Diet 101: The Whole30

A nutrition expert weighs in on the Whole30 program.
Antioxidants

Antioxidants

Photo by: Robyn Mackenzie ©2012 Robyn Mackenzie

Robyn Mackenzie, 2012 Robyn Mackenzie

Does this month-long elimination diet hold the key to your health? Here’s a crash course on the program and the book being released later this month.

Overview

This program promises to “change your life” by excluding sugar, grains, dairy, legumes and alcohol. According to the authors, dropping these food groups for a month will help dieters improve digestion, skin health, metabolism, fitness and general sense of well-being.

The Plan

Fitness buffs and founders Dallas and Melissa Hartwig use their areas of expertise (physical therapy and nutrition, respectively) and their social media savvy to urge folks to commit to this 30-day plan for diet and exercise. Cut out various foods and ignore the scale — weigh-ins are off-limits.

Each day should consist of three meals made up of modest portions of fruits, vegetables, protein, nuts and seeds, and fats from oils, butters, coconut and olives. Followers are urged to avoid snacking, unless it’s properly orchestrated before or after a workout.

After the 30-day stint, start reintroducing nixed foods to evaluate how they make you feel. Follow reintroduction guidelines and decide which changes make sense for you going forward.

Sample Day

Based on the guidelines and list of “allowed” foods, here’s what a day might look like.

Breakfast: Omelet with vegetables and avocado
Lunch: Salad with chicken, chopped nuts and olives

Dinner: Roasted salmon and vegetables sauteed in coconut oil (and occasionally the addition of a baked sweet potato, especially if after a workout)

The Costs

The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom is currently going for $20 to $30 from various online retailers. The website contains a detailed description of the plan, plus free downloads for shopping lists, seasonal produce guides, and tips for help and support.

The Good

The Whole30 provides guidelines on clean eating, exercise and an emphasis on self-awareness, plus a pleasant and easy-to-navigate website that offers a wide range of documents to help guide users.

The Not So Good

This program is WAY too restrictive. Eliminating that many food groups limits your ability to consume the nutrients your body needs (and 30 days is a long time). The authors don’t seem to have enough expertise to back up the bold claims made here.

Bottom Line: Cutting out junk food is never a bad idea, but there is such a thing as excluding too much. Following this plan might promote weight loss, but it could also put you at risk for a lack of proper nutrition .

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

Next Up

Diet 101: the Sirtfood Diet

Is the Sirtfood Diet the next must-do weight loss plan?

Diet 101: The Fast Diet

This diet became all the rage after it aired on BBC during the 2012 London Olympics. But is fasting the healthiest way to lose weight, stay healthy and live longer?

Diet 101: The Ketogenic Diet

Should you follow the ketogenic diet?

Diet 101: The Mediterranean Diet

Salmon, olive oil, red wine and almonds top the list of preferred foods for this eating plan. They're all healthy picks, but read on to learn if the Mediterranean diet is the right choice for you.

Diet 101: The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet (a.k.a. the Hunter-Gatherer or Caveman diet) has been around for 40 years and has recently resurfaced with a vengeance. But should we be reverting back to what caveman ate thousands of years ago? Here’s the need-to-know about the oldest diet around.

Diet 101: The Bulletproof Diet

Are butter and coffee the answer to weight loss? According to Dave Asprey, the creator of the Bulletproof Diet, these two foods along with a laundry list of “bulletproof” foods are how you can shed pounds and reclaim your energy.

Diet 101: The Military Diet

A nutrition expert weighs in on the Military Diet.

Diet 101: The Biggest Loser Diet

The hit television show helped many contestants lose tons of weight. We’ll tell how to do it at home and how you can get the full experience without going on TV.

Diet 101: The 5-Factor Diet

Celebrities like Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian have been following Harley Pasternak's 5-Factor Diet. Get an RD's take on the details of the plan.

Diet 101: The Zone Diet (a.k.a. 40-30-30 Diet)

The Zone is what made that whole 40-30-30 calorie combination popular -- that is, 40% of your calories come from carbs, 30% from fat and 30% from protein. This “magical” mix promises to lower risks for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Here’s a closer look at the diet.