Why you should stop doing Whole30 to lose weight! In this Dish On Ditching Diets podcast episode, I explain why Whole30 is not appropriate for fat loss and the true intent behind Whole30.
Commonly women over 35 I work with in my nutrition practice tell me they have done Whole30 with the intent to lose weight. While some of them have lost weight, some of them have not. This is because you need a calorie deficit to lose weight.
Those who have lost weight on Whole30 have done so by cutting out foods we commonly think of as junk foods and increasing whole foods in their diet. I encourage all my clients to increase Whole Foods in their diet and to have a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
This drastically reduces cravings, hunger and increases satisfaction so that people naturally eat less calories without much effort.
The reason some women do not lost weight on Whole30 is because they are not in a calorie deficit so while they are eating healthier foods that are more nutrient-dense, they are still eating to maintain their weight.
The problem is to lose weight permanently you have to consistently follow a way of eating until the day you die in order to keep that weight off.
If the diet that works best for you is Whole30 and you can enjoy it and can do it until the day you die, then absolutely keep doing it!
However, what I see women over 35 doing repeatedly is treating Whole30 to chronically diet. This is perpetuating the diet rollercoaster and the more you are on the diet rollercoaster, the more damage you are doing to your metabolism and mindset.
There is no doubt that eating more real foods - fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, eggs, dairy, oats, beans, lentils, whole grains, rice, quinoa, etc. are beneficial to your health and will ultimately aid in losing body fat.
But if you are someone who repeatedly swings between eating whatever you want and eating a lot of non-nutrient dense food then restricting foods severely by doing a diet like Whole30, then it's time to find your true motivation behind doing a diet like Whole30.
It's time to figure out why you keep swinging back and forth from extreme to extreme!
Because you're not truly utilizing Whole30 for what it is intended for. You're using it as a diet and in my mind, using Whole30 this way is no different than doing a restrictive diet like Optavia or Keto.
Whole30 is a food elimination diet to identify food sensitivities. Whole30 is not meant for those who have a disordered relationship with food and who have been chronic dieters.
Listen to the episode for more details!
In this Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast Episode, You Will Hear:
- The True Intent Behind The Whole30 Diet
- How Whole30 Can Be Helpful For Specific Health Conditions
- Why Whole30 Should Not Be Utilized For Weight Loss
- How Whole30 Perpetuates The Dieting Cycle
- Discovering Your Motivation Behind Doing Whole30
- Why You're Not A Sugar Addict
Related Dish On Ditching Diets Podcast Episodes
Stop Doing Whole30 To Lose Weight Podcast Show Notes
Stop doing Whole30 to lose weight! If you’re using Whole30 the right way, the way it’s intended to be used and I’m going to get into that in a minute, then you shouldn’t be doing them all the time.
This might be a controversial episode, but this is for those of you who are using Whole30 to lose weight and are in the camp of – on again and off again with your diet repeatedly, and those of you who keep using Whole30 to control your sugar cravings and for weight loss. I am not talking to those of you who are using Whole30 for food allergies, sensitivities, or autoimmune disease.
Whole30 is an elimination diet. Whole30 is designed for you to learn how different foods react in your body. Whole30 is for people who suspect they have food sensitivities, autoimmune diseases, or have specific health conditions. Whole30 is not designed to be for fat loss or losing weight.
Now you may have lost weight doing Whole30. I suspect because you cut out junk food and sugar and you were eating way more fruits, vegetables, and protein. Whole30 is a whole food diet.
Most people when they eat whole30 end up eating more whole foods which whole foods tend to be lower in calories so of course, when you do that and cut out all the junk it makes sense how you could lose weight doing it.
On the flip side, you could do Whole30, and your weight doesn’t change. I’ve had clients in the past who actually gained weight doing Whole30 because they simply replaced the sugar and junk food with nuts and nut butter which have a lot of calories.
But what I want you to understand is that Whole30 is not intended for fat loss or losing weight. I’ve had so many clients come to me confused like I did Whole30, and I lost some weight and didn’t keep it off. Right. Because whatever way of eating you do to lose weight, you have to keep doing to keep the weight off.
