Whole30 Beginner’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

The Beginners Guide to Whole30

This Beginners Guide to Whole30 can help set you up for success. Whole30 can be overwhelming. The rules are simple but it’s easy to mess up. But with a little planning and knowledge, you’ll be able to complete the Whole30.

Whole30 is an amazing program that can change the way you think about food. I have completed 5 rounds of Whole30 and each time I do it I have amazing results. I lose weight, sleep better, have glowing skin, and feel amazing.

This beginner’s guide to Whole30 is everything you need to know to dominate your first round!

This Beginners Guide to Whole30 can set yourself up for success. Whole30 is overwhelming. With some planning and knowledge, you'll dominate the Whole30.

What is Whole30

Whole30 is an elimination reset. Where you will cut out not-so-healthy foods from your diet for 30 days. Certain foods have negative impacts on your health. So for 30 days, you will be observing how different you feel when you do not eat these foods.

Eliminate the following items from your diet

  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Specific additives Carrageenan, MSG, and added Sulfites

After 30 days, you will start the next step, reintroduction. On day 31, the reintroduction phase begins. The reintroduction phase is to evaluate how the eliminated foods make you feel. Now that you have a clean slate. 

You will be reintroducing the eliminated foods one at a time. Read more about Reintroduction here.

How to get started with Whole30

Read it Starts with Food

It’s important to read the book! You need to understand what the program is before you commit. It explains why the eliminated food groups are not so good for you and the science behind the diet.

Clean out your kitchen

If you can, get rid of anything that would tempt you to fall off of the program. Cookies, chips, soda, ice cream, wine, and beer. Whatever would tempt you, get rid of it.

I know you can’t always get rid of everything tempting. You may not be able to toss out the beer that your spouse drinks. Or the cookies and chips your kids’ snack on.

So try to put everything that might tempt you in a separate cupboard so you don’t have to see it. Or put refrigerated things that might tempt you at the bottom of the fridge. So you don’t always see it when you open the door.

Meal Plan

Plan out your meals each week so you’ll know what to eat ahead of time. This will help set you up for success.  Head to Pinterest to find some amazing recipes. Or check out some Whole30 food bloggers.

Go Shopping

Now that you have meals planned, make a list and go shopping. While at the store make sure to check the ingredients for sugar, soy, and the five off-limit additives.

Stock up on your proteins. Make sure you have plenty of meat, seafood, and eggs. Next, make sure to get A LOT of vegetables. You will be having them with each meal.

Another important item to make sure you have enough of is healthy fats. Make sure you have enough nuts, nut butter, avocados, olives, and coconut milk. Also, healthy cooking oil such as olive, coconut, avocado, clarified butter, and ghee.

Also, it’s a good idea to stock your pantry with compliant ingredients. That way you will have a supply of ingredients on hand. 

Meal Prep

Cooking and prepping your meals for the week will make life much easier. You’ll be less likely to fall off track because you’ll have food already prepared. You can go all out and make all your meals for the week. Or you can have items of your meals prepped. That way when dinner comes along you can quickly throw together a meal. 

This Beginners Guide to Whole30 can set yourself up for success. Whole30 is overwhelming. With some planning and knowledge, you'll dominate the Whole30.

Tips for a Successful Whole30

  • Start drinking your coffee black before you start
  • Find support
  • Let everyone know you are starting the Whole30
  • Take your measurements and weigh yourself before you start
  • print out common additives worksheet

Drink your coffee Black 

One of the reasons I started the Whole30 is because of my sugar addiction. Before my first round, I would scoop spoonfuls of sugar into my coffee cup. So about a month before I started the Whole30, I started to drink my coffee black.

I wanted to know if I liked coffee or if I only wanted the sugar. It turned out I love coffee as it is. I don’t need to add anything to my morning cups. This is the one habit I was able to keep after many rounds of Whole 30. After 3 years I still continue to enjoy my coffee black.

If you can’t go without having a cup of coffee in the morning. Start drinking your coffee black before you start a round. Because a lot of things will be changing when you start your first round. And if you are like me and need coffee in the morning it’s better to find out if you can drink it black ahead of time. 

Of course, now there are compliant creamers you can use if you can’t drink your coffee black. Nut Pods are a tasty option. You can find these in most grocery stores as well.

Find Support

Having someone doing the Whole30 with you can make it a lot easier to get through the next 30 days. Ask your family, spouse, or BFF to join you on this journey. But, if no one wants to take this leap with you try joining a Facebook group.

