Since April 2009, tens of thousands of people have successfully completed our Whole30 program, with amazing results. These are the official rules of the program. We highly suggest before you start, you read Chapters 17, 18, and 19 in It Starts With Food.
What is the Whole30®?
Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat – even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?
Strip them from your diet completely.Cut out all the inflammatory, gut-disrupting, calorie-dense but nutritionally sparse food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health. The most important reason to keep reading?
This will change your life.
We cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact – the next 30 days will change your life. It will change the way you think about food, it will change your tastes, it will change your habits and your cravings. It could, quite possibly, change the emotional relationship you have with food, and with your body. It has the potential to change the way you eat for the rest of your life. We know this because we did it, and tens of thousands of people have done it since, and it changed our lives (and their lives) in a very permanent fashion. (Need convincing? Just read some of our stunning testimonials.)
Our Whole30 program, as outlined.
Eat real food – meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed. Don’t worry… these foods are outlined in detail in our Shopping Guides.
More importantly, here’s what NOT to eat during the duration of your Whole30 program. Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.
- Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
- Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
- Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. Yes, we said corn… for the purposes of this program, corn is a grain! This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.
- Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
- Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee.
- (See below for details.)
- Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
- Do not eat white potatoes. This is somewhat arbitrary, but if we are trying to change your habits and improve the hormonal impact of your food choices, it’s best to leave white, red, purple, Yukon gold and fingerling potatoes off your plate.
In addition, no Paleo-ifying baked goods, treats, or junk foods! We call this “Sex With Your Pants On” (SWYPO), and it will ruin your Whole30 faster than you can say, “Paleo pizza.” Do not try to replicate your old, S.A.D. diet using technically compliant ingredients--this misses the point of the Whole30 entirely. This means no Paleo pancakes, bread, muffins, or ice cream.
One last and final rule. You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)
The Fine Print
A few concessions, based on our experience, and those of our clients.These foods are exceptions to the rule, and are allowed during your Whole30. Including these foods as part of your varied healthy eating plan should not negatively impact the results of your Whole30 program.
- Clarified Butter or Ghee. Clarified butter or ghee is the only source of dairy allowed during your Whole30. Plain old butter is NOT allowed, as the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter could impact the results of your program. Refer to our Butter Manifesto for more details on the milk proteins found in butter, purchasing high quality butter, and how to clarify it yourself.
- Fruit juice as a sweetener. Some products will use orange or apple juice as a sweetener. We have to draw the line somewhere, so we’re okay with a small amount of fruit juice as an addedingredient during your Whole30… but this doesn’t mean a cup of fruit juice is a healthy choice! Refer to your Shopping Guide for clarification.
- Certain legumes. We’re fine with green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas. While they’re technically a legume, these are far more “pod” than “bean,” and green plant matter is generally good for you.
- Vinegar. Most forms of vinegar, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice, are allowed during your Whole30 program. The only exceptions are vinegars with added sugar, or malt vinegar, which generally contains gluten.
- Processed foods. Minimally processed foods like canned coconut milk, applesauce, tomato sauce, chicken broth or canned olives are all acceptable on the Whole30 – but remember, avoid anything with carageenan, MSG or sulfites.
We’ve singled these three additives/preservatives out because they all have potentially nasty side effects – and you can easily find processed foods without them. (Refer to It Starts With Food for details on why we exclude these three in particular.)
Ready to start?
Now that you have the basic plan, you need to know how to implement it. It’s simple, actually. Start now. Today. This minute. Count out thirty days on your calendar. Plan out a week’s worth of meals, using the Resources we’ve given you here. Take our Shopping Guide to your local health food store, farmer’s market or grocer and stock up on things you’ll be eating. And then… go. Cold turkey. Just start, using our free PDF downloads to take all the guesswork out of shopping, prepping, and cooking. But don’t put this off, not for one more day. If you give yourself excuses or reasons to delay, you may never begin. Do it now.
Your only job for the next 30 days is to focus on making good food choices. You don’t need to weigh or measure, you don’t need to count calories, you don’t need to stress about organic, grass-fed, pastured or free range. Just figure out how to stick to the Whole30 in any setting, around every special circumstance, under any amount of stress… for the next 30 days. Your only job? Eat. Good. Food.
The only way this will work is if you give it the full thirty days, no cheats, slips or “special occasions.” This isn’t Whole9 playing the tough guy. This is a FACT, born of education and experience. You need such a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods to break the healing cycle – one bite of pizza, one splash of milk in your coffee, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30 day period and you’ve broken the “reset” button. You must commit to the full program, exactly as written. Anything less and we make no claims as to your results, or the chances of your success. Anything less and you are selling yourself – and your potential results – short.
It’s only 30 days.
Here’s what you can expect.
The first week or two will be tough, as your body heals and adjusts to this new way of eating and your brain wraps itself around going without all those sweet tastes and sugar-driven energy spikes.And while you may start to feel better after a week or two… the healing process takes significantly longer. In addition, the mental addiction and emotional connections to sugary foods, large amounts of processed carbohydrates and over-the-top, chemically-altered flavors is going to take a lot longer to overcome.
Stick with it, and be patient with yourself. You cannot reasonably expect to completely reverse decades of poor eating habits in just 30 days. The good news, however, is that improvements are front-loaded, and you will start to see significant benefits within the month.
