You Should Know

February 2018 Issue

Whole30 Diet Pros & Cons

- It only lasts 30 days (though this is also a con, as it doesn’t set one up to adopt long-term healthy eating habits)
- Embraces vegetables and fish
- Cuts out highly processed foods

- Eliminates nutrient dense whole grains, legumes, and dairy products
- The diet is time-consuming, requiring extensive meal planning and food preparation
- By design, the diet is not a lifelong eating plan

Diet Review: The Whole30 Diet

The Whole30 Diet seems to be even more popular today than when it was created back in 2009 by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. Since that time, six diet and cook books have been published, and an extensive website launched offering information about the plan. EN breaks down what this diet is all about.

The Claim. In short, this diet promises to “change your life, restore your metabolism, heal your digestive track and balance your immune system.” Fairly lofty claims for a diet that is only 30 days in duration.

The Eating Plan. True to its name, the diet plan lasts for 30 days. During those 30 days one must eliminate all grains, legumes (i.e., dried beans, peas, lentils, peanuts), dairy products, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol. The creators of the Whole30 claim these foods are pro-inflammatory, induce cravings, disrupt blood sugar, and damage the gut. So what can you eat? The diet allows moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables, some fruit, plenty of “natural fats," and herbs, spices, and seasonings. There is no counting calories, or measuring foods. There is also no plan for exercise, which is concerning.

Is this Diet Healthy? Consider this: A panel of health and nutrition experts (this author sits on that panel) for U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) ranked this diet dead last in the publication’s Best Diets Overall category. The Whole30 Diet also came in last in USNWR’s categories of Healthy Eating, Heart Health, and Easy to Follow. Not exactly an endorsement. That’s because the diet is highly restrictive, and unnecessarily cuts out healthful foods, like whole grains and beans, that we ought to be increasing in our diets, not eliminating. Indeed, there is no evidence that whole grains and legumes are pro-inflammatory—these foods are actually linked with reduced risks of chronic diseases and obesity. Further, there is no evidence that this 30-day plan will restore, heal or balance anything in the body. This is not a lifestyle plan, but a temporary fad diet whose claims are not grounded in sound science.