What Is The Whole 30 Diet – Is it Good For Runners?

There are a lot of diets to choose from these days! Of course, if you are a runner, you want to ensure that your diet can enhance your training, not deter you from it. Luckily, substantial research has been done on these fad diets and experts can say quite clearly whether a specific diet is good or bad for runners. So let’s find out: What is the Whole 30 diet? Is it good for runners?

The Whole 30 diet is a month-long elimination diet during which you cut our alcohol, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, and additives from your diet. It can help increase weight loss and improve digestion. However, as a general rule, strictly following the Whole 30 diet is not good for runners.  

If you want to learn a little more about what the Whole 30 diet entails, the pros and cons of following, and why it is not a great option for runners, keep reading! We have everything you need to know about this diet option right here, and by the end of this article, you will be able to confidently decide if it is the right choice for you!

What is the Whole 30 Diet?

There are certainly skeptics in the medical field who are unsure whether or not the Whole 30 diet is actually a healthy option, but before we dig into the health benefits and concerns, it is important that you understand exactly what following this diet entails.

If you choose to adhere to the Whole 30 diet, that means that you will cut our alcohol, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, and additives for an entire month. If you err and do ingest one of these foods, you are supposed to start again the next day from day one.

The idea is that after the 30-day intensive, you can slowly reintegrate some of these options into your diet, however, the hope is that you will feel so good you continue with the diet as is.

Overall, the Whole 30 diet is fairly hard to stick to. You probably won’t be able to eat out anywhere and will have to prepare all your meals at home, and the restrictions can prove extremely challenging compared to the standard American diet.

Pros and Cons of the Whole 30 Diet

Even if you are extremely dedicated and think you can complete the Whole 30 diet, you may be wondering, is it even healthy?

All fad or quick fix diets come with certain advantages and disadvantages, so before you go forward, let’s learn a little more about the health benefits and concerns of the Whole 30 diet.

Pros of the Whole 30 Diet

The intention of any diet is to improve your physical health, so what can the Whole 30 diet offer?

  • The Whole 30 diet will certainly help you lose unwanted weight. By cutting out so many harmful and fattening foods, there is no doubt that your fat content will decrease significantly.
  • By eliminating so many food groups, you are forced to intake your calories through whole foods such as meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. These foods are high in nutrients, minerals, and specifically, protein.
  • It encourages the consumer to eat only when they are hungry, decreasing unconscious snacking and creating a more intentional diet.
  • Whole 30 supporters have reported that they noticed a huge increase in energy levels while on the diet.
  • It cleans your digestion and can reduce inflammation.

An important factor to note is that although the decrease in caloric intake will certainly aid in weight loss, the idea behind the diet is not a quick fix for those who are overweight.

In fact, the exact rules of the diet entail that you cannot step on a scale during the month and should not measure your body in any way to help ensure it does not become an unhealthy fixation.

If used correctly, once you have completed the 30-day intensive, you should try the list of forbidden foods one at a time in order to see if they cause discomfort, inflammation, or any unwanted reaction within the body. From there, you can confidently decide which food groups are right for your body and your lifestyle.

Cons of the Whole 30 Diet

Although it may seem as though there are plenty of advantages to the Whole 30 diet, there are also several problems with this option.

  • Quick weight loss is almost never sustainable. If you plan to simply return to your regular diet after the 30-day requirement, the fat will return.
  • The diet is extremely difficult to adhere to. As noted before, if you make any mistake in the diet, you are supposed to start again from day one.
  • It is not sustainable over time as there are too many restrictions and studies show that people end up binging on unhealthy foods when they do not allow for moderation in their diet.
  • There are no scientific studies that say eliminating carbs, legumes, grains, or dairy and dairy alternatives is good for the body.
  • It is challenging to eat enough calories in the day to fuel an active lifestyle.

Now that you understand exactly what the Whole 30 diet is, as well as the various pros and cons of implementing it into your life, let’s find out if it is specifically good for runners.

