My wife and I just completed the Whole 30 diet. The Whole 30 is a diet that is intended to strip out all processed foods and the major allergy causing items. The idea is to “reset” your body and then slowly introduce various food items back. This reintroduction process reveals any food items that your body may not agree with. From the research my wife (a nurse) has done the Whole 30 is being prescribed by doctors and has helped major allergy and migraine sufferers.
During the Whole 30 the primary foods are proteins and vegetables. We wound up eating a lot of meat, eggs, salads, and sweet potatoes. Items such as beans, rice, breads, sugars, peanut butter, and dairy are strictly prohibited. That meant I had to give up my cheese :S. To avoid temptation I gave all my cheese to my buddy Josh, about 10 pounds worth! Another part of the diet is the elimination of snacking in favor of full meals.
So what was the diet actually like and how do I feel after?
The first couple days were tough. We Americans like our sweets and we often do not realize how much sugar we are ingesting on a daily basis. Typically much more than is required. The first 5ish days my body went through a sugar detox. The cravings for sugary substances were intense. At one point, while out hiking, I experienced was felt like an intense sugar level drop and had to eat a Lara Bar (allowed, though recommended only for “emergencies”. After the first week my body adjusted and I have not felt a sugar drop of craving since.
Next came a feeling of low energy. I work East coast hours so I am generally trying to wake up 4 – 4:30 AM to be in the office by 6 AM. I had some real issues making it out of bed by 6 AM even, and that was with going to bed earlier each night. Through the day I was drinking a ton of coffee and still only mostly awake. This was about 1.5 weeks in. I did some research and turned up two interesting pieces of information. 1) Lethargy is an early onset symptom of scurvy (I had not been eating many vegetables at that point, mostly meat, eggs, and sweet potatoes) and 2) Eating a salad with dinner helps you sleep better and gives you more energy to wake up with in the morning. So that evening I had a large salad with dinner and felt great the next morning. No scurvy is gonna get me!
After that it was all uphill! My energy level came back and my body felt great. My insides felt clean and happy. I am prone to gas bubbles rolling around in my intestines and that did not happen at all. It was very nice. Though the intent of the Whole 30 is not to lose weight many people do, we were no exception. Alix trimmed down and is looking hot. I lost somewhere in the range of 15-20 pounds and am noticeably less plump.
During this time I continued to train for my Ragnar relay race ( 200ish miles ) and even did a strenuous hike. Each time I wondered what I would be able to accomplish and each time I was amazed by how strong and energetic I felt after. I also have a higher sustained energy level in general through the day. Before I was crashing around 3 PM and would need to take a nap. I think I took one nap the entire time I was on the Whole 30.
I also noticed that my mood has also mellowed. Driving in a big city is not picnic and I usually got frustrated. I have been a lot more mellow and chillaxed driving. That has bled over into work as well, which had been very stressful but turned almost zen.
Today is the first day “off” the Whole 30. I am curious how my body will react to the old foods and what I will learn about myself. This morning I had a fast food breakfast burrito and already the gas bubbles are back rolling around. It contained eggs, chicken, potatoes, cheese, all wrapped in a tortilla.
Other than a small scurvy scare the Whole 30 was a great experience. With such a drastic dietary change it will take an reintroduction period for me to determine what I need to change in the future to stay feeling good, but I am looking forward to building a modified Whole 30 program with Alix that will allow us to keep feeling great but will include elements of the other foods we enjoy, though with better portion control.
I met several people during the Whole 30 who had done it. They shared similar experiences to mine and also felt that by the end the experience had been amazing. Some are doing it again even. Even if you generally feel good I would highly recommend this diet. You will be amazed at what your body will tell you and incredulous at the ingredients of some of the common foods we eat.