The Whole30, Version 1.0

In Part II of our Guide to Eating Dirty, I recommend cheating smart – indulging in those foods that aren’t going to knock you out of energy, wellness and performance commission for days on end. The concept sounds pretty easy, and it is… as long as you know how various food groups like gluten, dairy and legumes affect you. So how do you figure out what foods are okay to cheat with, and what foods will never be worth it?

I can tell you where it STARTS… strip out all the crap from your diet and let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be provoking. What, exactly, does that mean? Super strict, no cheat, by-the-book, 100% Healthy Eating for the next 30 days. Cut all the foods that could be kicking you in the crotch without you even knowing it for the next 30 days, and see how that feels. (To be clear – this is NOT a “30 Day Challenge”. This is so much bigger than that. And it’s not really even about cheating. I kind of tricked you there. I’m not sorry. Read on, please.)

Why?

First and foremost, it will change your life. I cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact. This. Will. Change. Your. Life. It will change the way you think about food, it will change your tastes, it will change your habits and your cravings. It could, quite possibly, change the emotional relationship you have with food, and with your body. It has the potential to change the way you eat for the rest of your life. I know this because I did it, and it changed my life, and it changed the way I eat on a very permanent basis.

I promised you some cheat-tips, so here’s how this ties in. The only way you are going to know if something is having a negative effect on how you look, feel or perform is to take it out for a while, then try it again with a fresh perspective. Think of it this way – if you’re allergic to pollen, and you are exposed to pollen every day, that means every day your nose is a little stuffy and your head is a little achy. You probably don’t even realize how crappy you feel, because a stuffy nose and achy head is just normal. Now, take a vacation somewhere pollen-free. Allow your body to experience a month without that irritant. Then… come home. Imagine how aware you would be of your allergy then. Your first few days back, you would be miserably in tune with how your allergy is affecting your everyday life.

Same concept here. Dairy, gluten, lectins and alkaloids may be provoking a similar autoimmune response in your body today – and you don’t even know it. Certain sugary foods may send you running for the nearest candy bowl, while others may satisfy you with just a small amount. So take a vacation from those food groups. Give your body a break, and then, if you so choose, come back to them with a fresh perspective. You’ll be able to immediately see if – and how – they really do impact how you look, feel and perform.

There are other reasons for doing a super strict 30 day healthy eating program. For one, there’s an excellent chance that this little adventure will jump start fat loss. And I’ve seen really good results, especially in women, of body shapes changing just by eliminating these foods. Does your stomach look flat in the morning and chubby by day’s end? Try cutting dairy. You’d be surprised how an irritated digestive tract can manifest into a muffin-top over those low rider jeans in just a matter of hours.

What?

So what does “strict” mean? You’ll get a different answer depending on who you ask, but this is the plan I followed back in April.

  1. Eat real food – meat*, eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, oils (like EVOO or coconut). Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re fresh and natural.
  2. Do not eat dairy. This includes butter, cheese (hard and soft), yogurt (even Greek) and milk (including cream in your coffee**).
  3. Do not eat grains. This includes bread, rice, pasta, corn (I count corn as a grain), oatmeal, and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains. That’s not real food, right?
  4. Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds, lentils, and peanuts. (No peanut butter, kids.)
  5. Do not eat sugars*** of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, Splenda, Truvia, Stevia, etc.
  6. Do not eat processed foods. This includes protein shakes, processed bars (like Zone bars), dairy-free creamers, etc.
  7. Do not drink alcohol, in any form.
  8. If you have serious inflammation issues like arthritis, you may want to consider avoiding nightshades for 30 days as well.

*I ate organic chicken sausage during my 30 day period. They are nitrate, dairy, gluten and casein-free and all natural. I did not eat bacon, but I’d be okay with bacon if it didn’t have any nitrates or other crap in it.

**I drank coffee in moderate amounts. Since I was drinking it black, I really didn’t want that much anyway. If you really want to go hard core and reset your body’s tolerance to caffeine, skip the coffee for the 30 day period as well.

***I used reason when avoiding sugars. For example, my Sunbutter includes some cane juice, which means there are 3g of sugar in each serving. Since it’s such a fantastic fat source and the only other ingredient is sunflower seeds, I was okay with that.

How?

So now that you have the basic plan, you need to know how to implement it. I’ll help you.

Start now. Today. This minute. Count out thirty days, go immediately to your grocery store and stock up on things you can eat, and begin. Cold turkey, just start. It’s the only way to do it. Give yourself excuses, reasons to put it off, and you may never begin. Do it now.

The only way this will work is if you give it the full thirty days. Anything less and you are selling yourself, and your results, short. You may start to see and feel improvements within just a few days, but according to Robb and Matt, the healing process takes significantly longer. And… no cheating. Just ONE cheat could irritate your digestive tract, promote an inflammatory response, upend your insulin sensitivity and send you running for the nearest Dunkin Donuts. It will ruin the effect of the “reset button” you are trying to push. This isn’t me being a hard-ass, or insisting that you tough it out to prove to yourself you can do it. This is a fact – the only way this will work is if you give it the full thirty days, no cheating.

Where?

Right here. Come to my house, sign up for the month and then post back here as often as you like. I’ll provide the forum, every Monday and Friday, for the next 30 days. Post your progress, your results, share good recipes, ask questions. Tell us how good you look, how much better you feel, how much energy you have. Inspire each other. Support each other. Fist bumps all around for those of you who finish out the full 30 days. Right here, right now. Let’s do this.

Tough Love

Here comes the tough love. This is for those of you who are considering taking on this life-changing month, but aren’t sure you can actually pull it off, cheat free, for a full 30 days. This is for the people who have tried this before, but who “slipped” or “fell off the wagon” or “just HAD to eat (fill in food here) because of this (fill in event here)”. This is for you.

  1. It’s not that effing hard. (Yes, I wanted to throw an f-bomb in there.) Don’t you dare tell me this is hard. Giving up heroin is hard. Drinking your coffee black is. Not. Hard. Substituting Sunday morning French toast in favor of a giant omelet and side of crispy bacon is not hard. Eating fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables every day is not hard. So I don’t want to hear one single complaint. You won’t get any coddling from me on this one, you won’t get any sympathy for your “struggles”, and you won’t get any second chances. Not in my house. It’s thirty days, and it’s for the most important cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime. So shut up and do it.
  2. Don’t tell me you “slipped”. Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a box of Krispy Kremes, you DID NOT SLIP. You made a choice to eat something of poor quality. It’s always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident. You make a poor choice, even once, you’re out. You don’t get to re-start, you don’t get to keep posting. Commit here, 100%, for the full 30 days, or go somewhere else.
  3. Don’t lie to me. Don’t even try.
  4. You never, ever, ever HAVE to eat anything you don’t want to eat. You’re all big boys and girls. Toughen up. Learn to say no. Learn to stick up for yourself. Just because it’s your Mom’s birthday, or your best friend’s wedding, or your company outing does not mean you “have” to eat crappy food. It’s always a choice, and I would hope that you stopped succumbing to peer pressure in 7th grade.
  5. This does require a bit of effort, people. If you’re cutting grains and dairy for the first time, you have to replace those calories with something. You have to make sure you’re eating enough, that your vitamins and nutrients are balanced, that you’re getting enough protein, fat and carbohydrates. Don’t expect me to fill in the blanks for you. Figure it out. There are a ton of good resources out there, so take responsibility for your own plan. Improved health, fitness and performance doesn’t happen just because you’re now taking a pass on chocolate milk.

Summary

So there you have it – my thoughts on changing your life in 30 days. If just one person makes this happen – just one – this entire four page post will be well worth my time and energy. It’s that important. I believe in it that much. It changed my life, and I want it to change yours too.

Post questions to comments so I can answer them for everyone. Post your commitment, if you’re up for it. Just make sure you re-read the Tough Love portion again before you sign up. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Comments

  1. Melinda says

    Hi Melissa -

    Thanks very much for maintaining this blog. I started a Whole30 March 1. I am tracking my progress over at http://bullcitycrossfitters.blogspot.com/.

    We just found out that you guys are coming to speak at our box in Durham, NC (crossfitdurham.com) in May. Looking forward to it.

