How To Know If The Whole30 Program Is Right For Your Personal Health & Wellness Goals

Everything you need to know about the Whole30 meal plan.

Whole30 Program what to eat meal plan diet plan lose weight be healthy Caju Gomes on Unsplash

In 2009, Melissa Hartwig blogged about the 30-day dietary experiment that gave her life-changing results. Thus, Whole30 was born. Since then, millions of people have jumped on board and transformed their bodies and lifestyles through this program.

But what exactly is the idea behind the Whole30 diet plan? And what are the rules you need to follow to follow the diet plan correctly?

What is the Whole30 meal plan?

It's definitely not your typical diet. You aren't going to be counting calories or eating on a point-based system. Essentially, it's a modified Paleo diet.


The program promises that, by eliminating foods that can mess up your health (i.e., cause breakouts and low energy), it'll basically hit the reset button on your health.

Cristina Curp, founder of The Castaway Kitchen and Whole30/Paelo superstar started because she was feeling chronically ill, needed to lose weight and just needed a change. She put the plan in the simplest terms for people to understand:

"You eat plants and animals. No shenanigans."

The plan consists of 30 days of “clean” eating, which means a lot more than just giving up that cream in your coffee or skipping dessert. However, it's actually super simple when you break it down.


RELATED: 15 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting Your Weight Loss Journey

What types of food can you eat on Whole30?

While it sounds like you're going to be eating virtually nothing and surviving off of photosynthesis, there's actually so much you can still enjoy. Meat, poultry, fish, veggies, fruits and healthy fats are what will make up all of the meals.

You're going to have to avoid all sugars (natural or artificial), booze, smoking, grains, beans or legumes, soy, dairy and processed additives. The website has tons of amazing recipes that will help you stay on track since you won't be able to cook using your usual ingredients.

Curp's website definitely helped me when I was doing my first cycle. I had no idea what to eat, and shopping for ingredients took me into the uncharted territory of the vegetable section where I had to stay on the phone with my sister and ask her questions like “How do you know when an avocado is ripe?”.


But meal planning is a magical thing that makes sure you're never hungry and always have something tasty nearby.

However, Whole30 is strongly against baked goods and junk foods that have approved ingredients. Hartwig says this can make you miss the point of the program, so no Paelo pancakes or avocado brownies.

Do I have to sign up for it?

Unlike other meal plans, Whole30 has everything you need to know right on their website. They offer free printouts to help you shop and make sure you're eating enough.


It's completely free to participate, but there are a few Whole30 books that tons of people say have helped them during the process. The Whole30 Day by Day is one of the more popular books available that takes you through the program one day at a time to help keep you on track. The Whole30 Fast and Easy Cookbook is another great tool, but neither book is necessary to complete the diet.

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Do I have to work out, too?

If you follow Hartwig's Instagram, it's clear she's a total badass when it comes to the gym. Though, Whole30 doesn’t have an exercise component, and working out isn’t required. That being said, a benefit of the program is getting all the energy you've been missing out on due to a poor diet, so you might just naturally want to work out.  

If you already exercise a lot, then don’t be afraid to up the intensity a little bit when you feel all that new energy kicking in.


However, on her site, Hartwig warns against throwing yourself into a new workout routine and the Whole30 at the same time. Working on your diet first and then transitioning into hitting the gym is the best way to do it and ensures better results.

If you choose to work out, you’re going to feel an even bigger urge to step on the scale and see your progress. BUT PLOT TWIST: THIS ISN’T ALLOWED!!

A huge aspect of Whole30 is celebrating non-scale victories, meaning noticing your skin clearing up, being able to wear that skirt comfortably again or even just feeling less tired at work.

This was probably the hardest thing for me. I wanted to jump on a scale after my first week and see my progress, but I knew I couldn't. Instead, I thrived off of the motivation from my sister (who has done countless Whole30 programs) and enjoyed noticing my skin clearing up. I also enjoyed being able to wake up early and not want to crawl back into bed.


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Does Whole30 actually work for weight loss?

Almost 10 years after its launch, the Whole30 has been proven to work time and time again and has garnered the praise from millions of followers online.

Results vary from person to person, but everyone walks away with some benefit. Whether it’s weight loss, less bloating, less brain-fog or a combination of all those good things, Whole30 has something good to offer everyone who decides to commit to it.


Personally, I noticed changes as early as my second week, and, now that I've finished, I don't miss the food I ate before as much as I thought I would. I feel better every day.

Curp says that the most important thing to do if you want Whole30 to work is to always remember why you started the program and to tell yourself that you deserve to be the best “you” you can be.

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Josie Fuller is a writer who studies Journalism and Women's Studies at The University of Florida. When she’s not researching writing about astrology, love and relationships, she enjoys spending her time watching Bob's Burgers and baking.