Why am I having more digestive issues on Whole30 than the SAD?

Recommended Posts

I'm on day 19 of my first whole30, which I started motivated to kick sugar cravings, change my relationship with food, and partially just the challenge of creating delicious, healthy meals for myself with wholesome ingredients. 


I scan and search these forums frequently as I troubleshoot my own issues, and have adapted my meals quite a bit after reading the suggestions for other people: no more nuts, less fruit, cooking my veggies, more leafy greens, more starchy veggies, etc., but I'm still trying to figure out what I need to eat to stop the constipation/bloating/diarrhea that I've had since beginning the Whole30. I *think* I might be starting to see some benefits, namely in having reasonable energy during workouts- but after my very low energy in the beginning, I'm unsure if this new energy is actually greater than what I experienced beforehand. I've even been sleeping more poorly and had a harder time getting out of bed, though I'm mostly attributing that to the temperatures dropping here in the Southern hemisphere.


However, I feel like I'm playing a game in trying to feed my body the right things to calm these (new) digestive issues. At day 19, I'm frustrated that I'm still trying to adjust to this program. Prior to starting this, my diet did contain much fewer veggies and protein with more whole grains (oatmeal and rice, mostly) and dairy (and far too many sweets)- but I was never bothered by digestive issues or the low energy that I've battled for over half of the program. If my gut is 'healing' like ISWF says, why was I never bothered by the effects of my food before? If I simply wasn't getting enough fats/protein/magnesium/etc. prior to beginning, why are these problems only arising now that I've switched to better foods?


I guess I just don't fully understand why I felt fine eating rice/beans/cheese and not overanalyzing which veggies I consumed, yet now that I'm eating Whole30 compliant it has become much more difficult to find the balance of what my body needs.


Anyone else feeling this way?? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

"still trying to adjust to this program"

It sounds like your gut flora are what needs to do the adjusting. Your flora were adapted to your prior way of eating. Now the population is shifting in composition in response to the different foods, fuels, and fibers it is getting. This can cause your GI symptoms and energy changes.

Everyone is unique in this, depending on history and what changes were made. This is in part why symptoms and timelines are different for us too.

It takes time and experimentation to figure it out. So if you're at 19 days, it might just be that you need more time.

Sorry for short answer, I'm typing on a little phone. Can elaborate more later.

Link to post
Share on other sites

... I'm still trying to figure out what I need to eat to stop the constipation/bloating/diarrhea that I've had since beginning the Whole30....

LucieB put it very well above with regard to your body adjusting.

With regard to the symptoms you're having with the dietary changes can you give us a run down of what you've eaten over the past 3-4 days, giving specifics about portion sizes & veggie types - it could well be that you are sensitive to something you are eating & this is causing digestive distress.

Pre Whole30 your gut would have developed a protective mucosal layer which it will have shed with the removal of inflammatory foods and so your gut may be more sensitive to foods you thought you could tolerate previously, or you could just be eating a lot more of something to which you are sensitive & you've passed your tolerance threshold - but without knowing what you're eating we can't try & pin point the culprits...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I can understand that. It still seems strange to me that I could be feeling better eating inflammatory foods than I do eating all these veggies- if I was eating things that I'm sensitive to/passed the threshold for, wouldn't my gut hold on to the protective mucosal layer?



Breakfast: 3 scambled eggs, sweet potato/kale hash (one whole sweet potato, a ton of (wilted) kale- plate looks pretty evenly split between potato/kale), cooked in ghee

Lunch: Taco-ish ground beef served in bell pepper shells (one whole bell pepper- so, enough beef to fill it with some extra on the side) with five or six olives, half a carrot and a few spears of broccoli (steamed, with ghee added), a small tomato 

Dinner: Leftover ground beef (similar portion size- sorry, unsure of how to quanitfy 'palm sizes' with ground beef), 5 or 6 more olives, and a large kale/apple/curry stir fry (one small apple, and enough kale to fill a whole plate)- cooked in olive oil. Small handful of coconut flakes

(I worked out shortly before dinner, so I skipped the PWO and ate a big dinner!)



Breakfast: 3 scrambled eggs with a handful of green beans, half a carrot, and several spears of broccoli (cooked in ghee) 

(Worked out before lunch, so again, skipped the PWO and just ate lunch)

Lunch: 2 small cans of tuna in spring water, cooked into carrot noodles (2/3 large carrot)- cooked in olive oil, more steamed broccoli and green beans with ghee,

Dinner: Chicken tikka masala made in coconut milk (probably 2 palm sized servings of chicken), cauliflower rice (half a cauliflower),  



Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, sweet potato hash, 2 medium portabello mushrooms, a small roasted tomato, and wilted spinach (all cooked with olive oil)

Lunch: Half a small sweet potato, two hard boiled eggs, one can of tuna, a handful of raw green beans, half a carrot, a roasted beet, and a large handful of cashews

....snack: a slightly emotional binge on cashews and raisins. Lived and learned, realized I need to cut BOTH of these out for the rest of my whole30. 

