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Whole 30 (essentially) complete; what I learned and tips to make it work for you


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OK so today is Day 30 so perhaps this is a bit premature, but I figured I'd share my experience, what I learned/gained for myself, and some tips for people who are getting into it or hitting a rough patch.

First off, here's my food log so you can get a sense of what I ate:


I stuck with it very closely; the only time I went off track was in Seattle when I ate lunch during an interview (Thai food; ate lots of chicken skewers and chicken and broccoli but no sauce) and I had an oyster with hot sauce and I have no idea what was in the sauce. Guessing some sugar, but I really wanted one and it a one-off thing while traveling so I'm at peace with my decision. :) Other than that I stuck with it and am happy I did.

The motivation for doing this for me was to try and control sugar cravings and just see what it would be like to eat this way for a month. Prior to W30 I thought I ate well but was becoming somewhat undisciplined especially at work and buying treats for home after dinner.

In terms of what I learned/gained personally:

1. Have not weighed myself but pretty obviously lost weight. Down 1 belt size, best guess is down about 7 lbs. Wasn't something I particularly wanted, but nice to know that this is effective if that ever does become an issue. That plus exercise improved my body composition.

2. In terms of things that improved over the 30 days, the biggest one is a much more steady amount of energy. Way fewer crashes during the day, less real hunger pangs. I rarely get the amount of sleep I really want (ideally 7, typically 6) but I was able to function quite well overall. I'd say more generally I felt better on average. Not miraculously so, but pleasantly so.

3. The hardest thing to work through on the diet was energy during exercise. Definitely didn't feel as strong. Not miserably so, but a bit frustrating. Upping carbs helped, specifically more sweet potatoes with meals. This is something I will have to experiment with post W30.

4. Cravings were not hard to beat. I imagine knowing this is a 30 day experiment helped, but I was pleasantly surprised that I had no burning desire for sweets or other treats.

5. I didn't have any real detox phase; the first couple days I had a couple headaches but after that no problems at all.

Overall I would say it was a very positive experience!

Some tips and thoughts on making it work:

1. My wife has a ton of food allergies so we already cook pretty much all meals for ourselves. That made the transition a lot easier. There is a lot of cooking/planning involved; more than I was used to. Always have a backup plan for meals. For breakfast I always would keep a frittata around in the fridge that I could heat up and for lunch I'd at least make sure there was a salad and tuna fish available. Even better was to cook up extra food at dinner and eat that over the next couple days.

2. Slow cookers are awesome. Lots of leftovers and can prepare meals while you're away. They're cheap (start around $20) so if you have the space there's little reason not to get one. Especially useful for making lots of leftover protein for breakfast or lunch.

3. Start on a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday if possible. That makes it a lot easier to prepare food and get ahead.

4. Traveling is really challenging. We did 2 weekend trips; one where we just had a fridge the other was a full kitchen. Rotisserie chicken and salad bars are good bets. Lara bars helped a lot, along with nuts and fruit. That will get you through a weekend. If you're traveling for a lot longer you may want to wait til you have the time to dedicate especially if you don't have a kitchen where you're going.

5. Find some healthy snacks. I made up a bunch of nut packets I could take on the go, and at home would eat bananas with almond butter and coconut post-workout quite a bit. Also enjoyed stuffing dates with macadamia nuts. Basically almond butter was my go-to "OMG so hungry need something now!" food. Worked very well. Tried not to over-indulge in it.

6. Bought a vacuum sealer during W30; seems like it will be very useful for packing up extra slow cooker food so you're not eating the same thing multiple days in a row.

Finally, what am I going to take away from this/what are my future plans:

1. Overall planning to stick pretty close to this though definitely not exclusively. Ideally I want to keep breakfast and lunch as W30 clean as possible. I likely will try adding in yogurt as I'd really like to have that with some nuts and fruit for breakfast on occasion. Otherwise breakfast and lunch will be like they were during W30.

