The Whole30® Program started with a diet book that launched in 2009, The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom. This elimination diet program was created by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig and is sometimes described as a “clean” eating plan.
Followers of Whole30 taut its benefits as weight loss, clearer skin, reduced pain, relief from digestive ailments, improvement of seasonal allergies and more.
The premise of the Whole30 plan is that certain food groups could be impacting your energy levels, weight, and risk of diseases. Those include sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes. The solution to those problem-causing foods? Strip them from your diet completely, suggests Whole30 co-creator Melissa Hartwig.
Doing so helps your body “reset” (they say) and then you can introduce those food groups back into your diet slowly to identify if they have an impact on how you feel and your health. For example, if you add dairy back after the 30-day “detox” from it and you experience bloating or breakouts, you will know that it can affect your body negatively and you may have an intolerance.
What to avoid on the Whole30 program:
For 30 days, you’ll avoid: sugar in any form (real and artificial), alcohol (even for cooking), legumes (sorry, that includes peanuts and peanut butter), grains, baked foods or junk foods, dairy, foods that contain carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites.
You’ll also need to put away your scale. The Whole30 creators don’t want you measuring your weight or body measurements while you’re following this way of eating.
What you’ll eat on the Whole30 program
You’ll be eating a ton of vegetables, fruits, fill up on protein, and healthy fats like avocado, while adding flavor to dishes with fresh and dried herbs. Think pan-seared scallops with bacon over Swiss chard, and skirt steak with grilled tomatoes, or scrambled egg breakfast tacos (served on lettuce leaves) with chipotle breakfast sausage are just a few recipes you could make.1
You can have ghee or clarified butter; green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are the only legumes you can have; fruit juice for cooking; coconut aminos (a brewed and naturally fermented soy sauce substitute); vinegar; and salt.
Will you lose weight on the Whole30 program?
In a word: probably. But the creators don’t make any promises of how much weight you’ll drop or the amount of inches most followers shrink within 30 days. Remember, they told you to put away the scale for the month. After cutting out these foods and eating a cleaner diet, you’ll probably notice your clothes fitting better and perhaps your face will look thinner.
The cons with the Whole30 program
Eliminating whole grains, legumes and dairy from your diet isn’t part of a balanced plan, according to recommendations from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Beans and legumes are part of a healthy diet and have plenty of benefits, including being linked to weight loss.2 Whole grains are rich in fiber, a nutrient that many Americans already aren’t getting enough of but have positive associations with heart health, reducing risk of obesity and possibly reducing risk of cancer.3 Dairy is an excellent source of calcium, protein, as well as vitamins B12 and vitamin D.
Eating out on this program is going to be tough. Also, if you go back to eating crap soon after cleaning up your diet for 30 days, the results you’ll have experienced will be temporary and you’ll likely tax your digestive system.
So while we like that the Whole30 program might help you reset bad eating habits, helps you create meals based on whole foods, and focuses on how you feel rather than what the scale says, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about whether eliminating these other food groups is best for your health and weight goals long term.