The month of June I embarked on a trial of the Whole30 diet. It was an interesting experiment. I say experiment, because I knew from the get go, this wasn't going to be how I eat. I'll dive into this more a bit later.
First, Whole30 is 30 days of eating no sugar, processed foods, artificial ingredients, bread or dairy. I was solid except for a few beers (much less then my normal intake) and my raw milk.
I think many people are drawn to this because they have heard so many people talk about weight loss. I believe it is becoming known for this. Personally I lost about 8-9 pounds. So, if this is your measure of success, I guess this diet (way of eating) is successful.
I've blogged before about how I became more attuned with things that have chemicals in them and lost my taste for them. This I believe is a positive.
I discovered some interesting vegetables that I never knew about. Kohlrabi being my favorite. I would cut them up like french fries and bake them. Delicious. I plan on keeping the salad habit that we formed.
I realized some things are just as good without bread. Burgers on lettuce were great. In fact, I was able to eat more burgers when I kicked the bun to the curb. Hence, I was trading junk (bread) for more healthy nutrients (burger).
Now come some negatives.
I was always hungry. I thought this would be the opposite. Logic states that if I'm eating more "whole" foods instead of "processed" foods, I should feel fuller. This was not my case. I found this to be annoying.
The next point may be coincidence I don't know, I can't explain it. My joints felt horrific. My lower back hurt the whole month. My right elbow had more pain then normal. My right knee which doesn't usually bother me a whole lot anymore, had a few weeks of significant discomfort. These are all old injuries from sports, surgery, torn ligaments etc...
This all could have been coincidence. But, coincidentally when I went back to eating my normal way, I almost felt 100% immediately. Hmmm....If I was expecting one thing from this diet, I was thinking my joints would feel better as I've always thought sugar to be a major inflammatory marker.
My energy sucked. Well, let me explain, my anaerobic power went into the crapper, as did my strength. I could do life just fine, work, play with the kids, walk. I felt like I was going to pass out after each rep in a deadlift session. It wasn't as heavy as I would normally lift as my back didn't quite feel right yet either. 30 minutes into a mountain bike session, after biking up a tough hill, my vision started to narrow. I had to stop for 5 minutes and suck down a friends carb drink. This was a ride I should be capable of doing off the couch without issues.
Obviously when you lose weight your caloric intake is less. Perhaps, if I had matched my old caloric intake with my caloric intake on the Whole30, things would have been different. As it was, I was eating as much as I could.
The month was good though for a few reasons. It clarified my thinking on a few topics. Diet is the only way I think the majority of people will ever lose weight in the U.S. Before this month I would have leaned more towards exercising. I'd be more 80/20 food to exercise now. It seems silly in hindsight, if someone asked me what you would need to do to gain weight, my first response would be eat more. So why wouldn't my lose weight advice be the opposite?
Your food and eating habits have to fit your lifestyle and beliefs. I have gravitated towards an intermittent style of eating 4-5 days of the week because it fits my lifestyle so well. I feel great on it. I believe it follows more of how humans evolved to eat. Scarcity of food, or out looking for food, then a large meal. This is one of the few ways of eating that has science and research that improves quite a few health markers.
I think their is a lot of fear based notions with food and eating. I'm almost ready to say that if your eating or not eating something because of fear you need to really examine where this belief is coming from. (I think this may be a longer blog post in the future)
Caloric intake is the key in my opinion to gaining or losing weight. Nothing else.
My body (read MY) responds well to periods of fasting and periods of feasting. Not much energy coming in and then big booms of energy. Not much eating for 20 hours and then a pizza. This is both mentally and physically. Thinking about what I'm going to eat on the Whole30 was a stress to me. No thanks!
I'm glad the month was over. It's alway fun and interesting to explore new ideas, but in the end, find what works for you. Just because it worked for someone else doesn't mean it's the right way for you. I don't think there is a correct way to eat, correct foods to eat, "bad" foods or magic diets. Pay attention to everything you ingest, regardless if it's a Kale shake or DQ frosty. Both have merits, eat without stress, eat with a purpose.