About Whole30 Diet
You may have first heard about the Whole30 Diet on Dr. Oz’s popular daytime TV show, which claims to be a nutritional program specifically designed to change your life in 30 days by improving the health of your metabolism, balancing your immune system, healing your digestive tract, and stopping unhealthy habits.
In order to accomplish this, Whole30’s creators, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, claim to help you focus on cutting out food groups that can negatively impact your health (e.g. unexplained aches and pains, skin issues, diabetes, etc.), such as sugar, grains (no bread!), dairy and legumes, and any foods containing carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. Instead, you’ll be eating nutritionally dense, unprocessed foods during your Whole30Diet, including meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, while obtaining good fats from sources like oils, nuts, and seeds.
By sticking to the Whole30 Diet rigorously for 30 days, without any cheats or “slips,” the program is claimed to act as a sort of reset for your body, and to provide you with a wide range of physical and psychological benefits. Because of this, Whole30 is claimed to be less of a diet program than it is a lifestyle program, and that your only job during the diet is to make good food choices.
Regardless of which diet program you ultimately choose, you’re interested in changing your eating habits, which can help you live longer and be happier—and to look better while doing it. With this said, what benefits does the Whole30 Diet claim to help you accomplish, and does it actually work? Here’s what we found out.
What Benefits Does the Whole30 Diet Program Claim to Provide?
While the Whole30 website provides an in-depth look at each of their off-limits food groups, and explains what kinds of reactions they cause within your body and why you should avoid them, it basically comes down to this: The foods you eat either make your more healthy or less healthy (how you look, how you feel, and your quality of life), so you want avoid the ones that make you less healthy.
In order to determine which foods you should and shouldn’t eat, the Whole30 diet is claimed to be based on the Whole9 Nutrition Pyramid, which makes recommendations based on 3 foundations: science, clinical experience, and self-experimentation.
By using these 3 foundations and focusing on foods that improve your health instead of harm it, successfully completing the Whole30 Diet is claimed to provide physical benefits such as higher energy levels, improved sleep, boosted focus during the day, and improved athletic performance and mood, in addition to psychological benefits such as a healthy relationship with food, reduced cravings, and a healthier body image. However, even in small amounts (such as a “cheat” meal) these bad foods can “break the healing cycle,” which means that you’ll have to stick to the program precisely in order to achieve these benefits.
Overall, the Whole30 Program is claimed to have helped more than 100 thousand people change their relationship with food, 95% of which are claimed to have lost weight and improved their body composition.
Leaping Before You Look
Although these benefits sound great, as we mentioned earlier, the Whole30 Program is focused on changing your lifestyle, not just your diet, so the creators encourage you not to just start doing it on a whim.
Instead, you’ll need to plan and prepare, which will make it much more likely that you’ll see the program through to the end. This includes choosing a start date and going public (e.g. telling friends and family) about your decision, removing any “hazardous” foods from your home so you won’t be tempted, planning meals in advance, and identifying any potential obstacles you’ll experience ahead of time.
Also, you won’t be weighing yourself or taking any other kind of body measurements during the program, so you should handle all of this before you begin so that you can see how far you’ve come after completion.
Are There Any Health Risks Associated with the Whole30 Diet?
For the most part, cutting nutritionally deficient, high-calorie, and processed foods out of your diet can have a variety of beneficial effects on your body. As such, there don’t seem to be many health risks associated specifically with the Whole30 Diet. However, according to a May 2014 ABC News article, “When you start eliminating food groups like dairy, legumes and whole grains, you start to miss out on important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, B vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.”
With this said, the Whole30 Program is a form of the hugely popular Paleo diets currently making the rounds, and there are some health concerns associated with them.
For example, TIME claims that although “cutting down on preservative-packed processed foods was smart, the article noted, the idea that banning “any kind of food unavailable to Stone Age hunter-gatherers,” including dairy products, grains and beans, was nutritional bad-think. Likewise, U.S. News, in its 2014 rankings of “Best Diets Overall,” announced that the Paleo diet was at the very bottom, tied at No. 31 with the Dukan diet. “Experts took issue with the diet on every measure,” the magazine scolded.
USNews writes, “By shunning dairy and grains, you’re at risk of missing out on a lot of nutrients. Also, if you’re not careful about making lean meat choices, you’ll quickly ratchet up your risk for heart problems.”
As such, you’ll definitely want to speak with your physician beforehand to find out which foods you should focus on, and if you should be supplementing your Whole30 Program with any kind of vitamin regimen.
What is Whole30’s Online Customer Reputation?
Overall, it appears that the Whole30 Diet Program has a mostly positive online reputation among users, and the creators’ book has overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon.com.
Of these, the most common compliments related to Whole30 revolved around the fact that it’s free, the health benefits it can provide, and the insights it provides into the ingredients found in many foods that you might have previously thought were healthy. In fact, this review included blood test results after completing the Whole30 program, and found that their cholesterol had dropped nearly 60 points and leptin (fat hormone) levels had decreased significantly as well.
On the other hand, some common complaints we found during our research cited that many of the Whole30’s benefits can be achieved simply by cutting out processed foods, not whole food groups (many of which have nutritional benefits, as we noted above), that it’s too complicated, and negative reactions (headaches, drastically reduced energy, irritability, etc.). However, most users who experienced negative side effects seem to have gotten over them after 1-2 weeks.
Whole30 Pricing & Refund Policy
The Whole30 Diet is available for free (downloadable via PDF) on the program’s website, which also includes a variety of related resources such as shopping lists, meal planning templates, pantry-stocking and grocery store guides, dining and travel guides, and much more.
Whole30 also claims to offer daily newsletters that offer the exact type of support you need at exactly the time you need it, and is filled with positive messages, helpful instructions, and numerous other resources.
However, there are some products available for purchase on the Whole30 website, including the creators’ book It Starts with Food, t-shirts, and links to related products through third-party vendors.
Can the Whole30 Diet Help You Be Thinner, Happier, & Healthier?
Chopping to the Point: If you adhere to any diet exactly as prescribed, whether Whole30, another Paleo diet, or something else altogether, it’s likely that you’ll lose weight. But while this process isn’t without its challenges, initially losing weight is often easier than keeping it off for the long run, which is where lifestyle changes come in.
So, can the Whole30 Diet help you lose weight? Based on the tens of thousands of people who claimed to have experienced success with the program, it seems the answer is “yes.” But can Whole30 help you keep the weight off? This part is up to you, and depends on how much you’re willing to change your eating habits in order to live happier and healthier.
However, if you’re committed to changing your relationship with food, keep in mind that simply cutting processed foods and ingredients out of your diet may give you many of the same benefits as the Whole30 Program, while being less restrictive.