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Whole30: The Truth Behind the Hype

Whole30: The Truth Behind the Hype
Jefferey Spivey

If you’re plugged in to Instagram’s food and nutrition community, you’ve probably seen #whole30 posts.  There are nearly 3.5 million photos of omelettes, avocado slices, sweet potato fries and hash browns, and salads, among other foods.  Whole30 is the latest diet craze to take the world by storm, and people are raving about their results.  But what is it exactly, and is it right for you?

What is Whole30?

Whole30 is a bit like a cleanse but with food.  Over the course of 30 days, you eliminate several food groups from your diet.  Then, you pay attention to the ways your energy levels, sleep, mood, and cravings are affected.  Essentially, Whole30 offers dieters a chance to press the reset button and reexamine their relationship with nutrition.

So, what do you have to eliminate?  For 30 days, you have to avoid:

  • Sugar, real and artificial
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Additives like MSG, sulfites, and carrageenan
  • Baked goods
  • Junk foods
  • Processed food made with Whole30-approved ingredients

During this time, you’re also forbidden from stepping on the scale or taking your body measurements.  The goal here is to focus on eating real foods and to accomplish something more significant than simply losing weight.

You might be thinking, what does that leave?  Whole30 allows eggs, meat, seafood, veggies, fruit, herbs, spices, seasonings, and natural fats.  This diet is actually quite similar to Paleo, but with a few less specific restrictions.

Does it work?

Let’s be honest—if you cut this many food groups out of your diet, you’re going to see positive results.  Many of the testimonials floating around the web paint a very hopeful picture of Whole30.  Most dieters struggle during the first week, as they adjust to the shock of eating real, natural foods.  But by the second week, they can see noticeable results when they look in the mirror.  They also start to taste food differently and develop a palate that appreciates real flavor.

But, as with any diet, your success on Whole30 depends heavily on how committed you are.  If you cheat, you won’t see the results that everyone else is raving about.

The best thing about Whole30 is that it’s just 30 days.  Once you’re done, you can slowly work the forbidden foods back into your diet, or you might be convinced to abandon them for good.  But you’ll have a better idea of how these foods affect your body and its functions.

Is Whole30 right for you?

There’s no harm in a 30-day reset, which Whole30 provides.  But ultimately, it’s your long-term approach to nutrition that solidifies your success.  You need a plan beyond Whole30.  You need to learn about healthy fats, probiotics, and the healthy benefits of select carbs.  Use Whole30 not just as a fad diet but as a gateway to learn more about the foods you put into your body.  It’s not about the before and after picture; it’s about establishing healthy habits that help power your workouts and keep you in great health.

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