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Intermittent Fasting and Whole30 – A “Whole” Guide

difference between intermittent fasting and Whole30 | intermittent fasting while on Whole30 | positives and negatives of intermittent fasting and Whole30

Can I do Intermittent Fasting and Whole30 together? Let’s find out! In the health and fitness world, there are certain diets that are widely recognized. If you haven’t already tried one of these popular diets, then you are likely to know someone that has.

The two diets that we are talking about today are right up there with some of the most popular diets such as the keto diet, paleo diet, and the Mediterranean diet. And, if you made it to this article, you can likely take a guess at what I’m referring to: intermittent fasting and Whole30.

Intermittent fasting is known for its flexibility and ability to fit with almost every other type of diet. From veganism to the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting can be combined and even enhances some of the benefits to these other diets.

Since it is a time-based eating schedule, and not a list of what to eat and not eat, it’s compatible with many different eating plans. If you want to keep it simple, however, intermittent fasting will also work well on its own.

But, does intermittent fasting work with EVERY diet? More specifically, the Whole30 diet. In this “whole” guide (see what I did there?), we will explore some of the questions you may have when it comes to Whole30 and intermittent fasting. We will cover questions such as:

  • What is the difference between intermittent fasting and Whole30?
  • Can you do intermittent fasting while on a Whole30 plan?
  • What are the positives and negatives of intermittent fasting and Whole30?

Whether you are looking for a new diet or want to try a new approach to your current diet, it’s always best to have all the facts before making any major changes.

It can be confusing with so much information out there as to what works and doesn’t work when it comes to nutrition and health. In this guide, we will provide the latest information (and evidence-based research) for each of these diets.

Below, you will find the “whole” scoop (okay last one!) on both intermittent fasting and Whole30 and if it’s a good idea to combine the two eating patterns.

Intermittent Fasting and Whole30

What is the difference between intermittent fasting and Whole30?

Let’s start with the basics and review what exactly Whole30 is and what intermittent fasting is. Remember, what works for one individual may not work for everyone. If you have further questions or want an individualized nutrition plan, follow up with a Registered Dietitian.

What Is Whole30?

Co-founded in 2009 by Melissa Urban and Dallas Hartwig, the Whole30 diet has gained millions of followers around the world. You may have heard of the success stories or seen colorful plates full of steak atop a bed of crisp vegetables all topped with homemade dressing. Marketed as clean eating for better overall health, Whole30 cuts out added sugars and processed foods.

Whole30 is a very specific eating plan and, at its core, an elimination diet. For 30 days, you follow a very strict regimen of whole foods (like fruits and vegetables), unprocessed meat, eggs, and seafood. Whole30 eliminates certain foods that can cause allergies or increased inflammation in your body such as dairy, whole grains, and legumes.

After the 30-day diet, these food groups are slowly reintroduced into your diet so you can decide if your body is able to tolerate these foods. It’s also helpful to detect any food sensitivities through this type of elimination diet.

While many are drawn to Whole30 as a strategy for weight loss, co-founder Melissa Urban states that it’s not designed to be a weight loss program. The program emphasizes health benefits such as better sleep, higher energy levels, and fewer cravings.

Participants of the program eat three meals every day, each containing protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Even though counting calories and monitoring weight is not part of the program, many inevitably lose weight while following Whole30.

Weight loss and even fat loss can occur since many of the high-calorie, low nutrient dense foods are eliminated leading to consuming fewer calories overall.

A quick Google search will bring up thousands of “Whole30” approved recipes and products, but the focus of Whole30 is on real food such as eggs, most veggies, fruit, seeds, nuts, healthy fats (like olive oil and coconut oil), meat, and seafood. It’s meant to be a short term diet as there are several food groups which are eliminated.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting, in contrast, is more of a long-term eating pattern. As opposed to a strict set of rules as to what you can and cannot eat, intermittent fasting is simply a schedule of when to eat. There are certain hours where you fast, called your fasting window. This can range anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. The remaining time is called your eating window where your calories are consumed.

The time frame that someone chooses to fast is completely up to the individual. Since there are so  many types of intermittent fasting, you can likely find a type to fit your lifestyle and schedule.