Dinner: Chicken tikka masala: steamed broccoli and carrots again (probably 1.5 cups of veggies), two kiwis, small handful of coconut flakes


I'm having a bit of trouble with fats, which I hadn't fully realized until I wrote this out. Avocados are extremely expensive where I live, and now that I've cut out nuts, I just cook with more oil than what seems reasonable, and finish meals with a handful of coconut if I don't think I had enough fat with the meal. I'm trying to force down olives, but I don't like them very much haha. 


I definitely have been eating a ton of carrots/broccoli but I LOVE both of them and am sincerely hoping that neither are causing these symptoms!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Carrots don't tend to be problematic so I think you're okay there, the broccoli however.... not so much, and you're eating a fair bit of it. I'd be inclined to cut that out for a few days for sure to see how you go - that looks to me to be the biggest likely culprit - it's both high FODMAP and cruciferous - two of the biggest offending food groups, and if the broccoli is raw...? Triple whammy!!!  :wacko: 

The composition/size of your meals doesn't look too bad, but really you're doing yourself a disservice if you skip the postWO meal - your muscles have earned that protein, and whilst you may feel ok today/tomorrow a few days down the line your recovery may start to slow down, plus the fat in your next meal is slowing down absorption of any nutrients your muscles DO need - no bueno. A few bites of a lean protein immediately after you finish & before you shower & you're good to go, then follow up with your next meal.

Fat wise lard is a great (cheap) option - works brilliantly for frying eggs/sauteing meat - ghee can be put over veg in the way you'd use butter, homemade mayo is good with EVERYTHING, and coconut milk cream works well as a topping for veg/adding to coffee/making sauces/curries etc - and there;s compliant bacon which is amazing mixed in with roast veg....

Hope this helps  :) 


Link to post
Share on other sites

Broccoli! With cauliflower, sweet potatoes, raisins, cashews, beets, oh my! Yeah I'd cut back on those and see if things improve. Some gut bugs really love fermenting those, which leads to bloating, pain, and gut symptoms. Some people find that after some adaptation they can gradually add those foods back in and have no troubles.


Think of your gut as a mini-ecosystem. By changing your foods you've disrupted the balance and things will need time to adjust. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

If avocados are too expensive, check out Wholly Guacamole 100's. They are small packets of guac that are very portable, compliant and delicious.  They really save me when I have sugar cravings and can't find an avocado to eat.  I find that none of the fats stop cravings and calm my digestive symptoms like avocado.  You should be able to find them at most grocery stores, I often eat them with a HB egg as a post workout meal or when the sugar cravings just get too much.  Or I eat them on eggs at Meal 1 or cooked veggies or as a raw veggie dip at any meal. They are really the best. 


And I had digestive issues all through my first Whole 30 and it really took a couple months of riding my own bicycle to get everything under control.  I am still, four months later, tweaking my diet as I find things that don't go well.  I am just so much more attuned to my body now that things have really improved.  During Whole 30, I had terrible bloating and acid reflux and burning tongue and throat and bowel issues and they just took a lot longer to resolve than 30 days.  But they are really ALL gone now.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would strongly suspect the broccoli. All veggies in the cabbage family give me gas. Try varying your vegetables.. There are so many delicious ones. All very easy to cook. Everyone is different. I also found out during my whole30 that nuts and night shades may give me problems. Keeping a food journal with (notations on mood, aches and pains, energy, digestive issues) helped me find out what bothered me. Good luck. I sincerely hope it's not the carrots!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel exactly the same way!  I am on day 18 and could have written this original post myself!  In addition, I have had less energy the past 2 days than normal and have been unable to sleep past 5 am since I started Whole30.  I do not like vegetables and really struggle with eating enough of them at each meal. I'm sure I'm not eating the "right" vegetables and probably should eat more with greater variety, but, as I have not actually enjoyed a meal in over 2 weeks, feel I am doing the best I can.  I am really hoping that eliminating plain yogurt and brown rice will somehow result in something positive, but right now, I miss them!  I am hopeful I will start to fell better and get more energy, but, if nothing else, I am looking forward to reincorporating dairy, grains, and legumes back into my diet.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, personally, I have had tummy troubles pretty consistently since starting 15 days ago. It is just starting to get better, but I honestly think it is detoxing from dairy. Prior to this I was sugar and grain-free for over a month and the one main change I made was eliminated dairy. I have been having multiple, crampy BMs daily since day 2. And it is finally down to just 2-3 times a day, and not so crampy. I also have trouble digesting raw leafy greens and adding cooked veggies to my salads seem to mitigate this issue. 



Link to post
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.