Whole30 not for everyone? Really thinking about quitting.


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I'm on Day 7. I realize this is still really early, but I am having a miserable time--day 1 was fine, but ever since then it has gone downhill. I started off with a great mindset, but my body does not seem to be responding well. (and I was a *fairly* good eater before this.) I constantly have a headache and feel unsatisfied, despite eating a TON of fat and sticking to the meal plan quite well. I feel as though I'm fighting my body really hard, and that's making me miserable as well. I'm craving carbs like oatmeal, bananas, quinoa...things that I thought were "healthy" before but are banned on W30. I also really want snacks in between meals, because I'm a very "intuitive" eater and have always relied on just "eating when I'm hungry".

 

Why I really started this is my hormones were out of whack due to bad eating habits (times, skipping meals, eating late, etc) and I wanted to get them back on track. That is, I stayed slim for many years just eating what I wanted (healthy, but occasional indulgences) when I wanted, barely weighing 115 pounds. Then when I screwed with my sleeping schedule, hormones, etc all of my signals were out of whack, so "eating when I'm hungry" turned into eating at unhealthy times, unhealthy amounts, sometimes unhealthy foods. This seems to have regulated pretty quickly, and my sleep has improved a lot too! So at this point I don't really have an incentive to stick with the program and continue to feel awful even though my hunger/sleep cues have improved...

 

Any advice? Is Whole30 just not really right for some people? Or is this a normal rough patch, and I should stick it out?

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I'm sorry you're struggling, and feeling like you should quit.

Days 7-10 seem to be toughest for most folk, and it could well be that you're just going through that phase of the program. Eating whole foods shouldn't be 'not right' for anyone.

It could well be that a few tweaks to your food intake could greatly improve your mood and mindset. If you post a few days worth of food/liquid intake, along with activity/sleep/stress levels perhaps we can help...

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Are you having carb-dense vegetables daily? If you are hungry between meals, the guidance is to eat a mini-meal of protein, veg and fat. My hunch is your current meals haven't been big enough to satiate you for 4-5 hours.

Can you post the past 2-3 days of your food log, including portion sizes, daily water comsuption, nightly hours of sleep and any physical activity?

Side note: bananas are not banned on a Whole30.

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Could you list a few days' worth of food, including approximate amounts? Maybe there's something you could tweak to help you feel better.

Are you eating at least one serving of starchy vegetable each day? That may help with cravings.

You are only seven days in, and the first week to 10 days tend to be hardest as you get used to eating this way, so I really suggest giving it some more time.

Edited to say: I type too slow, you've already got a couple of good answers.

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Sure. Last 2 days + this morning have been (see if I remember correctly):

 

Friday: 

 

Breakfast 7:00 - 3 eggs + spinach, tomato, broccoli, sautéed in coconut oil, cherries on the side.

Pre-WO ~9:00 - Handful of mixed nuts, banana (not ideal, but I had to take it with me)

Lunch 12:30 - Chicken breast (large serving), 1 bell pepper, 1 zucchini, 2 c kale, 1 sweet potato, 1/2 avocado, cooked in olive oil

Dinner 6-7:00 (I was really hungry so I ate a lot over the period of an hour or so, kind of a multiple-course type of meal) - 1/2 lb ground beef sautéed with onions, peppers, tomato, spinach, broccoli, carrots. ~3/4 spaghetti squash. Added guacamole. Handful of mixed nuts, ~4 tbsp almond butter.

 

 

Saturday:

 

Breakfast 7:00 - 2 eggs + egg whites (ran out of eggs, added liquid egg whites for extra), spinach, 1 bell pepper, sautéed in coconut oil, strawberries + blueberries on the side

Rest day so no Pre/Post workout, though was out walking dogs for an hour and biked 8 miles doing errands.

Lunch 1:00 - 1 large sweet potato, turkey patty (cooked in olive oil), 1/2 avocado, 2 c spinach, 1 c cauliflower/broccoli mix, 2 bananas + almond butter (this was because I was still unsatisfied after my meal, I know it was not part of the plan but it's a "listening to my body" habit)

Dinner 5:30 - Chipotle salad: romaine, carnitas, fajita veggies, pico, green salsa, guac. Had some green grapes on the side. Also 2 tbsp almond butter.