2. Going to do my best to stay away from sugar snacks except for when they're really special. My guess is that that's what kept my energy more consistent and am more focused on consuming calories that provide something other than only immediate energy.

3. Going to be scientific about adding foods back in to see if there are any real positive or negative effects from each one. Will try to post about my experience here.

4. Will likely try adding quinoa in as a pseudo-grain. Ate it a lot pre-W30 and enjoyed it and want to bring it back on a trial basis.

5. Planning on trying paleo bread rather than familiar wheat bread; specifically these:



6. Going to experiment to see how I can increase energy for exercise while keeping within this general framework. More carbs? More calories? Not sure yet.

7. While I don't have any intentions of cooking with canola oil again, I am not going to outright shun foods that have it as a minor ingredient. For example Whole Foods has a lamb and basil sausage that looks awesome but canola is listed as one of the last ingredients. I would try that since it would be a small proportion of the overall food. Same with this raw whipped garlic I used to buy a lot; canola is a very minor part of it but it's good enough that it's worth it. Same for sugar; if it is listed as an ingredient but total sugars in a serving a minuscule I am not going to avoid it (sriracha sauce has 0g sugar per serving but it is an ingredient and is super tasty, the bacon I used to buy is also 0g/serving but has added cane syrup). Given the choice I'll avoid them, but I don't want minutiae rule my life. If I feel like I'm way off course I'd definitely do another W30 again.

8. Black coffee was totally easy to adapt to. Even instant black coffee. Going to keep with it.

That's about it, but I think it's enough. :)

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Oh two other things.

1. Stress can definitely fight to derail staying on the W30. Best you can do is plan ahead and find something else to help relieve the stress.

2. Sort of the opposite of #1, I got some very good news where I wanted to celebrate but staying strict W30 made it hard to celebrate with food or drink. Was kind of annoying, but at least I still had my good news. :)

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One follow-up on this; weighed myself this morning and am down to 136; 6 pounds lower than when I started. Again not my intention but nice to see this work in practice in case it's ever something I want to do. My goal weight is probably around 150-155 through adding muscle. That will be a real challenge!

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no problem! thanks for the support from you and the rest of the group!

fyi been sticking with the diet though not 100% clean. had some sriracha sauce on my lunch the past couple days; wasn't quite as good as i remembered it being. may look for alternatives that are a bit more clean (sugar + preservatives; i think I can get one that just has a bit of added sugar). also tried a small bite of a cupcake and it wasn't particularly tasty. my post-workout fruit and nuts and coconut milk was much more enjoyable. :) my wife finished a W30 with me and she felt like the cupcake was too busy and she had a stomach ache after eating some of it, so i think we're both going to be avoiding significant sweets for a while.

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Really suggest you avoid those two breads from Julian Bakeries; in my opinion they give Paleo a bad rep. We tried them pre-Whole 30 and found them just about inedible. There are lots of good almond bread recipes online - you might want to try baking your own.

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Really suggest you avoid those two breads from Julian Bakeries; in my opinion they give Paleo a bad rep. We tried them pre-Whole 30 and found them just about inedible. There are lots of good almond bread recipes online - you might want to try baking your own.

aww man that makes me sad. :\ i'll probably still give them a shot just because but my hopes are definitely down. can you recommend a good almond meal bread recipe?

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I f you want to try a non-what bread post w30 you could try making this, it's tasty.

250g flaxseed .

100g of butter

2 tsp of baking powder

5 eggs

6 tsp of mixed herbs (I only use 2)

2 table spoons of parmasan cheese

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl well .

Melt the butter and add to this the 5 eggs .

Add the butter and eggs to the dry mix in the bowl and mix together well .

Place in a greased loaf tin and put in the oven for 20 mins (though mine takes 45+ mins at gas 4 - just cook until knife comes out clean) at 170 Celsius . Place on a wire tray to cool .

I added seeds to the top on this loaf.

This freezes well too so I cut it into slices and freeze portions for the week.

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