I have done all my rounds solo. And I found that being a part of a Whole30 Facebook group helped me get through. Whenever I needed inspiration or was struggling to continue I would scroll through the feed. I would find that others were feeling the same. It was helpful knowing that I wasn’t alone.

Tell the World You’re Starting the Whole30

It’s helpful to tell the people in your life that you are starting the Whole30. That way they’re not surprised when you turn down dessert. Or pass on going out to get some drinks at happy hour. They might even want to join you once they find out what you’re up to!

Weigh and Measure Before You Start

One of the Whole30 rules is to not weigh yourself during your round. The reason for this rule is that this is not a diet. You are not supposed to focus on how many pounds you will lose. The focus of Whole30 is to improve your relationship with food. 

So to follow the rules make sure to weigh and take your measurements before your first day. Tracking your weight during the next 30 days could be discouraging.

If you weighed yourself weekly you may find that you haven’t lost any weight. And once you discovered that you haven’t lost a pound you may head straight to your freezer. Pull out a tub of ice cream and dive in face first.

Your weight can fluctuate for many reasons. So put away the scale and forget about weighing yourself.

Print out the Common Additives Sheet

I have failed several rounds. Because I did not search for the off-limit additives in the ingredients of what I was eating. 

The 5 off-limit additives are:

  • Carrageenan
  • Corn Starch
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Sulfites

Once you start reading labels you’ll find out how common these additives are. You can print out the off-limit additives sheet here. Hang the printout on your refrigerator and make sure to remember these!

Whole30 Rules You Need to Know


SWAPO short for sex with your pants on. You can’t recreate foods with compliant ingredients. Such as brownies or banana pancakes. Yes, banana pancakes only have bananas and eggs. These are compliant ingredients. But you are recreating a less healthy meal option. 

SWAPO can be a little tricky. But, if you are recreating a food you would binge on don’t do it. So banana ice cream is a healthier version of ice cream. But you’re substituting for the craving. Rather than conquering the unhealthy craving. 


Though smoothies can be made with compliant ingredients the creators of the program would rather you eat your food than drink eat. 


Make sure to eat enough during each meal. No snacking is not a rule. But eating between meals is not encouraged. If you do need to eat between meals consider a mini-meal. And make sure to have protein, veggies, and healthy fat. Don’t snack on vegetables or fruits alone. 

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is allowed on the program as a sweetener only. So you can’t drink fruit juice but you can use orange, apple, or other fruit juices as part of recipes.

This Beginners Guide to Whole30 can set yourself up for success. Whole30 is overwhelming. With some planning and knowledge, you'll dominate the Whole30.

Common Questions About Whole30

What can I drink on Whole30?

Water is not the only option when doing Whole30. You have a variety of different drinks to quench your thirst. 

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Sparkling Water
  • Kombucha 
  • Nut Milk


Coffee is ok on the Whole30. But you can not add sugar or sweetened creamers. Don’t worry though if you can’t drink your coffee black you can try compliant creamers like Nutpods. Or try making bulletproof coffee.


Tea is a great way to change things up when you get bored with your beverages. It’s good hot or cold. Also, there are so many different flavors of tea to choose from. But be sure to check your labels. Many teas have added sugar and other additives, like soy. 


You can have Kombucha on the Whole30. But make sure you read the labels. Some brands of Kombucha have added sugar. Many brands add sugar to the drink after the fermentation process. But there are brands that don’t. GT Kombucha does not have added sugar and it is a popular brand.

Nut Milk

Different kinds of nut milk such as almond or coconut milk are compliant for the Whole30. But again check your labels. Many nut milks contain carageen, an off-limit additive. Also, some have added sugar. Nut milk is a good substitute if you normally drink a glass of milk. Or to add to your coffee and tea.

Check out my other post if you want more information about Whole30 Approved Drinks.

What’s not allowed on Whole30?

  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • Off limit additives

Eating sugar in any form is not allowed. That even means no natural sugars such as honey or maple syrup. Make sure to check your labels because sugar hides everywhere. I was most surprised it is in chicken broth. Why does chicken broth need sugar?

Sugar adds a lot of empty calories to your diet and is often over consumed. Many of us crave sugar and it is a habit that is hard to break.

Alcohol doesn’t make us any healthier. Also, it is easy to over-consume. Leading to poor food choices. No drinking alcohol for 30 days. Also, you can not cook with it.