    I have just re-read this post in its entirety gearing up for Week 2.

    Thanks again for the motivation, support and encouragement you offer to your readers!

  2. says

    @VegGirl: If you’ll eat fish and seafood (and eggs, maybe?) then I’d ask you to skip the legumes and dairy entirely, and get ALL your protein from those sources. Period. That’s actually a REALLY good option for you, especially if you keep your quality high (wild-caught fish instead of farm raised). Take it a step further and use the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch to ensure high quality seafood choices that are also good for the environment and sustainability.

    Best,
    Melissa

  3. Justin in ATL says

    Ok, I am going to do this. I discovered the awesomeness that is CrossFit in November (while I was about halfway thru with P90X (ha!)) and have been CrossfFitting and doing a relatively strict iteration of the Zone with somewhat high quality food (have yet to cut dairy…) and have gotten great results, but want better. If others can hack 30 days strict Paleo, so can I, and look forward to it… just a couple of quick questions (despite having read just about every comment, etc. on this and other sites). I use egg protein powder in my breakfast smoothie, but its also got some lecithin and other stuff in it. I’m guessing I need to find something else? Is it possible to find just plain old powdered egg whites? And if so, do they count as strict Paleo? Also, I thought I read somewhere that Melissa had written about carrots recently, but I cannot locate that writing if it does exist; help?

    Other than that, I have really enjoyed reading the site, the blog, and have gotten lots of good info from it! Thanks for what you guys do! Can’t wait to do the PTP program, but think I’m going to put it off until after July 4, when I am running my first 10k so that I can gear my training more toward that…

    Again, thanks much! You guys may no longer be official CrossFit affiliates, but that would be CrossFit’s loss, not yours, methinks.

    Justin

  4. Logan says

    I too have been reading about this for a couple of hours. I’m fired up about it. Thanks, Melissa and all commenters, for all this great info.

  5. Niall says

    @ VegGirl..

    I’m sorry to say but you’re pretty much screwed. Meat makes up a massive part of this diet so without it I don’t really think it would be healthy or beneficial at all. Honestly though, what’s more important to you, your health or the issue of animal cruelty? Would you sacrifice your own health for the health of an animal? This is something I have never understood. I don’t condone cruelty to animals but the simple fact is that we as humans are designed to eat meat and we should do what we are mean’t to do. Animals kill other animals for food so it’s just way things are. As human beings we need certain things, protein being one of them and you aren’t going to get sufficient protein from vegetables, grains, legumes etc. If you have a moral issue with meat but eat seafood then would eating free range grass fed organic meat help at all? I mean, fish are still caught and killed so if you knew your meat was from an animal that lived a good life and was killed humanely would that help with your issue?

    Also, soy is absolute garbage. I would never put that stuff in my body. Have a read about it online and you will feel the same.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh at all but this is an important issue. Animals will die regardless of your actions. I understand you don’t want to be a part of that but at the end of the day YOUR health is the most important thing in this world.

    Good luck to you.

  6. Niall says

    Oops I didn’t see Melissa’s reply. I agree with her though. If you can get your protein from seafood then do it. I honestly don’t know why you would when there is plenty of great grass fed free range meat available that comes from humanely treated/killed animals.

  7. Helen says

    Hi

    This is my second Whole30. I did my first one earlier this year, then had a ‘normal paleo’ month which was whole30 with 2-3 treats a week. My ‘normal’ month went pretty well with very few bad choices made however I think another whole30 will be good as it re-establishes the boundries. So here it is, public declaration of commiting to Whole30 no 2.

    cheers
    Helen

  8. says

    @Justin,

    Thanks for the the post. As far as egg white powder is concerned, I’ve not seen any without some kind of emulsifier like (soy) lecithin, but here’s the deal: we’re waaaaaay less concerned with whether lecithin is “strict Paleo” than whether it’s good for you, and in general (and including this situation), we always prefer fresh, real food to processed stuff like protein powder. So, if I had my way, I’d tell you to steer towards egg whites or whole eggs (from a organic, free-range source if possible) instead of the powder. After all, poached eggs with blackberries and pecans not only is more satiating and enjoyable, it looks a lot more “Paleo” than a fruit shake to me, anyway ;) Hope this helps.

    Melissa’s “Carrot Train to Crazytown” article can be found at: http://www.urbangetsdiesel.com/2009/06/carrot-train-to-crazytown.html.

    Let us know how your PTP program goes. We’ve got people all over the place doing it, and doing really well. I’d even hypothesize that you could start it now and sub out one day a week for a slightly longer run (like, less than 5 miles), and still rock the 10k in July. After all, strong runners run faster. Best of luck.

  9. says

    @Niall,

    Here’s your friendly reprimand: no one who comes here looking for sound nutritional or fitness-related information is “screwed”, even if they have some moral or ethical objections to one or more components of our recommendations. We respect the thought process that led them to that place, even if we don’t agree. (As an aside, my own mother, who has been vegetarian for decades, is (re)considering whether it’s the healthiest way to eat.) We’re not here to convince people that they must eat meat, we’re just presenting what we feel is the best way to eat for long-term, sustainable health and quality of life. We work really hard to not come across as elitist or omniscient, and part of that is the recognition that different people have different world views and perspectives, and that they have value independent of whether they line up with our views or not.

    @Helen,

    Welcome aboard (again)! You’ve got a great idea, recommitting to a stricter nutrition plan periodically… We all kind of “drift” after a while, even if it’s slow and slight, but I’m glad you recognize the value of “resetting” your reference point of Good, Clean Food. Keep us updated!

  10. Justin in ATL says

    Thanks for the most useful info, Dallas. I guess I knew that my protein powder wasn’t actually food, but was somewhere deep inside hoping someone might tell me it would somehow qualify as Good Food, seeing as how convenient/easy that monster smoothie is in the morning. So, this morning I got my lazy rear out of bed 20 minutes early (ugh! going to bed at a decent hour is still one of my biggest weak points) and made a frittata-type thing a-la Robb Wolf’s CFFB omelet – organic, good for me chicken-apple sausage, a bag of frozen broccoli, three free range, organic, omega-3 (so much for $0.79 a dozen eggs!) and homemade salsa. It was fantastic. Day 1 of my official Paleo journey is now under way!

    I’ve been doing the Zone for a few months, and find it super easy to take my lunch to work on the Zone, but not quite as easy with Paleo. I essentially make service calls all day, so there is no telling where I’ll be on any given day or if I will have access to microwave to warm something up, etc. Any pointers?

    You also make a great point about the PTP program. I spent some more time reading over the whole plan last night, and will be starting it this evening. I’ll post more about that journey over on the PTP section.

    All this talk of food has made me hungry, so its off to lunch for me!

    Thanks again, you guys rock!

    Justin

  11. Helen says

    @Justin at ATL

    Lunch on the move can be a challenge so assuming you are in a vehicle I’d be packing a nice big salad with cold grilled chicken, canned tuna or salmon. Add some fresh fruit, a small container of nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower etc), a very large container of water and put it all in a bag with a couple of frozen ice packs in the bottom. Your food will stay fresh all day and you’ll have plenty to eat when the opportunity arises. After a few days of this you will be so used to it that everything else starts to look a bit blech and your timing is great assuming you are in the northern hemisphere and so heading into summer.

    If your day takes you close to somewhere you can buy fresh grilled fish, prawns (shrimp?) or scallops, grab some of those to have with your salad to make things interesting. Just make sure it’s good quality if you are going to do this, where I live we are lucky there are lots of places we can do this and it’s cheap.

    Now I’m the one that’s hungry….snack time.
    Cheers
    Helen

  12. Justin in ATL says

    Thanks for the tips, Helen. I guess in need to invest in a lunch bag/cooler large enough to stick a big salad in… but that’s cool. One and a half days down, 0 problems, no worries so far!

    Justin

  13. RebeccaJ says

    Okay, my husband makes it home from Iraq the first week of May and after two months of crossfit and fairly good Paleo I am ready to take this to the next level before he returns… March 28th-Day One… Here goes nothing! :)

  14. Melinda says

    Melissa and Dallas – I’m just finishing up my first Whole30. I have a couple of things I’d like to get your thoughts on. Have done some looking around at some of the research, but curious about your real-life research.

