Although these claimed benefits may appear very attractive, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are currently no scientific studies backing them up.
Summary: The Whole30 diet is claimed to provide you with physical and psychological health benefits above and beyond simple weight loss.
Foods allowed on the Whole30 diet consist of minimally processed foods, including:
Meat and poultry: Beef, veal, pork, horse, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
Fish and seafood: Fish, anchovies, shrimp, calamari, scallops, crab, lobster, etc.
Eggs: All types, as well as foods made from them, such as homemade mayo.
Fruits: Fresh and dried fruits, although fresh is preferred.
Vegetables: All types of vegetables.
Nuts and seeds: All types of nuts and seeds besides peanuts, which are technically a legume. Nut milks, nut butters and nut flours are also allowed.
Some fats: Healthy plant oils, coconut oil, duck fat, clarified butter and ghee.
When minimally processed foods must be used, the diet encourages you to opt for those with the shortest ingredient lists that only contain ingredients you recognize.
Summary: The Whole30 diet encourages the use of fresh, minimally processed foods.
During the 30-day diet, certain foods must be completely eliminated. These include:
Sugar and artificial sweeteners: Raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup and all products containing these sweeteners, as well as artificial sweeteners.
Alcohol: All types of beer, wines, liqueurs and spirits.
Grains: Regardless of their degree of processing, all grains, including wheat, corn, oats and rice, are to be avoided.
Pulses and legumes: Most peas, lentils and beans, including peanut butter, should be avoided. Green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas are exceptions.
Soy: All soy, including tofu, tempeh, edamame and all products derived from soy, such as miso and soy sauce.
Dairy: Including cow, goat and sheep’s milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and other products derived from dairy. Clarified butter or ghee is allowed.
Processed additives: These include carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. Any food or beverage containing these ingredients should be avoided.
In addition, the diet recommends that you avoid recreating your favorite baked goods, snacks or treats — even with Whole30-approved ingredients.
Thus, foods such as cauliflower pizza crust and paleo pancakes must be avoided.
There’s also no such thing as a cheat meal on this diet. Instead, you’re encouraged to adhere strictly to the guidelines all the time. If you do slip up, the diet’s founders strongly encourage you to begin the whole program again from day one.
Summary: The Whole30 diet eliminates sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, dairy and processed foods for a 30-day period.
The Whole30 diet encourages some additional rules that are not related to diet.
For instance, smoking is forbidden for the duration of the diet.
You’re also not allowed to step on the scale on any days other than days 1 and 30, or partake in any form of body measurements.
The justification behind these additional rules is that the Whole30 program is about more than just weight loss.
Following these rules is promoted as a way to change your mindset and promote long-term health.
Summary: The Whole30 diet is promoted as more than a simple weight loss diet. Therefore, you are encouraged to avoid smoking and weighing yourself for the duration of the program.
Once you’ve successfully completed the Whole30 program, it’s time to focus on step 2 — the reintroduction phase.
In this phase, certain foods will be slowly reintroduced to evaluate how they make you feel in regard to your healthier metabolism, digestive tract, immune system and relationship with food.
The suggested way to reintroduce off-limit foods is to add back only one food group at a time. For instance, milk can be reintroduced on day 1.
You are then encouraged to return to the Whole30 diet and avoid milk on days 2–4, while paying attention to any potential symptoms.
If all goes well, a different food group can be reintroduced on day 5, repeating the process.
Reintroducing only one food group at a time while keeping the rest of the diet the same is promoted as a way to better identify which foods cause negative symptoms, such as bloating, skin breakouts or achy joints.
Once all food groups have been individually tested, those that were well-tolerated can be added back into the diet.
Naturally, individuals are not required to reintroduce all foods. In fact, they’re strongly encouraged to avoid reintroducing foods that they do not miss.
Summary: After the initial 30 days, you may slowly reintroduce off-limit foods to see how they affect health and fit into your new eating pattern.
Those interested in giving the Whole30 diet a try can start with the following week-long menu suggestions.