When it comes to diets, everyone likes a plan. Weight Watchers, the Atkins Diet, week-long juice cleanses, and the cabbage soup diet—all provide consumers with strict regimens, and the promise of weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. Relatively new to the diet scene is the Whole30®, a nutritional program that promises to "change your life."

What is the Whole30®?

The Whole30® was created by sports nutritionists Dallas and Melissa Hartwig in 2009; their book, It Starts With Food, was published in 2012. Less of a plan and more of a set of rules, the Whole30® limits foods that have a "negative impact on your health." These unhealthy foods include not only the obvious refined sugars and carbohydrates, like white bread and ice cream, but also the following fare:

  • All sugars, real or artificial (these include sweeteners such as honey and molasses)
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products
  • All grains (even whole grains)
  • Legumes or beans (including soy and soy products)
  • Most processed meats
  • White potatoes

Instead, the Whole30® celebrates what it deems as "real food": Meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and limited amounts of fruit, nuts, oils, and seeds are all permitted, and hailed for their nutritional density.

Finally, the Whole30® is not a meal plan; instead, the dieter must follow the strict set of rules for 30 straight days—avoiding all non-approved foods, including even the occasional slice of pizza or teaspoon of sugar in your coffee.

The Benefits of The Whole30®

The Whole30® lists a variety of health benefits associated with the diet, from improved mood and energy to weight loss (the site says 95 percent of participants lose weight). More importantly, however, is the plan’s suggested ability to prevent lifestyle-related diseases, like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Although searching the Whole30® on the Internet yields conflicting reports, there is some evidence that low-carbohydrate diets such as the Whole30® will benefit you in the long run. The Harvard School of Public Health states that studies have found "weight loss and maintenance were better for low-carb and Mediterranean-style diets as compared to low-fat diets."

Should You Participate?

As with all major dietary changes, it is best to be in the know. Do your research and make sure that research comes from knowledgeable and neutral sources (that is, health and nutrition experts who do not have a personal stake in promoting—or panning—a diet). If you really want to play it safe, consult a nutritionist. Discuss your reasons for wanting to try a program like the Whole30®, and see what he or she has to say. Educating yourself will help you to make the right choice for you.


"The Nutrition Source." Harvard School of Public Health. Page accessed August 12, 2014.  

"Step One: Discover the Whole30®." The Whole30®. Page accessed August 12, 2014. 

"The Whole30® Program." The Whole30®. Page accessed August 12, 2014.