- The Whole30 diet is cutting dairy, alcohol, legumes, added sugars, and processed foods for 30 days.
- Potential risks include constipation and an inability to keep off weight lost while following it.
- The diet may also be expensive to follow, as it can involve buying a lot of meat and fresh produce.
Any alteration to your eating pattern comes with the chance you will experience side effects — and the restrictive Whole30 diet, although designed to be temporary, comes with some risks.
The Whole30 diet is an eating pattern in which participants eliminate dairy, alcohol, grains, legumes, added sugars, and processed foods from their diets for 30 days. Those who follow the diet are encouraged to eat plenty of meat, poultry, seafood, and fresh produce.
Insider spoke to Bonnie Taub-Dix, dietitian, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of “Read it Before You Eat It — Taking You From Label To Table,” about some of the biggest risks of the Whole30 diet.
You may not be able to keep off the weight you lose while following the diet
If you try Whole30, you may lose some weight. But because the diet varies so vastly from the eating habits most people usually follow, the weight probably won’t stay off after the 30 days are over.
“When someone goes on a diet like this, I would be shocked if they didn’t lose weight quickly because [they’re] cutting out so many foods,” Taub-Dix told Insider. “But the weight loss is most likely not long-term. I see this with clients who have been on this diet and a million others.”
The diet will cause you to eliminate entire food groups, which isn’t always a great idea
According to the diet’s official website, Whole30 eliminates grains, legumes, alcohol, dairy, and added sugar in the name of preventing inflammation.
Although the elimination of some of these foods may benefit certain people, Taub-Dix said eliminating whole grains and legumes may be too extreme for others.
“They call these foods inflammatory, but some foods like legumes and whole grains can actually fight inflammation and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels,” she said.
“Any diet that eliminates an entire food group is a diet you should just walk away from,” Taub-Dix added.
Eliminating certain foods may cause you to experience digestive issues and discomfort
Suddenly removing fiber-filled grains and legumes from your diet while also increasing your animal-based protein intake may cause you more harm than good in terms of digestion.
“You’re missing out on fiber in foods like legumes, whole grains, and bran, so constipation could be a problem with this diet,” Taub-Dix said.
Not eating processed foods might cause you to be missing out on some nutrients
The Whole30 diet has followers cut out foods that are processed, which may lead many to believe that all foods that are technically processed are unhealthy, but this isn’t exactly true.
“I love the idea of eating foods that are as close as the way they were to when they grew in the ground but the fact is that the word ‘processed’ is not a dirty word,” Taub-Dix told Insider. “If you took a carrot home from the farmer’s market and you peeled it and cut it and washed it, you processed it.”
In fact, according to Taub-Dix, some “processed” foods, like canned tomatoes, may actually contain more nutrients than tomatoes you buy at the grocery store, which can lose nutrients in transport. In addition, frozen vegetables, which are technically processed, can also be just as good for you as the fresh version.
“Highly processed and ultra-processed foods, those are foods you can definitely live a lot better without,” Taub-Dix told Insider. “But processed foods are not all bad news.”
Whole30 may be more expensive to follow than your normal diet
“Some people find the diet is more expensive,” Taub-Dix told Insider. “They may not necessarily be buying things in season, they may just be buying things on their diet. So, for some people, it may actually be more expensive or they may find that it isn’t accessible for them where they live.”
This is likely because the diet eliminates some lower-cost plant-based protein sources, like beans and tofu, and replaces them with meat-based and poultry-based protein sources that can be more costly.
In addition, Whole30 involves a lot of fresh produce that can also be a bit on the pricey side, especially if you are buying fruits and veggies that are out of season.