Difference Between Whole30 and Keto

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Written by Brenda Peralta, Registered Dietitian and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Nowadays, there are several low-carb diet options found online. Although they might seem similar, they all have differences to make them stand out. How about the Whole30 diet vs. keto? Are they the same, or are they very different?

In a nutshell, although they share many basic principles, the time frame and some foods they allow are a bit different.

In this article, you will learn all about these two diets, starting with defining what the Whole30 diet is. Other topics covered are the similarities and differences between the two eating patterns, benefits and side effects of following each plan, foods allowed and restricted — and finally, the costs and which one is the healthiest to follow.

What is Whole30?

Two sports nutritionists created this plan to motivate people to try a clean eating diet.

So, what does Whole30 mean? It means eating whole and clean food for 30 days.

For 30 days, you remove foods like sugars, processed foods, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, and soy. These are all foods that they claim promote inflammation in the body, causing more cravings, more prone to infections, and body pain.  

The main goal of Whole30 is that by eliminating these foods for a couple of weeks, you manage to reduce any cravings, improve energy levels, and reduce inflammation in the body. 

One of the things to consider is that while most of the restricted foods are high in carbohydrates, not all carb-dense foods are eliminated. Thus, it might be a low-carb diet, but it is not a ketogenic approach. 

In this eating pattern, there are no calories set or macronutrient percentages. You eat based on your hunger levels and consume only the allowed foods during 30 days. 

Once the 30 days have passed, you start slowly reintroducing the foods that you eliminated. You include them in small portions and observe any symptoms that might arise.

The reintroduction phase takes a minimum of 10 days up to 30 days. You may identify foods to keep out of your diet for the long term if you discover that you feel better without them.


Similarities between Whole30 diet and keto

There are various similarities between these eating patterns. Here are the most common similarities you can find.

Whole30 vs. keto on weight loss

Although the Whole30 is not a weight loss plan, more a healthy eating lifestyle, you can lose a couple of pounds when you eliminate processed foods from your diet.

Thus, both are great options for weight loss. However, when you reintroduce foods on the Whole30 diet, you might regain or maintain them if you are not careful.

Whole30 vs. keto on inflammation

Both are great options to reduce inflammation in the body. In the keto diet, being in a ketosis state helps reduce inflammation in the body.

Additionally, in the Whole30 diet, more natural foods are preferred over processed products. For example, you eliminate pastries, cookies, white bread, and sugar, which are all foods that increase inflammation in the body. (Keto also prohibits these foods because they have too many carbs.)

Thus, by eliminating them from your diet and adding more nutrient-dense foods like non-starchy veggies, fruits, and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, and nuts), you get more nutrients and antioxidants that help reduce inflammation.

Whole30 vs. keto on sustainability

These are both very restrictive diets, which means that people might have a hard time following long-term. 

Whole30 has a slight advantage since it is only for 30 days. Nonetheless, it might still be tough for people to follow. If you slip up and eat something that’s not allowed, you’re supposed to start the 30 days over from zero.


Differences between Whole30 diet and keto

Even if they seem pretty similar, they have some differences between them.

Calorie tracking and macros

The biggest difference is the concept of both diets. The Whole30 approach doesn’t count calories or macronutrient content. It focuses entirely on the type of foods that you are choosing. While keto also promotes choosing natural and cleaner foods, it does focus on calories and macronutrient content.

On a typical keto diet, you have the macronutrient breakdown of 5-10% carbs, 20% proteins, and 70-80% fats.

Lifestyle vs. eating cleanse

Another big difference between them is the duration of the plan. The keto diet is considered to be a lifestyle. You can do the diet long-term. Meanwhile, Whole30 is more of an eating cleanse that lasts for only 30 days.

Whole30 vs. keto on ketosis

Finally, a ketogenic diet will put you in ketosis, while Whole30 usually will not. 

While it is possible to enter ketosis when following Whole30, it probably won’t happen by accident. You can still eat all the fruits you want, plus you don’t control how many carbohydrates you eat. So while you may be eating less carbs than before, unless you’re making a conscious effort, your carb level probably will not be low enough to reach ketosis.

On the other hand, keto promotes ketosis by mindfully restricting carb intake.

Benefits of Whole30 diet and keto

There are several benefits of following each diet. Here are the most common benefits you can get from either one of them.

