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The 30-30-30 rule for weight loss is going viral. Experts explain how and if it works

A new wellness diet called the “30-30-30” method is trending on TikTok, and many say it’s an effective way to achieve weight loss goals. The approach, which focuses on protein intake and exercise first thing in the morning, is generating a lot of buzz for its various benefits.

As with any new diet or fitness trend that makes the rounds on social media, it’s important to know if this new method is backed by science or if it’s just hype.

What is the 30-30-30 rule and how does it work?

The 30-30-30 rule involves eating 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up, followed by 30 minutes of low-intensity, steady-state cardiovascular exercise. Beyond these steps, the 30-30-30 method requires no changes to other meals or behaviors, no restrictions or calorie counting.

Although the names may sound similar, it is different from the 12-3-30 workout, which involves setting a treadmill to an incline of 12 and a speed of 3 miles per hour, then walking for 30 minutes.

The 30-30-30 morning routine was originally described by author Tim Ferriss in his book “The 4-Hour Body.” According to Ferriss, this approach can help catalyze fat loss in the body.

On TikTok, the 30-30-30 rule went viral thanks in part to Gary Brecka, a podcaster and self-described “human biologist” who talks about how to improve physical and mental health.

In two videos, which have each been viewed more than 19 million times, Brecka praises the 30-30-30 method and explains how it can help with weight loss and blood sugar control. Brecka claims that the 30-30-30 technique helps the body burn fat without losing muscle and that results can be seen in just one month.

Other people on TikTok are documenting their journey trying the 30-30-30 method in real life and showing their results.

These claims and success stories are all great support, but what does the science say about the 30-30-30 method? Can it really help with weight loss and are there any risks?

It’s hard to say for sure whether the 30-30-30 rule works, whether it can lead to weight loss and how it compares to other methods because it hasn’t been studied rigorously, says Tara Schmidt, chief dietitian at the Mayo Clinic, at TODAY. .com. Additionally, the effectiveness of any diet or fitness program will depend on the individual and their goals.

However, the 30-30-30 method can be broken down into three different steps, which have been researched further. Here’s what we know about the benefits of eating a protein-rich breakfast, within 30 minutes of waking up, followed by low-intensity exercise in the morning.

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a nutritious breakfast has many benefits, but does it really help with weight loss?

It depends. “The evidence that breakfast is beneficial for weight loss is rated fair,” says Schmidt.

In the National Weight Control Registry, a study that included adults who lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a year or more, 78 percent of subjects reported eating breakfast every day, Schmidt says. .

According to the study, eating breakfast was a common characteristic among those who maintained long-term weight loss, suggesting it could be a factor in success. “We don’t know exactly why,” says Schmidt.

While some claim that breakfast helps “kick-start” or boost metabolism, evidence is lacking, experts note. A 2022 analysis found that those who ate a larger breakfast didn’t burn calories faster, TODAY.com previously reported.

“In theory, this could be beneficial for burning calories if you’re the type of person where eating breakfast in the morning makes you feel more energetic and active throughout the day,” Jason Machowsky, a physiologist at the exercise and dietitian at the Hospital for Special Surgery. , tells TODAY.com.

The 30-30-30 rule specifically recommends eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up and, more importantly, that breakfast include 30 grams of protein. Does this make a difference?

“I wouldn’t say breakfast should be eaten within 30 minutes of waking up. I would generally say to eat breakfast within a few hours. …Not everyone can digest food this early,” Schmidt says. “I think there is a benefit to consuming 30 grams of protein at breakfast,” Schmidt adds.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein, for men and women, is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, according to the Institute of Medicine’s dietary reference recommendations. For an adult weighing 150 pounds or 68 kilograms, that’s about 54 grams of protein per day. What is considered a “high protein diet” depends on each individual and their body size.

In a video posted to his YouTube channel, Ferriss claims that eating 30 grams of protein in the morning can help inhibit appetite and reduce calorie intake during the day.