A common intermittent fasting type is 16/8, where you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8 hour window. This matches the average person’s natural circadian rhythm which is why it is also a great choice for someone who is just starting intermittent fasting.

By limiting the amount of time during which your calories are consumed, you are likely to consume fewer calories. Not only are you limiting calories, but by allowing the body to enter a fasted state, it has the chance to burn fat stores (which leads to greater fat loss) and give the digestive system a chance to rest and repair itself.

Intermittent fasting can help if you are experiencing a weight loss plateau or have tried other diets without success. It can be a faster way to jump start your weight loss or experience better overall health when practiced correctly.

Instead of focusing on what you can and cannot eat, intermittent fasting allows for a wide range of food choices. This often eliminates the restrictive feeling that many people feel when following other diets, which is why intermittent fasting has been so popular.

Check out this Intermittent Fasting Food list if you are looking for ideas on what to eat.

Intermittent fasting is compatible with a variety of other diets. Even though intermittent fasting on its own can be an effective way to lose weight and boost overall health, some like to follow a more rigid or specific eating plan in addition to intermittent fasting. From the paleo diet to the keto diet, many diets’ benefits are actually enhanced.

Intermittent Fasting and Whole30

Can you do intermittent fasting while on Whole30?

Since intermittent fasting is compatible with so many other diets, one may think that it would also fit with Whole30.

However, Whole30 is one of the few diets that isn’t compatible with intermittent fasting. 

The primary reason for this is because of the strict nature of the Whole30 diet. According to Melissa Urban, the Whole30 diet is a very specific program, in that its goal is to change many old habits surrounding your relationship with food.

There are certain pillars to the program (such as eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner) that could interfere with an intermittent fasting schedule.

For example, many following an intermittent fasting schedule will begin an eating window in the afternoon, which essentially skips breakfast. Eating breakfast is one of the requirements of the Whole30 program, as it is supposed to promote hormonal healing by eating first thing when you wake up.

Whole30 emphasizes a “science experiment” approach to the program as well. Melissa Urban also points out that if you are trying two different dietary methods, then you won’t know which one is the one that actually contributed to your results. She says that combining Whole30 and intermittent fasting can put too much stress on the body, especially if you are new to both programs.

While both have similar goals of improving overall health, and specifically metabolic health, they have two very different approaches to accomplish this goal. The best way to include both intermittent fasting and Whole30 is to try them one at a time.

If you have completed the 30-day diet of Whole30, along with the reintroduction phase, then it’s fine to go ahead and start intermittent fasting. You can still include many Whole30 foods once you have completed the program, but there’s no need to follow the strict rules of the program.

Intermittent Fasting and Whole30

What are the positives and negatives of intermittent fasting and Whole30?

As with most diets, there are pros and cons to each one. The same applies to intermittent fasting and Whole30.

Depending on your health goals, one may be better suited for you than the other. It’s important to choose the best approach for you as an individual, as this will lead to greater success and sustainable changes.

Whole30 Diet Plan


  • Eliminates certain foods which could improve the function of your immune system and digestive system
  • Encourages unprocessed foods and whole foods versus processed foods or ones with refined sugar.
  • Can reestablish natural hormonal hunger cycles
  • Loss of body fat
  • Mental and physical health improvements


  • Short term program which may not lead to lasting changes
  • Cuts out essential nutrients and food groups (such as legumes and grains)
  • Can be challenging to stick with due to the strict nature of the program
  • Limited research to support health claims

Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan


  • Studies show improvement in other areas of health such as hormone health and cardiovascular health, such as improvement in high blood pressure and blood sugar stabilizing.
  • Long-term lifestyle change
  • Flexibility with types of intermittent fasting to fit individual schedules
  • Loss of body fat
  • Mental and physical health improvements
  • Gut health improvements


  • Can cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue at first
  • Can be challenging for some to fast for extended periods of time
  • Can be dangerous for those with certain health conditions


These two popular diets offer very different approaches to improve overall health. As we discovered in this guide, it’s not the best idea to combine intermittent fasting and Whole30.

Depending on your health goals, you could try intermittent fasting after completing the Whole30 program. This way, you could get the benefits of both to see which one works for you. Again, if you have a medical condition or food allergies, always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet.

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