Everything You Need to Know About The Whole 30 Diet

Heard about The Whole30 diet by now -- maybe your sister, bff, neighbor, or boss swears by it? Or -- maybe you’ve gone through the Whole 30 Diet and want to continue eating healthy, whole foods that make you feel great?

Keep reading! In this article, we’ll look at what exactly the Whole 30 Diet is, what the goal is, the history behind it, the science behind it -- along with its pros and cons and options for keeping the momentum with healthy meal delivery right here in St. Louis.

What is the Whole 30 Diet?

In a nutshell, the Whole 30 Diet is a plan for eating whole foods for a 30 day time period (whole foods are, as their name implies, minimally processed and not refined -- potatoes are a whole foods, potato chips are not). Whole grains, veggies, fruits, some fish and meats are all considered whole foods as long as they haven’t been processed.

The Whole 30 Diet is not a nutritional plan like Weight Watchers: there is no calorie-counting or weigh-ins involved over the course of 30 days. Once the initial 30 day period of the diet is over, dieters start slowly adding in elements of their old diets (ones that are not allowed when doing the Whole 30 Diet). As they add these foods back in, they are encouraged to take notes and observe how they feel adding these foods back in and if they experience any adverse effects from doing so -- and to proactively consider whether or not including those foods is something they really want to do.

What is the Goal of the Whole 30 Diet?

The goal of the Whole 30 diet is, as with many diets today, to make the dieter feel healthier overall. The Whole 30 diet takes the stance that processed foods such as sugar, refined grains, dairy, and alcohols negatively impact health in the following areas:

  • Weight
  • Energy
  • Stress

Though weight loss is not the goal of the Whole 30 diet -- health is the goal -- many folks who participate in the diet experience weight loss from shifting what they eat to eating whole foods exclusively for 30 days -- or beyond.

What’s the History Behind the Whole 30 Diet?

Compared to diets such as Keto which have been around for almost 100 years -- the Whole 30 diet is rather new. The diet was created by a husband and wife team of certified sports nutritionists back in 2009. Melissa Hartwig worked as a nutritional consultant and Dallas Hartwig worked as physical therapist.

They began their work by co-authoring a couple books based around the transformational effects of eating whole foods -- in 2015, they wrote their most famous work: The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom.

How popular did the Whole 30 diet become? The diet quickly grew in popularity -- so much so that a 2016 New York Times article noted that hashtags related to the Whole30 diet had reached over one million -- compared to 3.5 million hashtags for the longstanding diet WeightWatchers.

What’s the Science Behind the Whole 30 Diet?

The goal of the Whole 30 Diet, overall, is to positively impact health in three key areas (as we discussed above): weight, energy, and stress/hormone levels.

Eating whole foods for 30 days for better health?

Processed and refined foods have been found, time and time again, to negatively impact health. For example, food additives have been shown to contribute to obesity -- and processed foods are harder to digest leading to more fat storage.

Processed foods using refined grains (white rice, for example) are burned through more quickly by your body because they tend to be high in sugar -- leading to a sugar crash (with diminishing levels of energy) and increased hunger sooner than with eating whole foods.

Eating refined foods can spike insulin levels because of the ‘sugar high’ -- this in turn can cause hormonal balance issues.

The consensus on the Whole 30 Diet is that, in general, it’s a good thing to eat whole and unprocessed, or minimally processed, foods. Some dieticians have criticised the diet by pointing out that true health is achieved with long-term changes -- not just in 30 days. Some food scientists have questioned whether the list of food restrictions serves a real purpose.

What You Can’t Eat on the Whole 30 Diet

With the Whole 30 Diet, dieters get a list of foods they can’t eat. Remember that the diet is an elimination one -- and foods from the restricted list are slowly reintroduced so that dieters can see how each food makes them feel and decide whether or not eating it is worth it.

1. No Dairy on the Whole 30
Dairy can cause a number of digestive issues -- and can be highly processed. The Whole 30 excludes all cheese, cow’s milk, creams, yogurts, sour cream, kefir -- and yes, even butter.

  1. No Grains on the Whole 30

Not everyone tolerates grains in the same way. The Whole 30 excludes all grains: corn, quinoa, rice, wheat, rye, bulgur, sprouted grains, millet, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, and so on.

  1. No Alcohol on the Whole 30

Alcohol may temporarily lift your spirits, but it also sends your blood sugar crashing. The Whole 30 excludes all alcohols -- including cooking wines and extracts made with alcohol.

  1. No Legumes/Beans on the Whole 30

Beans and legumes contain phytates -- which may prevent certain nutrients from being properly digested. The Whole 30 excludes all beans/legumes -- including chickpeas, tofu, soy sauce, miso, peanuts, and so on. For 30 days you can’t eat beans of any kind, soy of any kind (including tofu, soy sauce, miso, edamame), chickpeas, peas, lentils, and peanuts.

  1. No Added Sugar on the Whole 30

Because the Whole 30 is focused on minimizing sugar crashes, added sugar is excluded. This includes maple syrup, agave, Stevia -- and sugar lurking in products you wouldn’t think to look into -- such as hot sauce.

  1. No Carrageenan, No MSG, and No Sulfites on the Whole 30

Additives are a no-no when it comes to keeping your diet ‘whole’: additives such as carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites are excluded.

  1. No Recreating Junk Food on the Whole 30

Sorry: no pizza crusts made with veggies as a base. The Whole 30 asks that dieters make the change mentally -- as well as physically -- and not try to keep the same old eating patters as before they started the diet.

What Can You Eat on the Whole 30 Diet

1. You Can Eat Vegetables on the Whole 30

Thanks to no calorie-counting, vegetables are perfectly fine to eat -- and, music to the ears of many folks trying the Whole 30 diet, that includes potatoes.

  1. You Can Eat Fruits on the Whole 30

Within moderation, you can eat fruits on the Whole 30 diet.

  1. You Can Eat Meats on the Whole 30

Meats are approved on the Whole 30 -- but only ‘whole’ meats. Check for additives, sugar, and off-limit ingredients.

  1. You Can Eat Fish on the Whole30

Both shellfish and fish are allowed on the Whole 30.

  1. You Can Eat Eggs on the Whole30

Eggs, which are high in protein (reducing sugar crashes) are allowed on the Whole30.

  1. You Can Eat Seeds/Nuts on the Whole30

Nuts and seeds -- high in protein -- are approved for the Whole30 with one giant exception: peanuts (which are a legume).

  1. You Can Eat Oils and Ghee on the Whole30
    Olive oil and coconut oil, as well as the clarified butter Ghee, are allowed.

  1. You Can Drink Coffee on the Whole30

Not a morning person? Rest assured: you can still get your caffeine fix on the Whole30. One note: you can’t use dairy to add to your morning cup o’ joe -- however, you could DIY almond milk to use as a creamer (with no added sugars, of course).

Bottomline? The Whole30 diet is a take on healthy eating that is both mental and psychological in approach: the diet seeks to eliminate comfort foods that are causing health issues by initiating a clean break from processed and refined foods -- and to jumpstart the health benefits of eating whole foods by bringing about positive health changes in 30 days.

If you have done the Whole 30 before and are looking for a way to sustain your positive health changes -- or are interested in shifting to a cleaner, healthier diet -- Pure Plates offers healthy meal delivery throughout the St. Louis area -- and our speciality is cutting out the processed foods and introducing delicious flavors (alongside some serious health).