  • Reduces chronic diseases.You can lower insulin resistance, improve blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and promote heart health in both diets.
  • Promotes whole food options. Both diets are great for promoting eating healthier and less processed foods. They encourage eating naturally grown foods instead of packaged products.
  • Achieves weight loss. Although the main goal for Whole30 is not weight loss, you can still achieve it. Keto’s primary goal is often weight loss. With either one, you can shed some pounds.
  • Reduced cravings.  At the beginning of either diet, you might experience more cravings during the first couple of days. This is because your body is getting used to not depending on carbs as an energy source. Once those days have passed and ketones are in full production, you can significantly reduce your cravings for sugars, alcohol, and processed foods on both diets.


Side effects of Whole30 diet and keto

The side effects you can get from depend on how low your carb intake gets. Suppose you decrease your carbs significantly, ultimately making a Whole30 ketogenic approach. In that case, these are the most common side effects that you can get.

  • Low-carb flu. During the first week, you might feel fatigued and have nausea, headache, and a foggy brain.
  • Constipation. By reducing grains, you can significantly reduce fiber intake. Make sure to drink plenty of water and consume lots of veggies to prevent constipation.
  • Nutrient deficiency. Suppose you are not carefully increasing your veggies intake, with different colors during the day. In that case, you might run the risk of nutrient deficiency.


Keto vs. Whole30 diet foods

You can find the list allowed and restricted for both diets in the following table.

Keep in mind that the keto diet has several modifications. Thus, the foods restricted can vary depending on your daily carb intake.

Additionally, the Whole30 diet has two phases. The first phase is the 30 days where you need to eliminate certain foods (see below), while in the second phase (after the 30 days), you can reintroduce the foods one by one to see if they have any adverse effects on your body.

Beans and legumes In moderation

Some allowed

(green beans, most peas ok)

Condiments and sauces




(with no additives)




Not allowed
Sugar-free drinks Allowed Not allowed
Sugar-sweetened beverages Not allowed Not allowed
Alcoholic drinks Allowed
Not allowed
Eggs Allowed Allowed
Fish and seafood Allowed Allowed
Fruits In moderation Allowed
Grains and starches In moderation Grains not allowed
(starches okay)
Herbs and spices Allowed Allowed
Meat and poultry Allowed



Nuts and seeds Allowed Allowed
Oils and fats Allowed Allowed
Processed foods Not allowed Not allowed
Sugar-free sweeteners Allowed Not allowed
Natural sweeteners Allowed
Not allowed
White and brown sugars Not allowed Not allowed
Starchy vegetables In moderation Allowed
Non-starchy vegetables Allowed Allowed


As you can see, during the first couple of months, there are similarities between these two diets regarding the food choices. However, it might vary a little bit more when you start reintroducing foods after 30 days.

If you don’t know whether you can have a particular on the ketogenic diet, you can check this keto-friendly list to ensure that it is keto-approved.


Keto vs. Whole30 diet costs

It all depends on the type of food you decide to purchase in both cases.

For example, if the produce is organic and the meat is grain-fed, then the costs of each diet can increase significantly. Additionally, eating out in both cases can be a hassle and result in a higher bill.

One of the Whole30 diet benefits is that you only have to cut out certain foods for 30 days. You can add grains and whole-grain cereals that are ultimately cheaper in the following days (if you tolerate them). This means that in the long term, the Whole30 diet might be a little bit cheaper than keto.

Which one is healthier?

Due to its main focus on clean food, the Whole30 diet might be healthier. It focuses on eating healthy fats, less processed foods, and more natural foods.

Keto recommends you choose whole, natural foods that are low in saturated fats. In that case, the ketogenic diet is a good contender for a healthy diet. However, it’s also possible to do a dirty version and eat more processed foods. This may be more tempting or convenient, but it’s also less healthy.

Keep in mind that they are both restrictive diets where several food groups are eliminated. Remember to add lots of veggies to increase your fiber intake, and drink plenty of water.


Bottom line

The Whole30 and keto diets are great options for achieving weight loss. One of the advantages of the Whole30 is its focus on clean eating.

Whoever diet you choose, there are benefits and drawbacks that you need to consider. Remember to always ask your primary healthcare provider whenever you think of changing your eating habits.

You can also combine both diets! You can have a low-carb approach by following the ketogenic diet while removing highly processed foods for 30 days.