 

Sunday (today):

Breakfast 6:30 - 4 eggs cooked in coconut oil, spinach, 1 bell pepper

Pre-WO: Small piece of chicken, 1/2 sweet potato

Then went out to run and felt completely drained despite eating a good breakfast and snack. Haven't had any good workouts since beginning, and exercise/fitness is an important part of my life. Obviously health is more important, but at this point I feel so stuck it's hard to keep moving forward. Any advice would be awesome! I used to have oatmeal every morning and even though I'd be starving after my workouts, they were always good...

In terms of activity levels, even if I don't work out in a structured way I am still very active as I bike to commute and have a moderately active dog. Also am out walking dogs at least 1hr/day so I do move a lot. Probably why I have felt the need to eat so many extra fat calories. 

 

Thanks for your fast responses!

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Other than your preWO meals not really being as per the recommendation of protein & fat your food looks pretty good to me, and I think you're just still in that rough stage.

You could maybe up the fat a little more, and add in a postWO meal of protein & starchy veg. I'd also just comment that some folk report having a crash in the afternoon when they eat fruit with meal one.

 

You don't mention your water intake. Are you getting half an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day?

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I don't know exactly how much water I've been drinking, but I've been a LOT more thirsty than usual & have had to use the bathroom a lot more. Although I should mention my bowel movements have not been very regular.

 

It's been hard to get in the pre/post-WO as per recommendation because by the time I'm home, it's almost lunchtime. I could separate lunch into two meals I suppose. Maybe that would work?

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I think unless you're doing your WO first thing in the morning you could maybe up the size of your meal one - particularly the fat content - forgo the preWO & focus on getting in a postWO, which is more important for recovery in my opinion. You could also add in some fermented foods/kombucha to help with digestion which should in turn help with your bowel movements - magnesium can also help in this area.

Thirst can actually be a sign of low sodium, so I'd be making sure you're salting your food, and also that you are definitely getting enough liquid on board.

ETA: It's also worth bearing in mind that everyone's WOs suffer in the first two weeks until their bodies become fat adapted. 

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I think that if you're unsatisfied after meala you're either not eating enough at your meals or you have what I have which is that dessert habit of always having a little something after your meals. Bananas and almond butter would certainty scratch that itch http://whole9life.com/2012/12/dessert-demons-in-disguise/

I don't know your context but I personally have to eat a lot of protein to be satisfied 5 hours between meals. One chicken breast, one can of tuna, half a pound of minced beef wouldn't quite hold me most days. I'm a 5ft2 105ish lb female. If you can fit in fruit and nuts after your meals or between your meals experiment with eating more at meals.

Also lay attention to your pre and post wo. Pre is fat and protein. No carbs. Post is carby veg and lean protein, no fat. Your body is trying to break a habit of a lifetime and become fat adapted and you're making it workout on a banana. No wonder you feel wrecked.

Keep on keeping on!!

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It looks like you are eating well, kudos for following the meal template so closely. You are a very active person and it can be hard to eat enough despite feeling quite full after a meal. Keep adding until it works for you.

Unfortunately, the fajita veggies at Chipotle are not compliant. They are cooked in rice bran oil. https://chipotle.com/ingredient-statement

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Thanks for all your help! I should really try to break the banana habit, but they are something I am really used to. So cheap, and considered the "perfect workout energy" because they're such dense carbs. Ha...

 

Thanks for letting me know about the rice bran oil, ultrarunnergirl. I should have paid closer attention. 

 

Any tips for buying protein cheap? I think that has been my biggest problem so far. I am still in school and working as well so I'm on a very limited budget. I do find myself "rationing" meat because of the cost--heck, I find myself "rationing" fruit and veggies to some extent. Not in that I'm totally skimping, but that I might not necessarily be eating what my body needs because I'm inclined to save money. 

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I don't do the organic/ pastured/ free range thing. I would love to, but our grocery budget needs keeping in check so I don't. I'm in the UK but I do most of my shopping at Lidl or Aldi - really cheap meat and veg. Fish I buy in bulk at Costco and freeze. I eat a lot of eggs (free range but not organic) and I buy a lot of tinned fish too - again both from Lidl.

