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Headaches in weeks 3 and 4 of Whole30. Training related?


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Hi All,

So, starting around Day 15 to today, Day 25, I have had fairly consistent headaches.  I never had headaches before the whole30 and my first 2 weeks were great! I felt amazing. But now... I'm miserable. It gets worse when I have coffee, so I've stopped that completely.  The worst part about these headaches is that they don't even seem to go away with Ibuprofin.  So persistent!


The only thing I can think of that changed was my level of activity.  Starting last Saturday, I've been doing a hardcore circuit training workout at Orange Theory Fitness every day (i used to only go every other day), and yesterday I had a day of scuba diving. 


I don't ever seem to be hungry, and I think I have a pretty solid balance of a full plate of veggies, palmful of meat (length and depth of my palm), and a couple healthy fats with every meal.  I have a starchy veg in at least one meal a day.  I"m drinking between 70-90oz of water depending on the day (this includes the water I use in a workout). And nearly all my meals have a sprinkling of salt on them.


I've been doing a pre-workout snack (hardboiled egg and coconut flakes, or compliant jerky and walnuts). But I usually eat breakfast within 30 minutes of finishing up my workout, so I don't add in a post-wo meal. 


I would LOVE any help/advice on things to tweak. I was really hoping to feel better by this point in the program. Is it possible that even though I'm not hungry, I"m not eating enough? Should I up the water even more? Is it possible I'm not sleeping well (even though I think I"m getting 8 hours a day).


Headaches usually start up in the afternoon, although today's started up first thing in the morning.  They usually accompany a sleepy/tired feeling in my eyes.  Otherwise, my energy feels great. Everyone is sick at work. But this has been going on now for 10 days.


Any help or advice of things to try and tweak would be really super duper appreciated!  I hate being miserable as I pass up candy bar after candy bar (although, my sugar dragon really is dead - I don't even want that stuff).




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You are not eating enough. When you combine breakfast with a post-workout meal, you lose the bonus food that you need to compensate for the extra energy you are using to exercise. Combine that food deficit with the intensity and increased volume of exercise and your body is highly stressed. That can make you have a persistent headache every day. 


Also, breakfast should include fat. A post-workout meal should not include fat because it slows digestion. Slow digestion means that protein does not reach hungry muscles fast enough to optimize recovery. You are literally better served by eating some lean protein at the gym at the end of a workout and then coming home to eat a regular breakfast. 


Your hunger signals are often not reliable when you are near the beginning of learning a whole-foods lifestyle. That is why our meal planning template is so detailed and we advise you to eat at least the minimum amount whether you feel hungry or not.


We recommend 1/2 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. I don't count water I drink during exercise sessions because that is variable depending upon what I am doing. And the exercise increases hydration demands. 


It is perfectly acceptable to take ibuprofen during a Whole30, but ibuprofen is harder on muscles than some other choices. I take Tylenol when I have a headache. 

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