Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (2024)

Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (1)

The Original Whole30 Program Rules

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In a 2023 survey of 690 Whole30 participants, 97% said they achieved most or all of their program goals.

Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (2)Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (3)Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (4)

Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (5)

30 days to radically transform your health, habits, and relationship with food

The Original Whole30 has two phases: 30 days of elimination and 10 (or more) days of reintroduction. During elimination, your meals will include meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables and fruit; natural, healthy fats; and fresh herbs, spices, and seasonings. You won’t have to count or restrict calories, track your food, or limit your portions. You’ll eat real, whole foods to satiety, inspired by hundreds of delicious, satisfying, and diverse recipes.

The list of foods you’ll eliminate in the first phase can seem intimidating. But you’ve got our entire community to support you; tons of free recipes, articles, and resources; eight Whole30 books to guide your journey, and testimonials from thousands of people just like you who were also intimidated—until the program started to change their life.

Read through our Whole30 Timeline and preview the journey ahead. And remember, it’s only 30 days.

Read our Whole30 Timeline

The Whole30 en Español

Review the Original Whole30 Program Rules in Spanish

Spanish Original Whole30 Rules

Whole30 Elimination: 30 days

This is a list of the food and beverage groups you’ll eliminate in the first phase of the Original Whole30 program. To accurately identify any specific food sensitivities, you must commit to the complete elimination of these groups for 30 straight days.

This includes agave nectar, brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, date syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses, monk fruit extract, stevia (Truvia), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), erythritol, and xylitol. The only exception is 100% fruit juice (see the Fine Print).

This includes wine, champagne, beer, hard cider, hard kombucha, vodka, rum, gin, whiskey, tequila, etc., in any form (drinking, as an ingredient, or for cooking).

This includes wheat, rye, barley, triticale, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways wheat, corn, and rice are added to foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on.

This includes beans (black, red, pinto, navy, garbanzo/chickpeas, white, kidney, lima, fava, cannellini, lentils, adzuki, mung, cranberry, and black-eyes peas); peanuts (including peanut butter or peanut oil); and all forms of soy (soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy protein, soy milk, or soy lecithin). Exceptions are green beans and most peas (see the Fine Print).

This includes cow’s-, goat’s-, or sheep’s-milk products like milk, cream, cheese, cottage cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt. The only exceptions are clarified butter or ghee (see the Fine Print).

This includes baked goods made with alternative flours (bread, tortillas, wraps, crackers, pizza or pie crust, biscuits, pancakes, crepes, waffles, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, and brownies); pasta or noodles made with alternative flour; cereals made with alternative flour; chips (including potato, sweet potato, tortilla, plantain, taro, or cassava chips); French fries or tots. (See the Pancake Rule.)

No stepping on the scale, taking measurements, or analyzing body fat during the 30-day elimination phase, please. This may be the hardest rule of them all, but please trust us. Your Original Whole30 is about so much more than weight loss, and fixating on body composition means you’ll miss out on a multitude of life-changing benefits this program has to offer. Read more about our perspective on the Whole30 and weight loss.

These foods are allowed during the elimination phase:

  • Fruit juice, even if used as a sweetener
  • Green beans
  • Most peas (sugar snap, snow, green, yellow, and split peas)
  • Ghee or clarified butter
  • Coconut aminos (made from fermented coconut syrup)
  • Alcohol-based botanical extracts (like vanilla, lemon, or lavender)
  • Certain vinegars (champagne, red wine, sherry, white wine; or rice)
  • Iodized salt (which contains dextrose as a stabilizer)

Whole30 Reintroduction: 10+ days

Immediately following elimination, you’ll reintroduce these food groups one at a time, returning to the elimination phase for 2-3 days between each reintroduction group. Foods are reintroduced in order of least likely to be problematic to most likely to be problematic.

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Added sugar (optional)

Add some form of sugar to each of your Whole30 meals. (Ex: honey in your tea, sweetened coffee creamer, honey mustard salad dressing, sweetened almond butter.)

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Legumes

Add beans, lentils, peanuts, and/or soy in any form to an otherwise Whole30 meal, for each of your meals that day.

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Non-gluten grains

Add rice, corn, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, or amaranth in any form to an otherwise Whole30 meal, for each of your meals that day.

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Dairy

Add milk, cream, cheese, cottage cheese, kefir, yogurt, or sour cream to an otherwise Whole30 meal, for each of your meals that day.

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Gluten-containing grains

Add gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye, barley, or triticale) in any form (bread, rolls, pasta, crackers, wraps, cereal) to an otherwise Whole30 meal, for each of your meals that day.

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Alcohol (optional)

Reintroduce alcohol (gluten-containing or gluten-free) to an otherwise Whole30 meal by enjoying 1-2 glasses of wine, beer, cider, or your liquor of choice.

Hungry for inspiration?