Related: Can I Drink Alcohol While Training For A Half Marathon?

Is the Whole 30 Diet Good for Runners?

In general, medical and athletic experts do not recommend the Whole 30 diet for runners. While the diet isn’t necessarily unhealthy for some people, there are several factors that make it a poor diet choice for those of you who run consistently or are training for an event.

One of the main reasons that Whole 30 is not recommended for runners is because of the lack of carbohydrates in the diet. In fact, the only carbs allowed can be found in potatoes and other root vegetables, and it’s really not enough to sustain the energy a runner uses.

Another factor to consider is that it can be challenging to consume as many calories as you are using in your workouts. While it is possible, it will require eating extremely large meals and snacking frequently.

Overall, the Whole 30 is not the best diet for runners, and it may not even be the best diet for anyone.

As with any crash diet, if you do choose to participate, be careful to keep your health in the forefront of your mind and do not allow the restrictions to lead you down a self-destructive or unhealthy path.

Related: Is Blending Foods Bad For Me?

Alternatives to the Whole 30 Diet

Of course, the diet you choose to follow is completely up to you. If you as though the Whole 30 might not be the right choice, but you still want to find a diet that will give you the energy you need and keep you as healthy as can be, there are a two other options: the moderate way and the Paleo diet.


One option is to simply adapt the aspects of the Whole 30 that are clearly beneficial, such as eliminating alcohol, processed foods, and added sugars.

Without these three simple food groups, you will notice your energy levels increase and your fat fall away,  and you won’t worry about losing the nutrients and energy found in legumes and grains.

This is a great alternative specifically for runners as you need the energy from crabs to fuel your body!


Another popular diet you may want to try is the Paleo option. While it is fairly similar to Whole 30, the idea is that it is a more sustainable way to eat as there are no “restarts” enforced if you break the rules.

When following a Paleo diet, the focus is on “clean eating” and foods such as dairy, legumes, refined sugars, refined carbs, processed foods, alcohol, and even coffee are forbidden. This forces the dieter to eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, meat, and plant-based fats.

It can be a healthy option, as long as you do it right and ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need as well as intaking sufficient calories for your lifestyle.

However, unfortunately, it still may not be the right choice for runners due to the lack of carbohydrates.

Related: Which Diets Are Best For Runners? Paleo, Mediterranean, Whole 30 Diet, or Keto?

Final Thoughts

Let’sanswer our original question: What is the Whole 30 diet and is it good for runners?

Hopefully, you now know the answer! But just in case, here’s the bottom line:

The Whole 30 diet is a one-month elimination diet during which you cut our alcohol, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, and additives from your diet. It can help increase weight loss and improve digestion. 

As a general rule, strictly following the Whole 30 diet is not good for runners. Because of the lack of carbohydrates needed to fuel the body. 

Now you have all the information you need to decide for yourself whether the Whole 30 diet is right for you!

Help support me and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

YouTube video - 30 ways to make your runs less painful!

Coach Scott's Credentials:
  • Published Author
  • RRCA Certified Running Coach (Level 2)
  • RRCA Certified Youth Running Coach
  • NASM CPT (Certified Personal Trainer).
  • NASM CNC (Certified Nutrition Coach)
  • NASM WLS (Weight Loss Specialist)
  • ACE SFC (Stretching and Flexibility Coach)
  • ACE GFI (Group Fitness Instructor)
He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 22nd half marathon race. 

 To sign up for a FREE half marathon training schedule, log sheet, and pace predictor CLICK HERE.

Recommended Running Gear

Recommended gear for runners

 Connect with me:


If you’re a runner and want to know a little more about the Whole 30 diet and if it is right for you? We have everything you need to know.



Is the Whole30 diet good for runners?


1 thought on “What Is The Whole 30 Diet – Is it Good For Runners?”

  1. I read your articles I’ve never ran a half marathon or even a full marathon. I’m intending to run but I usually have problems with stomach and lungs which make running difficult.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.