Move Over, Paleo: This Extreme Diet Has Raised The Stakes

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_MG_6897_r_RubyYehPhotographed By Ruby Yeh.
Over the last few months, I've watched my coworkers convert to a Paleo lifestyle one after the other. Sure, eating more lean protein and fewer refined carbs isn't a bad thing, but there's just something that rubs me the wrong way about a diet with so many rules. The sheer number of foods that are off-limits is enough to make even the most apathetic eater a little depressed, especially if you follow the regimen to the letter.

But, if you thought Paleo was intense, you haven't seen anything yet. While it's been around since 2009, the Whole30 diet has officially become a thing and it makes the caveman plan look like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

This strategy actually bears some similarities to Paleo while incorporating common anti-inflammation principles; theoretically to correct bodily damage caused by sugar and processed foods. According to the website, Whole30 is designed to "help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system." To this end, the 30-day plan requires you to eat only real, recognizable food products with as short a list of ingredients as possible — i.e., no processed junk. It also expressly forbids the consumption of any of the following: sugar ("of any kind, real or artificial"), alcohol ("in any form, not even for cooking"), grains (no quinoa, either), dairy, legumes, white potatoes, carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites. You're also not allowed to eat any "Paleo-ified" desserts or breakfast foods — goodbye, gluten-free cookies.

While cheating is frowned upon in any diet, the Whole30 people take accountability to a scary new level. "You need such a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods to break the healing cycle — one bite of pizza, one splash of milk in your coffee, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30-day period and you’ve broken the 'reset' button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1." So, don't even think about going half-assed on this one. "You must commit to the full program, exactly as written," the website decrees. "Anything less and we make no claims as to your results, or the chances of your success. Anything less and you are selling yourself — and your potential results — short." And, for all you whiners out there, just remember: "It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard."

We do like one of the requirements, though: You're not allowed near a scale or tape measure during the 30 days. How about we just adopt that rule and call it a day?