Everything You Need to Know About the Whole30 Diet Before You Try It

You’ve probably had at least one friend, former classmate, or family member try something called the Whole30 diet. The reason most people diet has to do with weight loss — but many seek out Whole30 because it attempts to function as an elimination diet.

If that’s an intriguing enough reason to consider giving this diet a try, here’s all you need to know — including how much this month-long endeavor will cost you.

What is the Whole30 diet?

Refrigerator full of healthy food

Only fruits and vegetables for you. | olesiabilkei/iStocks/Getty Images

According to US News Best Diets, Whole30 is a “nutritional reset” developed to identify food groups that “disagree” with you. Many people try it to lose weight, but because the diet only lasts a month, it’s not really meant to be treated as a long-term weight loss solution.

Whole30 involves eliminating a number of food groups to combat inflammation and boost the immune system. You’ll cut out all sugars, grains, dairy, legumes, and alcohol. Fruits and vegetables are allowed, but not much else.

Who should try it?

Shelf with fruits

Your regular grocery store run will be a lot different. | 06photo/iStock/Getty Images

Many people use Whole30 to self-identify food intolerances, especially if they suspect sensitivities to gluten or high-FODMAP foods. Cutting out grains, dairy, or added sugars might help you identify foods that make you feel sick.

If you’re trying to lose weight, though — and maintain that weight loss — you might want to look for a different diet. It’s ranked No. 36 in US News & World Report’s Best Weight Loss Diets, likely because it’s a short-term diet promising short-term results.

The diet isn’t all bad –there are both pros and cons. If you need to hit the reset button, it might be an OK place to start.

Whole30 pros

Donuts and candy with sugar spread and written text in unhealthy nutrition

You can kiss the refined grains goodbye. | iStock.com/OcusFocus

Refined grains are a major source of excess sugar and empty calories, which can cause a number of health problems. Eliminating all grains can help you wean yourself off these sugars, in a way — though you should add whole grains back into your diet once Whole30 ends, since you might miss out on important nutrients without them.

The Whole30 diet completely eliminates added sugars from your diet, limiting your consumption to the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. This means no more junk food. If you struggle to fight against your cravings, this might help also you learn to practice self-control.

Whole30 cons

Friendly chef preparing vegetables

Eating out will become extremely difficult. | iStock.com/Minerva Studio

This diet — maybe purposefully — makes eating out extremely difficult. While you’d think that would turn out to be a good thing, understand that you can’t just turn to processed food when you don’t feel like cooking dinner. If you aren’t prepared to cook the majority of your meals, good luck. What you save in dining out costs, you’ll likely end up spending on “real” food.

Here’s what it will cost you …

Fresh organic farmers market fruit and vegetable

Be prepared to spend more on groceries. | iStock.com/Elenathewise

Is Whole30 expensive? If you do it right, yes. You don’t have to buy a special program, but you are encouraged to buy organic produce and grass-fed beef, for example, which tend to be more expensive whether or not they’re actually as healthy as their labels claim.

If you aren’t used to buying and preparing your own food, you’re going to feel in over your head. Many people don’t realize they don’t have to buy name-brand ingredients or specialty equipment, and suffer unsustainable grocery bills just to eat healthier.

Does the Whole30 diet even work?

Healthy Lifestyle Diet

It’s hard to tell if the diet is even effective. | iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd

There haven’t been official scientific studies looking at the effectiveness of Whole30 specifically. However, there are a few reasons why it might not produce the long-term results you’re looking for.

According to Live Science, experts say Whole30 is nutritionally unbalanced, eliminating many high-fiber foods packed with essential nutrients. It’s also a short-term diet — even if you do lose weight, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to keep it off.

What to do if this diet doesn’t work for you

Woman eating an apple

Do your best to find what diet is right for you. | DragonImages/iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Not all diets work for everyone — even if you follow all the rules. If Whole30 doesn’t work for you, try not to get discouraged. It might not be your go-to diet, and that’s okay.

However, there are still elements from the diet that can help you eat healthier without having to go to extremes. Cooking your own meals at home and eating more fruits and vegetables are just several examples. Here are a few more healthy eating tips to try.

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