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I completed a Whole40. Here’s my experience:

Symptoms prior to Whole40: Tired all the time, not sleeping well at night

Symptoms during Whole40: Benefits - slightly reduced joint pain, less BO; Negatives - Stomachaches, diarrhea, lack of energy, hungry all the time. Still tired all the time and not sleeping well at night.


As for rule following, I’m a stickler when it comes to rules and details. I read the book and followed every detail I could find. I read my labels, made a ton of homemade stuff, and proportioned my meal to ensure proper protein, fat, and veggie intake.


What I did to try to solve the above problems: 

Stomachaches/diarrhea - Went to LowFODMAP, removed a couple other trigger foods, added enzymes, continued probiotics, tried to find fat options that didn’t make my stomach reel (but failed: oil, ghee, avocado, nuts, fatty cuts of meat, coconut all really make me feel sick). These efforts had a little positive effect, but I still felt miserable all the time. The morning is the worst for me. Truly, I think it’s the fat. The foods above have never settled well for me in large quantities.  


Hungry all the time - My stomach would hurt after each meal, but as that would dissipate, I’d feel incredibly hungry. At first I thought I needed more food, so I ate until I was stuffed for each of my 3 meals and then would force a couple more bites down. After a couple hours, I’d be weak with hunger. So then I added more calories through fats, but given how fats make my stomach feel, this only made me feel worse, plus I still was hungry after a couple hours. So then I thought that maybe my stomachaches were sending me mixed cues (given all my stomachache issues), but my husband (who had no stomach issues) experienced the same thing. I did what I could to make sure I was having a two servings of fat (2 because I was hungry all the time), one palm sized portion or more of protein, plus a plate full of veggies. Since the fat wasn’t helping our hunger, we tried also adding carbs through squashes and potatoes. Still starving after a few hours. What solved it was simply adding 2 meals so we eat 5 now. 


Lack of energy - For me, there is a negative difference between my energy levels pre-Whole40 and during (i.e. feel worse now.) At first, my husband became “superman.” He was full of energy and felt great. Well, that ended after a couple weeks for him, and he became just as he was pre-Whole40. We tried to adjust with more fats as I said above, and then more carbs eventually, and then mini-meals (complete with a little fat, protein, and veggie). No real help for his energy levels. He feels that his body is missing something.


I should note that I’ve tried much more than what is listed above, but for brevity, I’ll end here. I really, really wanted this to work!


Ok, so now to reintroduction. I thought that perhaps I should stay the course and problem solve until I at least felt as good as pre-Whole40 prior to reintroduction. That’s actually why I did Whole40 instead of Whole30. I had been working to problem-solve the whole time but kept going through 40 days. Well, once I realized that there weren’t any favorable fat options for my stomach, I decided it was best to do reintroduction, just noting if it made me feel worse or better. I did it for 10 days (though only got through 2 food groups). I then had a day where I was so discouraged about feeling miserable for the past 2 months that I ate a whole pizza, 4 gigantic cookies, 4 pastries, a huge caesar salad with croutons, plus a normal, Whole30 breakfast and dinner. I kept waiting for the “truck to hit me,” but it never did. My stomachache the next morning was no different than any other morning, but my diarrhea was absent. Also, I had so much more energy. I mean way more energy after all this junk. In other words, I felt better, not worse, after eating all that stuff. Well, I went back to Whole30 eating, but this experiment tells me that I must be missing something, though I don’t know what. 


My husband theorizes that our bodies are so used to using carbs for energy that 40 days wasn’t long enough to switch to using fats. Honestly, though, given that fats make me feel awful, I think that processing fats was actually what was sucking all of my energy from me. So now I’m going to try reducing fats to my pre-Whole40 level and increasing carbs through whole grains, starting with rice and slowly reintroducing one at a time. 


I can see how Whole30 would revolutionize many people’s lives, especially if they are currently eating junk. For me, it made my life worse as now I have crippling stomach pain all the time and even less energy than I started with. The slight reduction in joint pain and BO tells me that something in my diet was bad for me. So I’m hoping as I reintroduce to figure out what caused those two benefits even while looking to feel better in everything else.

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Sorry to hear about your troubles.


