The Whole 30. Just Another Fad?

There are quite a few really good “rules” in this “30 day” meal plan, but I found a few things that are contradictory to current, research-based medical and nutrition advise.  If you aren’t familiar with the Whole 30, click this link to read the basics of the program Whole 30.  I was very happy to see a certified sports nutritionist as a co-founder, although I don’t understand her approval of some of the criteria included in this program. The Whole 30: This 30 day diet is no exception to the current trend of having no concern whatsoever for the intake of fat.  For example, “healthy snacks” incorporated in The Whole 30 meal plan include all forms of coconut*, bacon bits and fatty, salty cuts of dehydrated meat.  Duck fat is also an approved fat.  I found no limits to fat intake as long as you weren’t eating it in the form of store-bought potato chips, pancakes, cookies or cakes. I’m giving this a Red Light The American Heart Association: Eating foods containing saturated fats increases LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), raising total cholesterol.  If you have high cholesterol or any form of heart disease, you should limit your saturated fat intake to no more than 6% of your total calories/day.  See this post for your estimated calorie needs: Let’s Crunch Numbers! The Whole 30: No intake of sugar of any form for 30 days including artificial sweeteners. This is a definite Green Lightif you can do it, that is. The American Dietetic Association recommends rather than completely excluding fat and sugar, focus on your overall eating pattern, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, low-fat dairy, seafood and nuts.  Americans eat too much added sugar which leads to weight gain.  Weight gain leads to a multitude of health problems, however most of us can reduce our intake of added sugars simply by focusing on the big offenders such as sweetened drinks, sweet snacks and desserts. The Whole 30: “Its only 30 days”.  After 30 days, it is recommended that you refer to the decision chart “Life After Your Whole 30: Guide to Off-Roading”.  If you follow this chart, essentially you remain on the restrictive Whole 30 plan.  If you mess up, such as licking the spoon of batter (example provided by The Whole 30), you have to start the Whole 30 meal plan from day 1. Gotta go withRed Light Me: Between never tasting so much as one lick of brownie batter, drinking your coffee black and success meaning to essentially follow this plan forever…. you’ll never eat a pancake, drink a glass of wine or eat cheese again!  Is this realistic?  Not for me.  No way! The Whole 30: No MSG or sulfites allowed. Giving this one theGreen Light WebMD: Many individuals are sensitive to sulphite additives and may experience a range of symptoms including dermatological, gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms.  Read labels if you are trying to avoid sulfites.  Look for: sulfur dioxide potassium bisulfite potassium metabisulfite sodium bisulfite sodium metabisulfite sodium sulfite MSG is a flavor enhancer and although it is generally recognized as safe by the FDA, extremely high intakes of MSG has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats. The MSG given to the rats was far more than any of us can consume in a lifetime, so you can take that information and make your own decision about consuming MSG.  I would rather avoid it, although I do occasionally eat ranch dressing and it contains MSG.

Here’s the whopper from a registered dietitian’s standpoint:

The Whole 30: Legumes and whole grains are strictly prohibited Red LightRed LightRed Light US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Consumption of whole grains has been shown to decrease body fat percentage in a 12 week study. Journal of Nutrition: Greater whole-grain intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and weight gain. Proc Nutr Soc: Whole grains protect against atherosclerotic coronary vascular disease (clogging of arteries that leads to heart attack and stroke) Eur Journal Clinical Nutrition: Legumes benefit glycemic control because of the slow release carbohydrate and high fiber content. Strong evidence suggests that eating a variety of whole grains and legumes is beneficial in the prevention and management of diabetes. Eur Journal Clinical Nutrition: Linoleic acid, fiber, vitamin E, selenium and folate in cereal grains as well as oatmeal and bran play a significant role in weight loss and decreased incidence of heart disease. Journal of Am Coll Nutrition: The addition of cooked chickpeas may decrease lipid, protein and DNA oxidation as well as decreasing inflammatory enzymes, specifically β-catenin, therefore protecting against colon cancer. Nutrition Clin Pract: The Mediterranean dietary pattern which includes an abundance of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains has shown significant anti-inflammatory effects and may become the diet of choice for diminishing chronic inflammation in clinical practice. I’m stopping here, but this doesn’t even scratch the surface of medical research that proves whole grains and legumes are beneficial to your health. The Whole 30: Starchy vegetables and fruits are allowed. DefiniteGreen Light Me: If you follow this diet, these will be your main source of carbohydrates.  Although I am not a fan of excluding whole grains and legumes, these are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates that pack an incredible health punch! Here are a couple of strange rules I stumbled upon while reading the program regulations: The Whole 30 paraphrased: Bananas are okay.  Eggs are okay.  All forms of oil are okay.  But, you may under no circumstances make pancakes with bananas, eggs and oil, as eating pancakes in any form is completely unacceptable. Red Light Me: ? The Whole 30“Don’t even consider the possibility of a slip”. Red Light Me: Because we are robots. The Whole 30: Lard is unlimited and included on the approved grocery list. Red Light Me: ?? The Whole 30: “Legumes allowed are green beans, snow peas and sugar snap peas”, beets are a carb-dense vegetable and are allowed. Yellow Light Me: These legumes are non-starchy vegetables, meaning you would have to eat 3 cups of raw or 1 1/2 cups to get 1 carbohydrate serving.  You have to eat 1 cup of beets to get 13 grams of carbohydrate (1 carb serving=15 grams carbohydrate grams).  Most people don’t eat as many vegetables and fruits as are recommended.  I have to wonder if the goal is to make this a low-carb, high-fat, high-protein diet… So, what about that low carb diet? I suppose if you feel like you need a strict diet plan to lose weight and to get yourself in gear, go ahead and follow this plan.  I  recommend, however that you discontinue all restrictions after 30 days.  I suppose I could try to drink my coffee black, cut out all sweets, read my labels and restrict sulfites and MSG.  I can definitely cut out french fries, potato chips and sweet treats.  I won’t be cutting out whole grains or beans.  Nope.  And if I mess up and lick a spoon, I’m not going to beat myself up over it.
*coconut is the only vegetable that contains saturated fat.  It is a God-made food and I wouldn’t exclude it, but cooking with it, baking with it, roasting with it and adding it to everything you eat may not be a great idea.  Go ahead and spread it all over your skin and bathe your dog in it; that won’t clog your arteries.
If you feel overwhelmed by all the nutrition advice, calorie recommendations and diet trends, read these: Fact. Not Fad.Let’s Crunch Numbers!Help Me To Help You!
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2 thoughts on “The Whole 30. Just Another Fad?

  1. I absolutely HATE this trend! It makes absolutely no sense at all. Ever since Atkins, people are trying to come up with different names for the low carb/high fat/high protein diet. Paleo, Whole 30, Keto…no telling how many more are out there. And guess what NONE of them work people!! You lose the weight at first and because it is so unrealistic you gain back 20 fold. So just listen to the regular old dietitians..ones not trying to make a buck off of you by “selling you something” and just eat whole foods, a variety…even sugar sometimes in small amounts and you will be just fine! Sorry for the rant Kelly lol

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