    1) Is it possible to change years and years of binge habits? I find I don’t even want to do this anymore. AND THIS IS GREAT. But if I eat sugar again, even once, will all of this reverse?

    2) I am happy. Happier than I have been in some time. Which one of the foods I removed can be attributed to better mood? Guess I’m asking what should I not add back. Or is this part of the experiment and it is different for each person?

    3) My hair seems to be growing super fast. Can this be attributed to my change in diet?

    4) Most importantly – I really don’t want to change how I feel, but would like to not be so strict and allow things on special occasions (like chocolate on Easter). Will my reset button be all effed up if I do this?

    Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. REALLY looking forward to meeting you guys in May.

    Melinda

  15. Ruth says

    Melissa and Dallas-

    Let me start off by saying thank you. I have been doing crossfit for 8 months and have constantly tried to ask questions about nutrition, supplementarion, etc and because I am just a number at my gym, my trainer’s response has always been “just do zone with paleo.” I have read and read and there is so much out there that it is overwelming. Also, I found out that I have developed Chronic fatigue fromEpstein Barr syndrome. My doctor gave me some vague advice and told me to lay off working out. When I told my trainers, they REALLY started treating me like just a number. I really was discouraged because I LOVE working out and being strong (I was a Division I athlete and avid “gym rat” since graduating) and the lack of support, answers and over all direction made everything harder. Then during one of my many Internet sessions trying to get information on what I should do I stumbled across Melissa’s Urban gets Diesel site and it led me here and that’s where the thank you comes in. I feel like you hav organized all of the information in a way that is easy to understand and follow and it had given me a plan to get going again. I was going to start the Whole 30 and 603 PTP tomorrow. I was just wondering if you guy thought there was anything else I could add to help with my current condition. Sorry for the long post – just excited to het back into it. Leaving my gym and going strictly off your advice so any info at all will be helpful. Thanks for the awesome site and God bless you guys! p.s. Sorry for any typos! Did this from my phone-

  16. says

    Melissa and Dallas, just wanted to let you know that CF King of Prussia will be doing a Whole30, paleo, primal gig for the month of April. We’ll let you know how it goes, but I think people are stoked to change some habits around! Hope the traveling is going well…

  17. says

    @RebeccaJ,

    Glad to hear that you’re “stepping up” your commitment to living a healthier, happier life. Glad you husband will be home soon. Keep us posted on your progress with the Whole30!

    @Melinda,

    Congrats on your completion of the Whole30! We’re so glad to hear that you’re healthier (and happier!). It’s feedback like yours that makes all of our hard work worthwhile. Umm, as far as your questions go…

    1. Yes. Totally possible to change those old, icky habits. It takes time, and persistence, and the ability to forgive yourself and move on if you fall down, but yeah, that’s one of the big focuses (foci?) of our Whole9 workshop – to not just talk about what food is good to eat, but also to talk about how you think about food. And having a healthy (mental) relationship with food is super-critical to long-term success. But to answer your question about what happens if you revert back to old habits, that’s highly individual, but since you’ve got a lot more “practice” with those old habits, it’ll be easier to fall back into those old habits than to stick with your New and Improved Habits. I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re being honest enough with yourself to acknowledge that you’re not totally

    fail-proof in your newfound resolve and better habits, don’t walk too close to the edge. Steer clear altogether, until you’re certain that you can make a deliberate, conscious decision to “treat yourself” with sending you into a tailspin.

    2. Healthier = happier, like, 98% of the time. Chances are, it’s the combination of improved insulin levels and decreased systemic inflammation that have contributed to your improved sense of overall well-being. It would be hard to pin it on any one food or food group, which is why it’s the overall, long-term “average” of your food choices that matter, not one meal that includes a little bread or cheese (or Easter chocolate). We just talked with a friend last night that told us, after several weeks of her own Whole30, that she and her husband had recently eaten Chinese food, and she said “it really affected the quality of our relationship.” I don’t know exactly how that works, but you’re not the only one that notices clear connections between food and mood. Stay on course overall, but enjoy a LITTLE bit of your Easter chocolate as long as you don’t intuitively sense that it’ll “trip the switch” in your brain. I think you probably know what I’m talking about.

    3. I’ve had this question before, but I don’t think rate of hair growth is sped up by better diet, but if you come across something that says otherwise, send it over!

    4. Refer to #2, but in short, you’ll have to be honest with yourself about the Easter chocolate and decide where your head is at. I might recommend planning ahead with what and how much/many “treats” you’ll have over Easter. Like, try ONE. Really. Last I checked, there’s no chocolate in the world that’s worth undermining your newfound health and happiness.

    See you in May!

  18. says

    @Ruth,

    Welcome aboard! I think the Whole30 in combination with the 603 PTP will rock your world in terms of progress in so many areas of your life, not just limited to your physical health. Read through some of the Whole30 comments and my whole PTP intro post (instructions), which should answer most/all of your questions. If not, post a comment/question here, and we’ll do our best to help you succeed. Day One, here we go!

    @Chris at KoP,

    Awesome! Please keep us posted on how things go at KoP. It’s so gratifying for us to hear how things go after we do a workshop somewhere. Send folks here with their questions or comments, too. Hope you’re well.

    Dallas

  19. Melinda says

    Thanks SO SO much for the response! Its good to feel validated! I’m just going to keep on keeping on! Still not so sure about what I’ll do at Easter. My intuition is telling me to stay the course.

    P.S. I lost 11.2 lbs of fat over my whole30. I had one of those fancy fat analyzers done before and after. I was worried I would be losing muscle – but I DID NOT!

  20. Ashley says

    Holy crap. I’m doing it. I’m making a freaking commitment. This is mostly due to my friend, Melinda. She’s been a huge inspiration to me and so many other people at CrossFit Durham. I’m a trainer there and I’ve always followed the Zone diet, but never got rid of my favorite foods like peanut butter and dairy. April 5th will be first day on Whole 30. I’m worried though about my training for Regionals. Any thoughts on that? My Regional qualifiers are at the end of May. I know I will feel so much better once I get through the hump, but do you think the hump will cause any major setbacks?

    I’ll be blogging about Whole 30 as well. http://www.ashleydentonfitness.com

  21. Ruth says

    Quick question about 603 PTP – pullups in workouts are dead hang not kipping correct?

    And question about Whole 30 – I am about a wk in and having horrible headaches and trouble sleeping – probably from my aspartame addiction – I really want to stick with this – any suggestions?

    You guys are awesome – already noticing difference in my endurance!

  22. says

    @Melinda,

    That’s awesome! As challenging as a strict Whole30 can be, I kinda think that the second 30 days are a little harder in that you now have to figure out how much you “need” to have treats (to maintain general sanity) but how to reintroduce suboptimal food choices in small, careful amounts, and to learn how they affect you. Keep it up, because I suspect once you reintroduce some “off the reservation” foods, you’ll begin to understand how Not Good you used to feel. Good luck!

    @Ashley,

    Shoot me an email at dallas@whole9life.com and we’ll chat about pre-competition dietary changes. In short, though, I think you’ve got enough time to adjust to the changes before regionals. Will we see you at CF Durham on May 6?

    @Ruth,

    In our 603 programming, assume that “pullups” means “get your chin well up and over the bar”. Kipping, mixed grip, whatever… If it’s dead-hang pullups I’m looking for, I’ll specify. If you can’t do a bunch of DHPUs, scale them with bands for assistance.

    As far as the headaches, just hang in there. Most people say they’re gone after the second week. Staying well hydrated helps, as does making sure you’re not dropping your carbs super, super low.

  23. Tavis says

    4/11 – day one for me, I am very inspired, thanks to all who have written on this topic…

    Question: I hear a lot of talk about black coffee. Now, I love black coffee. BUT… I have my doubts about whether I will truly find my baseline if I eat strict paleo but continue to drink coffee every morning, as I have done for ten years at least. Is coffee ‘clean’ enough to continue using?

    From my own emotional reaction at the thought of not drinking coffee, IE a sense of horrible dread, it strikes me that perhaps it would be a good idea to get rid of it too and see how it feels….