So, if you stop doing Whole30, the weight will come back. What that tells me is that you didn’t create a lifestyle. You just did a diet and to me, not making it a lifestyle is the real problem. So, whether you did Whole30 or you did Optavia. It’s the same outcome and I want you to understand that it’s the mindset or thinking going into a diet like that that is the real problem.
So, if you’ve done many Whole30’s to lose weight in the past or you find yourself doing them every January and September or a full Whole30 every other month. If you’re doing a Whole60 or a Whole180 or even longer, this is the time to re-evaluate what you are doing and the motivation behind what you are doing.
Doing multiple Whole30’s, isn’t true health and it’s not creating a lifestyle you can do until the day you die. It seems based on my observations that many women are tied to the rules of a diet program, like Whole30, and you’re bouncing between those rules and feeling totally out of control; making food decisions that you know don’t make you feel good, but you make them anyways.
Basically, going off the rails. Then you go on Whole30 to reset or get your act together.
So, take a step back. If this is you, does this truly sound like a lifestyle that is sustainable until the day you die to you?
In podcast 4 the consistency cure, I talk about this pendulum swing we do. We go back and forth from extreme to extreme. Creating a sustainable lifestyle means no more swinging back and forth. We have to find the middle ground.
What we are going to discuss today is digging into why you are swinging back and forth from eating off the rails i.e. not being mindful to swinging to Whole30.
And truly, this concept applies to any diet you do. I’m using Whole30 as an example in today’s podcast, but you can insert whatever diet or way of eating that you follow and it’s the same concept I’m trying to convey.
This is not in any way meant to put you down or discourage you from doing Whole30. This podcast is meant to encourage you to critically analyze and dig deep about your motivation behind doing Whole30.
For some people it takes a really long time to come to these realizations and that is OKAY. We are human. We need to make mistakes to learn. Sometimes we must do a lot of these diets before we realize they do not serve our goals.
So, it’s not comfortable to hear these things, but it is something to dig into if you truly want a healthy relationship with food and your body.
And I would argue most people want THAT, but they just don’t know how to get there. And I don’t want you to have to rely on a diet reset program like Whole30 in order to feel good about yourself.
This podcast is meant to encourage you to think deeply about what your motivation is for doing Whole30. It might be weight loss, it might be cravings, it might be you’re trying to understand what foods make your body feel it’s best.
But dig deep because there’s probably something behind the weight loss. Why do you want to lose weight? What were you doing before this Whole30 that made you want to do it?
If it’s cravings…why do you think you have cravings? What were doing before this Whole30 that you think led to the cravings in the first place?
Also, what was your motivation behind doing your first Whole30 vs. your 3rd?
Here’s the classic January Whole30 dieter. I need to clean up my diet, new year’s resolution stuff, January 1st. All of the holiday season usually it begins in October around Halloween starting with the candy, you’re basically just eating mindlessly and indulging in things you don’t normally eat the rest of the year during the holiday season.
I’m not saying you can’t enjoy the holiday season, but it becomes a problem when you are gaining weight, you feel terrible in your body and you feel horrible for the decisions you’ve made.
The classic Whole30 dieter is OMG I overindulged all holiday season. I really need to get this weight off. I’m out of control. I need to get this under control. I need to get my sugar cravings under control. I’m doing Whole30 in January to reset my cravings, detox my body and lose this weight.
Now this classic Whole30 dieter goes through the Whole30 and feels great. Sugar cravings are under control, you have better energy from fueling your body better, you’re feeling positive about your food choices but then you begin thinking about all the foods you really miss.
Because during Whole30 you cut out alcohol, sweets, sugar, pizza, fries, chips and now you’re thinking I can’t wait to eat all my favorite foods again.
So you go into reintroduction with the best intentions. You’re like I’m just going to have one cookie or one drink or order this one pizza and then suddenly, you’re totally out of control.
Here's the thing about some of the foods I just mentioned. They are very easy to overconsume if you’re not mindful. Sweets, sugar, pizza, fries, chips. These foods are a combination of fat and carbs with salt or sugar.
A lot of people say sugar is addictive, but I’m guessing you’re not eating spoonful’s of sugar like an addict. That’s not what is addictive. It’s the combination of fat and carbs with salt of sugar. Those foods are highly palatable and easy to overconsume.
