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What Is the Whole30 Diet?

Your Guide on Doing a Whole30 Diet

Tens of thousands of people have taken on the Whole30 program, a monthlong clean-eating program that promises a bevy of health and emotional benefits. Developed by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, a husband-and-wife team with backgrounds in sports nutrition, anatomy, and physical therapy, the program aims to reset your metabolism and reshape your relationship with food.

After a co-worker read the essential Whole30 text, It Starts With Food, and took on the challenge, I was interested to see what all the hype surrounding this monthlong "diet" was really about.

What Can I Eat?

On the surface, the Whole30 menu looks a lot like the Paleo diet (low carb, high protein), but think of it more as an elimination diet, except there's no 80/20 balance either — no cheating, no indulgences for one month. For one month, it completely strips away "hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups," considered to be grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and legumes. Equally as important as eliminating these groups is not to be tempted to "junkify" their old favorites — for example, a meaty "Paleo pizza" or "coconut-flour pancakes" are off-limits. For Whole30 participants, it's not about stretching the rules of the diet to their furthest limits. It's about learning to enjoy whole, clean, simple foods that fuel your body.

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The Promises

The program promises a laundry list of potential benefits, such as improved body composition, higher energy levels, better quality of sleep, improved athletic performance, and a reduction of food cravings, particularly when it comes to sugar and carbs. Participants have chimed in with their testimonials, crediting the Whole30 program with everything from clearing up acid reflux to complete elimination of autoimmune disorders. Beyond the physical benefits, the Whole30 program aims to reshape "long-standing, unhealthy patterns related to food, eating and your body image."

The Verdict

While a rigid diet with no allowance for indulgences is not sustainable over time, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to push yourself for a month — sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures! The Whole30 program could be a good option for individuals looking to give themselves a healthy reset or discover what food sensitivities they might have. But before you sign on board, it's essential to read their book that outlines the program to make sure it's right for you.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne
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Lindsay3347112 Lindsay3347112 2 years

I love the Whole 30 eating plan and the Whole 9 life program - I haven't done the Whole 30 in a couple of years, but I think it's time to circle back to it, since I'm in need of a health & energy boost (and better sleep) - right after Thanksgiving would be a perfect time to start! Thanks for reinvigorating me to get back into this - I needed the push :)

ldekosky ldekosky 3 years
I agree, I had a great experience with the Whole30, though it didn't cut out the sweet cravings as I had hoped. It is great to clean out the diet, make you realize all the crap you are eating. Definitely something I need to do again....
akathleen akathleen 3 years
I have done the whole30 a few times - it's a great way to clean up your diet, especially after periods of indulgence (for me it's after the holidays.) It's a great way to bring in the new year and form healthy habits that will stick.
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