    Thoughts?

  24. says

    @Tavis,

    Here’s my take on coffee: when you’re trying to “reset” a lot of mental and physiological processes during your Whole30, cutting coffee might be a good idea, too, especially if you have a severe, emotional response to the very thought of it. The first week or two of detoxing from caffeine can be a little rough (headaches, mostly), but your Whole30 period is the best time to hit it hardcore and see some of the benefits of giving your adrenals a break. I, like most coffee drinkers, love my coffee (I have a cup next to my laptop right now, in fact!), but it’s easy to let it gradually become more and more a part of you until you can’t imagine living without it. I strike a delicate balance with my coffee between enjoying it in moderation (one quad americano a day) but not letting it interfere with my sleep cycle or adrenal function. In short, I guess, I’d recommend cutting the coffee during your Whole30 (it takes about 3 weeks to fully resensitize to the positive ergogenic effects of caffeine) and only reintroduce it if/when you feel it is in your best interest. Ultimately, as long as you are 100% in control of your (minimal to moderate) coffee consumption, you’re okay. I do recommend finding a good organic, fair trade coffee (especially if you drink any decaf!). Melissa and I like Wicked Joe’s (http://www.wickedjoe.com/java/index.php) from Brunswick, Maine. (Yes, they have an online store.) Their Big House and Bella Maria blends are BRILLIANT. Hope this helps!

    Dallas

  25. Tavis says

    Thank you for the reply, Dallas.

    From your reply, I gather that it is possible to drink coffee in moderation and not suffer from any ill effects. That drinking one cup in the morning, even if it is a big strong cup, won’t necessarily cause adrenal fatigue or insomnia in the long run. And it also won’t appreciably affect insulin processing in the body?

    I’m just curious if this has been studied. I guess from my limited knowledge of endocrinology, I would expect that: If coffee causes release of stress hormones from the adrenals, particularly cortisol, then it would have an indirect effect on how the body processes glucose. Because, cortisol decreases the cells sensitivity to insulin, causing blood glucose levels to rise. So theoretically if one of the things that we are trying to do in the whole 30 is to re-sensitize our bodies to insulin, wouldn’t we then have to conclude that coffee is out, even though black coffee contains no sugar of its own?

    Or is it something that can be triaged..? Get off the donuts now and worry about the black coffee later?

    But I’m just speculating, and I’m no expert, and I’m not a doctor.. nor a PT, though I am an RN :)

    For me anyway, I must agree with you that it should be out. Because I really really want it to be in. Because it is a drug and I am addicted, I admit. And its hard to let go of and scary, especially because I work 12 hour shifts starting at 3 am, three days a week. But I must know what life is like without it. Because, I cannot remember.. And I have this sneaking suspicion that coffee has actually been making me MORE tired in the long run, what with adrenal fatigue and all, even though there is the ILLUSION that it’s effect is just the opposite.

    Thank you again to Melissa and Dallas for the inspiration to all of us who have attempted this program. And thank you to everyone else who has written on the subject. I am sure we all agree, its much easier to wrap your head around when you hear about all the success people have had with it.

    -Tavis

  26. Firefly says

    Just started..

    So I am not being SUPER strict just yet, but I have cut out all dairy, grains, legumes, sugars and still have a glass of wine a few days a week and a cup of black every day, but I usually don’t finish it.

    So overall I am quite healthy, but had noticed I was eating more grains/breads/dairy with my meats instead of veggie sand fruits/nuts..So i thought I would give this a whirl.

    So far so good its been about 5 days and I am like, ok no biggie, except today when hiking this morning, I definitely felt light headed..I am just wondering if this is “normal” or maybe part of a detox process or maybe part of my body switching from burning glycogen to burning fats as fuel. So I know I trained my body to do this many years ago when doing long distance endurance events, but just wondering about your thoughts on it and how adding heavy exercise to this program and when..without totally wiping myself out, if thats possible? And if the light headed-ness is a passing thing, or something I should pay attention to.

    thanks!

  27. John says

    I’m starting tomorrow – excited and nervous.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had chicken without some kind of seasoning.

    Quick question: What about fish oil and some kind of multi vitamin?

    Thanks,

    John

  28. TJ says

    Im starting my whol30 on May first. Currently my diet os heavier towards Paleo than not but Im ready to take it balls to the wall. Can someone give me an idea of what they eat daily…. also recipie ideas. As of now Im planning on going big salads w/ lots of veggies and clean meat. THX

  29. Vanessa says

    TJ,

    There are SO many resources. Please don’t just eat big salads or plain meat. Spices are fine; just try to limit the salt and watch out for sneaky additives.

    These are some of the resources I used during my challenges (just start a second 30 day round):

    Marksdailyapple.com

    http://theclothesmakethegirl.blogspot.com (Sunshine sauce–if I hadn’t made it myself I’d swear it has crack in it)

    And if you’re just plain stuck:

    http://www.paleoplan.com/

    This site will meal plan for you — right down to your grocery list.

    You do NOT have to eat icky plain boring food. In fact, I didn’t know food I made myself could taste this good til my challenge.

  30. says

    Hi!

    Thanks so much for this site! I just started my Whole30 on Wednesday (so going on 3 full days). I am so excited to see how I feel at the end of the month. I have a couple questions:

    1. I feel like the past 2 nights my clock has seemed to reset – like I get sleepy once the sun goes down and at 5:30 or 6 I am raring to go (very unlike me – more like a 7:30 kind of girl). Is it possible that the diet is impacting my sleep clock? And is it possible that energy levels improve dramatically in just a few days?

    2. I’m nervous that I am eating too many nuts – I have snacked on them daily and I am concerned that they’ll cause me to gain weight. Is this something to be concerned with, or does the removal of sugar, dairy, alcohol, grain, et al. counteract any need for concern about restricting those items we can consume.

    Thanks!

    Whittney

  31. Stephani says

    Ashley at CrossFit Durham is my trainer. The first thing she did was to send me to the whole 30. I am in!

  32. says

    Sorry we’ve fallen behind in responding to comments – we’re trying to pack up for our road trip, AND keep up with all our workshops, clients and email/blog postings. Thanks for your patience!

    @Tavis: I’ve read studies that suggest that caffeine has a negative impact on insulin sensitivity… and others that suggest no association. Google “caffeine + insulin” and review for yourself… but ultimately, you don’t need a study to tell you if you’re overdoing it on the coffee. (Strip it and see if your sleep, energy levels and general quality of life improves!)

    @Firefly: I’m glad to see you giving this a shot – but if you’re gonna do it, DO it. Strip all the booze, sugars, etc. along with your grains and dairy! In terms of light-headedness, it’s a very common reaction in the first week or two, as your body gets used to eating this way. Make sure you’re getting enough food (you’ll probably need to ramp up your fat in a big way, as you’ve stripped a bunch of calories in the form of carb-dense food groups). I’m going to assume that’s passed by now – drop a note if you’re still having some funky experiences there.

    @John: You can still season your chicken! Garlic, lemon, all KINDS of spices… we made an almond-crusted chicken last night with some garlic and lemon olive oil that was amazing! In terms of fish oil, you can use our calculator (http://whole9life.com/fish-oil) to help you figure out a dose. And while a multi won’t hurt, if you’re getting a good variety of nutrient-dense foods (like vegetables and fruits), you should be able to meet all your micronutrient needs from real food. Hope that helps – keep us posted as to how things are going.

    @TJ: There are plenty of recipes available on line (for free). Check out my girl Melissa Joulwan’s blog (http://theclothesmakethegirl.blogspot.com) for starters, or just Google “Paleo Recipes”. As you get more familiar with the foods on the “eat” list, you’ll start to put together meals in different (and more exciting) ways. There’s more to the Whole30 program than meat on salads!

    @Whitney: Regarding sleep – YES! This way of eating can have an immediate and positive impact on sleep quality and quantity, and ESPECIALLY energy levels! Awesome, no? Regarding nuts, you don’t want to overdose on any one type of fat. As with vegetables, a wide variety of fats in your diet is always a smarter choice, and not just from a weight loss perspective. Try subbing some nuts for coconut milk, olives, avocado or add extra coconut oil or olive oil when cooking and preparing vegetables. (General consensus is to limit nuts to no more than 4 oz. a day.)

