The Whole30 Meal Plan for Weight Loss & Wellness: Does It Really Work?

by | Jul 8, 2019 | Last updated Oct 14, 2022

Author: Stephanie Santoro

Are you considering the Whole30 meal plan, but don’t know if it’s worth doing or where to begin? Before jumping in, let’s review what’s involved. There’s a lot of upfront and ongoing planning required, though the plan is available online and there are many books you can buy to stay well-versed in the program. 

What is Whole30?

The Whole30 program is a 30-day elimination diet that cuts out entire groups of food that, according to its founder, might lead to numerous health issues.

But what about Whole30’s track record? Are you likely to lose weight if you try it? Most likely – but whether those changes stick for the long term is another story. Here are some factors to consider:

How Whole30 works

Because Whole30 is fairly restrictive with what foods you can eat, it’s not exactly practical to follow past 30 days – or simple enough to reintroduce into your lifestyle sporadically after you complete it. Once you regain weight or start feeling sluggish after the diet, you’re left with having to do Whole30 again or maintaining your weight another way

With Whole30 you don’t measure, restrict, or count calories. However, you strictly eat whole foods only. And you eliminate foods that supposedly cause inflammation and other side effects that compromise your overall wellness and energy levels. The intended benefits are not backed by any scientific evidence, but the program claims to be a healthy reset that makes you feel better and changes the way you approach food choices. 

Whole30 rules

On the Whole30 Meal Plan, you can basically forget about consuming any grains (even the “healthy” ones), alcohol, legumes, dairy, added sugars, regular butter, and processed foods. You can have fish, meat, vegetables (heavily emphasized), and fruits only. (French fries not included!)

You’re also forbidden to weigh yourself and must plan and prepare meals ahead of time – or risk failure and the plan ultimately stalling out. So while a lot of the principles of Whole30 can involve healthy choices, they’re not likely to resonate beyond the initial 30 days without more solid support. And like most diets, this can result in yo-yo weight loss no matter how you spin it. 

Here’s a rough idea of what your next 30 days will look like if you’re still willing to take the plunge with Whole30. 

Whole30: The initial work  

There are plenty of Whole30 recipes and tips online to help you get started, but it’s likely you’ll be combining recommendations from several sources to satisfy your particular tastes, budget, culinary skills, and schedule. Be sure to familiarize yourself in advance with what your initial and future grocery store visits will look like. You’ll also need to factor in the time needed to prepare meals weekly, on a dedicated day for each given week. Sunday is a popular day among Whole30 believers to get everything ready for the coming workweek. 

Whole30 breakfasts, for when eggs don’t quite cut it

The most difficult meals to plan on Whole30 are going to be your breakfasts. Grains and sugars aren’t allowed on Whole30 so extra eggs might be in your future. But if you do a little digging and approach new foods openly, you’ll find there are lots of different ideas you can try. Minimal preparation and variety are key. Unprocessed meats are allowed, but there’s definitely an emphasis on veggies over other ingredients. 

Whole30 snacks for those in-between times

Having snacks readily available between your main meals may keep you from veering off the plan. There are no exceptions when it comes to following Whole30 rules, so make sure you have good, healthy snacks like hard boiled eggs and cucumbers, plantains with mango salsa, and kale chips to sustain you between meals.

Whole30 lunches and being as proactive as possible

If it wasn’t already difficult enough to coordinate packed lunches for work – let alone healthy ones – Whole30 complicates it further by allowing only certain foods. The good news is, if your grocery inventory, meal planning, and prep is on-point, you shouldn’t run into many problems. 

Doing whatever you can to avoid a fast food run at lunch from a lack of ingredients or resources for packable, easy lunches will help you avoid lunchtime pitfalls. Avocado tuna boats, classic egg salad with bacon bits, and beef chili are some variations on popular classics you can consider trying. 

Dinnertime can make or break your Whole30 experience

Don’t set yourself up for failure by assuming you have more flexibility around dinner, just because you’re off work and can run by the store easier than other times of the day. Life gets demanding. And factoring in downtime is important. So, even though it may feel like you can be more loose about dinners on Whole30, save yourself the trouble and don’t cut corners. Having chicken, steak, veggies, and a good assortment of seasonings on hand will help you plan thoughtful dinners like a Chicken Caesar Spaghetti Squash more easily. 

Noom eliminates the need for a diet

Diets like Whole30 almost always fail in the long run because no matter how many books or recipes they provide, they’re missing crucial elements like individualized support and customizable solutions. 

With Noom you have access to a program that is designed by a unique combination of specialists: psychologists, registered dietitians, and technology experts. With these experts collaborating on your weight loss success, you really can’t go wrong. And with the built-in human support element, combined with every resource you need for long term change, you can say goodbye to dieting forever.