Is whole 30 and Paleo the same?

Is whole 30 and Paleo the same?

October 22, 2018

Im going to start by explaining what the Paleo diet is, also known as 
The Paleolithic diet, Paleo diet, caveman diet, or stone-age diet is a modern fad diet requiring the sole or predominant consumption of foods presumed to have been the only foods available to or consumed by humans during the Paleolithic era.
The Whole30 is a 30-day fad diet that emphasizes whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets. The Whole30 is similar to but more restrictive than the paleo diet, as adherents may not eat natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
We’re going to talk about what the differences between the two are to hopefully clear up any confusion and answer all of your questions!

The Basics

The Paleo template centers around eating whole foods, cutting out anything processed. The premise for this is that our bodies are best served by eating the way our Paleolithic ancestors would have. The Paleo diet focuses on eating plant-based meals with high quality proteins and fats. 


The whole 30 is often referred to as “a stricter form of Paleo”. While that is true, they both serve different purposes. The Whole30 includes more on it’s off-limits list than Paleo does but is intended as a short reset for your body. The Whole30 is a 30 day “reboot” of sorts, followed by a reintroduction period. During those 30 days you eliminate certain food groups and then mindfully add them back in afterwards.

Short-Term vs. Long Term Differences Between Paleo and Whole30

One difference between Paleo and Whole30 is that the Whole 30 program doesn’t advocate for it’s participants to continue eating according to the Whole30 rules indefinitely. It’s not intended to be a long-term diet. In fact, it’s not labeled as a diet at all. The program provides the vehicle that will get you to a place where you can make more conscious choices after your Whole30 is over by finding out which foods your body doesn’t tolerate, then using that information to help your body feel it’s best. For example, you might find out that dairy causes bloat or acne, grain causes lethargy or auto-immune symptoms and then you can decide to not include them in your meals going forward.

The Whole30 also aims to improve your relationship with food during those 30 days. It does this by encouraging you to evaluate how and why you were eating the way you were, in turn creating new healthy habits in place of your old ones. Whole30 is a short-term program to help you find a long-term solution that works best for both your health and everyday life, not to be a solution.
Paleo is a form of eating that is geared towards a long-term lifestyle. While the Whole30 should be viewed as a reset, Paleo is something that many people choose to sustain indefinitely. It is more lenient when it comes to things you’ll ultimately end up doing from time to time, like snacking and drinking alcohol, two things the Whole30 prohibits. Whether it’s to meet weight-loss goals, improve health conditions or just because that’s when their body feels it’s best, Paleo is a dietary adjustment made for more than just a month.

Paleo Guidelines vs. Whole30 Rules

One reason that Paleo is more of a long-term option is because it’s more of a guideline. There’s a Paleo template of what you should and shouldn’t eat, but anyone can choose to eat any “non-Paleo” food at any time if they think it’s worth it to them. Many people eat most of their meals based on the Paleo guideline but may choose to eat pasta twice a week. And that’s fine. Because that’s their Paleo lifestyle.

The guidelines are just that. A guide. Some people may have found out that certain foods that are technically not Paleo don’t bother their digestion or how they feel so they might still choose to eat them. Maybe dairy or quinoa isn’t a big deal to them. Again, that’s fine. Some people may not agree with me, but there’s no right or wrong way to eat Paleo if you’re being mindful of the template while simultaneously being mindful of what works for your body. When you’re doing it for the long term, you’re constantly re-evaluating what does and does not help you feel your best, so the do’s and dont’s of Paleo become more of a pliable guideline to live by.

With Whole30, on the other hand, there definitely is a right and a wrong way. There are hard and fast, black and white rules that must be followed (for your own good, of course) for 30 straight days. You can’t top your egg bake with cheese, say that cheese doesn’t affect your body and call it a Whole30. Nope. The rules are the rules.. and they’re for everyone. The rules are what make Whole30 more strict than Paleo. There’s no Paleo sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup and no recreating Paleo desserts. So no, you can’t add coconut sugar to almonds to make cinnamon sugar roasted almonds and call it Whole30, even if it is Paleo.


The final major difference between Paleo and Whole30 is that the Whole 30 program encourages it’s participants to go through a deliberate reintroduction phase to add the excluded foods back into your diet one at a time. There’s no reintroduction phase with Paleo, the list of foods to avoid are to just simply be avoided. The Whole30 doesn’t require you to never eat the “off-limits” foods ever again. The point of the reintroduction phase is to find out which ones do give you problems and then enable you to make more mindful choices in the future by being aware of how certain foods affect you. Just as the first 30 days of the Whole30, this next phase also helps make you more aware of how your body functions depending on what you put into it.