Start cooking

EntréeSoups, Stews and ChilisWhole30 Hamburger SoupThis hamburger soup is a favorite recipe from our family archives!
Dips, Sauces and DressingsBest of Whole30 Recipes: Dips, Sauces and DressingsOur @whole30recipes Instagram feed brings you delicious, Whole30 compatible recipes all day, every day.
Appetizers and SnacksDips, Sauces and DressingsEvents and HolidaysPopular RecipesWhole30 ApprovedWhole30 Buffalo Chicken DipTry this Whole30 Buffalo Chicken Dip for any easy appetizer or dinner with minimal prep.
Dips, Sauces and DressingsEntréeSaladsWhole30 Burger Bowl with Special SauceThese Whole30 Burger Bowls with Special Sauce are loaded with all the classic fixings + an optional "cheese" sauce for an easy, anytime meal.
Dips, Sauces and DressingsChicken Salad with Yai’s Thai Almond Sauce
Entrée3 Whole30 Burger Recipes to Kickstart SummerWhether you’re in the backyard, at the beach, or out on the fire escape, there’s something about biting into a juicy burger that just feels like summertime.

Since April 2009, millions of people have successfully completed the Whole30 program with stunning, life-changing results.

Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (20)Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (21)

Testimonials

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I cannot put into words how Whole30 has impacted my life: Maria’s Story
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There is no doubt that the Whole30 program had a huge hand in my preconception health and body’s preparedness to conceive: Kristyn’s Story
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I dropped my cholesterol from 201 to 164: Lauren’s Story
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Through reintroduction, I learned how certain foods affect me, and how to make informed decisions about what I eat: Don’s Story
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My PCOS symptoms completely vanished, and my diagnosis was removed entirely just one year later: Jennifer’s Story
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Three weeks into Whole30, I was a new person. By the last day I knew that my life was forever changed. I felt AMAZING: Sabrina’s Story
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My family needs me and I choose to be healthy: Jakelia’s Story
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By the end of my Whole30, I saw a dramatic difference in my energy levels: Pri’s Story
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Whole30 changed my view of food: Andy’s Story
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I feel a sense of peace and serenity that I haven’t felt in years: Cathy’s Story
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Your food freedom is right around the corner

Food freedom is the final stop on your Whole30 journey. It’s where you take the information you’ve learned from elimination and reintroduction and use it to create a joyful, sustainable diet for you, according to your definition of health.

In your food freedom, you’ll know which foods are worth it, and which foods lead to unwanted symptoms in your body. You’ll be able to make confident, informed decisions about when, how often, and how much to include these foods in your diet in a way that feels balanced and sustainable, but still keeps you feeling exactly as good as you want to feel.

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FAQs

Find the answers to all of your Original Whole30 questions

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Both programs offer a 30-day elimination and structured reintroduction period, with the goal of identifying food sensitivities, creating new habits, and restoring a healthy relationship with food. The Original and Plant-Based Whole30 programs differ only in their protein and fat sources, and in the length of time the programs have been available.The Original Whole30, founded in 2009, includes high-quality animal protein and encourages the use of some animal fats while eliminating legumes, including peanuts and soy.The Plant-Based Whole30 was launched in March 2022, after two years in development. The Plant-Based Whole30 does not include any animal protein and fats. It uses beans, lentils, peas, soy, compatible protein powders, nuts, and seeds to ensure adequate protein; and includes only plant-based fat sources.

We discuss the specific research behind the elimination categories in our Science Behind Whole30 articles. It’s important to note that though these food groups are commonly problematic (to varying degrees, across a broad range of people), we aren’t eliminating them because they’re “bad.” There are no universally “good” or “bad” foods, and Whole30 does not assign morality to food. We eliminate these groups because they’re unknown—they can be problematic, and you won’t know exactly if or how they are problematic for you until you eliminate them, reintroduce them, and compare your experience. Read the Science Behind the Original Whole30, or the Science Behind the Plant-Based Whole30 articles.

Habit research says it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 (!) days to make a habit stick, depending largely on how emotionally tied you are to that habit. However, one study in 2021 found on average, a new habit takes 59 days to solidify. Creating new habits with food can be an emotional challenge, but asking someone to follow a strict elimination protocol for two months (or longer) isn’t reasonable or necessary for our purposes. In our decade-plus of clinical experience, we’ve found 30 days is the sweet spot. It’s long enough for you to see dramatic, life-changing results, but short enough to make the program feel attainable. (And when you factor in 10-14 days of reintroduction, you’re already three-quarters of the way to that 59-day benchmark!)*Source: The British Psychological Society

We don’t recommend it. The first week or two of the program can be difficult, emotionally and physiologically. It takes time for your body to learn to burn fat instead of sugar, your taste buds to adapt, your cravings to subside, and your digestion to smooth out. Improvements in pain, fatigue, and other symptoms can take even longer to materialize. By staying in the elimination phase for less than 30 days, you’d experience all of the difficult parts without experiencing much (if any) of the potential benefits. Plus, you made yourself a promise to complete the Whole30, not the Whole22 or Whole27. Keep that promise to yourself, trust the process (and the results of millions of people who have come before you), and firmly commit to completing all 30 days. Read more about the Whole30 Timeline here.

