Whole30-curious: Our copy contributor, leaning on our in-house program expert, dips a toe

They had me at hello (well, more specifically, at "hello, would you like a vacuum-sealed pack of grass-fed beef jerky?"). More than a fan, I've been an avid consumer of every single product of The New Primal from its humble beginnings. And, I don't mean to brag, but I was into it way before they sought - and received - certifications for Paleo, Keto, and Whole30. Sure, I was grateful that my perennial pantry essentials, and the way they were sourced, didn't make me feel physically or ethically icky. But, honestly, it was always about the flavor. (Okay - and a little about the adorable Noble Made owl.)

But years ago, as I tweaked my workout regimen, I began giving my diet the side eye. Hearing my hunch that I was ill-fueled, a gym friend suggested I read "It Starts with Food," the Whole30 homily penned by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. I did, with swiftness and enthusiasm. And then, I summarily returned the book to my comrade... and my habits to their history. In short, I got cold feet.

Maybe this has happened to you. And maybe your reasons for not jumping into Whole30 are as murky as mine. To be sure, the Hartwigs deftly balance science with sensibilities and furnish a friendly roadmap. Still, we can't help what needles us, and I couldn’t find comfort from even the most comprehensive index or artful appendices.

I needed to take it to a real person. Someone who has learned it, lived it, and actually kind of loves it. Finding him was as easy as a walk into headquarters: Jacob Henriquez, the Director of Brand Partnerships for The New Primal, just happens to be a Whole30 Coach of the Year. Better yet, he was cheerfully game to address both my hemming and my hawing. Here was our conversation:  


I have this conception of the Whole30 as being extreme, in that would be for either the woefully unwell or the podium athlete. Silly, spot-on, or somewhere in between?


The great thing about Whole30 is that the rules are really the same for everyone (unless your doctor advises you make modifications based on a medical need). Whether you’re a sports all-star, new to making your own food, seeking a healthier lifestyle, or some combo of it all, you’ll eat the same meal as anyone else. And it’s just thirty days, no matter who you are!


I also have this inkling that Whole30 requires the kind of intensity that would consume my very soul for 30 days. Baseless, or basically true?


You say that like it’s a bad thing! But really, it can feel that way, especially at the beginning. There’s definitely going to be a day (or series of days) where the constant “what did I get myself into?” thought bubble won’t dissipate and it feels like your identity is forever changed. Let me remind you that 30 days, in the long run, is a blip on the radar of time. But at the finish, you’ll be a meal-prep-pro with a much better understanding of what makes you feel great and what doesn’t.


What's the advantage of Whole30 over a sustained lifestyle switch to, say, a Mediterranean diet?


Ultimately this comes down to what you want. Do you want to subsist on a diet that’s generic and contains very little customization for your own dietary needs and restrictions? Or would you rather conduct a finite science experiment to create your own personalized standard diet based on what you discover through a fascinating elimination and reintroduction protocol?


What are three of the coolest things that will happen inside my body as I work through Whole30? One or two transformations on the outside?


I’ve never met anyone who didn’t tout better quality sleep and more consistent, sustained energy levels after a round of Whole30. These two magical quality-of-life improvements really do go such a long way in making each day much better. I’ve also worked with so many people who say even going to the bathroom is so much better… and who doesn’t want better potty time? Those shifts aren’t just experienced inside the body, though; on the outside, Whole30ers consistently report glowing skin and less belly bloat.


Weight loss is touted as a possible benefit of Whole30, but is it avoidable if that's not a personal goal?


Of course! Listen, going from the standard American diet to any form of whole-food-based approach is probably going to result in some weight loss in the form of less water retention. Making sure you’re eating enough, especially if you’re super active, is key to maintaining weight while on the program. Working with a nutritionist (bonus points if they’re a Whole30 Certified Coach) can make that easier as well.


Each week of the program, how would those closest to me likely finish this sentence: "Hey, you seem really ___ today."

week 1: excited

week 2: sleepy

week 3: determined

week 4: glow-y


Each week of the program, how would I likely finish this sentence: "Wow, I feel so ___ today."

week 1: pumped… but crabby

week 2: tired

week 3: energized

week 4: over it!


I'm incredibly happy to see that most of The New Primal's products are Whole30 Approved. How can I best work this lineup of snacks, sauces, and seasonings into my meals over the month? (If you want to tell me that anything these products touch are magically rendered Whole30-compliant, I'm totally okay with that.)


The great part about having Whole30-Approved sauces and seasonings on-hand during a round with the program is that you can go from boring meat and veggies to happy-flavor-dance-party-in-your-mouth in a matter of seconds. There are tons of recipes posted on our website and social media, but the real magic happens more spontaneously: drizzling the plain veggies idling in your fridge with your favorite Noble Made Buffalo Sauce, and adding some shakes of Everything Bagel Seasoning to the chicken breast you accidentally over-cooked and under-seasoned.


Dining out or eating with anyone "off-program" seems like it could get tricky. Can I still have fun while doing Whole30? Will I still BE fun while doing Whole30?


Look, the good things in life take work and this is no exception. You’re going to have to become a bit of a menu-reading-master and learn the right questions to ask when you eat out. After years of experience, I can tell you that it’s a lot easier than you think, and most restaurants are happy to make reasonable accommodations. (You can always sneak in some Noble Made BBQ Sauce...) Whether or not you’ll still be fun is really up to you. I love to point out all the times someone has had fun that didn’t involve food to remind them that what makes a memory a good one is usually who we spend it with.


If Whole30 could speak, and found itself riding from the lobby to the rooftop with humans bemoaning their bad health habits, what would its elevator pitch be?


Hey humans! Wanna eat delicious, tasty veggies, filling healthy fats, and lots of well-seasoned protein for three meals a day for thirty days to help find out what’s keeping you from feeling like a 19-year-old TikToker doing their umpteenth dance of the day in a crowded mall food court living their best life? The best part is you don’t even have to measure the foods you’re eating or weigh yourself; just eat the food, feel better, and then work to figure out what foods make you feel less-than-stellar! You in?


You had me at feeling like a 19-year-old, Jacob. You had me at feeling like a 19-year-old.