The Whole30 diet is a strict 30-day elimination diet that many people follow for weight loss or digestive problems.
The program encourages you to exclude alcohol, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy products and supplements from your diet for 30 days. It is referred to as a complete lifestyle change, not as a simple diet.
Proponents of the Whole30 diet admire the health benefits it brings, while critics say it’s just another unsustainable modern diet.
This article discusses everything you need to know about the Whole30 diet.
What is the Whole30 diet?
The Whole30 diet is a strict 30-day elimination diet that promises a variety of health and emotional benefits.
This diet was developed in 2009 by two certified sports nutritionists, who promoted it as a way to reset metabolism and change attitudes towards food.
The program focuses on the idea that certain foods – such as sugar, grains, legumes, alcohol and dairy products – can negatively affect your health and fitness.
Excluding these foods from your diet should help your body recover from these negative effects and promote long-term health.
Many people follow this diet in hopes of losing weight. Some may use the program to detect food intolerance or achieve some of the suggested health benefits.
How to follow a Whole30 diet
The idea of the Whole30 program is simple: completely eliminate foods that can be harmful to your health for 30 days.
After the first 30 days, slowly reintroduce certain foods and observe the effects they have on your body.
This is a fairly intensive elimination diet, so there is a strict set of rules. This plan also provides you with a list of allowed foods and a list of foods that are prohibited.
No minor derogation is allowed during the one-month exclusion period. It is recommended that you start the challenge again if you deviate from the path.
The founders claim that strict adherence to a diet allows the body to recover in isolation from certain foods that can cause inflammation, intestinal disorders, or hormonal imbalances.
Unlike many other diets, you don’t have to monitor calories, measure portions, count points, as with a point diet, or follow different methods, such as diet. Also, the weighing is strictly reserved only for the first and last day of the program.
The Benefits of the Whole30 Diet
According to supporters, full adherence to the Whole30 diet for 30 days is expected to have a number of health benefits. They include:
- weight loss
- higher energy levels
- better sleep
- decreased appetite
- improved athletic performance
The founders of the diet promise that the Whole30 program will change both the way you think about food and your appetite. Proponents of the diet also claim that it can change the emotional connection you have with food and the body.
Although these claimed benefits may seem very attractive, it should be noted that no research supports them.
Foods allowed for consumption
Foods allowed in the Whole30 diet consist primarily of minimally processed foods, including:
- fruit: fresh and dried fruit
- vegetables: all vegetables
- Meat, eggs and poultry: beef, veal, pork, horse, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
- Fish and seafood: fish, anchovies, shrimp, squid, shellfish, crustaceans, lobsters, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: all nuts and seeds, nut oil and nut flour (except peanuts because they are legumes)
- Some fats: olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil, tallow, lard, duck fat
Foods to avoid
During the 30-day diet, you should exclude certain foods from your diet. They include:
- Alcohol: all kinds of beer, wines, liqueurs and spirits
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners: raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners and all products containing them
- Dairy Products: cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream and other dairy products
- cereals: all cereals, including wheat, maize, oats and rice
- Legumes and legumes: peas, lentils, beans, peanuts (exceptions are string beans, sugar peas and snow peas)
- soy: whole soybeans, including tofu, tempeh, edamame and all soy products such as miso and soy sauce
- Processed additives: carrageenan, MSG or sulfites
In addition, the diet recommends that you avoid making your favorite pastries, snacks, or treats – even with Whole30-approved ingredients. Therefore, foods such as cauliflower pizza crusts and paleo pancakes should be avoided.
In this program, you should be encouraged to always follow the instructions consistently. If you are still confused, the founders of the diet strongly encourage you to start the whole program again from day one.
There are a few additional rules in the Whole30 diet that are not related to diet. For example, smoking is prohibited during the diet.
You should also not step on the scales on days other than days 1 and 30, or take part in any form of physical measurement.
The rationale for these additional rules is that the Whole30 program is more than just weight loss. Adherence to these rules is promoted as a way to change mindsets and promote long-term health.
