Whole30- Holy Grail or Wholly Pointless?

paleo diet - cook for your life

Whole30 is a dieting craze that holds a steady place in the interest of the public. It was created by Melissa Hartwig & Dallas Hartwig, who claim that Whole30 is a “short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.”

They report that over 95% of people who complete Whole30 lose weight, improve their sleep patterns, and reduce their food cravings.

What Does It Involve?

The basic premise involves cutting out processed foods in all forms, sugar, alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, and starchy vegetables. Instead, the focus is on eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and nut oils.

The Good

Whole30’s emphasis on whole foods and home cooking is right up our alley. The act of committing to your health for 30 days may also help you begin to form healthy habits that may last after the Whole30 period is over.

Commitment to the program will shake up your usual routine, so you may identify unhealthy habits you could drop.

The program also insists that followers do not weigh themselves or take measurements, and instead focus on how their body feels on the diet. Tuning in to your body can only be a good thing, and this challenge might be the wake-up call you need to improve your wellness.

 The Bad

Whole30 is lacking in several key nutrients due to the focus on cutting out major food groups and may cause deficiencies if attempted too often.

Many of the foods Whole30 forbids have been proven to help reduce disease risks, such as legumes and grains. This is because grains and legumes both contain phytates that can reduce the availability of minerals such as iron and zinc in the body. The authors allow nuts on the diet, even though nuts also contain phytates. Legumes and whole grains both appear on the American Institute for Cancer Research’s list of “Foods That Fight Cancer” due to the numerous scientific studies that confirm their role in helping to reduce the risk of cancer.

Cutting out legumes and depending solely on animal meat to meet protein needs is more expensive, and can worsen diet quality. The World Cancer Research Fund advises that we limited red and processed meat to reduce cancer risk, so if a person switches to eating more red and processed meat they will be having a more unhealthy diet.

Whole30 could also encourage disordered thinking, and lead to feelings of guilt around foods. The creators insist that anyone who breaks their Whole30 streak must go back to day one. We do not believe that people should feel guilty about food. Restrictive plans like this can make it seem like healthy eating is difficult, which can push you to eat whatever you feel like, as healthy is too hard. There may also be a temptation to binge after the 30-day period finishes, meaning any gains in health may be lost quickly.


Whole30 is a difficult challenge that can cause unnecessary stress. If you are seeking to improve your health, try making up for your own challenge — such as giving up your evening glass of wine or those cookies you snack on. If you do want to do Whole30, ensure you eat a wide variety of foods to get the biggest range of nutrients you can.

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