You’ve got that one friend at the gym who started Instagramming every meal — Day 14, Meal 2 — whatever in the heck that means, and preaching the evils of protein bars and snacks.
They closed themselves in for several weeks, denying all your invitations for eating out or happy hour and emerged four weeks later, only to ask the waitress seventeen times about the type of oil the food was cooked in.
Their skin is radiant and they’re working out twice a day and still have the energy to chase their children around the house.
Yup, chances are you’ve got a Whole30-ier on your hands.
What is Whole30?
The Whole30 diet is the brainchild of Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. In their first book, “It Starts With Food,” the Hartwigs break down the Whole30 program. So first the no’s – no grains, no sugar, no alcohol, no dairy, no carrageen or MSGs, no sulfites, and no legumes. They program also strictly outlaws trying to recreate any sort of “healthy” versions of unhealthy foods – think Paleo pancakes or zucchini muffins.
So just who are these Hartwig people and where do they get off telling you to give up your protein bars and Diet Coke? Melissa is a certified sports nutritionist whereas Dallas’s credentials include being a certified sports nutritionist, a functional medicine practitioner and a licensed physical therapist. A.K.A. these guys probably know what they’re talking about.
For more information on the Whole30 diet, check out our article on it here.
People do Whole30 for different reasons. I completed my first Whole30 mainly because I like a challenge, but also because I wanted to lose some weight and get more on track with my health.
Weight loss is a great goal and completing a Whole30 will definitely help you reach that goal. However, there may be more reasons to do Whole30 than you realize. The Hartwigs refer to these as non-scale victories — victories that go way beyond just losing a few pounds or feeling a little better.
9 Unexpected Benefits of Completing Whole30
1. Skin, Hair and Nails
One of the most unexpected side effects of my first Whole30 was how lovely my skin looked after three weeks or so of no junk. In fact, my skin was almost…glowing. Any acne or small bumps were all but cleared up.
And it wasn’t just my skin. My hair was shiny and full. My nails were stronger than they’d ever been.
There’s no super science behind this, but it’s pretty common knowledge that better skin is a common side effect of cutting crap out of your diet. Remember your teenage years when your parents told you to skip out on the chocolate to avoid a breakout?
2. More Energy
Another yeah, duh moment is that you’ll have more energy when you’re doing your Whole30. I don’t mean a little more — I mean I can workout three times in one day and still feel great with minimal soreness. You will be amazed at your energy levels when you’re powering your body with one hundred percent healthy fuel all the time.
That being said, the energy won’t be instantaneous. In fact, expect some sluggishness the first week or two as your body adjusts to not being able to pull energy from it’s usual sources — sugar and carbs. Hang in there — all that green leafy junk will soon convert to superfuel and you’ll start enjoying what Melissa Hartwig refers to as tiger’s blood.
3. Better Sleep Patterns
In the Hartwig’s first book, It Starts With Food, they explain the science behind how what you’re eating affects your sleep patterns.
They explain it much better than I can, but essentially, you will fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and wake up easier while completing your Whole30. One of the benefits of eating only good food is that it helps regulate your hormone levels, meaning your body will shut down naturally and re-awake all on it’s own.
Don’t believe me? Set your alarm clock and wait for the magic to happen.
4. Stop Obsessing Over Weight
The Whole30 diet has a lot of do’s and don’ts, most of which pertain to food. However, one of the biggest rules is that you cannot weigh yourself at all during the 30 day period.
This is because the Whole30 program was never designed as a weight loss tool. Is that one of the many benefits of pumping your body full of quality food for 30 days? Sure. But the Hartwigs really push people to focus more on learning to break unhealthy habits with food and how to nourish their body properly and less on eating well to lose weight.
Remember, this is supposed to be a lifestyle change and/or reboot, not some fad diet.
5. Stay Sharp All Day Long
There’s no such thing as a 3 p.m. slump when you’re body is gathering energy from quality sources. Think of it this way — that late afternoon Diet Coke and candy bar are like a firecracker — a quick and intense burst of energy followed by a period of regret and astonishment that you still enjoy this sort of stuff.
On the other hand, a good quality meal — a lean meat with some yummy veggies for example, is more like an oil-burning lamp. Slow, steady and consistent. No more yawning at your desk or skipping the afternoon gym. You’ll be full of energy all day long until it’s time to lay your head on your pillow and then boom, a peaceful slumber will fall upon you.
6. Destroy Your Emotional Attachment to Food
I had a terrible day, so I’m going to stop and get a milkshake. I’ve had a wonderful day, I’m going to celebrate with a frappamochasugarchino. It’s national donut/pancake/ice cream/hot dog day, so I’ve got to eat one.
See how we tend to use our emotions to make decisions when it comes to eating food? With Whole30, not only do you learn how to recognize that sort of nonsense, but you also start learning how to control it. It’s hard at first — it’ll seem like all the fun has been sucked out of your life.
But hopefully by the end of the first month you will start to recognize other ways to have fun. Eating for fun is kind of a crazy concept anyway and once you learn how often you’re doing it, you can hopefully boot it out of your post-Whole30 lifestyle.
7. Manage and Reverse Symptoms of Serious Diseases
I’m not a doctor, but the anecdotal stories of people managing diseases through Whole30 is astounding. You’re probably rolling your eyes, but people have reported positive results with managing and even eliminating symptoms of diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis and even cerebral palsy by following a Whole30 diet plan. You can check out their testimonials here.
Do you live with the symptoms of a chronic disease? Again, we’re not doctors, but give Whole30 a whirl — it’s just 30 days — and see if eating better makes a difference in your ability to manage everything from pain to
8. Increase Your Fertility.
Sugar causes inflammation. By cutting sugar out of their diets through Whole30, some couples have seen a reduction in symptoms from diseases like endometriosis, which is ultimately an inflammatory disease that affects the female reproductive organs. In turn, they have been able to conceive after years of failed IVF treatments.
Because of these types of success stories, the Hartwigs have now developed the Healthy Mama, Happy Baby handbook, which provides safe guidelines for pregnant women doing Whole30, specifically to reduce discomfort while stimulating a healthy and safe pregnancy for mother and child.
9. Deal With Your Depression and Anxiety
Do you struggle with depression or anxiety? Scientists are currently studying the link between your gut health and your brain health. Yes, that’s right, what you eat could be affecting your brain chemistry.
People like AJ, who successfully learned to manage her anxiety through Whole30, agree that there is a definite link between what goes in your mouth and what goes on in your head.