The Pros and Cons of the 30/30/40 Diet

By Team Cellucor

Most modern-day diets tend to be restrictive, eliminating certain foods, ingredients and even entire macronutrient groups. The 30/30/40 Diet is quite different in that it incorporates a moderate amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat into an overall plan. Should you jump aboard ship, or is this just another fad diet that you should just ditch altogether? 

What is the 30/30/40 Diet?

Also known as the Zone Diet, the 30/30/40 Diet adopts the "moderation is key" principle, focusing on moderate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat within the plan. This approach doesn’t restrict a certain food group, and it places a strong emphasis on quality food sources. The general plan suggests basing your daily diet around 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat.

The 30/30/40 Diet: The Pros

No exclusion zone

Unlike many other diet plans, the 30/30/40 Diet seeks to integrate food groups rather than eliminate them. A diet that promotes inclusivity rather than exclusivity is more likely to lead you to long-term success. Low-carb diets leave you lacking energy, while low-fat diets can wreak havoc on your hormones. Carbohydrates such as rice and sweet potato contain high amounts of fiber and a gradually-digesting energy source. Fats are also integral for absorbing vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream. Integrating a moderate amount of all macronutrients is also pretty achievable, so you’d be far more likely to follow this plan with success.

Evidence does exist

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted a study in which two diets were analyzed: one which adopted a 30/30/40 approach, and another with higher carbohydrate and much lower protein. They discovered that the 30/30/40 diet promoted greater weight loss and greater retention of lean muscle mass. Protein consists of amino acids proven to build and repair muscle tissue. The higher protein quantity seen in the 30/30/40 diet is likely to be responsible for this retention of muscle mass and emphasizes the importance of macronutrient balance.

Proper preparation

Many people are put off the 30/30/40 Diet by the measures needed to ensure macronutrient targets are being met. This does sound like a daunting task, but not if you put in adequate prep first. If you set aside an hour or two each night, you can carefully prepare your meals using all the foods you enjoy – in accordance with the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat you need.

The 30/30/40 Diet: The Cons

Miscalculated calories

The true driving force behind weight loss is calorie expenditure. That is, if you’re burning more calories than you take in through food and drink, then you’ll lose weight. Macronutrients are hugely important, but there is always the chance that you could lose sight of your calorie intake by focusing too heavily on your ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Lost sight of success

Chief creator of the 30/30/40 Diet, Dr. Barry Sears stated that men following the plan were to consume 1500 calories per day. You already know calories are key to losing weight, and the average human burns 2000 calories each day purely by existing. Consuming a mere 1500 calories per day will result in weight loss irrespective of whether you eat a wholesome diet or a greasy plate of pizza. You could also argue that this figure is further limited once you take training into account. Energy requirements become even higher with a grueling training session on the agenda.

Individual differences

The problem with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ diet like 30/30/40 is that it doesn’t take individual needs and differences into account. For instance, you could work in an office, sat at a desk all day leading a sedentary lifestyle. Here, your carbohydrate quota would need to be lower than that of someone working in a more physical industry such as construction. When you introduce training or sport into the equation, food becomes further complicated. 

The 30/30/40 Diet: The Overall Opinion

Success on the 30/30/40 Diet owes more to a calorie deficit than any specific macro split. Adopting a set ratio of protein, carbohydrate and fat is a bit restrictive if you haven’t first considered your own lifestyle. If weight loss is your goal, you should first work out your activity level, and compared with figures such as the Basal Metabolic Rate, you can obtain a targeted calorie count. Sticking to this and extracting your macronutrient ratios from this is a far more efficient way of smashing your goals.

The world’s most personalized pre-workout.
What is your stimulant tolerance?
no stims for me thanks
a standard energy drink or cup of coffee is enough for me
I drink multiple energy drinks or cups of coffee a day and/or I take pre-workout before the gym
I drink pre-workouts or energy drinks all day long
What is your goal?

Enhanced Performance
start a fitness program and/or take it to the next level

Weight Loss
fat loss and cutting

Muscle Growth
gain strength and size
Do you play collegiate or competitive sports?
Alpha Amino BCAA

Alpha Amino is the ultimate performance, hydration and recovery sports drink powder. Its premium formula is built on the power of amino acids and formulated with ingredients that promote healthy fluid balance. Alpha Amino has 14 Amino Acids including a well-studied 2:1:1 BCAA ratio. These Amino Acids support the body’s ability to fuel skeletal muscles, preserve muscle glycogen stores and reduce protein breakdown.