Kudos on adding the extra meals if you needed them. Could you give us a couple of days worth of meals (everything you/husband ate, and the quantity) so we could help troubleshoot? How much water and sleep were you getting?


As you know, none of us are medical professionals. It sounds like you may have a more serious underlying issue than can be solved with just good food. I think you would really benefit from consulting with a specialist.

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sunnyphxgirl - I'm really sorry to hear this - I had a pretty positive experience myself, and I would wish the same for you. It sounds like there are just some things you need to eliminate from your regular diet - maybe try the reverse, and eliminating one thing at a time?


I know no food plan, exercise regimen, diet, etc is "one size fits all," so this isn't for everyone, though I'm impressed at your level of commitment. If nothing else, your biggest win here is your strength and discipline. As ultrarunnergirl said, I would really encourage talking with a specialist. Good luck to you, and know that we - at least I can say I am - are here to listen and provide encouragement when you need it.

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Thank you, both, for your kind words. I don't mean to be a "Debbie Downer." My husband feels positive about this diet and has lost 20 pounds. Even though his energy levels did not stay at "superman" level, he told me last night that he still feels much better than he used to. So yes, I agree that it's probably an underlying problem. I have a specialist, but she's working very slowly: I saw her right before I started (she put me on it) and then not again for 5 weeks. It's been a couple weeks since that appointment, I won't see her again for another 3 weeks. All she said at that middle, 5-week visit was, "Hm, you feel worse now than before? That's strange. Well, keep doing what you're doing and take this lab. I'll see you in 5 weeks." I want to give her a chance, but 10 weeks of feeling worse when I went on this to feel better is hard. So I'm trying what I can in the meantime to do some problem solving on my own. One huge positive, though, is that I've been learning contentment. Well, this post being the exception, haha! 


Ok, so to answer Ultrarunnergirl's questions. Amount of sleep: prior to Whole30, I went through a 3 month bit where I couldn't sleep more than 2 or 3 hours. That leveled off at about 4 or 5 hours (which leaves me exhausted) even before I started Whole30. I had one doctor try me on sleep pills (ineffective) and the other try me on herbs (no difference). So lack of sleep has been a constant both pre and during Whole30. 


Water: I know I have a habit of forgetting to drink, so for the past 3 years, I've been trying to counter that by a new habit: Try to drink a cup of water every hour, excepting the 2 hours before bedtime. In reality, this means that I'm getting about 10 or so glasses of water a day, more if I workout (which I do 5 days a week). My scale tests water percentage, and my latest was at 58%. I've read that women should be between 48 and 60%. 


Sure, here are a couple days worth. There are a few high fodmap items on this list that I know from pre-Whole30 days don't exacerbate my stomach. The one thing that I know does exacerbate it is the oil:

Breakfast: 2 small hamburger patties (combined, a bit bigger than the size of my palm) with salt, pan fried potato wedges with generous amount of olive oil (filling about 1/4 of my plate). smoothie: 2 cups of spinach, 2 pasteurized raw eggs (strangely, raw eggs don't exacerbate my stomach, though cooked eggs do), 1/2 banana, 1/2 apple. 

Snack: 3 carrots with almond butter

Lunch: Leftovers of shepherd's pie (from recipe book), but with green onions instead of regular onions. Quantity: filled up a bowl to the top. I used white sweet potatoes, however, as they have always been my "miracle food" in the past for stomach issues. 

Early dinner: Cod with rice (a food that I reintroduced successfully) and broccoli. I ate 2 cod filets.


Breakfast: Sausage, palm sized portion (though my husband reduced the spice level significantly), fried potato wedges, berries (1/5 of my plate), peas (1/3 of my plate)

Snack: banana with almond butter, steamed carrots

Lunch: Pot roast, filling a big bowl to the brim. green onions in place of regular onions, green beans in place of the squash, plus carrots and celery

Snack: green smoothie: 2 cups of spinach, 2 pasteurized eggs, 1 apple (no banana this time)

Dinner: Salmon (1 large piece), peas (bowlful), berries


One of you suggested eliminating one thing at a time instead of eliminating everything and then reintroducing. Honestly, I think that might be the better approach. 

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