Whole30 for Hunters?

The Problem

We just got back from vacation and I stepped on the bathroom scale. It wasn’t pretty. I exercise regularly and for the most part eat pretty healthy, but between the holiday season and a vacation, some bad habits had taken their toll. It was time to hit the reset button and build some better habits. I knew a lot of people who were doing Whole30 and I decided to give it a try. Before we go any farther, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is he discussing diet and nutrition on a hunting web site?” Here’s the deal, hunting is an active sport. I’ve always found that there is a strong correlation between my physical fitness and my enjoyment and success in the field. So in light of the unfavorable number on the scale, I decided to give Whole30 a try.

Whole 30 Basics

Whole30 is a 30-day, (hence the name), eating plan designed by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. It’s designed to help you change your eating habits, improve your health, and break your addiction to sugar. For more on how sugar affects your body check out That Sugar Film.  It’s pretty eye-opening.

One of the things that I liked about this program is you can eat as much as you like. You’re not tracking calories, and you won’t feel hungry. It’s not about calorie counting or points; it’s really not even a diet in the traditional sense. Whole30 is mainly about being more deliberate and resetting your eating habits.

Also, weight loss isn’t the sole focus of the program (although it was a focus for me). In fact, you’re not even supposed to weigh yourself except for on days one and 30.

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Follow the Rules

The authors of the program emphasize the importance of committing to the plan. That means zero cheats to give your body a complete and sustained break from bad habits and unhealthy food. If you do have a slip-up, the authors recommend starting over. For a full list of rules, visit Whole30.com.

Just say no to these items for 30 days:

  • Sugar or natural or artificial sweeteners
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Beans or legumes. No peanuts, chickpeas, no peanut butter, or soy.
  • Dairy of any kind
  • Any processed additives, (sulfites, MSG, etc)

It’s a pretty simple list, but it’s a lot harder than it sounds. It turns out there is sugar added to just about everything.

What can you eat?

  • Meat (make sure that no sugar has been added)
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs (I lived on hard boiled eggs)
  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Most nuts (no peanuts)
  • Healthy Fats, (think avocado)
  • Black coffee, (thankfully)

Eating out

I found the hardest part of doing Whole30 was eating out. It turns out that most restaurant cooking uses processed foods and sugar in just about everything. Plus, meeting up with the guys for beers and ordering a water basically sucks, and will draw some good-natured harassment. But it’s only 30 days. You can do just about anything for 30 days, right?

Pro Tip: At Chipotle you can have Carnitas, Guacamole, Veggies, Pico and lettuce (no rice or beans).

The Results

At day 30 I hopped on the scale with good results.

  • Weight: -17 pounds (7% reduction)
  • Body Fat: -3.2%
  • Body Mass Index: -2.1 points

Pro Tip: It’s much easier to do this with your spouse. But I advise against gloating to your wife about how much weight you lose or she may threaten to punch you in the throat.


In the book, they tout a pretty amazing array of benefits. I can’t say that I’ve experienced any shocking or amazing health benefits, but I started out pretty healthy didn’t have any major issues.  I do feel better and have more energy. The other thing I’ve noticed is my eating habits have definitely changed for the better. I think one of the biggest benefits is being really focused and deliberate about what you’re consuming for 30 days. Sure, I’ll have beer and pizza again, but for the most part, my diet is going to be much healthier. I plan to keep it up, ramp up my workouts and enter the fall in great shape.