If I make it to my local market that is super cheap for fruit and veg and eggs. Again, not organic. I don't eat a lot of fruit myself as veggies are cheaper and my kids can eat £££££ worth of fruit every week without me helping them out!! Nuts and nut butters are expensive too. Spend your banana and nut money on protein ;-)

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True about eggs being great and cheap! And also about nut butter being expensive -- especially if you get the good kind, it's easily $7-10 a jar. Not worth it. I think the problem I have is that I /do/ do the cage-free free-range organic shindig. I'm involved in a lot of environmental things and it's part of what I consider my identity, so I get cognitive dissonance when I don't buy all organic. But maybe I'll have to settle for half-and-half (after all, cage free eggs aren't really much more than regular, it's mainly the meat that gets super pricey).

 

I also think I have a subconscious "worry" that I won't get enough to eat with just 3 meals (which can easily happen, my energy output when I'm training hard is likely 3000+ calories/day), so is why I turn to high-energy snacks subconsciously, as sort of a cushion. That's something I'm going to have to let go of as well. I'll have to work on the pre/post-WO timing to get the food in.

 

I've decided I'm going to start fresh tomorrow with your tips in mind. I know I didn't totally blow it, but I want to start with a clean slate and give it another shot...

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I get that cognitive dissonance too. One way I help resolve it is buying the not-so-good meat on clearance ('manager's special' at Kroger). I figure it's going to be thrown out anyway, so I might as well buy it so it doesn't go to waste. Still not a perfect solution, but sometimes the month is longer than the paycheck. :)

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Something else to play around with might be to have a starchy veggie with breakfast instead of the fruit. For some folks, fruit in the morning can set-up an ongoing hunger for the rest of they day and that's definitely going to make things a struggle. So folks also find that the protein from eggs doesn't hold them as long as the protein from meat and they feel more satisified having a few eggs plus some homemade sausage or other meat. It's all about finding what works best for you and what makes your body happy. You can do this!

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I also think I have a subconscious "worry" that I won't get enough to eat with just 3 meals (which can easily happen, my energy output when I'm training hard is likely 3000+ calories/day), so is why I turn to high-energy snacks subconsciously, as sort of a cushion. 

 

I recognize this as a type of food anxiety.  I have had these issues and it's much better now but can rear up if I'm not careful.  I've found that if I stick to the template and then have an emergency item at work (can of sardines, hard boiled egg, whatever) just in case I really can't make it from one meal to the next.  I almost never have to use the emergency item but it's there like a little security blanket on the days I have some anxiety about it.  I find it works just as well to have the item available as it does to actually eat the item....because it's not an issue of being physically hungry but rather mentally/emotionally unsure.

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I get the cognitive dissonance, as well. For years we ate "conventional" but ongoing minor health concerns pushed us to eating more organic, and gradually we have made the shift. Now I find I want to avoid the "conventional" as much as possible. Some ideas for you: is there an organic meat CSA near you? We joined one a couple of years ago, and honestly, it's the only way we can afford to eat organically raised meat. We get a box every month that is between 10 - 18 lbs of meat (pork, beef, chicken typically) for $75. Do you know anyone who raises chickens that might have eggs to sell? We got eggs from an Amish farm a couple of weeks ago for 1.75 doz - better than local co-op prices. Does your health insurance offer a rebate for joining a vegetable CSA? Ours does, so it cuts the price of a summer CSA in half for us. I also order food from two coops that deliver once a month in my area. One is Azure Standard (canned fish, frozen blueberries, tomatoes in glass jars) and the other is Country Life (olive oil, apple cider vinegar are some of what I buy from them that are W30 compliant. Watch the nut butters - some have sugar in them). Both have helped significantly in reducing our grocery bill. Good luck!

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I am on day 13 and I have found that upping my fat helped me feel better. I eat A LOT of fat and it keeps me satisfied throughout the day. I agree with the suggestions to avoid fruit at breakfast to avoid a crash in the afternoon. I usually have fruit with dinner. I was doing two servings a day but have cut it back to one and I feel better at that amount. One thing I started doing that seems to really help me get through the mornings is to put ghee and coconut oil in my coffee. 1 tbsp of each. I put it in the blender and whip it all up. Sounds gross but it's actually really good. Then I have 3 eggs, 1/2 large avocado and a veggie for breakfast and I am good to go until lunch around 12:00 - 1:00. I also noticed that I was less hungry after about day 8, so my protein portions got a bit smaller. But still lots of healthy fats.

 

Don't give up. You will start to feel awesome after while. Hang in there, you can do this!

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