The Whole30 Diet: Is It All You Need to Lose Weight?

The popular Whole30 diet is a strict diet that avoids processed foods completely. But is it a good choice for you if you are trying to lose weight? Here are some of the benefits and downsides of the plan when it comes to weight loss.

September 16, 2015
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Disclaimer: Causes for being overweight vary for every individual. This means no individual result should be seen as typical, and results may vary for every person who tries a diet or weight loss program.

A quick search on Amazon for diet books returns over 180,000 options. Some focus on metabolism, others on emotions, and many on food choices. One popular book, The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom, by authors Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, is their most recent book. If you have heard of the diet but are wondering whether it works for weight loss, here are the basics of the plan.

The Whole30 diet is not for the faint of heart. There are rules.

Lots of them. And they are strict.

Now, that’s not a bad thing, but it is something to consider. If your personality rebels against rules or you do not like, or know how to cook, this diet may be hard for you to follow.

According to the Whole30 website, the basic rules of the diet are as follows:

  1. No added sugars at all. That includes honey, Sugar in the Raw, brown sugar, artificial sweeteners, and maple syrup.
  2. No grains are allowed.
  3. No soy products or legumes other than certain peas and green beans. The ban on legumes also includes peanut butter.
  4. You must abstain from alcohol completely.
  5. Dairy products are not allowed with the exception of clarified butter or ghee.
  6. Avoid food additives such as MSG, carrageenan, and sulfites.
  7. No “recreating” your past favorite desserts or junk foods with ingredients on the Whole30 list.
  8. The authors indicate you are not to weigh or measure yourself while you are on the Whole30 program.

The Good Things for Weight Loss

The program is restrictive, but there are some good things in the program for weight loss. When you follow this type of program, you will likely find your cravings for sugar reduced, you will eat a diet focused on real foods rather than processed foods, and you may be able to break the cycle of carb and sugar cravings.

All those can work in your favor in terms of losing weight. Eating a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, nuts, high protein meats, low calorie seafood, small servings of nuts and seeds, and eggs is a healthy way to eat. This type of diet may result in weight loss if your calories are kept at an appropriate level.

The authors of the diet indicate that weight loss is not the primary goal of the Whole30 program. Instead, they encourage followers of the diet to focus on their health, energy levels, and learning to eat in a completely natural manner.

The Difficulties for Weight Loss

The good is sometimes also the bad when it comes to diets and the Whole30 is no exception.

The restrictive nature of the diet makes it hard to follow 100 percent. I have worked with people who have tried it and lasted a few days or weeks before giving up. It is difficult to cut out entire food groups and make a drastic change in your eating habits all at once.

If you struggle with your weight, there are often emotional issues behind your struggles. The Whole30 does not directly address the emotions driving weight problems. Without dealing with the emotions that cause you to eat, an “eat this, not that” type of diet will seldom result in lasting weight loss.

Because there are no restrictions on portions or calories, it is possible to gain weight on the Whole30 diet.

If You Try the Whole30

If you want to try the Whole30 diet program, I’d recommend borrowing or purchasing the book to understand the entire program. Plan your meals carefully and monitor your calorie intake.

Be mindful of the calorie-dense foods on the program such as red meat, nuts and seeds, and oils. Eating too much of these foods can cause you to consume more calories than you need to lose weight.

Decide for yourself whether you will skip weighing yourself for the 30-day program. Personally, I would be hesitant to skip a weekly weigh-in for fear you could easily gain weight without realizing it.

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