    @Stephani: SWEET! Hope you’re coming to see us at CF Durham – we’re looking forward to our visit there. Keep us posted as to how your program is going!

    Best,

    Melissa

  33. says

    Thanks Melissa! Day 7 and I am going strong and absolutely LOVING the way I feel. I cannot believe the difference and my hunch is that it’s dairy (which I have always been unwilling to give up) because I have tried “paleo” before but was always stubborn about keeping my daily 1 cup of milk + cheese. Really, thank you thank you thank you for writing this post. It is absolutely inspiring and exactly the kick in the pants I needed.

    By the way, just saw this today – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=carbs-against-cardio.

  34. Cara says

    Melissa- Why were you all in my face with tough love? I LOVE your style….. The mind is a powerful thing and everything you have said is the truth. I have had one foot in and one foot out for too long. Creating excuses and exceptions has become a specialty. I strive for the best in everything else I do and realize this should be no exception.

    I do have one question. I have children and I want to get them on track with this. Do you have any helpful information here? I am concerned they will miss something if I make them do this. Please share your thoughts on children and this type of eating.

    Today is the day for me.

    Thank you!

  35. says

    @Cara: If I may step in here… I have two girls 4 yrs and 2 yrs old. The benefits for kids are the same as for adults. My kids have been going 80/20 for a while now, and what I’ve found is they ask for foods they KNOW THEY CAN GET. The 80/20 kinda got outta hand, and next thing you know my wife’s bringing home a 10lb. bag of pancakes from Costco. So I convinced my wife to return the damn bag and put the kids on a strict paleo diet. Next thing you know my 4 yr old’s favorite foods are eggplant, cauliflower rice, and sweet potatoes! Getting your family enrolled in doing this with you is key. I deal with this constantly and have posted my findings here: http://www.nutritionize.net/kids/

  36. Nicole says

    I completed the strict 30 days and then started adding in cheat meals once a week. I feel great and am very pleased with how body looks. However, I started noticing that my skin breaking out during the 30 days and then got really bad after my 30 days. I used to have problems with my skin when I was younger but haven’t for 10 years now and am not sure what is causing this? My first guess…. is it could be that I am having too much fat/oils in my diet? I am just getting frustrated because I feel so great but I am not happy with my skin and considering going back to my old habits for the sake of not breaking out anymore!!! Help!

  37. says

    Ok so i’m gearing up for a run at the Whole 30 beginning on Monday May 3rd. I am fairly strict Paleo Monday thru Friday then the weekend comes and I start drinking some good beer, get a buzz going and then it all goes down hill from there. Once i’m feelin it from the beers my eating habits turn to SHIT and that’s normally when my cheating starts. I can honestly say that I’ve been eating Paleo for about 3 to 4 months now and I haven’t had 1 week that’s passed that I didn’t have a cheat or cheats. I think that this is going to be difficult but i’m up for the challenge. This whole week i’ve been pretty much eating WHATEVER I wanted to eat due to the fact that it’s my bday week (I know this is an excuse to eat like dog shit) but i’m also preparing for the 30 days of clean eating. I ABSOLUTELY feel the effects of the foods i’ve been eating in comparison with the way I was feeling prior to me becoming an absolute glutton this past week. I will update on Monday morning.. This should be an interesting weekend.. Ciao!!!

  38. says

    Starting this super strict cleansing tomorrow with my wife. Looking forward to the challenge but am super nervous craving junk!

    I am going to blog about my experiences.

    30 days here I come!

  39. Vanessa Pinter says

    Thanks Melissa and Dallas! You and Robb Wolf inspired me (with Ask Dr Dawn’s show about lectins in food causing autoimmune disease) to give up being a vegetarian and go paleo. I feel much better now that I have stopped eating bread and other grains. Now I’m going to go the whole nine yards with you and do a pure paleo diet for a month. My husband is going along with me too, and my Crossfit gym has a bunch of people signed up, too!

    My older daughter (9) is inspired to go gluten- and casein-free for a month to see how her ADHD goes. GFCF gaining ground as a treatment for Austism-spectrum problems, but it’s usually pretty dependent on pseudo-paleo imitation foods We are going to let her use some gluten-free bread, etc, but I’m gradually educating her palate to like real foods.

    P.S. Recipes – I have the Hungarian Cookbook by Susan Derecskey and I’ve found it very useful (ignoring all the noodles.) Her instructions are detailed enough for me and my zero experience cooking meat.

  40. says

    Day 1 of the Whole30. I can honestly say that i’m excited to see where i’m at body comp wise and weight wise at the end of the 30 days. I’m going to start training CrossFit again tonight because I took a week off last week. I did def gain weight and felt like total shit all last week because of the foods I was eating and also my energy levels dramatically decreased. I just went out and bought some GF Beef, Veggies and some fruit. I’m all ready for the eating part but the NO ALCHOHOL is going to be difficult. I really do think that i’m going to be the ONLY dude in America not having a drink on Cinco De Mayo. I’ll keep posting.. Wish me luck!!!

  41. says

    Thanks for the support AJ. I just finished working out at my CrossFit gym and let me tell you ALL that I performed like SHIT! I can’t wait to get back to where I was a few weeks ago. I’m SUPER focused and I will stop at nothing to achieve my goal.. Tonights dinner is Free Range chicken breast with some steamed Broccoli and Avocado.. Check you all tomo..

  42. says

    @Frank and AJ: If it’s any consolation, I am flying to Miami this weekend for a girls’ weekend and will be the only woman in South Beach drinking club soda! But it’s worth it. I’m on Day 12 and I feel amazing.

  43. Jenny says

    Hi Melissa,

    My boyfriend and I are starting the Whole30 today. Big commitment, I am super excited.

    Two questions for you:

    1. Almond butter?

    2. Lara bars?

    Thanks!!

  44. TJ says

    My wife an I started on Monday… Day 3 and its gotten easier each day… Discovering some really cool recipes (mashed califlower with coconut milk!)… our 5 & 6 yr old kids are joining in the excitment. Only struggle so far has been replacing the non-paleo calories I was used to consuming…

  45. says

    @Whittney… glad to hear you’re noticing how much better you’re feeling! Keep it up!

    @ Jenny,

    Almond butter is cool with us, yeah. We actually like Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) as a “substitute” for peanut butter. It’s awesome on carrots & celery sticks, and I’ve been known to dip my Larabars in Sunbutter when I’m on the road and desperate for some “clean” calories. On the Larabars: while they’re a better food choice (than junk food) since they’re just fruit and nuts, they should not be a significant part of your diet, especially if you reach for one instead of a candy bar. If you’re craving sugar, and you give your brain dates and dried cherries instead of chocolate, you’re kind of missing the point on why we want you to make changes in how you select food. We want you to make food choices based on sound nutritional principles,not just because your brain tells you that you “need” sugar. So… use Larabars sparingly as an “emergency” food, but try your best to plan ahead and pack food to take with you so you don’t lean too heavily on the Larabar. Great questions. Keep us updated on your Whole30 progress!

    @TJ,

    More fat, man. I have the same “how to get enough calories” struggle – make sure you get enough protein, step up the veggies, and get creative about how you get more fat in your diet. Fat is an excellent choice to replace the grain/legume/dairy/sugar calories that you just cut out. Hit the avocado, coconut milk/oil, olives/EVOO with gusto, and eat some nuts. Macadamias and hazelnuts are good choices, as are almonds, but don’t rely primarily on nuts as your fat source. Grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, and free range eggs are also good sources of fat, but avoid fat from feedlot beef and farmed fish. Hope this helps out. Let us know how your family does on the Whole30. We LOVE to see families taking on a healthier lifestyle together – it’s part of why we do what we do! Be well.

    Dallas

  46. says

    Yesterday was Day 14 for me – I’m exactly halfway through today. Just wanted to check in. I’ve lost 4 pounds (of the 10 pounds I would like to lose). And (this was almost immediate and seems to just get better), there is a sort of bloating or puffiness (especially around my midsection) that is gone. It’s like I was swollen and I did not know it. This is significant enough that others have noticed – like wow you’ve lost weight – but I really haven’t because my clothes fit (roughly) the same, but my entire middle looks dramatically flatter. That is just fabulous! I have always fought that part of my body and I am actually starting to see my abs!!

