Whole30: It’s a stricter form of Paleo in that NO sugar (real, artificial, natural, etc.) is included in the plan. The premise: eat whole foods – protein, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats (emphasis on omega 3’s, less omega 6’s). No grains, no dairy, no alcohol (even extracts!), no soy. It’s not “low carb” but it is certainly low-er carb. Snacks are generally discouraged and three square meals a day are recommended.
Why did I give it a shot? A few reasons…
- My mother-in-law and sister-in-law love Whole30, stating they feel better when following a Whole30 diet.
- Hubby challenged me because he was wanting to take off a few pounds after the holidays
- I wanted to focus on my health and losing some weight after the holidays…and after spending 27 of the past 28 months pregnant and/or breastfeeding (!)
- Something Mark and I could do together – looking for recipes, grocery shopping, $400 trips to Whole Foods… 😉
The Good: Lots of stuff.
- Cooking. I hear it a LOT in my line of work, but when people complain about cooking, it gets old. Cooking is so important and I don’t say that because I personally love it. I say it because if you don’t cook, you’re more than likely eating a far more processed diet. Cooking doesn’t have to be difficult or hard, it just takes a bit of time and planning.
- Not hungry. Is there anything worse than being hungry when trying to lose weight? Food is all you can think about. Not only that, but there’s no measuring “required” with Whole30 – the focus is on eating until satisfied. I’m not fundamentally against measuring food, but meal time with a 2-year-old, newborn, and husband who works really long hours…is chaotic enough as is. I enjoyed focusing more on filling foods that are high in protein and healthy fats, while also incorporating healthy carbohydrates, like fruit. Because I’ll be honest, I would love nothing more than to always grab a tasty carb of some sort – crackers, candy, cereal, chips, etc.
- Nutritionally sound. While there are no grains or dairy included in Whole30, it was certainly not low in vitamin D, calcium, fiber, etc. I did continue to take my prenatal vitamin and would recommend a multivitamin to those on Whole30.
The Bad: Some stuff.
- Eating out. I know Whole30 “gods” say there’s no such thing as a “perfect” Whole30, but there’s pretty much no way to be 100% Whole30 complaint in your run of the mill restaurant. You can specify your order all you want, but sugar, non-compliant oils, and additives are in EVERYTHING. We simply chose not to eat out while on Whole30, and honestly, that was probably the #1 hardest part of Whole30 for us.
- Limiting. By the end, I felt like I was eating the same foods in different preparations. I definitely missed dairy and grains. I ate a lot of eggs, avocados, nuts, sweet potatoes, lettuce, meat, and seafood. While I enjoy all of these foods, it can be hard to differentiate one recipe from the next with limited use of condiments, toppings, etc.
The Ugly: A few things.
- Availability. I live in small town Michigan and it was nearly impossible to find some things that were Whole30 complaint – bacon, sausage, etc. We did find one broth and one almond milk option, but availability was definitely a challenge in keeping Whole30 compliant.
- Cost. I think I mentioned our $400 trip to Whole Foods. We normally do not eat a lot of meat and meat is DEFINITELY expensive. We also bought almost all organic for the month and while I love it, it comes at a cost. Again, I realize this isn’t 100% necessary, but we went all out.
- Time. Convenience foods and eating out being non-options, it meant more time spent meal planning and cooking. Dinners took substantially longer to prepare due to the large volume of meat (trimming, cutting, etc) and vegetables (wash, chop, prepare). There was also more dishes to be done with the increased amount of cooking. Not complaining, but I don’t always have time and while we were doing Whole30, Mark was working 7am to 8pm most of the month – gah!
So, what were our results?
- Mark: -16 pounds.
- Me: -12 pounds.
I did eat fruit at most every snack – I had no interest in low-carb because 1. it’s not maintainable, 2. the initial weight loss that accompanies low-carb comes back on the instant carbs are reintroduced, and most importantly, 3. I was not willing to jeopardize my milk supply (I’m happy to say my supply stayed consistent the whole time).
We did NOT make it the WHOLE 30 days. We caved on the night of Day 26 after realizing that we desperately needed a little 1:1 time and had my in-laws in town to be with our girls. We went out and had a nice dinner and beer! Definitely worth not getting my invisible Whole30 Gold Star for completion. 😉 Could I/we have made the WHOLE 30 days? Of course. But I think we both felt like we had “accomplished” what we’d set out to do – eat healthfully and “whole” and lose some weight.
Someone asked if we were going to dive face first into pizza or do the reintroduction phase of Whole30…and it’s a great question. We’re actually moving forward with mostly Whole30 meals and snacks (love Rx Bars!) Sunday through Thursday and giving ourselves some more flexibility on Fridays and Saturdays to enjoy alcohol and some dinners out. So, we’re doing a Whole30 hybrid! I anticipate things will loosen up as time goes on but I think we’d both entertain another round of Whole30 (or maybe like a Whole21 😉 ).
Please feel free to ask questions and I’d be happy to answer. Please follow along on Instagram and look for my posts with #whole30 tags for meal ideas (or, #whole30ish). I’ve been trying to post lots because I know how much I appreciate meal ideas to keep things different and delicious!