The 30-30-30 Method Isn’t a Bad Diet

We are constantly examining the trendiest diets. We aren’t big fans of diets. But we like to know what is in fashion and whether it’s helpful or harmful. While we always recommend following a healthy, balanced diet and exercising to manage weight, we understand that some folks thrive with diets.

While the 30-30-30 method has become popular on TikTok, it originated in a 2010 self-help book. The book makes a lot of outlandish claims. However, nutritionists don’t dismiss the 30-30-30 method.

The 30-30-30 method is a weight loss plan that tells people to eat 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking more and then do 30 minutes of low-intensity exercise. While diets with hard and fast rules don’t work for everyone, this isn’t a terrible one.

When we review fad diets, we often have many nutritionists explain why they are terrible. However, in the case of the 30-30-30 method, nutritionists speak about how it can be beneficial to some people.

Theoretically it could be beneficial for calorie burn if you’re the kind of person where eating breakfast in the morning makes you feel more energetic and active throughout the day,” said Jason Machowsky, an exercise physiologist and registered dietitian.

Tara Schmidt, lead registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic, said, “I would not say that breakfast needs to be eaten within 30 minutes of waking. I would typically say eat breakfast within a few hours. Not everyone can stomach food that early.” But she added, “I think there is a benefit to having 30 grams of protein.”

Starting the day with protein can help you feel fuller for longer. It’s a great source of energy that can help you get things done without feeling sluggish. There is evidence that it aids blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

The good news about the 30-30-30 regimen is that it’s relatively sensible in comparison to some of its predecessors and, undoubtedly, the trends that will follow it,” says Sophie Medlin, consultant dietitian at City Dietitians. “Having a high protein breakfast is a good idea as it is more satiating than some of our typical breakfast options.”

It’s perfectly fine to have carbohydrates at breakfast, but when you have a protein source along with the carbohydrates, that glucose spike is not going to be as high,” said Ms. Schmidt.  

Nutritional therapist Natalie Burrows also pointed out that protein isn’t the only important factor in feeling full and helping your body. “Get friendly with fiber and load your plate with vegetables to help you achieve your 30 grams a day of fiber.”

The 30-30-30 method calls for 30 minutes of low-intensity, steady-state cardio like brisk walking, biking or swimming. Experts are torn on what type of exercise is best because there is no one-size-fits-all approach. High-intensity exercise burns more calories; low-intensity exercise burns more calories from fat. Exercising in the morning can be more habit-forming for some people. It can lead some folks to make healthier food choices throughout the day. But that isn’t true for everyone.

Not everyone feels like exercising in the morning. Biking or doing other exercises right after breakfast might not fit people’s lifestyles. “Any exercise is going to help bring your blood sugar down, so it’s absolutely beneficial,” says Ms. Schmidt. “But I don’t think we have a lot of research to support it needs to be that quickly after a meal.”

The nutritionists said that the method could be helpful to people who currently have poor habits. If you currently don’t exercise or eat enough protein, the method can be a step in a healthy direction. However, there is no guarantee that it will make you lose weight as it doesn’t put you into a calorie deficit, tell you to improve your overall diet or make any other changes. They point out that it might not be safe for people with kidney health concerns to eat 30 grams of protein in one meal. But, other than that, it can be beneficial and help people make better choices.

However, following just these rules and expecting results is unrealistic. General guidelines recommend that people trying to lose weight should exercise for 420 minutes a week. That is twice what the 30-30-30 method recommends. To maintain weight loss, 300 minutes a week is recommended. Adding up to 30 minutes a day only totals 210 minutes. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, it can help. But if you exercise at all, this might be a step backward for you.  

Another problem is that mornings can be hectic. Work, errands and daily life get in the way of planning and eating breakfast and performing a regular exercise routine. That makes it less sustainable in the long term.  

You must ask how the 30-30-30 method compares to your current habits to determine if it could be healthier than what you already do. You also have to consider how realistic it is that you could stick to it. Does it feel achievable and maintainable? For some people, this could be helpful. For most people, it’s not detrimental. But it isn’t the magic bullet folks are claiming it to be.

Banner image: Daniel Torobekov via Pexels

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