Tried the Whole 30 Diet. Liked It. Still doing it.

By Rob Shaul


I started Feb 1, ran it strict for all of February, and have kept mostly strict since.

The Whole 30 Diet was developed by Mellissa and Dallas Hartwig. Melissa is a nutritionist, and Dallas a PT and nutritionist.

The idea behind the diet isn’t fat loss, but health, and it has its roots in the paleo diet. It first came on the scene in 2012 via the Hartwig’s book, “It Starts With Food.”


Health Focus

“The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy,” write the Hartwigs, “Those are your options.”

They argue that certain food groups – processed sugar, grains, dairy and legumes – could be having a negative impact on your health and their diet is simple. Cut this stuff out completely for a 30 days, cleanse your body of the possible negative effects of any or all of these food groups, and see how you feel.

Then, reintroduce these food groups into your diet, one at a time, and see how it affects your health.

What you can eat:
Meat, eggs, seafood, veggies, some fruit, oils, nuts and seeds. No processed food.

What you can’t eat:

  • No added sugar of any type …. No syrup, honey, agave nector, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, stevia, etc. No cane sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, etc.
  • No alcohol.
  • No Grains … wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, gluten, etc.
  • No Legumes … beans of any type including peanuts and peanut butter, soy beans, soy sauce, soy milk, etc.
  • No Dairy … milk, cheese, cream, yogurt, butter.
  • No Carrageenan, MSG or Sulfites … this stuff is common in processed food.
  • Don’t try to recreate baked goods, junk foods or treats with “approved” incredients i.e. no “paleo” pan cakes.

A few exceptions

  • – Clarified butter or Ghee … not sure what this stuff is, but you can eat it on this diet.
  • – Fruit Juice – you can use it as a sweetener
  • – Green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are all legumes, but you can eat them anyway.
  • – Vinegar is okay.
  • – Salt …

More on the Whole 30 Diet HERE.


Differences from Our Current Dietary Recommendations

  • – No Cheat day. We have a cheat day, there is none on the Whole 30
  • – No Dairy.  Our guidelines allow it
  • – More strict. I’ve never read labels for sugar … I had to on the Whole 30.
  • – Potatoes are okay on Whole 30, not our guidelines.
  • – Our diet allows artificial sweeteners. Whole 30 doesn’t
  • Importantly, Whole 30, like our dietary guideline, has no caloric restrictions. You can eat to satiety. You should never feel hungry.

MTI’s Nutritional Guidelines HERE.


My Experience

The only “cheating” I did on this diet was using half and half or artificial dry creamer (the nasty stuff) in my coffee. Everything else I completed strictly.

Because our dietary recommendations are fairly close, Whole 30 wasn’t a drastic change for me. But there were some changes … I began reading condiment labels for added sugar and found it everywhere – ketchup, salad dressing, etc. It did open my eyes up to the sugar food manufactures add to just about everything.

Second – no energy drinks. Previously I’d throw down 1-2 zero calorie Monsters or Red Bulls/day, esp. in the afternoons, but these all have artificial sweeteners. I had to cut them out.

Cheat day … over the years of doing my own dietary guidelines, I’ve come to cheat less and less on my cheat day. But I still cheated -, especially with bread. I love bread – toast and honey in the morning, a big sandwich at lunch, cookies for dessert. I cut all that out.

I found myself eating a lot more vegetables – at first because I had to. But later in the diet, because I liked them. I found a new appreciation for a simple peeled avocado and salt and pepper, cherry tomatoes as a snack, raw cucumbers and zucchini squash with salt and pepper, and small sweet peppers.

I actually cut down some on the fruit during the diet – not on purpose, but just naturally – esp. apples. My go-to lunch for years has been an apple and hard, sharp, cheddar cheese and this had to change.

Almond butter – I found myself eating a lot of almond butter.

Berries and seeds for dessert … frozen blueberries or cherries, and raw sunflower seeds are my go-to dessert at home. I nuke the berries for a minute, dump in a handful of sunflower seeds and I’m in heaven. If I’m feeling especially decadent, I’ll use frozen cherries. This stuff is awesome.

Weight loss … the authors recommend avoiding a scale during the 30-day effort, but I was curious. I found I lost maybe 5 pounds but did see a little decrease in mid-section body fat.

Overall – I can honestly report that overall I did feel better – had more energy, my mind is more clear, etc. I esp. found a new love of vegetables which has endured. Also, I’ve seen a significant decrease in my cravings for sweet stuff – including fruit, and especially the afternoon energy drinks.


Moving Forward

I’ve pretty much maintained the diet even though my 30 days ended March 1. I’ve avoided sugar – including artificial sweeteners and the sugar food companies sneak into condiments. I have had a little cheese in dinner dishes with the family, but have not gone back to my old cheese and apple lunges, and overall would say my cheese/dairy consumption is down 98%.

My “cheat” day has become even more strict: no sugar and no bread (my craving for it is gone) – it’s not that I feel guilty, but I simply don’t crave this stuff any longer.

The one thing that has returned is a stiff cocktail on Friday, and sometimes Saturday, nights. And I guess I have had wine with dinner a couple of times, as well.

So overall, the enduring changes in my diet are 98% less dairy, no sugar or artificial sweeteners, no bread/grains – even on my “cheat day,” and no afternoon energy drinks and lots more vegetables.

Right now I intend to continue with this.


Will My Experience lead to a Change in Our Dietary Recommendations?

Most likely – especially the strict avoidance of all sugar and artificial sweeteners. But we’ll still keep the cheat day. Gone are my afternoon “crashes” and I am more mentally alert overall.

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