You’ve Been Thinking About the Whole30 Program All Wrong This Entire Time

The main goal doesn't involve weight loss.

Instagram @melissa_hartwig

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Among a seemingly endless sea of diets and food plans, there’s one that focuses on understanding what makes your body tick.

“You can think of the Whole30 like pushing the reset button with your health, your habits, and your relationship with food,” Melissa Hartwig, co-creator of the Whole30 program and certified sports nutritionist, told Techpluz when we attended the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado, on behalf of GMC.

Whole30 is a 30-day program that eliminates many foods that are often disruptive to the body operating at its optimum potential. The program first came to be in 2009 when Hartwig tried the dietary experiment herself.

For the month a person is on Whole30, they avoid grains, sugar, alcohol (even for cooking), legumes, dairy, baked goods, junk foods, and ingredients such as carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites. There are exceptions to these rules, and participants can have fruit juice, certain legumes (like green beans), and ghee or clarified butter (the only dairy allowed on the plan), among other things.

The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
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Now, if this seems like a long, intimidating list, it’s because it is. Ideally, we would all make vegetables and healthy fats — along with moderate amounts of fruit and protein — our everyday diet, like Whole30 does, but that’s just not reality, and Hartwig knows it. Although there aren’t known dangers associated with staying on the program for longer than 30 days, that’s simply not what it’s intended for.

“I generally discourage people from staying on it for longer than 90 days,” Hartwig said. “It’s not meant for people to eat this way forever. It’s meant as a learning experiment to help them figure out which foods work for them.”

Whole30 has been compared to another rising star of a program, the ketogenic diet. Both require breaking up with carbs, sugar, and certain fruits, but they were originally designed for different things. While the Whole30 diet teaches you what foods do and do not work with your body (as you add them back in after the 30 days), the keto diet began as a way to help bodies with diseases. Both provide great benefits for the right candidates, but that’s why research and looking at your personal goals are necessary when considering any type of meal plan.

“The whole point of the Whole30 is to take you to what we call ‘food freedom,’ where you know how food impacts you — how you look and how you feel in your quality of life,” Hartwig said.

The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook
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In addition to being a co-creator, Hartwig has written six books on Whole30, including The Whole30, The Whole30 Cookbook, and Food and Freedom Forever. If you have a GMC vehicle, you can listen to It Starts With Food and Food Freedom Forever through the Audible app with Apple CarPlay. The next one is set to come out in October 2018, a book of 150 recipes you can make in your slow cooker and Instant Pot.

Hartwig doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk. She takes part in the plan when she feels the need to get her body feeling its best, but that doesn’t come without missing foods that are on the "avoid" list.

“When I do mini resets or Whole30 resets now, I miss white rice, because I eat white rice pretty much every day now in my food freedom, because I figured out it just works really well for me,” said the four-time New York Times best-selling author. Hartwig said that giving up sugar isn’t as hard as it is annoying, because it’s snuck into so many foods without many people realizing it.

The top three foods that people tend to miss on the program, according to Hartwig, are cheese, alcohol, and sugar. If you ask us, that sounds just about right!

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