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Think I'm doing it right?


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Hi Everyone,


I'm on day 10 of my first Whole 30 and I'm hoping that I'm doing this right because I don't feel much better...


The first several days I consumed canola oil with a few meals because, unknowingly, the artichokes I used were in olive and canola oil, even though it isn't labeled that way on the front. Since then, I've been compliant with all ingredients.  I should add that I have celiac disease and lactose intolerance, so I've avoided gluten and dairy for a long time before starting the W30.


I guess I'm feeling a little disappointed/confused because I feel so tired--though instead of ups and downs feeling tired before, it's pretty much a consistent tired feeling throughout the day. I do exercise a lot--Crossfit in the morning before work and I teach Zumba three weekday evenings, and I take 1-2 days rest per week. Because CF is at 5:30am, I haven't been eating beforehand, but I make sure to eat a fritata loaded with veggies and meat afterward, along with a smoothie of coconut milk, kale, spinach, and fruit. This keeps me full until lunch (noon), and I try to fill up at lunch to keep me satisfied until dinner but by 2:30-4:00 (my very low energy dip) I am  starving, exhausted, drained, and have a headache.


Is this all normal? I suspect I may just need to be patient, but I'd love to hear thoughts from people who have done this before.


Thank you for your time!

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First off, smoothies are discouraged on a Whole30: the idea is to chew your food instead of drink it, as chewing is more satiating.  That is likely one reason why you found yourself starving in the afternoon.

Are you having a postWO snack of lean protein and carb within 15-30 minutes after your workout?  If you do that, and then have a more full meal a bit later, I wonder if that would serve you better?

Are your meals following the recommended meal template of 1-2 palms of protein, 1-3 cups of veggies, and the appropriate amount of compliant fat?  Also, be sure to include carb-dense vegetables daily in your meals.

Are you drinking at least 1/2 oz of water per pound of your current body weight daily?


Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep nightly?

If you do all of the above and are still having challenges, post 2-3 days worth of your food log and folks here can give you feedback on possible tweaks.

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Hi Chris--


Thank you for the information. As far as the smoothie goes, it makes sense drinking vs. chewing your food, but I'd actually be eating less if I cut out the smoothie because I am pretty full after the fritata. I'm looking at the smoothie (all good ingredients) as a way to sneak in some extra greens, berries, and coconut milk. Do you think it would be more beneficial to just eat less at breakfast then and just stick with the egg fritata? 


I think the postWO snack is a good idea, maybe I'll try bringing a hard boiled egg for right after the workout.


I don't think I'm drinking enough water when I take into account the amount I sweat every day with the workouts. I'm going to try pushing more water and make sleep a priority. I've been scraping by with 6-6.5 hours. I'm gonna start aiming for 7.5 hours and see how that helps.


I'm really hoping my energy levels improve. I look forward to a day that doesn't feel like I'm being dragged along!

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The recommended postWO is lean protein and carb, no fat.  As such, a hard boiled egg is not the best choice, due to the fat in the yolk. Better options are chicken, tuna or salmon pouches for your protein, and something like sweet potato for your carb.  I'm thinking if you do that for your postWO, and then an hour or so later, have your egg/veg/meat frittata, that will help things.  You can also browse the Whole30 for Athletes forum for more ideas.

Yes, more sleep and water will also help.  Don't forget to have carb-dense vegetables in your meals daily. Sweet potato, winter squash, beets, carrots, jicama, plantains, rutabaga, parsnips are among the choices.


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Many people do not start feeling better until after the second week, so you are looking for the magic to happen a bit early. Your body takes a while to adjust to burning fat as its primary fuel and not carbs. Making sure you are eating starchy veggies helps, but there is still a non-negotiable adjustment period. 


You are exercising 8 or 9 sessions per week. That is a huge strain and you are not getting enough sleep. Feeling tired is exactly what you should feel because you are tired. You are burning the candle at both ends and we can only get away with this for a limited amount of time. Your health would likely improve if you slept in several more mornings and missed CrossFit. 


Post-workout meals should be low in fat because fat slows digestion and your hungry muscles have to wait longer to eat after a workout when your protein digests slowly. So, with what you have been eating, you are not getting a classic post-workout meal response because whole eggs include a lot of fat and so your food is digesting a bit too slow for maximum benefit. This is not awful. I frequently do not eat lean protein after a workout anymore, but I no longer train very intensively, so my muscles are not under a lot of strain as yours likely are doing CrossFit. 


Our full recommendation for eating is to have a pre-workout snack, a post-workout meal, and then three full meals per day on workout days. On days when you workout twice, this would mean 7 meals, on days you work once, 5 meals. You are trying to combine three meals into one in the morning. Even though you eat a lot, you are getting hungry in the afternoon after lunch, probably because you have had two meals instead of four by afternoon. Few people eat 7 meals per day - only the most serious athletes - but I think you will have to add some meals to be satisfied across the day. In my experience, I cannot fully make up for missing a meal by eating a big meal afterwards. Now my experience was mostly on trying to eat 2 big meals per day after skipping breakfast, but I think the same may be happening for you missing pre- and post-workout meals.  You might want to review the meal template a bit on these points: http://whole30.com/downloads/whole30-meal-planning.pdf


I started my Whole30 process before smoothies were discouraged. What I discovered was that I had to add meals on days when I ate smoothies. I ate 5 and sometimes 6 meals per day when I started in 2010. Later, after I eliminated smoothies, I found that I could get down to 4 meals easily and nowadays I live on 3 meals per day routinely. I do not fully understand why smoothies "made" me hungry, but it seemed to be what they did.

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Thank you, thank you Chris and Tom!


I definitely need to change the way I look at meals. I guess I've been afraid of eating too frequently, but Tom, when you pointed out how frequently I am working out--you're right, I am burning the candle at both ends and not fueling my body as frequently as is necessary to sustain this level of activity.


Chris, thank you for the postWO snack ideas. It'll be quite a change switching to those types of proteins in the morning, but again it's all about getting away from looking at morning food as traditional "breakfast" foods. But I love sweet potatoes and winter squash---so those will actually be a wonderful treat after a good workout in addition to the protein.


I feel excited about making these changes starting today. And will follow up to let you know how things improve. Thank you again! 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm writing with a follow up  :)


The advice above is solid. I added a pre WO snack of a hard boiled egg and a post WO snack of w30 approved turkey and sweet potato and it definitely helped my energy levels. Once I had that settled, I was even able to notice a difference when I didn't have enough of the carb post WO versus the days when I had 3/4 cup- 1 cup because I could feel my energy slightly dip.


Although it felt like I was eating too often (and it felt like I was somehow cheating), the pre and post WO snacks in addition to the three meals is key to maintaining the energy needed to workout at high intensity at such frequency. 


Thank you so much for the quick responses and the helpful advice. I am thankful for this community!

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