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- The whole30 diet is a type of elimination diet meant to identify foods you may be sensitive, or allergic to.
- But many people have adopted the low-carb whole30 diet as a way to lose weight.
- Here’s what you need to know about the safety, effectiveness, and sustainability of the whole30 diet.
- This article was reviewed by David S. Seres, MD, Director of Medical Nutrition and Associate Professor of Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The whole30 diet is just what it sounds like — 30 days of eating only whole foods, meaning foods that haven’t been processed or refined. At the same time, you cut out dairy, grains, and added sugars, to name just a few. What’s left ends up looking pretty much like every other extreme low-carb diet.
The inventors, Melissa Hartwig Urban and her ex-husband Dallas Hartwig, describe the diet as a type of elimination diet. Elimination diets are used under medical supervision to identify specific foods to which you may be sensitive, or allergic.
Notably, thanks largely to social media, people are adopting whole30 more like a standard weight-loss diet. And while many personal accounts indicate that it may have helped some individuals with weight-loss short-term, some experts aren’t impressed with the diet. Here’s what you should know before trying the whole30 diet.
Keto diet foods keto diet recipes keto pills keto diet menu for beginners keto diet for beginners keto diet explained You don’t need to cut calories, but a lot of foods are banned
The whole30 diet involves a lot of restrictions. The website even includes guides to help people navigate some of the more specific bans. The main points of the diet are:
- Added sugar (applies to honey and artificial sweeteners as well)
- Grains (bread, rice, oats, corn)
- Legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts)
- Additives like carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
- Leafy greens and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Natural fats (olive oil, coconut, avocado)
Keto diet foods keto diet recipes keto pills keto diet menu for beginners keto diet for beginners keto diet explained The focus isn’t weight loss
The whole30 website says that dieters should not focus too much on weight loss. In fact, you’re advised not to weigh yourself or take body measurements for the entire 30 day period.
Instead, according to the inventors’ theory, you stop eating many different types of food at once to “reset” your body. When it’s over, you slowly add back each type of food group and observe how your body reacts.
For example, if you add milk back into your diet and start getting stomach aches again, it is possible that you have trouble digesting lactose.
However, some critics of the whole30 diet say that it may not do what it intends, as taking a break from certain foods can cause you to react badly to them when you add them back to your diet.
Keto diet foods keto diet recipes keto pills keto diet menu for beginners keto diet for beginners keto diet explained The whole30 diet is not sustainable
One advantage of the diet is that it encourages people to cook more and move away from highly processed foods, says Carrie Dennet, MPH, RDN, a registered dietician nutritionist.
However, “this diet also makes it difficult to enjoy meals with others,” says Dennet. You may have a hard time keeping it up without becoming socially isolated.
Moreover, the US News & World Report’s panel of medical professionals report that the diet’s highly restrictive nature is another mark against it, calling it the “antithesis of a long-term healthy dietary pattern.“
In fairness, the whole30 diet is only meant to be done for 30 days. No more, no less.
Keto diet foods keto diet recipes keto pills keto diet menu for beginners keto diet for beginners keto diet explained The diet may not be safe for everyone
There’s no published research that evaluates whether, or not, the whole30 diet works or is even safe in either the short or long-term.
It is concerning that the whole30 diet can potentially lead to nutritional deficiencies, say Dennet. “The reality is that the more foods or food groups you take ‘off the table,’ the harder it is to meet nutritional needs.”
Dennet also advises that people should only do elimination diets under the supervision of a registered dietitian who can help you determine the best elimination diet to follow for your specific needs since food sensitivity and allergies are different for everyone.
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