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Should You Follow Gary Brecka’s 30-30-30 Diet?

Article at a Glance
  • Gary Brecka’s 30-30-30 rule, which recommends getting 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up each morning and then following the meal with 30 minutes of low-intensity exercise, is rooted in sound science.
  • However, the Brecka diets macronutrient ratios, which rely on 75% fat intake, will put many of Brecka’s followers at higher risk for heart disease.
Genes Mentioned

Let me start by saying that I am a Gary Brecka fan and think he has several positive things to say about nutrition and wellness. Although we have been critical of the limits of his genetic testing at Gene Food, he has drawn awareness to the important issue of DNA methylation and how it can play a role in heart disease.

Further, the work Gary did with UFC President Dana White is remarkable. As a UFC fan, and also as a startup founder who can struggle with work-life balance, it was cool to watch Dana take his health seriously and set a new course.

Today, I want to talk about the Gary Brecka diet because some bad information about the protocol is circulating online. One of the blogs on the diet was written by a doctor who sells carnivore diet T-shirts, which seems like a less than objective source. In this post, I will help you decide whether the Brecka diet is one you should follow.

The Brecka Diet 101

Gary Brecka’s recommended diet is aimed at keeping blood sugar and the insulin response in check.

To get there, the Brecka diet recommends macronutrient ratios consistent with a ketogenic diet.

  • 75% of calories from fat
  • 5-10% of calories from carbohydrate
  • 10-20% of calories from protein


Further, and this is my favorite part of the Brecka diet, Gary recommends getting 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up each morning, and then following the meal with 30 minutes of low intensity exercise.

There is a body of science supporting this approach. Consider this study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found that a high-protein breakfast improved the health of adolescent girls across several metrics, including hormonal health and overall diet quality. The high protein diet out-performed skipping breakfast as part of an intermittent fasting protocol.

To quote the study:

These data suggest that the addition of breakfast, particularly one rich in protein, might be a useful strategy to improve satiety, reduce food motivation and reward, and improve diet quality in overweight or obese teenage girls.

Not sure what to eat?

Gene Food uses a proprietary algorithm to divide people into one of twenty diet types based on genetics. We score for fat metabolism, MTHFR status, histamine clearance, carbohydrate tolerance, and more. Where do you fit?

Learn More

Red flags

As with Lean Mass Hyper Responders, my concern for many of you who choose the Brecka diet is long term cardiovascular health. Several voices online blogging about the Brecka diet gloss over the impact such a high-fat diet can have on people’s lipids. Following the Brecka diet for any length of time will cause increases in LDL for most people, and the solution isn’t to bury our heads in the sand about LDL’s causal role in heart disease. 1

There is a lot of confusion in the nutrition world about the difference between saturated fat and cholesterol. The body makes 80% of its cholesterol and keeps levels tightly regulated, which is why the old thinking on eggs and cholesterol has largely been debunked.

Outside of people with genetic predispositions towards hyper-absorption, eating cholesterol has little impact on LDL.

However, this is not the case with saturated fat! In a large segment of the population, eating diets high in saturated fat increases levels of LDL, often to the danger zone, and no two people respond exactly alike. 1 If you are someone who sees large upticks in LDL when eating saturated fat, the Brecka diet could be unhealthy for you.

The general prescription of a ketogenic diet for everyone, regardless of biomarkers, is poor advice. Gary recognizes that people metabolize folic acid differently based on common MTHFR variants but glosses over the fact that there is also heterogeneity in fat metabolism. He recommends a personalized approach to supplements but not diet, which is a red flag for me.

For example, we know that carriers of ApoE4 have a hyper-synthetic response to eating high saturated fat diets, and yet, unlike Dr. Gundry’s protocols, there is no warning label on the Brecka diet for ApoE4 carriers.

My biggest red flags for the Brecka diet are as follows:

  • First, common variants in the PPARA genes make it more difficult for some of us to enter a state of ketosis. 2 In these people, the type of diet prescribed by Gary Brecka could be especially damaging. 3 High-fat diets without protective ketones are among the unhealthiest diets anyone could follow.
  • Many people see large upticks in LDL on high fat, ketogenic diets. This increases the risk for heart disease over time.
  • Reliance on full fat dairy, as the Brecka diet recommends, isn’t possible for the 68% of the world’s population that suffers from lactose intolerance. The number is over 75% in Asian and African populations.
  • The Brecka diet, to the extent it impacts APOB levels, may increase the risk for dementia, especially in ApoE4 carriers. 4 5

Foods to avoid

The Brecka diet lists the following foods on the avoid list:

  • Refined sugar
  • White rice
  • Non-organic produce
  • Industrial seed oils

Modifying the Brecka diet

The essence of the Brecka diet is to control the insulin response so blood sugar isn’t on a rollercoaster all day. This is sound advice for many reasons, including the fact that the average American consumes too much sugar and simple carbohydrates, contributing to the rise in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

No one is saying that pizza and crackers are a healthy choice. However, it doesn’t follow that we all should be on a ketogenic diet. Eating 75% of calories from fat, as the Brecka diet recommends, is difficult and will cause many of us to see elevated LDL.

Rather than going ultra-low carb, it is possible to modify the Brecka diet to include “slower carbohydrate” sources that have minimal impact on blood sugar. The PREDICT-1 study teaches us that the blood sugar response after a meal is driven by genetics and the state of the microbiome.

Not all plant foods will cause unhealthy spikes in blood sugar. Focus on fiber and sources of resistant starch.

Replacing some of the fat in the Brecka diet with slow-carb sources, like black beans, lentils, quinoa and sweet potatoes, could be a healthy modification for many people.

Rather than going low carb, consider going low glycemic.

At Gene Food, some of our diet types, like California Coastal and Forager, are intended to be much lower in simple carbohydrates. In our scoring algorithm, these are the people we estimate could have a greater risk of blood sugar issues. However, we don’t recommend ketogenic diets. Instead, we focus on low glycemic eating with slow carbs, lean proteins, plenty of fiber and omega-3, and lifestyle interventions aimed at maintaining metabolic health.

Our approach is backed by several studies, including an 18-month trial published in BMC Nutrition, in which a DNA diet protocol was far superior to a ketogenic diet for sustained weight loss and biomarkers. To quote the study authors:

These findings demonstrate that the ketogenic group experienced enhanced weight loss during the 24-week dietary intervention. However, at 18-month follow up, the personalised nutrition group (lowGI/Nutrigenetics) lost significantly more weight and experienced significantly greater improvements in measures of cholesterol and blood glucose. This suggests that personalising nutrition has the potential to enhance long-term weight loss and changes in cardiometabolic parameters.

BMC Nutrition

The bottom line

Gary Brecka has a lot of good things to say about health and wellness, but it’s important to recognize that we are all unique and “one size fits all” nutrition advice is sure to leave many of us behind.

Not sure what to eat?

Gene Food uses a proprietary algorithm to divide people into one of twenty diet types based on genetics. We score for fat metabolism, MTHFR status, histamine clearance, carbohydrate tolerance, and more. Where do you fit?

Learn More

John O'Connor

John O'Connor is the founder of Gene Food, a nutrigenomic startup helping people all over the world personalize nutrition. John is the host of the Gene Food Podcast and a health coach trained at Duke's Integrative Medicine Program. Read his full bio here.

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