Do not eat grains. That means no type of flour of any kind. This also includes rice and corn.

Legumes can provide less nutrition compared to vegetables and fruits. Do not eat beans of any kind. Also, no chickpeas, lentils, or peanuts. Peas were once excluded but are now allowed on Whole30.

Do not eat soy in any form. This includes soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, and edamame. You will also have to check labels for hidden ingredients like soybean oil and soy lecithin.

Avoid eating dairy while on the Whole30. No animal milk product of any kind. Examples are cheese, butter, yogurt, kefir, sour cream, and cottage cheese.

One exception to the dairy rule is clarified butter and ghee are allowed. Clarified butter and ghee have the milk solids removed from the butter oil. So these items are dairy-free and a great option to use in place of butter.

The 5 off-limit additives are carrageenan, msg, add sulfites, corn starch, and soy lecithin. If any of these ingredients are in packaged foods don’t eat them while on Whole30.

What can you eat on the Whole30 plan?


If it’s in your budget choose proteins that are grass-fed and organic. For seafood try to buy wild-caught. 


You will be eating A LOT of vegetables during a round of Whole30. Plan on having a serving of veggies with each meal. All vegetables except for corn and lima beans are allowed on Whole30. 

Peas were once not allowed on the Whole30. But, a recent change now allows all peas. So you can have sugar snap peas, snow peas, green peas, yellow peas, and split peas.


You can eat fruit on the Whole30. But, how much you eat depends. In the summertime, you will most likely eat more fruit because it’s fresh and readily available. In the wintertime, you will most likely eat less because a lot of fruit is not in season.

Also, another factor to consider is why are you reaching for that piece of fruit? If you’re grabbing a banana to tame your sugar craving then you are not really helping yourself overcome your sugar dragon. 

Healthy Fats

You should have a healthy fat with every meal. Healthy fats help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. That way you aren’t searching the cupboards between meals for something to snack on. 

This Beginners Guide to Whole30 can set yourself up for success. Whole30 is overwhelming. With some planning and knowledge, you'll dominate the Whole30.
Examples of Healthy Fats are:
  • Avocado
  • Nut (not peanuts)
  • Olives
  • Coconut Milk
  • Coconut Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Ghee

What are the benefits of Whole30?

Non-Scale Victories

While on Whole30 you will most likely experience many non-scale victories. This can include your improved physical appearance. Or feeling physically better on the inside. Also, your mood can improve meaning you could feel happier or less stressed. Here is a download for more examples of Non-Scale Victories.

Tiger Blood

Tiger Blood is when your energy is through the roof. People usually start feeling it during days 16 to 27. Other than having more energy you may feel like you can focus better too. Tiger blood may not happen for everyone but it is something to look forward to when on the Whole30 program.

Can I do Whole30 forever?

You can choose to stay on the Whole30 forever if you want to. After the first 30 days, you can keep going for as long as you like. But Melissa Hartwig, the creator of Whole30, recommends not going longer than 60 days.

Because Whole30 is to teach you how to make healthier food choices. You need to learn how less healthy food affects your body. You can’t figure that out if you stay on the Whole30.

The Whole30 program is to help you find food freedom. Where you are in control of food and food doesn’t control you.

Will you lose weight on Whole30?

If you had a crappy diet before you started the Whole30 then most likely you will lose weight. You will be eating healthier foods. You won’t be making poor nutrition choices. Such as, drinking alcohol and eating sugary treats that are full of empty calories. So most likely you will lose weight.

Is this Whole30 compliant?

If you are not sure if something is compliant ask Google. Google is your best friend when you want to find out if something is  Whole30 compliant.

Also, printing out the additives list and keeping it on hand will come in handy. There were a couple of times I ruined a round because I had an off-limit additive.

The Last Thing You Need to Know About Whole30

I hope you enjoyed this beginner’s guide to Whole30. It’s a brief rundown of everything you need to know about the Whole30 program. It’s a good idea to read It Starts with Food or The Whole30 book before you start.

Always check the ingredients before you eat it. Look for hidden sugars, soy, and additives.

Make sure to have a vegetable, protein, and healthy fat with every meal.

The Whole30 is hard but you can do it for 30 days! Remember why your doing it and how amazing you will feel at the end of it.

Sign up for my newsletter to receive a free Whole 30 planner. You’ll have a quick reference to the basics of the Whole 30. A place to plan your meals and list your groceries. Also, keep track of your non-scale victories. And take notes of your reintroduction.

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