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The Whole30 is a 30-day diet that emphasizes whole foods and the elimination of sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy.[1][2] The Whole30 is similar to but more restrictive than the paleo diet, as adherents may not eat natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.[3]


Foods allowed during the program include meat, nuts, seeds, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruits. During the Whole30, participants are advised not to count calories or to weigh themselves.[3] After the program is complete, participants are counseled to strategically reintroduce foods outside the endorsed Whole30 list, document the health consequences and culinary value of these additions, and determine if the addition is desired.[4] The program's founders believe that sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, and legumes affect weight, energy, and stress levels.[5] Losing weight is not a focus of Whole30; calorie-counting and weigh-ins are not allowed.[3]


The program was created by wife and husband Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig in 2009.[6] They both became certified sports nutritionists; he worked as a physical therapist, and she was working at an insurance company during the day and doing nutritional consulting in her spare time. She quit her job to run the Whole30 business in 2010.[7] They co-authored It Starts With Food (2012) and The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom (2015).[8] They separated in 2015.[9] Melissa Hartwig took over the business,[7] and published Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food in 2016.[10]

In July 2016, a New York Times article on use of Instagram by dieters noted that participants in the Whole30 program had shared over one million Instagram posts using the #Whole30 hashtag, and noted that those sharing the tag were "one of seemingly endless like-minded communities," comparing it with the over 3.5 million posts under the #WeightWatchers hashtag.[11]

Critical response[edit]

No studies that specifically look into the health impacts of the Whole30 had been conducted as of 2016.[2] While dietitians generally agree with the program's emphasis on proteins, vegetables and unprocessed foods and the avoidance of added sugars and alcohol, they also view the diet as too extreme.[3][6]

The diet ranked last among 38 popular diets evaluated by U.S. News & World Report in its 2016 Best Diets Rankings; one of the raters, dietitian Meridan Zerner said: "We want behavioral changes and dietary changes that are slow and progressive and meaningful."[3] David L. Katz said of the diet: "The grouping [of banned foods] is both random, and rather bizarre from a nutrition perspective. If the idea is good nutrition, cutting out whole grains and legumes is at odds with a boatload of evidence."[1] It was selected as one of the worst health trends for 2013 by Health Magazine.[12]


As of 2018 the "Whole30" trademark had been licensed to Applegate, Blue Apron, Whole Foods Market, Snap Kitchen, and Thrive Market.[7]


  1. ^ a b Willett, Megan (June 25, 2015). "Millennials are obsessed with Whole 30, the 'cultish' fad diet taking over Instagram and Pinterest". Business Insider. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b Rini, Jen (September 19, 2016). "Whole30: is the restrictive diet worth it?". The News-Journal. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Cho, Hannah (May 22, 2016). "Is the Whole30 diet right for you? Program has ardent supporters but some experts worry that it's too restrictive". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Whole30: It All Starts with Food". WGN TV. June 28, 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  5. ^ Cahn, Megan (April 28, 2014). "Why the Whole30 Diet Is Taking Over Instagram". Elle. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  6. ^ a b Medaris Miller, Anna (December 15, 2014). "Should You Try the Whole30 Diet?". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Montag, Ali (3 April 2018). "The co-founder of cult diet Whole30 was once a drug addict — here's how she found huge success". CNBC.
  8. ^ Davis-Flynn, Jennifer. "The Whole30: A Chat with Authors Melissa and Dallas Hartwig". Clean Eating Magazine. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  9. ^ ""Dallas and I are officially separating...."". Melissa Hartwig on Instagram. June 24, 2015. and ""Melissa and I are officially separating...."". Instagram. Dallas Hartwig on Instagram. June 24, 2015.
  10. ^ "Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food". Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  11. ^ Rogers, Katie (July 7, 2016). "Why Dieters Flock to Instagram". New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  12. ^ Fetters, K. Aleisha (November 20, 2013). "Best and Worst Health Trends of 2013: Worst: Whole30 diet". Health.

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