Tim Ferris writes in his books "The four hour body" and "The four hour chef" about using this 30/30 rule to burn fat. All I have found about the "Why?" is that after fasting for seven to eight hours the body starts burning muscles. The high protein input will direct the body to burning fat.

Has anybody done a study about this? What are the underlying metabolism mechanics? Would it also work during the day after not eating for a long time or has it something to do with REM/Non-REM sleep?

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    Sadly, strictly nutritional questions are off-topic, but maybe youll find something in a book called flip the switch. I recall the topic being mentioned there
    – K.L.
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 7:51
  • You might want to have a look at the Nutrition proposal on Area51 though.
    – Baarn
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 8:09
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    Guys, weight loss is on topic here.
    – G__
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 18:18
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    @K.L. Nutrition is only off topic if it is unrelated to exercise.
    – user4644
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


I've checked the book I recommended in the comment. It is written by a PhD Robert K. Cooper and is entitled "Flip the switch". A simplification of what you could read there is as follows:

We have limited storage space for excess protein, and the amino acids from them remain in the bloodstream for only about 4 hours. thats a good reason to include proteins in every meal and to keep the amounts reasonable.

The author claims that the body may slow the metabolism when low on proteins, while an optimal amount of them can boost oxygen consumtion by 200-300%, indicating a higher metabolic rate. He points out that protein rich meals produce a greater and longer lasting sense of fulness than high-fat meals, as proteins break down slower than fat and carbs. He discusses the quality and sources of protein.

As for the timing of the meal. Obviously, you will be low on pretty much everything after 7h of sleep, so you shouldn't wait very long with your first meal of the day. In the books terminology, bright light exposure, calm but energetic action, small, high protein meal and some physical activity within 30min after the meal are all "switches" that help boost your metabolism. Citing thereasoning behind it would be actually too much work, but you can read the book itself.

If you check the bibliography for the chapter you'll see, among others, these papers:

  • Studies by Callaway, W. Cited in Rodin, J. Body Traps
  • International Journal of Obesity 28(2004)
  • Leveille, T. "Adipose Tissue Metabolism: Influence of Eating and Diet Composition" Federation Proceedings 29(1970)

He quotes some studies etc. Anyhow, even tho I'm not sure all the contents of the book are 100% truth, and there may be some mistakes, it's still a worthy read, especially if you dont want to dig in to all the science behind it. If youre insisting on knowing the reason "why", I'm afraid you have to mail the author of the book you read or start educating yourself on nutrition, cause even the specialists don't seem to agree on the details ;)

  • Thanks for this very helpful answer. Do you think a short summary would be: "The body wont have any amino acids (coming from protein) left in the blood after say 6-7 hours. Without amino acids available the body slows metabolism to >prepare for the worst<. This includes storing fat." But what does sleep have to do with it? Why insist on "30 minutes after wakeup" instead of "first meal after sleep"?
    – Rodja
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 7:18
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    If you ask me, the summary is quite ok. The same book I mentioned has a chapter about getting up in the morning. When I have time, i could summary it for you too
    – K.L.
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 9:23

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