What is the Whole30®?

From co-founder Melissa Urban

The Whole30 started in April 2009 as a 30-day self-experiment… well, more like a dare. I was eating Girl Scout Cookies right out of the sleeve after a hard gym session when a friend suggested that a month off from sugar, alcohol, and processed foods would certainly improve our health and performance. I loved the idea, and said I’d do it if he would.

“When do you want to start?” I asked. “How about right now?” he taunted. Always up for a challenge, I closed the Thin Mints box with a sigh, and set out on what would become the most powerful, transformative 30 days of my life. That original 2-person experiment was the basis for the phenomenon now known as the Whole30.

The Whole30 is designed to change your life in 30 days—but it’s not a diet, a detox, or a weight loss program. Think of it as a short-term reset, created to help you curb your cravings and bad habits, boost your metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and calm your immune system.

The premise is simple: Certain food groups—even the “healthy” stuff—could be having a negative impact on your physical and mental health without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up without hitting snooze? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, migraines, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies, or anxiety) that persists despite creams, pills, or doctor’s visits?

If any of that rings true, you probably DO have things in your diet keeping you from looking, feeling, and performing as well as you could. But how do you know if these foods are having a sneaky negative impact? Do exactly what I did, and get rid of them for 30 days. Eliminate craving-inducing, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disturbing, inflammatory food groups for 30 straight days and see what your life, body, and self-confidence could look like. Push the “reset” button and let your body start to heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Conduct your own self-experiment, and learn how the foods you’ve been eating are impacting how you look, how you feel, and your quality of life.

How it Works

For a full 30 days, you’ll completely eliminate the foods that the scientific literature and our clinical experience have deemed the most commonly problematic in one of four areas—your cravings, metabolism, digestion, and immune system. During the elimination period, you’ll experience what life is like without these commonly problematic triggers while paying careful attention to improvements in energy, sleep, digestion, mood, cravings, focus, anxiety, self-confidence, chronic pain or fatigue, athletic performance and recovery, and any number of other symptoms or medical conditions. This elimination period will leave you with a new “normal”—a healthy baseline where, in all likelihood, you will look, feel, and live better than you ever imagined you could.

At the end of the 30 days, you then carefully and systematically reintroduce those foods you’ve been missing, again paying attention to any changes in your health, habits, or mindset. Do your two p.m. energy slumps return? Does your stomach bloat? Does your face break out, your joints swell, your pain return? Does your Sugar Dragon rear his ugly head? The reintroduction period teaches you how specific foods are having a negative impact on you, and which foods are making you look and feel less than your best.

Put it all together, and for the first time in your life, you’ll have the tools you need to create the perfect diet for YOU. You’ll be able to eliminate the specific foods that just aren’t serving you, and level up your quality of life forever. More important, you’ll know when, how often, and in what amount you can include the problematic-but-still-worth-it foods in your diet in a way that feels balanced and sustainable, but still keeps you looking and feeling as awesome as you now know you can look and feel.

The words so many Whole30 participants use to describe this place? “Food Freedom.”

Whole30 Benefits

The most important reason to keep reading? This will change your life.

I cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact—the next 30 days can change your life. It will change your tastes, your habits, and your cravings. It will change the way you think about the foods and drinks you “can’t live without.” It could change the emotional relationship you have with food, and with your body. It has the potential to change the way you eat for the rest of your life. I know this because I did it, and millions of people have done it over the last ten years, and it changed my life (and their lives) in a permanent fashion.

The physical benefits of the Whole30 are profound. More than 95% of participants lose weight and improve their body composition without counting or restricting calories. Also commonly reported: consistently high energy levels, better sleep, improved mobility, less pain, improved focus and mental clarity, less bloating, clearer skin, and a sunnier disposition. (Yes, many Whole30 alumni said they were “strangely happy” during and after their program. During my first Whole30, one co-worker asked me around Day 20, “What have you been doing? You’re so…nice.”)

The psychological benefits of the Whole30 may be even more dramatic. By the end of my program, I no longer had uncontrollable cravings. I no longer ate to numb my feelings. I had learned other ways to cope with anxiety or loneliness. For the first time in my lift, I felt free of the scale and the mirror. And millions of others have experienced this shift. Through the program, participants report effectively changing long-standing, unhealthy habits related to food, developing a healthier body image, and a dramatic reduction or elimination of cravings, particularly for sugar and carbohydrates.

Finally, testimonials from thousands of Whole30 participants document the improvement of any number of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions.

high blood pressure • high cholesterol • type 1 diabetes • type 2 diabetes • asthma • allergies • sinus infections • hives • skin conditions • endometriosis • PCOS • infertility • migraines • depression • bipolar disorder • heartburn • GERD • arthritis • joint pain • ADD • thyroid dysfunction • Lyme disease • fibromyalgia • chronic fatigue • lupus • leaky gut syndrome • Crohn’s • IBS • Celiac disease • diverticulitis • ulcerative colitis

We’ve also read some stories that can only be described as miracles, like Greg’s type 2 diabetes reversal, The Miller child’s astonishing behavioral changes, Ashling’s PCD story, Nadja’s PCOS improvements, and Ron’s huge list of non-scale victories (not to mention 100-lb weight loss).

Are You Ready?

I truly believe you are here for a reason. You’ve been desperate for a change, and there is something about the Whole30 that just feels different.

I want you to have this experience. Join our community, complete the program, discover your food freedom, and see amazing results in every area of your life. Even if you aren’t convinced this will actually change your life, just give me 30 short days. You are worth it, and I believe in this program so much. It changed my life, and I want it to change yours, too.

XO Melissa