Once you have successfully completed the Whole30 program, it is time to focus on the second step – the re-entry phase.
At this stage, you are slowly reintroducing certain foods into your diet. Assess how you feel about your metabolism, digestive tract, immune system, and attitude toward food.
The proposed way to reintroduce banned foods is to add only one food group at a time. For example, dairy products can be reintroduced on the first day after the Whole30 program ends.
We then encourage you to return to the Whole30 diet and avoid milk for 2 to 4 days, paying attention to any symptoms. If all is well, you can reintroduce another food group on day 5 and then repeat the process.
Reintroducing just one food group at a time while keeping the rest of the diet the same is encouraged as a way to better identify which foods are causing negative symptoms such as bloating, skin swelling, or joint pain.
Once all food groups have been individually tested, you can add the ones that your body tolerates well back into your normal diet.
Of course, people don’t have to reintroduce all foods.
7-day sample menu
Those who would like to try the Whole30 diet can start with the following suggestions for a one-week menu.
- breakfast: scrambled eggs, potatoes and minced beef
- Lunch: chicken salad with homemade mayonnaise, served on baby spinach
- dinner: shrimp in paprika sauce on zucchini noodles
- breakfast: sandwich with fried eggs, portobello mushrooms
- Lunch: homemade soup balls with vegetables
- dinner: chili, cooked with beef and sweet potatoes, served with avocado
- breakfast: avocado and banana smoothies sweetened with dates
- Lunch: beef burger with salad
- dinner: stuffed peppers with minced meat and vegetables
- breakfast: soft-boiled eggs and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto
- Lunch: pork in Asian style in salad boats
- dinner: roasted fish and roasted broccoli
- breakfast: green smoothie sweetened with dates
- Lunch: fried smoked salmon and asparagus
- dinner: roasted chicken with salad
- breakfast: poached eggs in vegetable sauce
- Lunch: grilled chicken nuggets with kale
- dinner: rebuy steak with mushrooms and Brussels sprouts
- breakfast: egg baked in half an avocado
- Lunch: pizza boat with zucchini without cheese
- dinner: beef and vegetable stew
See Whole30 Compatible Ideas for a variety of healthy recipes.
Remember to change your sources of protein and vegetables throughout the day to provide your body with all the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Possible shortcomings of the diet
Several aspects of the Whole30 program are in line with a healthy diet.
For example, the diet encourages the consumption of minimally processed foods and a high intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
However, avoiding foods rich in nutrients such as legumes, soy, and dairy products can make it difficult to follow all of your daily nutrient recommendations.
This can have negative health consequences if the diet is continued for more than 30 days.
In addition, while strict rules may be a good way to reset eating habits for some people, restrictive diets without occasional pampering are usually not sustainable over time.
Those who are considering this diet in the long run are advised to record their meals for a few days in the diet blog.
This can help ensure that daily nutrient recommendations continue to be followed.
Should you try the Whole30 diet?
Weight loss will be followed by a lack of calories. Due to its restrictive nature, the Whole30 diet is likely to help create this caloric deficit.
However, unless the choice of food you take on this diet becomes a habit, the weight loss you experience may not be sustainable in the long run.
As far as the alleged benefits are concerned, no research is available to support the claims. There is also no serious reason to limit dairy products, cereals or legumes.
It is true, however, that some people unknowingly have an intolerance to foods that cause digestive symptoms, which the phase of reintroducing the diet can help identify.
In general, this diet can be helpful if you want to completely change your eating habits.
However, if you just want to improve your diet and overall health, a more balanced and long-term approach that focuses on choosing whole foods, this diet is too restrictive.
The Whole30 program is a 30-day elimination diet designed to eliminate certain foods that can cause health problems in some people. Most people start with Whole30 to lose weight or help identify foods that are causing them digestive problems.
In Whole30, you can eat meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. But avoid sugar, grains, legumes, dairy products, alcohol and processed foods.
Although it would be difficult and very restrictive to maintain in the long run, the Whole30 is designed to work in just 30 days.