Hey, Burst fam 🙋🏼♀️! As we head into the tail end of the #BurstFitnessChallenge (and closer to the New Year…and New Year’s resolutions✨) I want to talk about Whole30.
If you aren’t familiar Whole30…let me break it down for you.
Whole30 is a challenge that requires you to eat real, whole, food for 30 days straight. As a rule of thumb it is best to eat food without an ingredient list, but if you do eat food with an ingredient list, all of the ingredients should be pronounceable and you should know what they are.
No weighing or measuring food, tracking calories or macronutrients. Just eat real whole foods…. until you are full.
What to eat: 🍽
Meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, sources of fat, herbs, spices and seasonings.
Sounds easy right?
Unfortunately, the hard part about Whole30 are all the foods (and drinks) that are on the ‘no’ list.
Here’s what you need to avoid for 30 days: 🚫
- No added sugar, real or artificial. This includes the better-for-you sugars that I have talked about in previous posts such as maple syrup, honey and agave nectar. These are not allowed. Artificial sweeteners such as stevia, splenda, equal, xylitol, and many more are also not allowed. Different sugars and artificial sweeteners are often added to products when you’d least expect it. When you do Whole30 you need to become a detective. Label reading becomes very important.
- No alcohol in any form, including alcohol you may use in cooking.
- No grains of any kind. Wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, quinoa, etc.
- No legumes. This includes beans of all kind, peas, chickpeas (hummus), lentils and peanuts. Yup, peanuts are actually legumes. Check out my post on peanut butter vs almond butter here. All forms of soy are off limits as well- soy sauce, tofu, and edamame.
- No dairy. Milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, etc.
- No carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. These are additives commonly found in processed food and beverages.
- As you can tell by the list above, this would rule out baked goods, sweet treats, bread, tortillas, muffins, pizza crust, cereal and much more.
After checking out the ‘no’ list, it is only normal to wonder…..WHY? 🤔 Why in the world would someone cut out all of those foods for an entire 30 days? Well…let’s talk about the perceived benefits.
I want to make it clear that these are perceived benefits, in the form of testimonials, not benefits that have been proven through research.
Inconsistent energy levels, aches and pains, trouble losing weight, skin issues, digestive issues and even seasonal allergies have all been reported as improved after doing Whole30. Eliminating sugar, grains, dairy and legumes from your diet reduces inflammation and disruptions in blood sugar, which is said to produce the positive effects.
What does a dietitian think about Whole30?
My overall nutrition philosophy is similar to the guidelines of Whole30. Eat real food and avoid long ingredient lists, but Whole30 is definitely more restrictive. As I mentioned before, there is no statistical evidence when it comes to the benefits of Whole30, but I have a list of my personal benefit beliefs below: ⬇️
- You learn how food makes you feel and how it affects your everyday life. Does your morning latte give you the caffeine boost you’re looking for? Or is it really causing your afternoon slump due to its sugar content? Whole30 will increase your awareness of things like this.
- You will learn what is actually in your food. I think this is the #1 benefit of Whole30.
- Doing Whole30 will force you to plan meals, grocery shop and meal prep. Some might see this as a barrier to doing it, but I see it as a benefit 😉. Learning how to manage your time and fit meal planning into your schedule will not only be helpful during the 30 day challenge, but for months (and years!) to come. The Whole30 website has a lot of helpful resources including recipes and grocery lists.
What are the downfalls? 😕
- It can be socially isolating. As you can imagine, it is hard to attend dinner parties, events, special occasions or go out to eat while doing Whole30. I think it is much easier if you undergo the challenge with a spouse, friend or group of people. I’ve heard that online support groups are extremely helpful.
- Reintroducing foods after doing Whole30 can be difficult. Some people report GI upset, bloating, headaches, etc. However, these typically go away in time.
- It is called Whole30 for a reason. Not Whole90 or Whole365. It is meant to be a 30 day ‘reset’. It is not meant to be a lifestyle. I have seen a few people get hooked on eating this way and want to continue it full time, but that isn’t the intention.
There you have it. The low down on Whole30. If anyone would be interested in doing Whole30 in the New Year, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there is interest we can look at doing an online #BurstWhole30 support group! 👊🏻