At some point, we promise you… the magic will happen. You’ll go to sleep easier, and sleep more soundly through the night. Your energy levels will increase and stabilize, and you’ll feel just as good first thing in the morning as you do at the peak of your day. Your body composition will start to change – your clothes will fit differently, and you’ll feel less bloated at the end of your day. Your performance, whether it be in the gym, while playing sports or during a hike, will improve. Your recovery after exercise, a game or a hard day’s work will feel easier and more complete. Conditions, ailments, aches and pains will miraculously start to improve. And through all of it, you’ll be eating delicious, fresh, natural, real food… food that tastes good, and is physically satiating and mentally satisfying.
Refer to It Starts With Food for more details about what to expect, or if you find yourself in a rough patch during your Whole30.
It’s for your own good.
Here comes the tough love. This is for those of you who are considering taking on this life-changing month, but aren’t sure you can actually pull it off, cheat free, for a full 30 days. This is for the people who have tried this before, but who “slipped” or “fell off the wagon” or “just HAD to eat (fill in food here) because of this (fill in event here).” This is for you.
It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your “struggles”. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.
Don’t even consider the possibility of a “slip”. Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a box of doughnuts, there is no “slip”. You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident. Commit to the program 100% for the full 30 days. Don’t give yourself an excuse to fail before you’ve even started.
You never, ever, ever HAVE to eat anything you don’t want to eat. You’re all big boys and girls. Toughen up. Learn to say no (or make your Mom proud and say, “No, thank you”). Learn to stick up for yourself. Just because it’s your sister’s birthday, or your best friend’s wedding, or your company picnic does not mean you have to eat anything. It’s always a choice, and we would hope that you stopped succumbing to peer pressure in 7th grade.
This does require a bit of effort. If you’re cutting out grains, legumes and dairy for the first time, you have to replace those calories with something. You have to make sure you’re eating enough, that your nutrients are plentiful, that you’re getting enough protein, fat and carbohydrates. You’ll have to figure out what to eat for lunch, how to order at a restaurant and how often you’ll need to grocery shop. We’ve given you all the tools, guidelines and resources you’ll need, but take responsibility for your own plan. Improved health and fitness doesn’t happen automatically just because you’re now taking a pass on bread.
You can do this. You’ve come too far to back out now. You want to do this. You need to do this. And we believe that you can do this. So stop thinking about it, and start doing. Right now, this very minute, tell someone that you are starting the Whole30. Tell your spouse, tell your best friend, commit on ourWhole30 forum and prove to us – and yourself – that you are committed.
We want you to participate. We want you to take this seriously, and see amazing results in unexpected areas. Even if you don’t believe this will actually change your life, if you’re willing to give it 30 short days, do it. It is that important. We believe in it that much. It changed our lives, and we want it to change yours too.
There are plenty of “nutrition challenges” and 30 day plans out there – things that sound a lot like the Whole30, that promise you’ll lose weight, have more energy, feel better. They give you more of what you want – arbitrary points for eating junk food, or an exercise penance for cheating, or acceptable alcohol choices “if you must drink”.
But here at Whole9, we’ve built our entire business around telling you what you need, not what you want. We will not pander to you here. We will tell you what we know to be true, based on literallythousands of testimonials and consulting clients’ real results. Programs that offer built-in cheats or rationalizations for less than healthy food choices simply do not work long-term. They don’t help you reach optimal health, they don’t teach you anything about how the foods you are eating are affecting you, and they don’t help you change your habits, patterns and behaviors in the long run.
The Whole30 program has been in motion for more than four years, with participants all across the world – and has measurable, real-life, sustainable results to back up our claims.
While most folks can follow the program exactly as outlined here with spectacular results, you’ve got two options if you need a little more help with your Whole30, or simply want to maximize your results.
- Subscribe to our new Whole30 Daily service, providing you with specially developed guidance (especially in the first week); resources to make shopping, prepping, cooking, avoiding temptation, exercising, sleeping, and managing your stress that much easier during your program; and give you introspective assignments designed to keep you focused and aware during every stage of your Whole30.
- Participate in our free Whole30 forum. This is where you join the program, introduce yourself to our community, and get all of the answers, support, motivation and accountability you’ll need to rock your Whole30 program.
To download our Whole30® Program
Click here for a printable copy of the Whole30 program, exactly as written above.
To download the Whole30® Program in Other Languages
Click here for a printable copy of the Whole30 program in Spanish.
Click here for a printable copy of the Whole30 program in Russian.
Click here for a printable copy of the Whole30 program in Czech.
Looking for our official list of Whole30 Approved foods?
Click here for a current list of Whole30-Approved foods.
Join our Facebook discussions
Join the current discussions on health, fitness and off-topic fun and become a “fan” of our Whole9 and Whole30 Facebook pages – and follow us on Twitter(@whole9life) and Instagram (@whole30) too.
Want to fly your Whole30 flags high and proud?
Copy and paste this code to display our Whole30 graphic on your web site or blog:
<a href=http://whole9life.com/whole-30/><img src=http://whole9life.co...the-whole30.jpg border =0 alt=The Whole30® Program, created by Whole9></a>
You’ve earned it! Copy and paste this code to display our Whole30 graphic on your page:
<a href=http://whole9life.com/whole-30/><img src=http://whole9life.co...shedwhole30.jpg border =0 alt=The Whole30® Program, created by Whole9></a>
Display your commitment on Facebook! Download our perfectly sized Facebook cover photo by clicking here.
Edited by Melissa Hartwig, 21 June 2013 - 02:41 AM.
Update for 2013