiber grain to make it a complete meal. Or make egg snacks. Make an omelet. The options are endless,” says Keathley.


Choose a protein-rich yogurt with little sugar, such as low-fat Greek yogurt. Try our favorites.

Protein-rich oats

Add lean protein to oatmeal by mixing in egg whites, nut butter, nuts, seeds, quinoa, peanut butter powder, or protein powder.

For more science-backed weight loss tips, check out The 40 Best Ways to Lose Weight – and Keep It Off.

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