  • Performance BCAA’s with 0g Sugar
  • 14 Amino Acids
  • 5g BCAA’s in the clinically studied 2:1:1 ratio
  • Electrolytes for hydration
  • Zero Stimulants & Zero Sugar
C4 Sport

C4 Sport! If you are a collegiate athlete or play sports competitively, C4 Sport is the perfect pre-workout for you because it is NSF Certified for Sport. C4 will help you tackle your training in the gym and on the field.

  • Boosts energy + focus
  • Enhances muscular endurance
  • 135mg of caffeine
  • Contains CarnoSyn® Beta Alanine, an amino acid, patented and clinically studied form of beta-alanine that has been shown to support muscular endurance
  • NSF certification is trusted by the MLB, NFL, NBA, NCAA, and everyday athletes alike
C4 Original

C4 Original! This is our best-selling pre-workout with more than 1.3 billion servings sold! C4 Original is perfect for you if you are new to the pre-workout game or you are seeking a lower stimulant C4.

  • Perfect for energy, focus and pumps
  • Good if you’re at the start your fitness journey/want to step up your workouts
  • 150mg of caffeine

Pro tip: If you are just starting out on a pre-workout, take half a scoop to assess tolerance level.*

Also available in convenient, bottled, ON THE GO formula!

C4 Ripped

C4 Ripped! If your goal is to lose weight, C4 Ripped is the perfect pre-workout for you.

  • Helps you train harder while supporting your body’s ability to burn fat
  • Creatine-free
  • Includes ingredients like Green Coffee Bean Extract to support weight loss
  • 150mg of caffeine
  • L-Carnitine Tartrate
C4 Extreme

C4 Extreme! If you love energy drinks and are always on the hunt for higher caffeine levels, C4 Extreme is for you.

  • 200mg Caffeine Explosive Energy®
  • 2g CarnoSyn® Beta- Alanine
  • 1g Nitramax (NO3-C)™
  • 1g Creatine Nitrate (NO3-T®)
C4 Ultimate

C4 Ultimate! If you’re a seasoned gym goer who loves pre-workouts and you’re looking for a fully-loaded, high-impact pre-workout, C4 Ultimate has what you need.

  • The most powerful C4 created
  • Per scoop: 300mg caffeine, 6g Citrulline Malate, 3.2g of CarnoSyn® Beta Alanine, 1.5g Nitrosigine®, 1.5g Creatine Nitrate, plus a powerful blend of nootropics
  • Fully-loaded formula packs a heavy punch of ingredients for focus, endurance, and pumps to help push you to your ultimate limit
  • Formulated for the ultimate – not entry level

Also available in convenient, bottled, ON THE GO formula!

BCAA Sport

BCAA Sport! If you are a collegiate athlete – or play sports competitively, BCAA Sport is a perfect stimulant-free option for you, because it is NSF® Certified for Sport®! BCAA Sport supports all day hydration & recovery, to maximize your workout results

  • All Day Hydration & Recovery
  • Supports All Day Hydration & Recovery
  • Zero Stimulants & Zero Sugar
  • 4G BCAA’s, 2.25G Added Amino Acids, 2G Added Glutamine, and Added Electrolytes
  • NSF® Certified for Sport®

CN3&trad; combines 3 forms of Creatine into a stimulant-free 3-in-1 Creatine complex! Providing 6.25 total grams consisting of micronized Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Nitrate, and Creatine Hydrochloride. CN3&trad; is an amazing product to be taken before, during, or after a workout. Looking to amplify Strength & Pumps? CN3&trad; has got you covered!

  • Strength & Pump Amplifier
  • Stimulant free
  • Includes Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Nitrate, and Creatine HCL
  • Unflavored or flavored

Cellucor CLK® is a stimulant free toning and sculpting supplement built on the power of four all-star weight loss ingredients: CLA, Raspberry Ketones, Carnitine, and the latest in diet support; Slimpro®.

  • Stimulant Free Fat Loss
  • Stimulant free toning and sculpting formula
  • Powered by four ingredients to support weight loss
  • Can be taken standalone, or paired with C4 Ripped (C4 Ripped contains stimulants)
  • Raspberry flavored softgels

Share & Contribute

Do you have a story or would you like to be a contributor? We'd love to hear from you.

Learn How