A Healthier U


January is traditionally the time of year when many Americans restructure their eating habits, planning to lose weight and keep it off for good. With all the focus on weight in our society, it isn’t surprising that millions of people attempt weight-loss with whatever new and trendy diet is hitting the market. Humans can actually manage their weight and live well and happily on a myriad of foodways, so the idea that a specific diet or eating plan is the “best” or “right” way to achieve your weight management goals is more a reality of good marketing than human biology. That being said, this short article will review the diet program The Whole30 and highlight some nutritional pros and cons of this popular diet.

The Whole30 is a strict 30-day elimination-style diet plan. The food looks similar to a Paleo-style diet with fresh meat and poultry, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables and heart-healthy fats from nuts, oils, fruits, and seeds all on the “yes” list. The “no” list is extensive and includes: no sugar (real or artificial), no alcohol, no grains, no dairy, no beans (legumes), no baked goods or “treats.” Snacking is discouraged, however you are allowed to eat as much as you like during mealtimes. Participants are also encouraged to ditch the scale and instead focus on feelings as an indication of progress. Also, no “cheating” allowed — any slip-ups result in starting back at Day One. Following the 30-day diet is a reintroduction process that allows some of the forbidden foods back into your life. The ultimate goal is to establish a sustainable and moderate way of eating.

This diet claims to “reset” metabolism and systemic inflammation, and allows the participant better insight of how their old eating habits may have affected day-to-day life and overall health.

Nutritional pros of The Whole30 diet may include increasing awareness of food intake and habits. Humans are creatures of habit by nature, so changing up typical food choices and eating styles could lead to experimenting with alternative foods and improving nutrient density compared to the typical western diet. Participants must choose whole foods over processed and prepared items which may lead to enhanced shopping and food preparation skills.

Cons of this diet include the elimination of several food groups that can lead to nutrient deficiencies (even if you take a multivitamin), while moving away from such a restrictive eating plan to something more sustainable after completing the 30 days may be a difficult and confusing transition, especially for long-term weight maintenance. For regularly active people this low-carbohydrate eating style may lead to a decrease in energy and stamina for workouts.

The Whole30 diet plan is slightly unique because the ultra-strict part of the plan is only 30 days. However, as with many trendy diets, the more difficult part becomes long-term program maintenance. The bottom line: With any new diet, ask yourself, “Can I eat this way for the rest of my life,” and if the answer is no, then the plan is not for you.

Maintaining a healthy weight that works best for you involves a lifelong combination of regular, purposeful physical activity and choosing eclectic foods you enjoy that also fit your lifestyle and preferences.

At PEAK Health and Fitness an registered dietician or nutritionist can help you find a realistic and flexible eating plan that works for your unique situation. Give us a call at 801-585-7325 or visit our website.


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For more expert health news and information, visit healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed.