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).
Have more questions about Whole30 and weight loss? Click here to see our Whole30 + Weight Loss resource.
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 additional food groups (like fruit or potatoes), adding to the rules (like “zero snacks” or “no food after 6 PM”), or doubling up with 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.
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 give yourself a well-deserved break from obsessing about the scale and your body. Think of it as a 30-day vacation from dieting and “watching your weight” (literally).
Because what you’ll be tempted to do in the name of Whole30 weight loss WILL NOT WORK the way that you think it will.
You can make your Whole30 a low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb approach, and you’ll probably 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. You’ve been here before! It’s probably why you came to the Whole30 in the first place—with a deep-rooted desire to never do that again.
So WHY are you considering turning your Whole30 into another quick-fix crash diet?
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 respect your right to do with your body as you choose. And you came here looking for advice, so I’m going to give it to you. Can I offer some suggestions to help you make the most of your 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 basically everything, including your immune system, mental health, mood, and energy.
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. Less stress = fewer cravings, a happier mood, a healthier gut, and a stronger immune system. BOOM.
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! I bet if you thought about it right now, you could come up with a dozen examples of things you’ve done today that support the idea that you ARE a healthy person with healthy habits. See? You’re already on your way!
Armed with those tips, the resources in any of our eight Whole30 books, 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 the Whole30 co-founder and CEO, and a 6-time New York Times best-selling author, including the #1 best-seller The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, People, CNBC, SELF, and Shape. Melissa lives in Salt Lake City, UT.
Connect with her on Instagram (@melissau) and Facebook.
Photo credit: Marie Carmel