Whole30 Diet Review
The Whole30 challenge has been making lots of headlines over the past few months.
Celebrities and athletes are jumping on board. Every day, more people are starting to see significant health benefits from the Whole30 diet. The diet is tearing up Instagram, and there are currently over a million posts with the tag #Whole30.
So what’s the big deal with Whole30? Does it actually live up to its hype? Or is it just another dangerous fad diet?
What Is The Whole30 Diet?
The Whole30 Diet was founded by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig way back in 2009. Dallas and Melissa wrote It Starts With Food, where they described the benefits of a high-protein, no grain diet that lasts for 30 days.
Whole30 is often described as an “extreme” version of the paleo diet. The paleo diet, for those who don’t know, involves eating the types of foods “Paleolithic” people (i.e. Cavemen) ate thousands of years ago, before human civilization was founded and before the Agricultural Revolution.
The Whole30 diet is similar to the paleo diet. Whole 30 dieters cannot eat sugar, beans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts, grains, or dairy products.
The argument behind Whole30 and the paleo diet is that our bodies have not yet evolved to digest grain-based foods. The Agricultural Revolution occurred around 10,000 years ago. Before that time, we never ate grains or sugars. Modern Homo sapiens are 200,000 years old, and for most of that history, we relied on nuts, berries, and wild meat.
As the name suggests, Whole30 is a 30 day challenge type of diet. Dieters are expected to follow the diet for 30 days, after which they can cycle off the diet and begin eating normally. They’re encouraged to cycle back onto the diet whenever they want to feel refreshed.
How Does The Whole30 Diet Work?
Here’s a basic explanation of the Whole30 diet and how it works:
— TheWhole30 diet prohibits the consumption of grains, sugar, and dairy products, as well as all types of peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts
— Whole30 also bans some foods that are allowed on the paleo diet, including honey and alcohol (you cannot even cook with alcohol)
— While following the Whole30 challenge, dieters cannot consume tobacco products or other chemicals like MSG, carrageenan, and sulfites
— During the Whole30 challenge, dieters cannot weigh or measure themselves
— If you slip up at any point during the 30 day challenge (even something as minor as slipping a splash of milk into your coffee), you have to start over from day one
These strict rules make Whole30 one of the harshest diets out there today. Of course, fans of the diet argue this strictness is what makes the diet so successful.
What Should I Eat While On The Paleo Diet?
Of course, looking at the strict rules above, you might think that all the foods you eat on a weekly basis are banned. You may be right: following the Whole30 diet means you can’t eat things like bread, milk, or even artificial sweeteners like Splenda.
So what can you eat while on the paleo diet? Well, you can eat a surprisingly diverse menu of foods. Here are some of the popular foods for those on the Whole30 diet:
- Some Fruits, Like Berries
- Oils, Nuts, And Seeds
One of the main guidelines of the Whole30 challenge is to “eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.”
Not all foods are banned
There are some foods allowed on the paleo diet that you may think are banned, but they’re not. Here’s “The Fine Print” section of the Whole30 diet which lists foods that should be banned based on the rules above, but are actually okay:
— Clarified Butter or Ghee: You’re not allowed to eat regular butter on the Whole30 diet, but clarified butter or ghee is allowed.
— Fruit Juice As A Sweetener: Some products use fruit juice as a sweetener. In the words of Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, “we have to draw the line somewhere, so fruit juice is an acceptable ingredient during your Whole30.”
— Certain Legumes: Green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are all allowed on the Whole30 challenge, despite technically being legumes. They’re more “pod” legumes than “bean” legumes. Plus, they’re really good for you.
— Vinegar: Most types of vinegars are allowed while taking the Whole30 program, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice vinegars. However, you’re not allowed to eat vinegars which contain added sugar, or malt vinegar.
— Salt: Technically, all iodized table salt contains sugar. However, salt is exempted from the “no sugar” rule on the Whole 30 diet.
What Are The Benefits Of Whole30?
Whole30 has been connected to a wide range of health benefits, from weight loss to curing infertility. Most of these benefits are anecdotal, as Whole30 hasn’t undergone rigorous scientific studies. At least, not yet.
However, if you believe the news reports, Instagram posts, and stories from your friends, you’ll learn that Whole30 comes with all of the following benefits:
— Improved quality of life, including sleep improvements, better energy levels, increased mood, and better self-esteem
— The “magical” elimination of various symptoms, including diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, acne, eczema, psoriasis, hives, asthma, allergies, sinus infections, migraines, acid reflux, celiac disease, Crohn’s, IBS, bipolar disorder, depression, seasonal affective disorder, eating disorders, ADHD, endometriosis, PCOS, infertility, arthritis, Lyme disease, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia – seriously, Whole30 claims that you could see relief from all of those conditions.
That’s a long list of powerful benefits included with Whole30. Just like with the paleo diet, the Whole30 diet is an effective way to cleanse your body of toxins. You’re eating all-natural foods and fewer processed goods. That takes a lot of stress off your body.
Does The Whole30 Diet Work?
The creators of the Whole30 diet sum up the science behind the diet like this:
“Certain foods may be having negative effects on how you look, feel and live – in ways that you’d never associate with your diet.”
Eliminating these foods from your diet allows you to cleanse toxins, reduce free radicals, and improve digestion by avoiding processed foods.
As mentioned above, we’re still waiting for scientific studies on the Whole30 diet. However, science has examined the paleo diet.
Here are some notable things science has told us about the paleo diet:
— In experimental human studies, the paleo diet – and by extension, the Whole30 diet – has proven to be “superior health-wise” to diabetic diets and Mediterranean diets in randomized crossover trials measuring cardiovascular health (Source: Cardiovascular Diabetology)
— Whole 30 was proven superior to a low fat, high carbohydrate diet for weight loss when measured at 6, 12, and 18 month periods. Patients were able to reduce their waist circumference, abdominal diameter, and body fat (Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)
— Those who followed the paleo diet for a long period of time improved “important dietary characteristics”, including dietary protein, dietary carbohydrates, mono and polyunsaturated fats, omega 3 fatty acids, omega 6 fatty acids, and reduced dietary cholesterol. All of these changes were shown to have multiple positive health effects that reduce the risk of a number of different diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity (Source: Mayo Clinic)
Since the Whole30 challenge is basically a strict, 30-day paleo diet, you can assume the above results would hold true for the Whole30 challenge. We’ll update this Whole30 review when scientific studies examine this popular new diet.
Consider trying a paleo diet before you start Whole30
Ultimately, Whole30 is a powerful way to transform your body and feel cleaner and healthier. However, if you do plan on starting the Whole30 diet, I recommend trying the paleo diet for a week or two before you begin.
The paleo diet is like an introductory diet for Whole30. That way, you’re not jumping into the deep end of the pool right away.
I also recommend starting with the paleo diet to avoid discouraging yourself: you might get 5 days into the Whole30 challenge and realize it’s not for you. If you quit, you might feel discouraged that you didn’t make it through the whole diet.
Of course, if you really want to challenge yourself, there’s nothing wrong with starting the Whole30 diet before you’ve tried the paleo diet.
Conclusion – Is Whole30 Your Next Diet?
Is Whole30 the right choice for you? Or is this diet too hard and too expensive for you?
I like how Whole30.com describes the challenge of this diet:
“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.”
Now that’s a good pep talk.
I was able to feel some amazing health effects after taking the Whole30 challenge – and you could too. If you want to feel physically and mentally healthier while reducing your intake of dangerous toxins, consider trying the Whole30 diet today!