Everything You Need to Know About the Whole30 Diet
Here’s the whole truth about the elimination diet, from the Whole30 rules to its potential health benefits.
In April 2009, Melissa Hartwig Urban was feeling sluggish and unsatisfied with her diet. So she, along with her then-husband Dallas Hartwig, set out to eat squeaky-clean Paleo for 30 days. The results? So good that they created the Whole30 Program you’ve been seeing all over your Facebook feed. Find out what the month-long clean-eating streak entails, the exact Whole30 rules, and if the diet’s right for you.
What Is Whole30, Exactly?
The basic guidelines: Cut out “hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups,” including sugar, dairy, alcohol, grains, and legumes (sorry, no hummus or peanut butter!). You should also read the nutrition labels on all foods and avoid carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites.
One key difference between the Whole30 and similar eating plans like the Paleo diet (Whole30 is technically based on a Paleo framework) or an Atkins plan (which is more focused on cutting carbs): You can’t recreate your favorite foods by modifying the ingredients. So no making yourself pizza with a cauliflower crust. In the words of Hartwig Urban, “The fake version is never as good and usually leaves you craving the real thing even more.” Womp, womp. (Related: The Real Differences Between Keto and Atkins)
Whole30 also excludes Paleo-approved sugars like honey and baked goods made with almond or coconut flour. You’re basically committing to eating nothing processed and no treats of any kind, even the “healthy” versions, for 30 days. Things that *are* allowed on your quest to enjoy all of the benefits of Whole30: all the fruit, veggies, and meat that you want. (Get inspired by these 20 meals and snacks that fit the criteria.)
“Whole30 isn’t just a ‘harder’ or more ‘extreme’ version of Paleo,” says Hartwig Urban. “It’s a short-term intervention designed to teach people how the food they are eating impacts them, and ultimately help them create their own perfect diet.”
What Are the Whole30 Rules?
While you’re on the elimination diet, the Whole30 rules state that you’ll need to keep these foods off your fork.
- Natural or artificial sugars and sweeteners, including maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, monk fruit extract, stevia, Splenda, xylitol, and others.
- Alcohol in any form, even if you’re using it in your cooking.
- Grains, including wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. Any additives derived from these foods, like brans, germs, and starches, are a no-no too.
- Legumes, including all beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and all forms of soy. FYI, peanuts are also a legume, so you’ll have to hold off on peanut butter.
- Dairy, including all cow, goat, and sheep’s milk products.
- Additives like carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites