If you’ve adopted the principles of the Paleo diet—aka you’ve become a lean, mean, meat-eating machine—then consider giving Whole30 a try. It’s a 30-day nutritional program based on the Paleo framework—only amped up. (Read: there are more restrictions.)
Its creators, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, say the one-month program will put an end to your cravings, restore your metabolism and balance your immune system. Curious? Tempted to try it? Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is It?
Considered a short-term nutritional reset, Whole30 is a 1-month program where you cut all inflammatory food groups from your diet (more on these restrictions in a bit). According to the site, 95 percent of participants lose weight and improve their body composition without limiting the amount of calories they consume. Some other benefits include higher energy levels, better athletic performance, greater quality sleep, improved mood and focus. The program is meant to break your relationship with unhealthy foods—to get you healthy and feeling great, without verification or validation from the scale. (They advise you abstain from taking any body measurements for the duration of the program.) But let’s get to the part you really want to know: The foods you’re banned from eating.
What You Can’t Eat
Unlike the Paleo diet, which allows natural sweeteners like honey, Whole30 prohibits added sugar of any kind. No syrups, nectars, definitely no colored packets of chemically made sugars. Here’s the rundown of other forbidden foods and drinks.
>>> No alcohol. You can’t sneak in a shot of vodka at your company party, sip a beer when no one’s looking, or splash some wine into the frying pan when you’re cooking. Tobacco is out of the question, too.
>>>No grains. Get ready for this list. No wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa.
>>> No legumes. Black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava beans are banned. So are peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts (that’s right; no peanut butter, either). And same goes for soy. No soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh or edamame.
>>> No dairy. Consider all byproducts from cows, goats and sheep a no-go. With the exception of clarified butter or ghee, you must abstain from cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream.
>>> No carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. Read your food labels. You know the drill; if you see these ingredients, the food or drink is out of the question. Carrageenan can be found in foods like yogurt, chocolate, soymilk, even soup to make low-fat versions taste fuller and create a thicker consistency; MSG is found in as myriad of packaged and processed foods like frozen dinners, chips, dressings and lunch meat; and sulfites are present in beer and wine, cookies and pie crusts, some seafood, and canned fruits and vegetables.
>>> No re-creating baked goods or treats, even with with “approved” The Whole30 ingredients.
What You Can Eat
Much like the Paleo diet, you’re allowed to eat your fill of meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, some fruit and good fats from oils, fruits, nuts and seeds. A good rule of thumb: Eat foods that don’t have an ingredient list because they’re unprocessed and natural. Here are some more guidelines:
>>>Yes to clarified butter or ghee. Plain butter is not allowed because its milk proteins could impact the results of the program. Click here for more details.
>>>Yes to fruit juice as a sweetener. Feel free to use orange or apple juice as a sweetener.
>>>Yes to certain legumes. You can eat green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas since they’re far more “pod” than “bean.”
>>>Yes to vinegar. You can use white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice—just avoid vinegars with added sugar, or malt vinegar, which usually contains gluten.
>>>Yes to some salt. All iodized table salt has sugar in the form of dextrose, which is chemically essential to keep the potassium iodide from being lost.
Tips and Tricks to Completing
1. Choose a start date.
2. Head to social media to stay accountable; check out their Facebook and Twitter.
3. Check out the Whole30 forum to connect with others going through the program and learn from those who’ve made it past the 30-day mark.
4. Get ride of all temptation by cleaning out your pantry and fridge, trashing all off-limits foods. And if you have a family that’s not so keen on your newfound nutrition plan, keep the junk food contained in one cabinet.
5. Plan and make a week’s worth of meals at once using the Whole30 shopping list and meal plans.
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