Research has suggested that eating protein at breakfast may contribute to satiety or a longer feeling of fullness, as well as blood sugar control and insulin resistance, experts note.

Protein can help people manage hunger, but research suggests that the type of protein is more important than the quality when trying to lose weight and keep it off, TODAY.com previously reported.

Nutritious, protein-rich breakfast choices include eggs, lean meats, Greek yogurt, ultrafiltered milk, nut butters and protein shakes, says Schmidt. “It’s perfectly fine to eat carbs at breakfast, but when you have a protein source in addition to carbs, that blood sugar spike won’t be as high,” Schmidt adds.

Besides protein and carbs, Schmidt encourages people to add fruits and vegetables, which provide additional fiber and nutrients.

Ferriss says her “dream breakfast” includes two to three eggs, lentils or black beans, and a green leafy vegetable, like spinach.

The final step of the 30-30-30 method is to do 30 minutes of low-intensity steady-state cardiovascular exercise (LISS) each morning after breakfast. This type of exercise increases your heart rate, but not too quickly, so you can maintain a consistent, moderate level over a longer period of time without getting out of breath.

Examples of LISS cardio include brisk walking, cycling, swimming or using an elliptical trainer, TODAY.com previously reported. “You should be able to talk on the phone, read a Kindle, you’re not panting,” Brecka says in a video.

Adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s physical activity guidelines.

“All exercise helps lower your blood sugar, so it’s absolutely beneficial,” says Schmidt. But she doesn’t think it has to happen so soon after a meal.

In her viral TikTok videos, Brecka claims that the final step of the 30-30-30 method helps the body burn fat instead of lean muscle.

“Burning fat” is a loaded term, experts say. “Lower intensity exercise will burn a higher percentage of calories from fat,” Machowsky explains. However, higher-intensity exercise can burn more calories overall, he adds.

Some fitness experts recommend a combination of LISS and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for weight loss. LISS is also great for endurance and recovery, while HIIT can help you gain and maintain muscle mass while losing fat, TODAY.com previously reported.

“If the goal is to lose weight, it’s about the total amount of calories you burn,” Machowsky adds. “You need to be in a calorie deficit to promote a real reduction in your body’s fat stores.”

When it comes to the best time of day to exercise, many experts agree that morning may be ideal for logistical and health reasons, but whether this is sustainable depends on each person.

A recent study published in the journal Obesity found that exercising between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. could help with weight loss, TODAY.com previously reported.

“Some people find that exercising in the morning makes them more conscious of their food choices the rest of the day, so this can have a positive ripple effect,” says Machowsky.

Others may find it easier to exercise in the morning to make it a consistent habit, Schmidt adds.

Experts agree that exercising in the morning should not come at the expense of sleep. If you’re getting less sleep than you need to be able to train early, it might be time to reconsider your routine. Sleep is essential to overall health, and not getting enough can make it more difficult to lose weight, TODAY.com previously reported.

The impact of the 30-30-30 method and weight loss results will depend on a person’s baseline activity level and other habits, experts emphasize. “Ask yourself: Do (30-30-30 steps) improve these current habits?” Machowsky said.

“If you’re not doing any exercise and now you’re doing 30 minutes a day of low-intensity cardio, that’s better than nothing,” adds Machowsky. If you do higher-intensity or longer workouts every day and reduce your intake to follow the 30-30-30 method, you may not burn as many calories as before, experts note .

Although many different factors can impact an individual’s weight, the primary strategy for ensuring weight loss is a calorie deficit, says Schmidt. If the 30-30-30 method doesn’t make you burn more calories than you consume, then you probably won’t lose weight, experts note.

Compared to other fad diets and fitness trends, the 30-30-30 rule is much less of a concern, says Schmidt. The basics, eating a protein-rich breakfast and exercising daily, are pretty easy to adopt. However, the 30-30-30 diet may not work for everyone.

“The (method) doesn’t seem dangerous to try, but it is…

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