What’s the difference between Paleo and Whole30?

Have you heard of the Paleo diet but don’t really know what it entails? And what exactly is the Whole30? Aren’t they the same? Not quite. So, what’s the difference between paleo and Whole30?

History of Paleo and Whole30

The Paleo diet has been around since the 1970’s when gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin recommended this way of eating. In contrast, the Whole30 program has only been around since 2009.  

The “rules” on Paleo are different depending on who you ask. It is based on the evolutionary paleolithic era, and what people are theorized to have eaten during that time. While there are some rules most everyone agrees upon, there is no paleo governing board. No one runs this diet or has the final say. While navigating the paleo diet, keep in mind that “everyone paleos differently.” 

The Whole30 rules however, are clear cut and defined. There is someone in charge who has the final say on what is or isn’t allowed on Whole30. 

Rules: What’s the difference between paleo and Whole30?

Here are the basic ground rules that are the SAME for both Paleo and Whole30.

NO: Dairy, Grains, Legumes, or alcohol. 

YES: Red meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruit, seeds, and nuts.

Here are some specific differences:

Paleo allows natural and unrefined sweeteners, like honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup, etc. Whole30 allows for absolutely NO added sweeteners of any kind. 

Paleo allows for recreation of junk foods or baked goods so long as the ingredients are compliant. You can have paleo muffins, cakes, potato chips, or ice creams. Whole30 calls this SWYPO and it isn’t allowed. A main goal of Whole30 is to change your relationship with food, and if you’re eating something that is so close to the real thing that you’re craving, your brain will start craving the real thing, and won’t be able to differentiate that one is healthy and one is not. Eating an entire tray of muffins with clean ingredients is not the spirit of Whole30. 

Whole30 allows for white potatoes and green beans (the latter being the only exception to the “no legumes” rule). Those two foods are highly debated in the paleo world. Some will vehemently claim they ARE in fact paleo, while others stick to older paleo rules that don’t allow for white potatoes and green beans. 

Lastly, an obvious difference is that Whole30 is only for 30 days, plus the 12 day reintroduction. It is not recommended to eat Whole30 for life, it is a personal experiment that usually is only needed 1 or 2 times. After doing a full round or two, people may decide to do a mini reset to get themselves back to feeling good and revive good eating habits, but it isn’t a lifestyle. the goal is to lead you toward what they call Food Freedom, which is where you take what you learned from the reintroduction and decide what and how you will or will not eat, whether it is paleo or Whole30 or not. Paleo is much more sustainable for long term commitment, but there’s no limit on how long or how short you eat that way. Completely up to the individual.

Let me know below if you have tried paleo or Whole30, and what your thoughts are!

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