If you’re looking to improve your health but can’t fathom the restrictions of the Whole30 diet, here are some similar alternative diets that may work better for you.
Like Whole30, the Paleo diet cuts out any grains, dairy, refined sugar, legumes, processed foods, and refined oils, and focuses instead on high-quality meats, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils. Sounds similar right? Well, there are some differences that make the Paleo plan a little bit more lenient.
One of the biggest differences is that the Paleo diet allows unrefined sugar like maple syrup, honey, and coconut sugar, while Whole 30 rules them out completely. There are also some Paleo dieters who enjoy a glass of red wine or non-grain based spirits like tequila from time to time (a big hell no on Whole30).
There are also tons of Paleo recipes that use Paleo-approved ingredients to recreate your favorite comfort foods (think: pancakes, cookies, brownies, oh my), whereas Whole30 strictly advises against eating any type of treats at all. Paleo may be a good choice if you’re comfortable eliminating processed foods in the long run but still need a little sweetness and liquid courage in your life.
The keto diet is like the Whole30 because you're eating mostly animal proteins and veggies, but cheese lovers, get your hands up because dairy is permitted on this plan. Keto eliminates sugars, grains, and even limits legumes, but allows you to eat as much full-fat butter, cream, cheese, and yogurt as you can stomach. It also advocates for only small amounts of (though doesn’t completely eliminate) berries so you’re really only living off meat, dairy, and non-starchy vegetables in an effort to keep you in ketosis. The keto diet may be a good long-term solution for those of you who can do without carbs but need cream in their morning joe.
Consider the Atkins diet to be the less sexy and trendy version of Keto. While you don’t necessarily cut out all grains, legumes, or sugar as you would with Whole30, you definitely end up eating less of them since you’re limited to about 50 grams of carbs each day. This diet may appeal to those who want to enjoy small amounts of grains or legumes while still seeing some of the potential benefits of cutting back.
The Dukan diet starts off even more restrictive than Whole30, with an “attack” phase consisting only of natural protein. It then introduces vegetables for phase 2, before slowly adding in small portions of fruit, whole grains, starches, cheese, and yes, even a celebration meal each week! The Dukan diet may help those who struggle with long-term restriction, and who would like to develop an appropriate long-term understanding of portion sizes and balance beyond 30 days.
Still thinking the Whole30 might be worth a shot? This Whole30 beginner's guide breaks it down for you so you feel less overwhelmed and ready to eat all of the insanely good recipes the diet has to offer.