The Paleo diet has soared in popularity as experts tout its health and weight-loss benefits. Now, the Whole30 Diet, a stricter version of the Paleo eating plan, is making headlines for reducing disease-promoting inflammation, ABC News reported (see video above).
The Whole30 Diet is the brainchild of certified sports nutritionist Dallas and Melissa Hartwig (pictured above), who say you can lose 15 pounds in 30 days on their program. But more important than weight loss are the dramatic improvements you'll experience in your sleep, mood, skin and energy levels.
Weight Loss Not the Major Benefit
Melissa Hartwig is thrilled with the press attention the Whole30 plan is garnering, but is frustrated by the focus on the program's weight loss aspects, which she says is secondary to its health and disease-prevention benefits. "Mainstream media is getting it wrong," she blogged.
They’re labeling the Whole30 a 'quick-fix,' an 'extreme diet,' and a 'weight-loss plan.' They’re focusing on the scale, and not the incredible life-changing experiences you’re having with the program. [Here's] what the Whole30 is really about: Improved energy. Better sleep. Increased self-esteem. Happier moods. More regulated emotions. Reduced cravings. Better performance."
Like the Paleo diet, the Whole30 Diet emphasizes high-quality animal proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables, and excludes gluten, sugar, dairy, legumes, starches, alcohol and processed foods. Unlike the Paleo diet, the Whole30 Diet does not allow any cheating for 30 days. If you do cheat, you have to start all over again from day one.
The Whole30 Diet, detailed in the bestseller, It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30, works by preventing pro-inflammatory spikes in blood glucose and blood insulin. By limiting these surges in blood sugar, we dramatically reduce inflammation, which is what fuels weight gain and chronic disease.
The plan calls for eating three meals and no snacks and forbids dieters from weighing or measuring themselves for the month they're on the diet. Meal plans look like this:
- Vegetable soup topped with a fried or poached egg
- Ham burritos stuffed with egg and avocado and seared in coconut oil
- Broiled grapefruit with basil and coconut
- Roast beef over kale and cauliflower, tossed in lime juice
- Baked sweet potato with lettuce, chicken and grilled onions
- Jalapeno halves stuffed with shrimp and wrapped in bacon
- Poached salmon, blanched beans and squash mash
- Bacon, heirloom tomato, and basil frittata
- Fig and balsamic roasted chicken
To underscore that the Whole30 Diet isn't primarily for weight loss, Hartwig discourages weighing yourself the entire 30 days you're on the program.
"So many people are so obsessed with that number on the scale," she said. "The scale will blind you to all of the improvements you're seeing in your medical condition.
Hartwig said the Whole30 Diet has helped thousands of people reverse digestive problems, diabetes and heart disease.
Paleo Diet Proves Twice as Effective for Weight Loss
Meanwhile, the popularity of the Paleo diet continues unabated, as studies show it's twice as effective for producing weight loss and melting belly fat as low-fat diets. A two-year study conducted by scientists at Cambridge University and Umeå University in Sweden tracked 70 overweight, post-menopausal women who either followed a low-fat diet or a lower-carb (and higher-fat) Paleo diet.
Study participants were measured for weight, cholesterol and blood sugars after six months on their respective diets, and again after two years. The results showed the Paleo dieters lost more than twice as much weight (14 pounds) as the low-fat dieters (5.7 pounds). What's more, the low-carb, high-fat Paleo dieters lost 4 inches from their waists after six months, compared to just 2 inches for the low-fat dieters.
In previous studies, the Paleo diet has routinely beaten other diets for controlling cholesterol and diabetes. Proponents say the low-carb Paleo diet promotes rapid weight loss, lowers blood pressure, and prevents cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and even Alzheimer's.
Research shows the Paleo diet works especially well for women because it reduces the blood sugar spikes and hormone surges that fuel overeating and mood swings, said Nell Stephenson, author of Paleoista: Gain Energy, Get Lean.
“Clinical trials have shown the Paleo diet is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, help with weight loss, reduce acne, promote optimum health and athletic performance,” said Loren Cordain, author of The Paleo Answer.