    The other dramatic difference is the way I feel. I feel like a furnace has been lit in my body and my machine is finally running smoothly. I’ve never had huge health problems or energy issues, but I am only now realizing how much energy I can have – like I took the lid off and there’s so much more available now. It’s really great!

    Oh and the other great thing is I really am thinking about food differently. Food no longer serves to replace or fill boredom. Because carrots and celery just don’t make me feel the same way salty tortilla chips did. They actually almost ADD to the boredom. So, now, I actually get productive – like take responsibility for my boredom (wow, that’s huge) – AND take responsibility for what I put in my mouth and why (like are you hungry, cause if you’re hungry, go cook some real food, but if you’re not, food is not the answer to this problem). I hope I am expressing it clearly. It’s really powerful stuff, for me.

    Last thing. I can’t stop talking about it either – I am just walking around with kool aid (which looks an awful lot like a glass of water with lemon in it) and offering it to all I encounter. On a good note there, my mom (obese, type 2 diabetic) and my cousin (same) are both doing their own Whole30 now. Yay!

    So, thank you guys for having this resource online. This post is amazing – clear, concise, just enough information, inspiring, ass-kicking, all of it. It’s really really great. Thank you thank you.

    I’ll check in again later! Thanks for letting me share here and I hope it might serve as more inspiration to others.

    Whittney

  47. says

    @Nicole: Eating too much fat MAY cause breakouts, sure, but I’ve personally never seen that as the primary cause… and I seriously doubt that’s the case here, given the information you’ve shared. A few thoughts.

    First, if you are taking fish oil or have upped your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids in any way (more fish or higher quality meats, for example), we have seen some of our female clients have trouble with breakouts as their body struggles to assimilate the N-3. You could try supplementing with GLA (an N-6 that acts as an intermediary in processing N-3). Try 3-5mg. a day for two or three weeks and see if that helps.

    Nuts and seed oils are also a common source of breakouts… and for those going Whole30 for the first time, it’s easy to rely heavily on nuts, nut butters and Larabars to satisfy cravings and hunger. Try subbing out some nuts and your canola/safflower/sunflower oils for avocado, olives and olive oil and coconut milk/coconut oil and see if that helps.

    Finally, it’s interesting that your face broke out a bit during the 30 day period, and then got worse AFTER (when you started adding back some “cheats”). The body will react as it starts to heal, and breakouts are a common symptom. But if you haven’t allowed enough time for the body to TOTALLY heal from the damage caused by inflammatory food groups, when you then add those foods back in, the body straight-up REVOLTS. We’ve seen this time and time again – which would suggest to me that perhaps 30 days isn’t your magic number. You can’t always ‘reverse’ 20, 30, 40 years of damage in just 30 days! Try the above suggestions, but if that’s not working with you, I’d suggest a Whole45 or 60, and then add your “cheats” back in one at a time, in a scientific fashion, to see if you can figure out what in particular is making your skin go crazy.

    Hope that helps!

    Melissa

  48. says

    @Whittney: That. Is. Awesome! It’s so wonderful that you’ve been sharing your progress here, because it IS a bit of a roller coaster at first. Nice to see that just two weeks into the program, you’re already seeing so many positive changes. And the mental aspect – the associations you no longer have with food/boredom, and the way you’re making changes in your LIFE based on this 30 day DIETARY program – that’s pretty amazing, but exactly what we HOPE will happen to everyone who does the Whole30. Remember, the original program was called, “Change Your Life in 30 Days”.

    Keep sharing here, encouraging and motivating others. You have no idea how many people you are helping by contributing! And props to your family members for jumping on board too. Get them to start posting here as well, to keep them accountable and give them a sense of community.

    Best – and way to go!

    Melissa

  49. says

    @Frank: Energy levels are the first to go when transitioning to this way of eating. Hang in there, because the body gets very good at adapting to fat for fuel after a relatively brief (albeit painful) transitional period. Your dinner sounds great – keep up the hard work, and keep us posted as to how things are going!

    Best,

    Melissa

  50. Heidi says

    This blog is my new addiction (now that I’ve given up sugar… Day 9 and counting!) I attended the workshop in Albany a couple weeks back and started my Whole 30 shortly thereafter… and am already seeing improvements in mood, energy level, performance, recovery and appearance! I’ve been stricter than strict (I have ham sitting in my fridge, but haven’t been able to bring myself to eat it b/c it contains nitrates). So, I’m wondering what your position is on sugar free gum. I know it contains artificial sweeteners as well as who knows what other chemicals, but pre-Whole 30 it was my goto mid-day breath refresher. And if it’s off limits, do you know of any paleo-friendly chewing gums?

  51. Nicole says

    Thanks Melissa and AJ!

    So I cut down on my nut and olive oil intake recently. And I also took out me eating half an avocado a day which upsets me but my skin seems to be getting better! But we will see?! I do take fish oil and I think it did get to be too much!

    Thanks again for the advice!

  52. Mandy A. says

    I’m a new blogger. I am 4 days whole 30. I am doing this alongside my wonderful husband TJ (he’s a recent blogger) this was his idea….He motivated me. I was in it about 80% 2 weeks ago but swore I couldn’t give up my sprouted bread (that was my one exception) but after reading more about the point of the WHOLE30 challenge, then I decided I need GO INTO IT 100%.

    So far I feel GREAT about it. It’s actually easier than I thought it would be. I even had my kids chick-fil-a fries (which I love) and a chocolate shake (mmmm) sitting right next to me yesterday and the fight was easy. I knew I would feel like crap if I ate it…and wasn’t up to feeling sluggish (and MAD at myself) the rest of the afternoon, so I decided to have nuts and cranberries. BTW-the shake was a special rare occasion for them; we’ve become very strict with their diet as well.

  53. Mandy A. says

    Part 2 From Mandy A.

    Anyway…I was listening on the radio about Mother’s Day and what people want to do. My thought normally would be man I want a dinner w/ Fajitas and a margarita, maybe 2 of ‘em…so now that I know I can’t…it really doesn’t bother me at all. WHY is it that society has to celebrate things w/ body damaging foods and alcohol? … I’m not saying an occasional splurge isn’t good b/c I’ll be having one on day 31…but my point is, I think about it totally different NOW, my relationship w/ food has changed. Now its FUEL and good energy to my body. My mind. My heart. My skin. My hair. All of it.

    Think of it this way ladies (for those who have been pregnant) eating good (better) and not drinking alcohol while pregnant is a natural easy thing to do b/c it was for our precious baby, there was no struggle to do that. It seems easier to sacrifice for others then sacrificing for own selves….so think of your body as “your baby” cuz essentially it is. Your responsible for it, no one else. You only get one chance too. I’m 30 now and I want a long healthy life ahead of me w/ my husband and kids.

    I didn’t enter in solely for weight loss,(though I know I’ll lose the unnecessary fat I have, which is awesome) But, I want to feel good, be strong, fit, clear minded. I’ve had more patience, I feel calmer, the stress is down, and I can focus better, my skin looks and feels better. My husband, TJ, has had great results too. While mixing in Cross Fit too (over the last few weeks) he looks better than he has the last 12 years of our marriage.

    I just cannot wait to see how I (we) feel on day 30….that’s the motivation…just waiting to see how good WE can actually Feel!! Woohoo!!

  54. Stephani says

    I have been on whole30 for 11 days and CF for 3. I have dropped 7 pounds (probably a lot of water weight.) I am not having the problems with focus and memory that I had become accustomed to. I didn’t expect that to happen!

    I have lost a lot of hair in the last week or so. Perhaps my body just adjusting?

  55. Tavis says

    Question about salt:

    Cordain says no added salt whatsoever. What is your opinon? (Melissa and Dallas, but anyone really!)

    My thoughts are this:

    The standard American diet is WAY heavy on salt. Possibly leading to all kinds of badness.. Hypertension, chronic acid load, etc..

