Is Whole30 Worth It?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Looking for life-changing results? Whole30 promises just that. Many folks feel that their digestive system feels is off or energy levels are less than ideal. Whole30 believes that foods are leading to these types of issues. To pinpoint which foods might be wreaking havoc on your body, the diet strips them completely from your diet—for 30 days. After 30 days when you’ve flushed these foods from your diet and let your body heal, the diet promises that you’ll feel like a new person. Does this sound too good to be true? Here’s a closer look.

Program Rules
For 30 days you will get rid of sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, junk food, and ingredients like carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. Other than that, you are allowed to eat “real” food that is whole and unprocessed. This includes moderate portions of meat, seafood, fruit and eggs and plenty of vegetables and healthy fats.

The plan encourages 3 meals a day and discourages snacking. In addition, weighing yourself or taking any body measurements throughout the 30 days is strongly discouraged. And there is no cheating—the diet recommends you stick to the plan 100% of the time for 30 days.

Once you’ve gone through the 30 days, there are several ways you can reintroduce the foods into your diet. The ones that bother you stay out, while the other foods can slowly be added back in.

The Good
While the plan cuts out a lot of major food groups, the focus is on eating whole foods especially fruits and vegetables, which is always a good idea. There aren’t any special foods of food products you need to buy like bars or shakes and if you’re stumped on what to eat, there are plenty of recipe ideas (found in cookbooks or on their website).

The Bad
The plan tends to be meat and poultry heavy since you have to cut out all grains and vegetarian sources of protein, like beans and legumes. This may not be a downside for everyone, but if you tend to lean towards a plant-based diet, you might find it hard to follow.

In addition, many of the foods eliminated on the plan are extremely nutritious like whole grains, legumes, and dairy. Eliminating so many foods will likely leave you falling short on key nutrients, especially when done for 30 days.

The plan is also difficult to follow unless you plan on making all of your own meals for 30 days and social gatherings will be rather rough (remember, no cheating!)

Bottom Line
Whole30 is a 30-day program that’s really geared towards finding foods that may be throwing your system off balance. Some folks, however, use it to lose weight. Regardless on why you use it, the program lacks scientific merit.

If you are using it to determine the food culprit of your ailments, it can be tough without guided elimination from a nutrition professional. In addition, the elimination of so many nutritious foods over a month can throw your body off kilter which may lead to inaccurate results or assumptions.

The good news is, it’s not a “forever” type of plan, so if you really need to try it for the short-term period then do so. If, however, you plan on eliminating numerous food groups for a long period of time I do recommend seeing a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and physician to double check that something else isn’t going on.

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