How to Lose Weight in Your 30s? (6 Effective Tips to Try)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: April 1, 2024
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In my decade-long experience as a personal trainer, I’ve noticed that one of the common concerns among my aging clients is how to lose weight in their 30s.

It's a valid concern for people in this age group who are either too busy with their lives or are struggling with their changing bodies and metabolism making it harder to lose weight.

So I spent hours going over various studies, and I teamed up with our dietician to put together what has worked from our experience.

Here’s what I found.

Quick Summary

  • Effective weight loss in your 30s requires a combination of diet adjustments, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and proper hydration.
  • Stress, work-related pressures, and hormonal changes are key factors contributing to weight gain at this age.
  • Research by Cambridge University indicates that after age 20, total daily energy expenditure decreases by 150 calories per decade, impacting weight management.
  • In my professional experience, focusing on health and well-being rather than just physical appearance is crucial for sustainable weight loss in your 30s.

Is It Difficult to Lose Weight After 30?

A person over 30 losing weight in the gym

Yes, it's a little difficult to lose weight after 30. But a lot easier than in your 40s or 50s.

It should not be as hard if you incorporate a balanced diet, enough sleep, regular exercise, and hydration.

Making lifestyle changes demands deliberate action, commitment, and patience.

And when you do this consistently, you’ll start seeing positive body changes.

Shortly, we’ll dive into the tips to help you lose weight in your 30s.

But before that, let's examine why you’re likely to gain weight at this age suddenly.

Why Am I Suddenly Gaining Weight at 30?

A buff chubby male over 30 years of age stretching outside

You're suddenly gaining weight at 30 because your metabolism is slowing, your hormones are changing, and possibly due to lifestyle factors such as stress that may take a toll on your weight loss ambitions.

Let us examine how these individual factors contribute to an increase in body weight.


In the average society, 30 is when most people seek to establish themselves, family, and career-wise.

This pressure can take a toll on anyone’s physical and mental health. Most people at this age tend not to prioritize maintaining a healthy weight.

Work-Related Pressure

Financial woes take precedence in most people’s life after 30.

There’s pressure to save up for a home.

And in the workplace, you’re inches away from a senior position with all its demands.

According to a study in the National Library of Medicine, chasing deadlines at work may influence you to change your eating habits and turn to energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods to save time [1].

Family pressure

A woman being pressured by the family at dinner

If you’re not married at 30, there’s pressure to tie the knot and start a family with your partner.

You’re bound to get caught up juggling tough decisions.

In 2018, experts from Stanford University discovered that the stress hormone cortisol can trigger weight gain [2].

It also brings negative mood changes and reduced energy levels.

But what's worse is that this hormone also disrupts sleep patterns.

The same study found that when the circadian rhythm (an internal process that regulates our sleep-wake cycle) is disrupted due to chronic stress, the stress hormone cortisol can mess with your blood sugar levels and increase body fat. Hence, stress does affect weight loss.

When stressed, most people drown themselves in snacks and sugary foods, which prime the body for weight gain.

What's more? According to a PubMed study, the combination of stress and high-calorie intake triggers insulin resistance, which is bad news for anyone's weight loss ambitions [3].

Slow Metabolism

A male over 30 having problems with slow metabolism

As you age, your metabolism slows, which also contributes to weight gain.

Although decreased physical activity also accounts for the changing body composition, age-related decline in basal metabolic rate (BMR) also plays a role.

The research published by Cambridge University found that after 20, total daily energy expenditure decreases by 150 calories per decade [4].

This is most likely caused by declining muscle mass and increased fat, both of which often come with age.

“Estimates suggest that every pound of muscle burns roughly six calories per day at rest. That’s about three times as many calories as a pound of fat, which burns roughly two calories per day.”

- Tim Church, Professor of Preventive Medicine 

Notably, a study in the National Library of Medicine says that 30 is the threshold, after which muscle mass declines at 3-8% per decade [5].

Related: Total Daily Energy Expenditure Calculator

Hormonal Changes

The changing hormones in our body only add insult to injury.

Notably, the decreasing growth hormone production also contributes to the dipping metabolic rate [6].

