I’m about to start Round 2 of my Whole30. Any suggestions on how to tweak it for weight loss? Maybe cutting out nut butters and Larabars… can you suggest other things to SEE (and not just feel) results? -Marie, on Twitter
My short answer is… no. No, I cannot offer you suggestions to tweak the Whole30 for weight loss, because the Whole30 is not a weight loss program. But that’s the “tough” part of my tough love, and there’s way more “love” to be found in this answer. So, here’s the longer version (which, by the way, does actually include a few tips).
The Long Answer
I don’t want anyone to take the Whole30, designed for a VERY specific purpose, and try to tweak it to accomplish something it was not designed specifically to do. Could you make some changes to your lawnmower engine so it turns into a bubble machine for your kid? Probably. But that’s pretty dangerous, and it won’t mow your lawn very well after that.
Samesies with tweaking the Whole30 for weight loss by purposefully counting/cutting calories, unnecessarily restricting macronutrients (like carbs or fat), or adding protocols like Intermittent Fasting. You’ll do some serious damage to the way the program is supposed to work… and you probably won’t get much further in your weight loss journey either. At least, not the kind of sustainable, permanent weight loss the Whole30 offers, exactly as written.
Because I KNOW you’re not looking for a quick-fix. You’ve done that. It never works. Moving on.
Our premise is simple—change your health (tastes, blood sugar regulation, hormonal balance, digestion, immune system), habits (how you reward, self-soothe, comfort, and show love to yourself), and emotional relationship with food (losing cravings, attachments to, and dysfunctional thoughts around food), and a healthy body composition has to follow. It HAS to. But it doesn’t work the other way around.
You can make your Whole30 a low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb approach, and you’ll for sure lose weight. But you’ll screw up your hunger, cravings, hormones, and willpower AND slow your metabolism. Which means (you guessed it)… welcome to Rebound-O-Rama, where you violently descend into a frenzy of donuts/cookies/cakes/chips/wine, and end up regaining all the weight and then some. How do I know this will happen? SCIENCE. The literature clearly shows that diets based on caloric restriction simply don’t work for sustainable weight loss. So don’t turn your Whole30 into another quick-fix crash diet.
The very idea breaks my heart.
Here’s the thing; the Whole30 isn’t a weight loss program, but I know you want to lose weight. And I honor that. I just want you to do it the right way. So, now we get to the meat of the question: Can I offer some suggestions to help you lose weight on the Whole30? I can. Here you go.
No Hacks, Just Good Advice
- Sleep more, and sleep regularly. Yes, I’m serious. This is perhaps the biggest unrecognized factor in body composition, and really just about everything else.
- Walk. Here’s a bold statement: walking is the most underrated form of exercise. You don’t have to join a gym, kill yourself at home in front of a DVD, or sign up for an adventure race. Just go for a walk. Regularly, at a brisk pace. Maybe sometimes up a hill. Maybe sometimes with a backpack. Ideally outside in a green space. Hey, bring a friend!
- Reduce stress. Yeah, yeah, easier said than done, but I’ve got a strategy outlined in Food Freedom Forever, and a 20-minute talk about the stress/craving connection to get you started.
- Embrace a growth mindset. I talk about this a lot in Food Freedom Forever, but the best thing you could do for healthy, happy, sustainable body composition is embrace the idea that you are a healthy person, living a healthy lifestyle. Then, surround yourself with people, places, things, and experiences that support that!
Armed with those tips, the new Whole30 Cookbook, our amazing @whole30 social media community, and our extensive NSV Checklist (many of which, as requested, are things you can SEE and not just feel!), there’s no way you won’t Rock round 2 of your Whole30—regardless of the scale.
Best in health,
Got a question for Melissa? Submit them here.
Remember, we aren’t answering questions about the Whole30 rules via this column (use the forum!), nor are we able to offer you specific advice about your medical issue, health condition, or body composition.
Melissa Hartwig is a Certified Sports Nutritionist, and the author of the New York Times bestselling books It Starts With Food; The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom; Food Freedom Forever; and The Whole30 Cookbook . She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Details, Outside, SELF, and Shape as the co-founder of the Whole30 program. Melissa lives in Salt Lake City, UT.
Connect with her on Instagram (@melissa_hartwig) and Facebook.
Photo credit: Marie Carmel Photography