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Everything You Need to Know About Whole30

Whole30 approved

In recent years, the Whole30 Program has gained some serious popularity. Whether you have heard of Whole30, have some lingering questions or are considering participating in one for the first time, here is your ultimate go-to guide for all things Whole30.

What is Whole30?

The Whole30 Program, is an elimination protocol that was first developed in 2009 by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. By eliminating the most common food disruptors for 30 days, you allow your body to heal and recover from common food culprits that can irritate the body’s systems and processes. Think foods like refined grains, sugars, dairy, gluten, processed foods, fried foods and alcohol.

What are the Health Benefits of Whole30?

If you are currently experiencing any one of these symptoms, a Whole30 may be able to help:

  • Unwanted weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Low energy levels
  • Digestive ailments
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Chronic aches
  • Joint pains
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Skin issues (i.e. acne and eczema)

Along with weight loss, Whole30 participants have reported multiple non-scale victories including increased energy, better sleep, clear skin, pain free joints and much more, all by removing common food culprits. However, one of the greatest benefits of participating in a Whole30 is that the program can help you create a healthier relationship with food, both mentally and emotionally.

What Foods Can’t I Eat on Whole30?


This is usually the first question to get asked on any protocol, but on the Whole30, you will remove foods that are craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging and inflammatory. These foods include the following:

  • Legumes (i.e. peanuts, peanut butter, beans, corn, all forms of soy among others)
  • Grains (i.e. wheat, oats, barley and even gluten-free grains like rice)
  • Dairy (i.e. milk, cream, cheese, yogurt) *This includes dairy products from cows, sheep and goats
  • Sugars, both real and artificial (i.e. honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, stevia)
  • Alcohol
  • MSG, carrageenan, sulfites
  • Recreated food items with “approved” Whole30 ingredients (i.e. muffins, pancakes, waffles, breads, pizza crusts, cookies, brownies, cupcakes…you get the idea)

Now don’t panic, you will get to eat all of these foods once again after 30 days (hence the Whole 30), but for 30 consecutive days you will eat real, whole foods. Then, at the end 30 days, you will slowly and systematically re-introduce each of the eliminated food groups, one at a time, to see how these foods ultimately affect your body and your overall health.

To see a full list of Whole30 Program rules, click here.

What Foods Can I Eat on Whole30?

Steak, grassfed beef, ketones

Now that you know what foods you can’t eat on the Whole30 program, let’s go over what foods you can eat on the Whole30.

One of the biggest factors that deters people from the Whole30 program (besides the foods that are off limits) is the weekly grocery shopping and meal planning. However, there are many valuable resources available to you to help make your Whole30 journey a success. Here are a few of our favorite guides:

5 Tips for Starting a Whole30

Whether it’s your first Whole30 or your fifth, there are a few Whole30 tips that are essential to remember when participating in a Whole30.

#1 Read Labels

When participating in a Whole30, it’s important to read your labels. You may be surprised to find sugar listed as a main ingredient in canned goods like sauces, dressings and marinades, which is why it’s crucial to read your labels and shop for Whole30 approved brands.

#2 Hydrate

Dehydration can mask itself as hunger, so before you head to the kitchen or reach for your snack drawer at the office, try drinking a glass of water first. Tip: Always keep a refillable water bottle with you so you can stay hydrated. Bonus: Proper daily hydration can help increase energy levels, keep food cravings at bay and help keep skin clear.

#3 Always Be Prepared

Always be prepared with Whole30 approved snacks. There are plenty of options for worst case scenarios or long days at the office, so be sure to plan accordingly. Some of our top recommendations include pre-cut vegetables, individual packets of Whole30 approved nut butters like almond butter or cashew butter, fresh fruit, whole nuts, packs of seeds and other Whole30 approved snacks perfect for emergencies and travel. Remember, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

#4 There is Never the Perfect Time for a Whole30

There will never be a perfect time for a Whole30. There will always be something that will try to stand in your way: holidays, birthdays, vacations, brunches with friends and cocktail hours with co-workers. If possible, try to plan your Whole30 around larger events, like a holiday or a big vacation, but know you will have at least one event that comes up unexpectedly. Don’t skip out on the festivities, but rather, be sure to pack your willpower to politely pass on that glass of wine or that slice of birthday cake. You can do it!

#5 Results Take Time

It can be easy to eat one healthy meal and think all of your health ailments should disappear completely, but unfortunately, good things take time. Be patient, trust the process and give yourself the full 30 days. You owe it to yourself, and your health, to give Whole30 a fair chance to help you create a healthier and happier life.

The Whole30 is a great tool to reset your health, ultimately giving your body a break from foods that are known to cause inflammation and disruption to your body’s natural systems and processes. If you are thinking of participating in a Whole30, take the time to plan and prepare accordingly by using the above resources and tools that will help set you up for a successful Whole30.

ashley martensMeet The Author:

Ashley Martens is a Health and Wellness Writer based in Chicago, IL. With a background in digital marketing coupled with her knowledge of general nutrition and a lifelong passion for all things health, wellness, fitness and nutrition, Ashley offers a healthy alternative to traditional writing. You can learn more about Ashley and her writing over at her blog, Three to Five a Day.