The age of 30 is also when most women start to have kids, and pregnancy and weight gain go hand in hand.

But all of this can be reversed. Below are the ways you can rapidly lose weight in your 30s.

7 Weight Loss Tips for 30-Year-Olds

A male over 30 years old holding healthy foods for weight loss

Below are healthy tips for a successful weight loss journey in your 30s:

1. Focus on the Right Goal

It may seem odd. But let me break it down for you.

You see, most people have the wrong goal in mind. That's how they fail right out of the gate.

A study in the National Library of Medicine found that women who were least motivated by self-appearance but more motivated to lose body weight to improve their overall health and reduce their risk of diseases achieved their goal within 30 months [7].

I had the same experience working with my clients. We found that shifting focus from just wanting to look better to improving overall health made a huge difference. This mindset shift not only helped them stay motivated but also led to more sustainable lifestyle changes.

On the other hand, those who focused on losing weight to improve their body image gained weight within the same period.

Don’t do it for body appearance. Do it to improve your energy levels and reduce your risk of contracting diseases.

It gets easier after that.

2. Fix Your Diet

A male over 30 fixing his diet by eating healthy foods

From my own journey, I've learned that adjusting your diet is crucial for long-term weight maintenance. I remember when I hit 30, I realized that the eating habits that worked in my 20s were no longer effective.

In other words, if you’re not willing to adjust your diet, you can forget about achieving significant weight loss.

According to Mareya Ibrahim, founder and CEO of Eat Cleaner, the key is to make better choices with food and not solely relying on exercise.

It's not about counting calories. It is about making the calories count.

When it comes to effective weight loss, prioritizing diets that actively promote fat burning can greatly enhance your progress.

So, what types of diets that burn fat should you prioritize?

Fruits and Vegetables

Another study in the National Library of Medicine shows that increasing the intake of fruits and fat-burning vegetables can promote weight loss and help maintain a healthy body weight [8].

Spinach, tomatoes, berries, and greens are a good start.


Proteins are essential for building muscle. And as we’ve seen, muscle aids in the burning of fat.

But there’s another crucial benefit that proteins bring to the table that is crucial to weight loss; the satiety effect.

A PubMed study has shown that the consumption of proteins helps burn fat and promotes the feeling of fullness [9].

Additionally, scientists have found that protein triggers the activity of the leptin hormone within the body [10].

Leptin is a hormone that sends signals to the brain when you’re full.

It makes you less interested in food, thus helping you maintain a normal weight.

Cut Sugar and Processed Foods

A graphic of sugar cubes being crossed out

You’ve probably heard this a hundred times by now, but cutting sugar and only consuming foods with fewer calories than you’re expending is a must if you’re serious about losing weight in your 30s.

That includes soda, candy, baked goods, sweetened coffee drinks, and all foods with added sugar.

Cutting back on these can help reduce your calorie intake, thus boosting your weight loss ambitions.

Besides, it reduces your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.

Cut Artificial Sweeteners

If you’re thinking of replacing sugars with artificial sweeteners? Think again.

You see, the thing with sweet things is that when you taste them, your brain thinks it's getting high-caloric foods.

So when no calories are provided, it forces your body to seek them elsewhere.

This may cause you to overeat.

Yale researchers have shown that artificial sweeteners can increase cravings for calories [11].

As you can see, diet is critical for weight loss and maintaining lost weight.

But that alone may not be enough.

3. Exercise

A male over 30 staying fit by jogging outside

It's already proven that muscle mass percentage is on a downtrend after 30.

But that doesn't mean you can’t reverse it.

I've personally seen the impact of regular exercise on my clients body composition.

When I started incorporating weight training into their routine, they started to feel stronger and we found that building muscle was key to increasing their calorie burn and reshaping the body.

The exercise routines below are great for building muscle in your 30s.

Lifting Weights

Studies from the University of Alabama show that lifting weights and dieting are ideal for losing fat and retaining muscle [12].

Those who combined the two fat-burning exercises saw better results than folks who just did cardio.

The latter lost both fat and muscle at the same time.

I've recommended this combination as an exercise program to most of my clients in their 30s.

And within weeks, sometimes even days, they start to see a drop in their clothing sizes and body mass index.