In some cases, this can be a good idea. Extending elimination to 45 or even 60 days might be helpful for those who have already seen marked improvements in their health condition, and believe extending elimination will bring further benefits. (This is especially true for those with autoimmune conditions or chronic pain or fatigue, which can be slower to respond to dietary interventions.) However, unless your healthcare provider recommends it, we suggest you limit elimination to no longer than 90 days.Note, if you just like the comfort the Whole30 rules provide or are anxious about the impact of reintroducing certain food groups (like grains or added sugar), those aren’t good reasons to extend your Whole30. Elimination programs like the Whole30 aren’t meant to be followed long-term. There may not be health benefits associated with you continuing to eliminate all of these food groups, and there can be negative mental health consequences from restricting food groups unnecessarily. The goal of the Whole30 is to help you create your own ideal, sustainable diet (your food freedom) and you won’t get there by continuing to follow our rules. Use the last week of your Whole30 elimination to prepare for reintroduction, and take one step closer to your own food freedom plan.

That’s not really a question, but we know what you mean. The Pancake Rule eliminates baked goods, foods-with-no-brakes, and treats, even if they’re made with technically compatible ingredients. Remember, the program isn’t just about identifying food sensitivities. It’s about creating new healthy habits, and examining your emotional relationship with food. You may not turn to all of the foods that fall under the Pancake Rule, but we ask that you eliminate them anyway. Think about it this way—if you’re not that into pancakes, tortillas, or potato chips, it should be easy to avoid them for 30 days.

Elimination diets are meant to be strictly followed—for good reason. Eating even small amounts of foods to which you are sensitive can disrupt the process and interrupt your healing. Complete elimination, on the other hand, can bring about improvements in any number of symptoms or negative health effects, and makes it easier to identify potentially problematic food(s) during reintroduction. Should you consume something from the elimination group during the first 30 days (accidentally or otherwise), we generally recommend starting your elimination over again from Day 1, to ensure you obtain as many benefits from the program as possible. However, you are responsible for your own Whole30. We’re going to give you our best recommendations based on science and our vast experience, but no one is going to come to your house to check up on you. To read more about this question, click here.

We’d really rather you not, but it’s not a rule. In our experience, tracking is most often associated with weight loss efforts. The very act of logging and counting calories, points, or macros can immediately put your brain into “eat less” mode, or create stress around the number. This can take your Whole30 into unhealthy territory, where you’re further restricting foods, macros, or calories unnecessarily. Don’t let a calorie-counting app mess with your head; your body knows how much you need to eat better than any calculator on the internet. Let the Whole30 reconnect you with your body, and let those signals (hunger, fullness, cravings, mood, energy, and athletic performance) guide your portions. Read this Dear Melissa article for more.

If that’s the case, please follow all of your healthcare provider’s recommendations. Your doctor’s orders always supersede Whole30 program rules. Work closely with your provider before, during, and after your Whole30 to ensure you are implementing the program in the way that is best for your context, health history, and goals.

The Whole30 isn’t a weight-loss diet. The program can bring a huge number of non-scale victories (NSVs); improvements in energy, sleep, cravings, mood, digestion, chronic pain and fatigue, joint pain and swelling, acne, allergies, asthma, anxiety, migraines, and any number of symptoms. Those benefits will spill over into every area of your life—but they aren’t reflected on the scale! If you remain fixated on your body weight, you might not notice the other benefits you’re experiencing on the program. During your Whole30, give yourself a well-deserved break from the scale. Stop allowing the number to dictate your self-confidence and worth, and open yourself up to the magic that can happen when you change the food you put on your plate. If it’s really important to you, you can weigh yourself after your program is over—but before you do, please read this.

Yes. (Can we just say that?) Reintroduction is a necessary part of every elimination program. It’s where you learn the most about the way various foods impact you, and helps you identify food sensitivities or adverse reactions. Without reintroduction, you’ll miss half of the learning experience of the Whole30. (And that feels like a big bummer, considering how hard it is to give up the foods you love for 30 days.) Be patient, take your time with reintroduction, and use that knowledge to fuel your food freedom. We promise, it’ll be worth the extra few days. For more on Original Whole30 reintroduction, read this. For more on the Plant-Based Whole30 reintroduction, read this.

Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (33)Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (34)

The opinions and/or information presented in this article is in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical treatment, and should only be used in conjunction with the guidance, care, and approval of your physician. Nothing herein is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before making any dietary or lifestyle changes.

Original Whole30 Rules — The Whole30® Program (2024)
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