Revive Reviews: Whole 30 Diet

The premise of the Whole30 diet is pretty self-explanatory.  Eat whole foods for 30 days.  That’s it!


Here are the rules: for 30 days, you must eliminate all grains, added sugar (real or artificial), beans and legumes, dairy, additives/preservatives, and baked goods or “junk” food (including alcohol).  Focus only on eating whole foods comprising of meats, veggies, and seafood. If you “slip” even once, you have now reset your gut back to square one and you must start again from the beginning for the program to “work”.

What are my thoughts?

In theory, the Whole30 diet is actually an elimination diet.  It’s meant to restore energy, cure aches and pains, reduce levels of inflammation in the body, and heal the gut.  This is NOT a weight loss diet.  Surprised? I was. Everything I have seen and heard about it was regarding weight loss, not trying to identify gut triggers.

We work with a lot of clients with gut issues, and while I can confirm that many of foods the Whole30 diet eliminates can be gut triggers, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and there is no universal elimination diet! Gut inflammation is a legitimate issue; however it is a matter of identifying personal triggers and what symptoms or conditions are present.  People will often re-experience symptoms if they consume one of their trigger foods, but it does not necessarily reverse all healing and un-do their work of restoring the gut. The timeline is the other wild-card. We often see improvements in less than 30 days, but research shows it could take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to see improvements in gut health. (Reference:

Other than the ‘blanket’ elimination diet this program provides, what struck me the most is the perfectionist approach.  This diet screams All or Nothing Mentality, or the feeling of “I want to do it all and do it perfectly or not do it at all”. This is a very hard standard to live up to, especially when trying to facilitate long-term change.  The language is inspirational, but almost shaming.  Statements like, “no cheats, slips, or special occasions” and “commit to the full program, exactly as written, 100% for the full 30 days. Anything less and you are selling yourself—and your lifechanging results—short makes me feel overwhelmed. Right on the website, there is also a line that promotes “returning for another round”.  If you are making changes that stimulate those lifechanging results and have identified your gut triggers, why would you need to return for another round?

What about the weight loss component?

Here’s where I think the weight loss component enters.  If you remove the majority of carbohydrates (grains, fruit, dairy, beans, and many processed foods) from your diet and focus on protein and vegetables (just like Paleo, Atkins, and many more), the body will shed water weight.  If there is any bloating occurring in the gut, water retention will be lost from there as well, resulting in better fitting clothes and less pain.  Weight loss may continue to occur over the 30 days as the body has reduced carbohydrate intake (and likely reduced calorie intake overall).  When carbohydrate rich sources return in the reintroduction phase and as you transition back to your “normal” pattern of eating (higher calorie level likely), your weight may re-bound and gut symptoms may return.  Or, if you felt you didn’t commit fully to the program because of that one lick of ice cream, the desire to start again and “do it right this time” will be very strong.

Your journey to health, whether it is freedom from gut symptoms or healthy sustainable weight loss does not require perfection, nor does it only take 30 days.  It takes failure, then successes, then failing again, then more successes, until eventually the successes outweigh the failures.

So is this diet a complete flop? Not necessarily. Here’s what I like about the Whole30:

  • Eat whole foods. This is a great recommendation! Stay away from the preservatives and processed foods and keep the ingredients to a minimum. Your gut and overall health will definitely benefit.
  • Be mindful. This program does an excellent job of encouraging mindfulness around the treats and extras. They are ultimately trying to discourage you away from them, but there is a lot of good strategies to be aware of.
  • Reintroduce foods carefully and slowly. Pay attention to what foods make you feel good and what foods irritate the gut. This will set you up for success long-term.

If gut health is your ultimate goal – please seek help from a professional. There are so many contributing components and a 30 day trial of one type may not give you answers you are looking for.

If weight loss, improved health, and sustainable lifestyle choices are your overall goal, 30 days will not be enough to provide the changes you are looking for.  Babies slip and fall when learning to walk all the time, yet we don’t belittle them or expect them to run on their second, third, or even 10th attempt.  Give yourself grace and patience, and always feel like at any point and time, you can get back up and keep trying.



By Raina Beugelink – Registered Dietitian (aka Nutritionist)

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