The cool part about lifting heavy is that burning calories goes beyond the gym.

This was proved by a scientific study which showed that overweight and sedentary participants who did resistance training burned 250 more calories than others who didn't 24 hours after the sweat session [13].

High-Intensity Interval Training

A person over 30 doing high intensity interval training or HIIT

High-intensity training in short intervals is another efficient exercise routine that encourages burning calories within your body to improve your fitness levels.

I’ve found it far more efficient for my clients than moderate physical activities  [14].

So, if you’re over 30 and looking to burn calories and amp up your weight loss efforts, I recommend adding HIIT for fat-burning to your exercise regimen.


When you do cardio alone, you risk losing muscle. And as we’ve seen, that's the last thing we want.

The truth is that most of the exercises mentioned here actually work better in combination with regular cardio.

For instance, when you blend strength training and cardio for weight loss, you have a high chance of increasing your metabolism.

Aim for at least 150 minutes a week.

4. Move More

The most important thing is to keep active when all is said and done.

My clients report that small changes, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a walk during lunch breaks, made a big difference. These simple acts of moving more helped them break out of a sedentary routine and contributed to the overall weight loss.

Sitting less and moving more is as crucial as spending time in the gym and positively impacts your physical and mental health.

Try improving your step count every day, with 8 to 12 thousand being a good reference range, depending on your circumstances.

5. Prioritize Sleep

A male over 30 getting some sleep

At 30, you’re probably juggling work and family responsibilities, which leaves less time for a good night’s sleep.

Well, I hate to break this to you, but less than 7 hours of sleep is not ideal if you’re trying to lose weight.

Sleep deprivation has been heavily linked to weight gain.

In particular, it triggers the hunger hormone ghrelin and suppresses satiety hormones like leptin, making weight loss even harder [15].

You must find a balance if you want to burn those calories. It's not just crucial for weight management but overall health as well.

One of my clients regularly sacrificed sleep for work and social life, said that once she started getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, she noticed a decrease in her cravings and an increase in her energy levels, which was crucial for her weight loss journey.

6. Stay Hydrated

Wellness professionals will tell you that fluid is integral to healthy body composition.

Studies have established that high fluid intake is crucial for maintaining a low body fat percentage and small waist for adults between 18 and 39 [16].

Keep it simple. Forget about calorie-laced beverages like fruit juices, coffee drinks, and sodas, as drinking water is undeniably best.

Now, a simple way of telling whether you’re hydrated or not is to check your urine color, with a light straw color being the ideal [17].

Related: How Much Water Do I Drink to Lose Weight?

7. Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a dietary approach that alternates between periods of eating and fasting.

Common IF methods include the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window, and the 5:2 approach, where you eat normally for five days a week and limit calorie intake on the other two days.

For those in their 30s, IF can be particularly beneficial. IF can help counteract the decline in metabolic rate by promoting fat loss while preserving muscle mass.

Here's how to implement intermittent fasting:

  • Choose your method: Start by selecting an IF method that fits your lifestyle. The 16/8 method is often recommended for beginners due to its simplicity and adaptability.
  • Plan your eating window: For instance, if you choose the 16/8 method and finish dinner by 8 PM, your next meal would be at noon the following day.
  • Focus on nutrient-dense foods: During your eating periods, prioritize nutrient-dense foods. Include a balance of proteins, healthy fats, and fiber-rich carbohydrates to maintain energy levels and satiety.
  • Listen to your body: If you feel overly fatigued or irritable, adjust your fasting periods or consult a healthcare professional.


What Is the Best Diet for a 30-Year-Old Woman?

The best diet for a 30-year-old woman is protein from animal sources, including eggs, seafood, and white meat. Additionally, she might combine it with incomplete proteins from beans, vegetables, and whole grains.

How Many Exercises Do You Need to Lose Weight After 30?

To lose weight after 30, you need about 250 minutes of high-intensity exercises weekly. Include strength training 2-3 times a week while targeting all major muscle groups with exercises such as squats, chest presses, and lunges.

How Can I Boost My Metabolism After 30?

You can boost your metabolism after 30 by engaging in strength training and high-intensity training, getting those 7 hours of sleep, and drinking enough water.


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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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