So when someone tells me they need to cut out all the carbs, they’re not saying they need to cut out all their vegetables and fruits. What they’re really saying, is they need to cut out foods with the combination of fat and carbs with salt or sugar. Foods that we classically think of as junk food.
Now you haven’t eaten these foods in several weeks because you restricted it during Whole30 and now when you reintroduce them, it’s incredibly easy to overeat them. Because you need practiced eating them in moderation.
You only practiced during Whole30 restricting them and unless you plan to live until the day you die without eating those foods, that’s not setting you up for a lasting lifestyle. Our brains go really crazy when we cut foods out so I never recommend you do that unless you have a true food allergy or sensitivity.
So as soon as you start eating these foods again, your brain goes crazy after restricting so much on Whole30 and now you are going to want to eat those foods like a maniac who’s out of control.
Now it’s Super Bowl Sunday and you’re making cookies and you say, I’m just going to eat one cookie and one cookie suddenly becomes 12. T
hen you’re like well I messed up so I might as well keep going. Then you have a few alcoholic drinks, you’re eating mac n’ cheese, a few slices of pizza, chips and salsa.
Then for the next several days and weeks after you continue doing this and now, you’re thinking again OMG I’m out of control. I need to get myself under control again before summer comes. Now you’re thinking about doing another Whole30 reset or a full Whole30 in March.
This is where you get trapped because you start swinging on the pendulum between doing Whole30 and going off the wagon and never learning anything. That is not the goal or intention of Whole30.
Whole30 is not meant for you to restrict for a while and party in the off season. Nor is it a healthy relationship with food, your body, your mindset and a lot of people seem to forget about this. Here’s where you’re doing it wrong.
You do a Whole30 in January, you go off the rails in February. You do a reset in March. You go on vacation in April. You do Whole30 again in May. Summer’s coming! Then during the summer you party and eat whatever you want mindlessly then in September you do a Whole30.
Then it’s the holidays and you’re partying again through the holidays because you know you’ll go back to Whole30 in January.
Now it might sound like I’m overexaggerating here, but I’m not. If you look around, you will see a lot of women are doing this. And this isn’t just unique to Whole30.
You can insert any other diet in the cycle I just described. This is the annual cycle of dieting most women are on. This is how most women are trying to lose weight.
This is not how you create a lifestyle you can until the day you die to keep weight off. But the reason many women do this is because they are rule followers.
I talked about this in podcast episode 68. What to eat to lose weight – you don’t trust yourself around food, you don’t trust your body and now you want the rules to losing weight. One of the things Whole30 does really well, is it gives you RULES!!!
If you follow Whole30, now you have rules to help you not overindulge. If you are relying on Whole30 to reset your cravings and lose weight, this often you are not improving your relationship with food. In fact, you are yo-yo dieting.
Whole30 is not supposed to be used as a dieting or weight loss tool, but that is how many women are using it now. If you are using it this way, you are yo-yo dieting. That is what you are doing.
As a reminder, Whole30 is a tool to be used occasionally. Remember what I said earlier, the Whole30 diet is an elimination diet.
If you are using it to reset your cravings and get yourself out under control and lose some weight, you are yo-yo dieting and are not using Whole30 for what it is intended for.
If you plan your Whole30’s around your vacations and holiday, you are in this yo-yo dieting camp. Your mindset during vacations and holidays is “I’m going to eat whatever I want because I’m doing Whole30” and I won’t be able to eat any of these things.
Bring on the donuts, pizza, cake, cookies, alcohol, all the fun foods because I won’t be able to eat those things on Whole30. I’m going to have fun now and I’ll reset my sugar cravings later.
This ladies is the mindset of someone who is a yo-yo dieter. This is why I asked you earlier to dig into your motivation behind doing Whole30 because I don’t want you to continue to make the same mistakes.
And don’t kid yourself by saying you’re just enjoying food on vacation or holidays when you do this. Because you can enjoy your vacation or holidays without eating donuts, pizza, cakes, wines, sugar filled Starbucks drinks, fries and chips for every day of your vacation and holidays.
How about you set a new goal for your vacation or holiday?
