The eating plan is all about eliminating foods that are thought to give you cravings, mess with your blood sugar levels and lead to tummy troubles. That means no dairy, grains, added sugar, alcohol, legumes and processed foods. Then, after 30 days, you slowly introduce those eliminated items back into your diet.
Fans of Whole30 say, if done correctly, the diet can serve as a reset and give you a pretty solid idea of what works for your body and what doesn’t. If you trip up, however, this diet can leave you feeling sluggish, bloated and downright cranky. Curious where the biggest slip-ups happen? Here are five common Whole30 mistakes to avoid so you can get the most out of the eating plan:
Restricting Too Much
Whole30 is an incredibly restrictive diet in terms of what food, drinks and even condiments are compliant with the program, and a lot of people tend to cut out way too much unintentionally.
“Say, on the diet, you’re really, really restrictive, then your body’s not getting what it needs for 30 days ― calorie-wise, energy-wise and fuel-wise,” Leah Groppo, a clinical dietitian at Stanford Health Care, told HuffPost.
When you deprive your body of essential nutrients, you could experience muscle loss, reduced bone strength and a weakened immune system. Additionally, when you severely limit your calories and lose weight very quickly, your metabolism can take a major hit. This makes it much harder to keep the weight off when the diet’s over and even cause you to pack on fat more quickly, according to Groppo. This pattern of eating can put you into a yo-yo dieting mode, which can be extremely harmful to your health and put a strain on your cardiovascular system.
“In the end, everyone wants results yesterday but the slower, steady, chug-along type of people tend to just have better outcomes,” Groppo said.
Misreading Nutrition Labels
A huge component of Whole30 is learning how to read nutrition labels. Many dieters, however, make the mistake of coasting through the Whole30 without ever figuring out how to decode them.
“The first thing you always want to look at on nutrition backs is servings per container,” Groppo said. “A lot of people in the U.S. like to eat one package or one bottle, and, oftentimes, the nutrition facts are not for the full bottle or full box ― it’s, like, five servings per container, so you have to be aware of your portions.”
That’s not the only faux pas when it comes to reading nutrition labels. A lot of dieters don’t take the time to understand and evaluate all the ingredients listed out on the labels. A lot of companies sneak added sugars or additives into their products, usually listed as “xylitol” or “saccharose.” In general, if it’s too difficult to pronounce, it’s probably off-limits.
Reintroducing Foods Too Quickly
Perhaps the hardest part of the diet comes when the 30 days are up, according to health experts.
“The biggest mistake I see is that people either try to reintroduce a particular food ― dairy, wheat ― in large quantities,” said Dr. Michael Bass, a gastroenterologist with GI Specialists of Delaware. “Food effects are very dose dependent. Your gut microbiome is different after 30 days of an elimination diet.”
For example, if you reintroduce dairy to your diet by eating a ton of pizza, you’re probably going to run into some digestive issues. This doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t eat dairy, but rather that you ate too much of it too soon.
When it comes to reintroducing foods to your diet, moderation is key. Having minor issues at first could very well just be your body getting used to those foods again. However, if those issues persist or are severe, there’s a good chance you’re sensitive to that particular food, according to Bass.
Getting Carried Away With Snacks
Just because you can eat certain foods on the Whole30 diet, does not mean you should eat them whenever and however you’d like.
“Foods that are higher in calories ― such as nut butters, bacon, etc. ― although permitted on the Whole30 diet, they should be consumed in moderation. It is vital to stress that you need to be mindful about overindulging on these foods as calories can add up,” said Priya Khorana, a doctor of nutrition education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
A lot of Whole30 dieters overdo it with nuts, like almonds. The recommended serving size is about 20 nuts ― or one handful ― but it can be easy to lose track and down an entire bag while snacking. That’s a 400-plus calorie mistake right there, which can bring your dieting efforts to a screeching halt.
Repeating The Diet Too Frequently
Whole30 isn’t one of those diets you should do again and again. If you lose track or if your symptoms or allergies come back, it may be worth another go. In general, though, the Whole30 diet does not need to be repeated.
“[Restrictive diets] can slow your metabolism and are not meant to be a permanent way of eating. Nutrient deficiencies can be a concern, and putting yourself at risk for this is a no-no,” Khorana said.
Whole30 is not designed to be a quick weight-loss solution, either. Rather, it’s meant to improve your eating habits by teaching you which foods help your body and which foods hurt it. Be mindful of all these warnings before you dive in.