    BUT

    Hyponatremia (too low of salt level) is a very real danger for anyone who does a lot of outdoor activity in the heat. We lose salt in our sweat that needs to be replaced. I have worked in an ICU where we commonly admitted patients because they were out hiking in the heat and didn’t adequately replace salt, leading to hyponatremia which causes in turn fatigue, weakness,lethargy, seizures, coma, and even death.

    I myself have experienced the effects of hyponatremia when hiking in the heat, drinking lots of water, and not eating. I became noticably swollen and didn’t urinate for many hours. I didn’t figure out what was going on until later, when I ate some salty food, and quickly felt better, the swelling subsided, and I began to urinate again.

    A friend of mine recently was totally salt free for a few weeks, and felt swollen too. I recommended trying some salt to see what would happen. She did and the swelling subsided and she lost four pounds of water weight in 24 hours.

    So…

    Cordain would have you add no salt to your food.

    If you are not going to resort to adding mineral salt to your food, what can you eat to replace the salt lost in sweat?

    Or is it ok to use added salt in moderation?

    How do you know how much to add?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Tavis

  56. Mike says

    Starting my challenge on the 15th. I have been doing paleo 90% of the time with the exception of weekend drinking and the occasional cheat meal.

    I seem to have stalled out on the fat-loss (mostly from the weekend drinking and cheats). I look forward to pushing my nutrition with the same effort as I perform my CF wod’s. I know the results will follow.

    Question: I would like to get my blood tested before and after the challenge to see how the challenge impacts various levels. I just don’t know what exactly I am looking at besides the obvious cholesterol. Can you recommend some specific blood tests to have or do you see this as unnecessary?

    Thanks!

  57. says

    @Travis: My personal experience has been that without adding additional salt to what I eat, and staying strict paleo, I have no problem getting adequate amounts of sodium from what exists intrinsically in the foods I eat.

  58. Michele says

    This blog is very encouraging…I’ve been paleo for 5 mos, with the exception of dairy in my coffee and a glass or two of wine several nites a week… I love cream/splenda in my coffee and have not been able to completely kick my diet coke habit..I have,however, given up my Starbucks Lattes!! I’ve had absolutely no trouble giving up bread/rice/pasta, and I don’t miss them at all! After reading all your blogs, I have been empowered to just say no! (not looking forward to black coffee though)

    I have a question for Melissa/Dallas, (or anyone who might have advice)…I have a very stressful life. I am a physician who takes call (potential to work 36 hrs straight) and a have three young kids…I am the only one in my house that cooks…so often I am exhausted when I get home and have to drag myself to the kitchen to cook…some days I don’t get home in time to cook. Any suggestions for quick meals? I do usually cook a couple of meals on the weekend, but they don’t last all week. AND… I’m sure my cortisol levels are sky high!! Will I still get the benefits of going strict? My fat loss has stalled and my performance in the gym sucks right now (I think because things have been a little stressful around here).

    Tomorrow going strict!

  59. Michelle B says

    I think I might be the lazy cook out there. I’ve found that I have been able to create a mix and match food plan, which gives me 1 protein for each meal (including snacks) and a fiber for each meal (same goes for snacks. I buy frozen fish (prepacked individually) – yes, this is wild caught for anyone monitoring the whole 9 side of this post. I grab that and thaw it for lunch or dinner – take out as many as I am feeding (in this case my sister and my husband). Then I grab aparagus (a big bunch) and steam that in my Pampered Chef steamer (THAT THING is AWESOME – use it every day). If I buy the blackened salmon, I can throw that in the microwave for 3 minutes and do the same for the veggies and I have a meal in less than 5 minutes flat! For snacks, I tend to grab a spoonful of almond butter and sliced red peppers or grab 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds with an apple, for example. I’ve gotten really good at grab and go food. :-) Hope this helps!

  60. Michelle B says

    @ Mike: I had something similar done, but it was offered by work and it was a general health test. You can have the DR test for cholesterol (good and bad), glucose, blood pressure – those are the major ones I believe.

  61. says

    @Mike: As you are not “sick” (meaning, you have no diagnosed medical condition like Type II Diabetes), lab tests are unnecessary. You could, however, request the general, standard lab tests that accompany a physical exam – a lipid panel (which measures things like cholesterol and triglycerides) and a fasting blood glucose (which gives you an idea of how good your body is at managing blood sugar levels). Changes in those factors will help you “prove” your nutritional plan is working to your benefit – if your improvements in body composition, energy levels and gym performance aren’t enough to convince you.

    While there are other fancy lab tests available to help you measure everything from your inflammatory state to insulin levels, for those who are not yet diagnosed as “sick”, THOSE ARE NOT NECESSARY. If you’re eating foods with inflammatory properties (like grains and dairy), you don’t need a lab to tell you that you have some form of systemic inflammation. Requesting expensive lab tests to confirm what common sense already tells you is both wasteful and unproductive. We’re not fans of relying on special tests, measurements or analysis to dictate how healthy (or unhealthy) we are. Eat good food for the duration of the 30 day program, observe and record the changes in how you look, feel and perform, and if you want to take it one step further, use basic biomarkers as additional confirmation.

  62. says

    @Michele: If your life is as stressful as it sounds, you’re someone who NEEDS to be 100% strict in their diet. Given your lack of sleep, lifestyle stressors and history of less than optimal nutrition choices, you have little margin for error at this point. Get your nutrition in line, ahead only of getting better/more sleep. At this point, performance should take a back seat to straightening out the other life factors.

    Find meals you can prepare all in one shot, that will last you through the next two or three days. We like grass-fed ground beef mixed with tomato paste, veggies and spices. You can eat that on top of spaghetti squash, over a salad or mixed into a green pepper, and it reheats nicely for a few days at a time. You can do the same with hard boiled eggs, sweet potato or a roasted chicken – prepare a whole bunch at once and snack for the next few days. There are some great recipe sites out there – but it does take some planning and preparation. Given your current situation, I’d say the extra effort in this arena is seriously worth it.

    Keep us posted as to how things are going!

    Best,

    Melissa

  63. says

    @Mandy: Way to go! Love that you’re doing this with your husband – that shared motivation and determination really counts. Keep us posted as to how both of you are doing!

    @Tavis: I’m going to have Dallas take your question, because there’s a different answer for “normal” people and endurance athletes (like those who participate in the long hikes you mentioned). He’ll get you back tomorrow, after our workshop.

    @Vrabche: WELCOME!

    @MichelleB: Nice job on the mix-and-match (with high quality foods). If you do this long enough (say… 30 days?) you’ll learn HOW to eat like this on a daily basis! How to make meals, how to prepare snacks, how to handle those one-off situations like dinner with the family… it’s a 30 day program for a whole bunch of different reasons – and learning how to eat like this as a sustainable lifestyle is one of them! Thanks for sharing.

  64. Jenny says

    My bf and I are on day 8 of our Whole30, and are feeling great! I am actually surprised, it’s easier than I thought it would be…for the first few days I felt like I was eating alot of fruit, and reaching for a lara bar too often, but it’s become easier each day. We had a BBQ with friends on the weekend, and a Mothers Day family dinner, and had no problems at all!

    My only concern is that I am not feeling more energy, which I expected to. I am still having trouble getting up in the morning, and am exhausted at the end of the work day. I am not working out alot, as I am recovering from a bad IT Band injury from running. But am still active (hiking/yoga) most days, and am planning to head back to crossfit starting next week. BF is crossfitting regularly, but isn’t feeling increased energy either.

    Does it usually take a while to kick in? Or should we be tweaking something?

    Thanks!

  65. says

    Jenny,

    Great question. Yours is a totally normal experience. Since you’ve cut out a lot of dense carb sources (like grains, legumes, and processed foods), and your body is very “adapted” to burning those “quick and dirty” carbs for energy, you are experiencing some of the effects of that drastic shift in macronutrient intake. As you continue into your Whole30 (in the next 1-2 weeks), your body will get much better at utilizing (dietary and body) fat as fuel, and you’ll start to feel more energized. Literally, almost everyone experiences some performance drop (or energy slump) in the first few days or weeks of the Whole30, but essentially EVERYONE that has stuck with it has seen improvements in all sorts of things, including their overall quality of life. I can’t really explain it in direct, physiological terms, but I’ve experienced it for myself, and it has been POWERFUL. Stick with it, and make sure you’re getting enough dietary fat from good sources like avocado, coconut, olives/EVOO, and some nuts like macadamias and hazelnuts to replace the carb calories you’ve pulled out of your diet, and you’ll do well. Keep up the good work!

