If you’ve ever done the Whole30 program before, you’re already aware of how many rules there are to keep track of. ‘Is “x” Whole30 approved?’ is not an uncommon search!
Coconut flour is considered Whole30 compliant, but there are stipulations about how you can use coconut flour during the Whole30 program. We’ll explain why coconut flour is Whole30-approved and much more about how foods fit (or don’t fit) into the Whole30 program in this article!
What is Whole30?
Whole30 is an elimination diet that’s meant to be followed for 30 days. During those 30 days, you’ll avoid several types of food (more on that next), and then gradually re-introduce certain foods for a period of ten days after you’re done with the first 30.
The premise behind Whole30 is to identify potential foods that might be interfering with your digestion, weight, or other aspects of your quality of life.
Some of the foods & ingredients avoided on Whole30 are:
- Added sugars and sweeteners, both “real” and artificial. This includes table sugar, honey, coconut sugar, Splenda, and anything that is used to add sweetness to your foods and drinks
- Alcohol in all forms
- Grains in all forms, including grain-based flours, gluten-free flours, and pseudo-grains like quinoa
- Legumes, including peanuts, soy, lentils, etc.; the only exceptions are green beans and most types of peas
- Dairy, with the exception of clarified butter/ghee
- Desserts & baked goods made with “allowed” ingredients
- Carrageenan or sulfites (types of food additives)
So…is coconut flour Whole30-approved?
Coconut flour is considered Whole30-approved along with almond flour, tapioca flour, cassava flour, and other non-grain- and legume-based flours. However, the Whole30 plan stipulates that you can’t use these approved flours to make “junk foods” or treats like cookies, crepes, muffins, etc.
So how can you use coconut flour for Whole30? You can use coconut flour in place of flour in regular recipes (not considered treats, desserts, or things like pancakes/muffins), like using it in breading for chicken or thickening a sauce or soup.
Other coconut flour facts
Coconut flour is one of the higher-fiber flours you can easily find at most grocery stores, and it’s suitable for low-carb diets – even keto! Even though coconuts are high in fat, coconut flour surprisingly isn’t very high in fat with three grams per 1/4 cup.
Coconut flour is gluten-free and vegan-friendly – and it even checks the boxes for being Paleo-friendly as well!
Why coconut flour is Whole30-approved
Coconut flour is a popular gluten-free flour along with many of the flours that aren’t allowed on Whole30, so it might be a little confusing as to why coconut flour is Whole30-approved.
Coconut flour isn’t considered a grain, grain substitute (like amaranth flour and buckwheat flour), or a pseudo-grain like quinoa. (Pseudograins are things that aren’t technically grains but are similar to grains nutrition-wise.)
Coconuts are botanically considered drupes (fruit with a hard interior shell containing a seed) and can also be considered a fruit, nut, AND seed – all of which are allowed on Whole30.
Are other coconut products Whole30 compliant?
Coconut flour isn’t the only Whole30-approved coconut byproduct! Coconut oil and coconut milk are also Whole30 compliant (as long as they don’t contain any ingredients that aren’t Whole30, like carrageenan, a type of thickener, or any type of sweetener).
Unsweetened shredded coconut flakes and coconut cream are also considered Whole30 as long as they aren’t used to make “off-limits” foods like desserts and baked goods (so no coconut milk ice cream!). Other things that are considered off-limits during Whole30 are making tortillas, pizza crusts, and other grains with approved flours.
The list of rules of what you can’t use coconut flour for is a bit lengthy, so we’ll explain that specific rule next!
The Whole30 “pancake rule” and coconut flour
One of the premises of the Whole30 diet is to try to break any “bad” eating habits, like gravitating towards bread/grains when you’re stressed, things that are hard to stop eating once you start, or “comfort foods” that displace more nutrient-dense foods like quality protein and vegetables.
Here is the exact “pancake rule” that can help you gauge if you’re using coconut flour in a Whole30-approved way or not:
The “Pancake Rule”: Do not recreate or purchase baked goods, “foods with no brakes,” or treats with Whole30 compatible ingredients. Some specific foods that fall under this rule include: pancakes, crepes, waffles, bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, alternative flour pizza crust or pastas, granola, cereal, ice cream, commercially-prepared chips (potato, tortilla, plantain, etc.), or deep-fried French fries.
Oats are a type of grain, so oat flour and other grain-based flours aren’t Whole30 compliant.
As long as the coconut product doesn’t contain any non-Whole30-approved ingredients, then you can include it during Whole30! The main things to watch out for are sweeteners and thickeners like carrageenan, which are common in some types of coconut milk.
Carrageenan is thought by some to trigger inflammation and potentially damage your digestive tract. At this time, carrageenan is still considered a safe food additive per the Food and Drug Administration.