These stunning before-and-after photos show why this 30-day diet is taking Instagram by storm


Popular diet Whole30 has taken Instagram by storm.

Like most diets, it requires you to give up sweets and alcohol.

But the 30-day diet also bans weigh-ins and calorie-counting, which are the cornerstones of most weight-loss regimens.

Photos that people have been posting on Instagram showing their bodies before the diet and afterward tell enticing stories.

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Whole30 requires that you eat only whole, natural foods for 30 straight days.

Except for a list of foods that are off limits, like legumes, grains, sweeteners (even stevia!), dairy, and additives like carrageenan. You also can’t “recreate” baked goods with healthy ingredients, as you can do on the Paleo diet – though there’s a burgeoning industry of companies selling Whole30 products, like RxBars and avocado-oil mayonnaise.

The diet, which has been around since 2009, swears that by eating “real” permitted foods, you’ll “change your life.” It’s a lofty promise, but judging by the many photos on Instagram, it’s clear that many people are inspired by this concept.

Another thing you can’t do? Step on the scale.

“You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program,” the website reads.

You can, however, weigh yourself before and after. The purpose of this is so you don’t get side-tracked.

“This is about so much more than just weight loss,” the website says.

Like the Paleo diet, there’s no emphasis on counting calories, either.

The weight loss is billed as a byproduct of eating well as opposed to an end goal.

Founders Melissa and Dallas Hartwig are famous for their “tough love.”

Thank you Andrea… challenge accepted. Be gone, Sugar Dragons!

A post shared by @ciao_mari on

The two presented this tough love in two books: “It Starts with Food” and “The Whole30.” Melissa writes a tough-love advice column called “Dear Melissa,” where she gives it to people straight – no, you can’t have wine on the Whole30!

People have created a weight-loss community on the Whole30 website’s forums and on Instagram.

They share Whole30 friendly meals and their meal-preparation processes.

The food photos can be particularly inspiring.

BBQd steak, chimichurri, sautéed mushrooms and onions, lemon-garlic shrimp in ghee, roasted baby taters with dill! Xo

A post shared by Kirsten Buck ???? (@bucknakedpaleo) on

Before-and-after photos of people on the diet have been going viral on social media.

The diet doesn’t allow any cheating.

Source: Whole30

But “it’s only 30 days,” the website says.

Source: Whole30

Some people try Whole30 and inevitably slip up — so those who succeed tend to be pretty proud when they take to Instagram to show their before-and-after photos.

Warning: long, sappy, sentimental, raw and vulnerable post. Today is my last day of my 2nd round of the whole 30 program. Although you don’t see a lot of physical change in these pictures, there is a lot of change you can’t see. I started the program with the mindset, “I’m not doing this to lose weight, I’m doing this as a nutritional reset.” It’s ok if I don’t look different or if I didn’t lose weight because I feel different and I gained a positive relationship with food. What you can’t see in these pictures is someone that has more energy and has started going to the gym again. You can’t see a person who sleeps so much better at night. You can’t see a girl who chose to focus on bettering herself for an entire month. You can’t see someone who has had a rough start to 2016, but decided to take their focus off the negative things in life and find something again they love to do, try new recipes and cook. Tomorrow, I will begin to reintroduce non-compliant foods, starting with dairy first. Sure, I’ve missed certain foods and some days were harder than others to resist, but I feel too good to go back to eating everything again at once. #whole30 #day30 #nsv

A post shared by Jessica Leonard (@jessicaswholepackage) on

For people struggling to stay on track, the program encourages people to seek support — whether through an online forum or social media.

Source: Whole30

The program promotes the importance of willpower.

Sorry for the bad lighting! But I can’t get over what an amazing change I’ve seen in myself over the last month! The shirt just fit me on April 1 but a month later it’s hanging on me! I’ve struggled to lose weight because of limited mobility, and I’m so happy to have lost 13 lbs doing this. I’m even more happy about the other changes in myself. My rheumatoid arthritis is doing better, I have way more energy, and most importantly I’ve changed my relationship with food. I went from secret food binges to healthy well balanced meals. I’m planning to continue doing the autoimmune Paleo but starting it as a whole 30 was the right decision for me. I knew I needed more than just changing my diet I had to also change how I approached food. I’ve learned a lot this past month and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come. I would recommend Whole30 to anyone!!. #whole30 #autoimmunepaleo #autoimmuneprotocol #aip #lifeafterwhole30 #iamwhole30 #whole30alumni #itstartswithfood

A post shared by Stephanie (@pathtoidealme) on

For instance, you can turn down a slice of cake at a birthday party or a drink at happy hour.

“You’re all big boys and girls. Toughen up. Learn to say no (or make your mom proud and say, ‘No, thank you’). Learn to stick up for yourself,” the website encourages.

Though you could do the Whole30 forever, the company doesn’t recommend that. Some people, however, do multiple rounds of the program.

It’s supposed to be used as a hard reset.

Source: Whole30

Cofounder Melissa Hartwig says that it would be “stressful” to forbid yourself from all foods — especially when you’re on vacation.

Source: Whole30

In many cases, the diet has inspired people to start learning how to cook.

#whole30 #poachedegg #kale #mushrooms #cayennepepper #mmm

A post shared by Lora Ivanova (@lora1205) on

Some critics say that it’s not healthy to stick to a strict food-elimination program.

The second round of @whole30 is complete! As I look back a few months, I couldn’t be more proud of all that has taken place. There were a few moments I distinctly remember when I saw pictures of myself in 2015 and didn’t like what I saw. I knew I wasn’t making great food choices and that I’d become really lazy with my cooking, but I also wasn’t doing anything to change it. On February 1, the day I started Whole30, my face shows all the reasons I needed to do it (pictured right). Deep circles under my eyes, swollen face and barely functioning as I headed into a Monday morning. Now, 3 months later, I’m up and ready for the day before anyone in the house and I haven’t had my coffee yet.???? This round I am down 5.5 pounds, and a total of 19 since February. I forgot to do measurements when I started, but hardly any of my clothes fit anymore so there’s that. Sleep is amazing, my face is nearly acne free and I have been able to survive the past 3 months without my beloved coffee creamer.???? I’m thankful for all the support and an awesome group that did Whole30 with me this month – I wouldn’t have gotten through without you! #whole30 #nsv #round2 #theerinadventures #Day122

A post shared by erin smith (@erin_smith522) on

Your body doesn’t need to detox, and you don’t need to completely eliminate sugar. LiveScience has reported that there are many nutritional benefits to the foods that Whole30 tells you to cut out – like beans and whole grains, which makes many nutritionists question the validity of Whole30.

But amid criticism, there’s one clear health perk: Eating vegetables is better than eating junk food.

Much like when people lose weight when they go gluten-free, it’s not necessarily because they “can’t have gluten,” but rather because of the fact that they’re eating healthier foods instead. There are very few people who actually can’t have gluten.

Source: LiveScience

And the community revolving around the diet has undeniably inspired people to eat — at least to some extent — better than they were eating before.