I started the Whole30 eating plan for a couple of reasons.
- I have digestion issues and thought it would help me pinpoint the foods that are the cause.
- I have not been making good food choices for a while, and felt I needed to do something drastic to kickstart my diet.
What Is It?
Whole30 is a 30-day elimination eating plan that is pretty strict. You must eat three complete meals every day. You cannot eat grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar or drink alcohol. You need to eat protein, healthy fats and lots of vegetables at every meal. Fruits are OK on a limited basis. Food choices are not designated as breakfast, lunch or dinner foods. You are encouraged to eat any of the compliant foods at any meal. Snacking is discouraged.
After 30 days, you gradually add in the eliminated foods to see how you feel. After so long without these foods, it should be easy to figure out which ones do not agree with you.
Some of the things I did not know before deciding to try the Whole30:
- Your tastebuds relearn to appreciate the taste of whole healthy foods without the tons of added sugar in so many American processed foods.
- You learn how to add healthy fats to your diet so you are less hungry.
- You learn to have a healthier relationship with food.
- Your body learns to burn fat for energy instead of carbs!
I’m on Day 14 of the plan, and I thought I would share with you some of the things I am experiencing.
The first few days are pretty hard. I’m not a breakfast eater, but the plan says to eat within an hour of waking and before you drink coffee. I’m not hungry in the morning, and I love drinking coffee while I get ready, so this change was hard.
In those first few days I confirmed that I cannot eat eggs. I had a stomach ache for three days before I realized both the hard boiled eggs and homemade mayo were bothering me!
Unfortunately, eggs are a big part of this program. Not only are they a good protein source, good for breakfast and portable (hard boiled eggs), but I had planned to eat lots of salads made with mayonnaise (tuna salad or egg salad). And I even made mayonnaise from scratch with raw eggs for that purpose!
Other meals have been a whole lot easier to manage. There is a lot of chopping and planning required. I’m eating so much more food than I am used to: lean proteins, healthy fats and tons of veggies.
If I eat enough protein and fats, I am not hungry between meals. Though I have some cravings for sweets or crunchy foods, I’m not hungry enough to want to snack or cheat. Sometimes I think I’m hungry, but I’m really just thirsty.
Affect on Training
I’m sure other walkers are much more interested in how this new eating plan is affecting my walking and training. Today is Day 14 on the plan. I’ve had no processed carbs in two weeks!
Last weekend I walked 4 miles on Saturday, had no energy and had to go slow. I averaged a 15- to 16-min. mile, and it was not easy.
Tuesday I walked 3 miles. The first 1.5 miles it was difficult to maintain a 15-min mile pace. The second half I just relaxed and did a 17-min mile. I could NOT have gone faster.
Wednesday was a hill workout, and though we walked just a 15-min mile, the hills felt OK and I was not drained. (I did have fruit with lunch, though.) I was looking forward to 6 to 8 miles today.
Today started my half-marathon training for an August race. My plan was to walk 6 to 8 miles at a comfortable pace. For me that ranges from a 14-min mile to a 15-min mile.
Before walking I ate about 2 oz. of chicken. (In the past, I would have had peanut butter on toast.) You don’t want to eat carbs before walking because then your body doesn’t learn to burn fat.
The first 2 miles were hard and I walked about a 16-min mile. Miles 3 through 5 were not so bad. I averaged 14:30! Then I had no energy at all, and walked the last mile in about 18 min. It was warm, but not overly hot, and I did have water with me.
I was hungry when I finished. After walking, carbs and protein are recommended, so I ate half of a sweet potato and an Epic protein bar. I immediately felt better.
From reading forum posts on the Whole30 website, I know my experience is not unique. One half-marathon runner had almost the same results as me after about two weeks. It’s a little frustrating having no energy and not being able to walk a distance that should not be difficult for me, but I’m confident this is a temporary setback to my training.
Eating chicken first thing was pretty hard.
If You Plan to Try It
Because this eating plan is pretty drastic for the average American who enjoys bread and sugary foods, it is important to plan your start date around big events in your life. I started the Monday after a big family wedding knowing I would want to have wine at the reception. I also wanted to be done before my anniversary and long before my next half marathon.
It is much easier to start and follow this plan if you buy the book. Not only does it explain all of the “whys” for eating this way, there are a lot of recipes. There is even a section on how to cook foods. (OK, I admit. I learned quite a bit from the cooking section.)
I’d also recommend at least scanning the forums on the website. Unfortunately, there are a ton of posts on the forum, so it can be hard to find the information you want. Keep looking. And if you can’t find the information you want, I was surprised at how quickly someone responded when I posted a concern about not feeling hungry.
There are also many Facebook pages and blogs that share recipes, so you should find plenty of tasty things to eat.
Eating in restaurants might be hard. Check in advance how the foods are cooked.
Finding some foods without added sugar can be nearly impossible. The sugar-free bacon I found was very expensive, so I didn’t buy it. Lunch meat is really a challenge! I found hot dogs, though.
Remember, this is only for 30 days. Cheating would definitely affect the results. Why commit to a difficult short-term eating plan if you don’t plan to see it through?
And finally, if you have done other things in life that are difficult — training for a half marathon or marathon, having a kid, surviving a serious illness — this is not that tough. (But get the book.)