Enjoy your vacation with some wine, dessert or a special cookie from a unique café that you would never be able to get at home, but not feel like absolute junk when you get home from vacation or after the holiday and feel like you need to crash diet because of the stuff you ate.
Doesn’t that sound like a great vacation or holiday where you can actually allow yourself these foods, and not beat yourself up after it’s over?
When you allow yourself to make peace with food and your body, you don’t feel the need to overindulge on vacations and holidays. And if it does happen, you don’t beat yourself up and you don’t immediately crash diet or do a Whole30 because you need to get yourself under control.
A few days of getting back to your regular routine of eating, sleeping and moving your body – you will be just fine. No extra cardio, no juice cleanse, macros or restricting calories.
So, if you find yourself doing this yo-yo cycle. You’re really perfect following the rules of Whole30 and then you fall off the wagon after it’s done. You’re so perfect following the rules of Whole30 that when the rules are removed, you don’t know how to function.
This leads to you alternating between Whole30 and overindulging. Yo-yo dieting because if you don’t know how to function off the Whole30, it time to stop doing Whole30 because you’re relying on Whole30 as a crutch as the only way that you know how to make your body feel good.
But you’re not learning anything except how to restrict, how to overeat and repeat the cycle. You are not learning anything.
Some people do really well with Whole30 because they do really well with the yes/no foods lists. It’s black or white. It’s all or nothing. It’s easy because someone else has made the rules for you. You find freedom within the rules.
At night when you’re craving sweets or alcohol, it doesn’t matter because you’re on Whole30 and you’ve told yourself that this is what you’re doing. You’re not eating [fill in the blank] for 30 days so this is just what you’re doing.
For these people they do really well with black and white rules. They’re all in or they’re all out. So, for the actual 30 days, these people do really well, but then reintroduction time comes. For these people this is the hard part because for them the Whole30 is the only way that they feel good about their food choices.
You feel in control because you’re following the rules. You know what to do and there are no decisions you have to make. You actually feel like it’s easy because YOU don’t have to make any choices about your food. It’s already been done for you.
You don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re having ice cream and wine tonight because that decision has already been made for you. It’s become your default crash diet whenever you feel out of control, not feeling good about your body and your cravings are going crazy.
Using Whole30 in this way is not sustainable or healthy.
People are forgetting the sustainability part when they are trying to reach their health goals and lose weight. Here’s the thing to dig into – what is making you feel so out of control? What is making you not feel good about your body? Why do you think your cravings are going crazy?
Maybe you say I feel so out of control because I’ve been eating a lot of things lately that aren’t on my diet plan or on Whole30, my cravings are crazy and I’ve gained some weight and I want to lose it.
But why did that happen in the first place? Why have you been eating things not on your diet plan or on Whole30? Why are you alternating between strict dieting like Whole30 and overindulging and eating all the things?
I’ve been doing this a long time and I will tell you that it probably has nothing to do with food. It probably has something to do with your personal life. Your job, family, kids, friends, stress, emotions. Something else is making you want to eat so you feel in control because you feel like other things are out of control.
Now this is not just a problem with Whole30. I see this with women doing Keto, low carb, Paleo, WW, macro counting, calorie counting. People go on, they go off.
And they keep alternating between whatever diet they choose – they just keep going back and forth. They keep swinging back and forth on the pendulum.
What about finding the middle ground? That’s what I talk about in that podcast episode on consistency. Eating what makes you feel your best in your body most of the time and then sprinkling in fun foods occasionally.
But not overindulging in them and feeling horrible mentally, emotionally and beating yourself up and getting caught in the binge, guilt and restrict cycle then needing to do another diet or Whole30 to reset.
In the Whole30 program, it says people with eating disorders or disordered eating patterns should not do Whole30.
The reason is because it can become obsessive, it can become triggering the old behaviors and these people can continue to lean on it as a crutch and follow rules, the yes/no foods list under the disguise of I’m just eating real food without ever addressing the disordered eating behavior.
A lot of women are using food as a control mechanism because there are other aspects of their lives that they feel like they don’t have any control over which leads to these extreme behaviors with food.
Think about the real reason why you’re doing Whole30 and if it’s really right for you!