Difference between Paleo and Whole30 Diets

The health and wellness industry has been booming for the past few years due to rising obesity and the insistence of people on having a “fast” and “easy” way to lose the pounds. So many promises are thrown in the wind and many have been proven to be false, but two almost similar programs are still making waves: the Paleo and the Whole30.


Paleo vs Whole30 Diet
Paleo Meal

The Paleolithic, Paleo or caveman diet is a popular dietary practice wherein only food that existed during the Paleolithic period can be consumed. This period is distinguished by the discovery of human tools for hunting, and therefore only those foods than can be gathered or hunted became part of the diet back then. This is the basis of the diet although various interpretations have been devised. Most paleo practitioners agree that fruits, vegetables, meat and nuts should be part of the main diet while grains, dairy, sugar and other processed food should be excluded because humans did not consume them during the Paleolithic period.

Walter Voegtlin was thought to have originated the idea, but it was Loren Cordain with his The Paleo Diet books that popularized the concept. There is limited data to suggest that this diet can improve a person’s health although the removal of processed food means that it is a diet worth following. The major drawback lies in the lack of dairy, as it is substantial to the formation of calcium in humans. Grains are also main sources of carbohydrates for most people. The idea of Paleolithic humans not consuming grains is also debatable as some evidence proves otherwise.

With the thinking of pressing a “reset” button on the body’s food intake, the Whole30 is a fad diet that promises to help cleanse the body and improve the metabolism through a strict 30-day program. The ingredients that should be eaten are very similar to that of the Paleo diet but this diet does not allow for any forms of sugar to be added. Basically, it is a stricter but short-term form of Paleo.

No cheating should be allowed and it is quite achievable since a person only has to bear with it for 30 days. Most people use this to kick-start their diet regime and move on to other more sustainable diet programs.

Paleo vs Whole30 Diet

On the surface, the two of them seem pretty much the same, but what is the difference between the paleo and whole30 diets?

One major difference between the two is that the Paleo diet should not include refined sugar but other sweeteners – such as honey – are accepted. Meanwhile, the Whole30 diet does not allow any added sugar. The Whole30 diet also clearly advocates a purely healthy diet, which means that imitating a favorite recipe by adjusting the ingredients is a no-no. Paleo dieters are used to adjusting the recipes according to the ingredients allowed.

As the number in its name indicates, Whole30 is a very strict 30-day program that promises to cleanse and reset the metabolism of your body. While some people do come to love this diet and continue following it later on, it is not ideal for a prolonged period of time. The diet aims to let a person change his or her relationship with food and can be used as a starting point for most people desperate to change their lifestyles.

On the other hand, Paleo is a long-term lifestyle affecting diet, and therefore the rules are meant to avoid being too difficult for a person to follow. Paleo can also be a guide and not necessarily followed as a strict diet. Some people still add dairy but would consume less of it than the average person. It’s about instilling habits and forming a healthier relationship with food.

Comparison Chart

Paleo Whole30
30 days No limit
Stricter rules Rules are more relaxed
To reset lifestyle/metabolism To create a new lifestyle