  66. Michele says

    Melissa, thanks for the reply. I am looking forward to meeting you guys at the seminar at West Houston. You are right, drinking black coffee is not that hard! (coming from a splenda addict) Here we go on day 2 of super strict. I totally think you are right about dialing in my diet. I’m on call all weekend and gonna stock up on stuff to keep in a cooler with me…I am committed to making this work.

    for those of you looking for some great recipes…the website everyday paleo has some great ones!

    Michele

  67. says

    Hi guys -

    Yesterday was Day 22 of my challenge. Still going strong, no temptation to cheat (although yesterday I suddenly could TASTE a blueberry scone in my mouth … I don’t even really like scones … don’t know where that came from!). It occurred to me yesterday how much junk I used to eat – and I would have said before I started that, other than dairy, I ate pretty “clean”. Actually, I don’t think I did. It’s amazing how you notice what used to slip in when you start saying no to it – like the cookies brought by a vendor to the office, or the chocolate bars on the receptionist’s desk, or the french fries ordered for the table. Those things really add up – not partaking is having me see that now. Just an observation – again, thanks for creating the structure here for me to see that!

    Things are going great. I notice I am not dropping weight the way some people report. I am hovering at around 4-6 pounds lost (which is fabulous for 21 days) but I guess I just thought I would be a supermodel by now! ;)

    I have a question: lately I notice that at night, I am just all “meat”-ed out. The thought of another piece of protein just makes me want to starve or go to sleep. So, for instance, last night I just didn’t want to eat anything that I am “allowed” to eat. I was hungry, so I had some honeydew and a couple almonds. And then I went to bed. One problem I notice with that is when I go to bed without a good dinner, I am up at 4:30 or 5:00, starving (and in the mood for some protein, incidentally). My question is – other than the sleep problem, am I doing myself a huge disservice by skipping dinner in that way? Should I choke down the protein in the evening even when I don’t want to? I have been telling myself it’s just some mini-intermittent fasting… Thoughts?

    Thanks!

    Whittney

  68. says

    @Michele – I was just thinking about your questions and the fact that you’re so busy. I wonder – where could you get some assistance in your life? Often, we think we have to do it ALL. But, a tiny bit of brainstorming might result in tremendous support. Like, can you pay someone to do food prep for you (chop and wash your veggies and fruits so they’re ready to go, etc.) – like a kid in the neighborhood, or a housekeeper – where can you offload time consuming activities for $8-15 per hour and get way more than the value of a $20 bill back? What else could you pay someone else to do? My invitation to you is to look all around your life with a willingness to “fiercely delegate” – leave no stone unturned. And, you don’t have to always be willing to pay – there may be things other people would do for you gladly, and for free, if you just ask. My 2 cents.

    Love,

    Whittney

  69. says

    Figured I should finally post since I’m reading all the time! I’m seven days in on my 30 day challenge, and feeling fantastic! I went from being a vegetarian, 90% vegan, for eight years, to realizing my body just wasn’t havin’ it! I have endometriosis, and after talking with many people about the potential augmentation of endo from soy, I knew i needed to cut it. Or at least try, right?

    But without soy, that didn’t leave me with many options for protein. And on top of that, due to the endometriosis I’ve been bleeding super heavily for the last six months. Sounds like prescription for iron deficiency anemia if you ask me. If I wasn’t an athlete, maybe I wouldn’t be as concerned, but I finally got a sponsorship this year and it is NOT time to deal with anemia!

    So I made a pretty quick turn around from veg[etari]an to meat eater. But then I started reading more about the paleo diet. And I read Cordain and Fiel’s book – Paleo Diet for Athletes. It might not be for everyone, but I wondered if it would be for me?

    I’m keeping a little “journal” of the things I notice over the course of these 30 days, but here are several of the things I have seen so far:

    -the whites of my eyes are way whiter! I thought I was making it up, but my mom mentioned it without me saying anything.

    -my skin is all the sudden as clear and “fresh” looking as it was when I was 12.

    -when I’m tired, I go to SLEEP! if I got nothing else but that out of this 30 days, I would be thrilled. luckily, I know I’m getting a lot more!

    -my family, teammates, and coach have all been extremely receptive and supportive! As an endurance athlete, I definitely wasn’t expecting that. CW says “grains – pasta parties – CARBBBS!” and, at least for now, I’m challenging that back!

    -holy LEAN!!! I don’t know if its from cutting out soy, or cutting out grains and wheat, or more likely both. I thought my physique was good to go before, but since all of this, it’s like whatever little “puff” was on me before just dropped.

    Anyways, that was a pretty long introduction. Either way, I just wanted to share that it’s going well. It’s not “hard” – breaking my hip was hard. Getting cancer is hard. This is a CHOICE. I’m excited to follow you guys on your own whole30 on the road!

  70. Michele says

    Whittney…you sound like me…grabbing a cookie, a piece of chocolate, a hand full of fruit loops! 3 days clean now…sound like an addict, hun! anyway before this challenge I was much like you, eating paleo except for dairy (and the only dairy I would allow myself was my Starbucks lattes, but those really add up) and the little treats. It really does add up.

    I find that I have to eat dinner, otherwise i will be too tempted to snack. When I eat a good dinner I don’t wake up hungry, and can’t usually eat until 8:30-ish, when I’m often up way before that, sometimes I use skipping breakfast as my “intermittent fast.”

    Try fish or shrimp for your dinner… salmon cakes (great recipe on everydaypaleo.com) or shrimp stirfry?? ANd great idea about delegating. I have my kids help me with it a lot. We have a nanny but she is not good at cooking/preparing food that is not out of a can or box :)

    Michele

  71. MichelleB says

    Whittney,

    I’d take a look at how you are eating and WHEN you are eating throughout the day. Are you spacing stuff out enough? Do you have the right balance for each meal (including snacks)? It’s definitely individual, but you could try playing around with eating every 3 or 4 hours and making your meals and snacks of equal weight. You want to make sure that you are getting enough fiber in your diet along with the protein so you don’t feel so “full” (if you know what I mean). I aim for 25 grams of fiber per day and that is 5 grams for each meal/snack. Michele’s note on the seafood is right on as well. I did steak on a SAT and then on a MON and thought I was going to explode! :-) The shrimp stir fry would be a great idea as you could throw in yellow and red peppers with some pico de gallo and you’d be all set.

  72. says

    My wife and I are on Day 15. We have been eating lean meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and water. We’ve been very focused and disciplined.

    My wife has been experiencing intestinal cramping and the things that come along with that. Any suggestions???

  73. Ray says

    I have a question that maybe someone can answer.

    I’ve been eating this way for a few weeks now – meat, fresh veggies, nuts and seeds. It’s been interesting.

    Not much has really changed for me. I feel tired in the morning sometimes, but depending on how I slept, I did before. I feel tired in the evening sometimes, but depending on how much coffee I drank, I did before. It seems about the same.

    I’m an athlete (a rock climber, specifically) and I burn a lot of calories. I eat a fair amount of fruit, as well as things like Lara Bars, while I’m out climbing to keep my glycogen stores up. When I add up my calories, it seems like I’m still eating 60-80g of carbs a day (during climbing days.) I’m wondering if this carb intake will prevent my body from adjusting to burning a lot of fat?

    If it’s not, do I need to cut my calorie intake (and, accordingly, stop climbing) for 30 days to let the transfer occur? If I eat nothing but nuts for a full day of climbing, I’m pretty sure I’ll feel like crap the next day. And I’d rather not stop climbing if possible. You’re athletes, so I’m sure you know – 30 days of no sport-specific training can be a big step backwards.

    I guess I just feel like nothing is changing. My summary feelings are: a) Maybe I haven’t hit the point where my body gets used to burning fat yet, and I should keep doing what I’m doing; b) Maybe I’m still eating too much carbs in the form of fruit (but if I’m burning it all immediately, and only consuming it during the glycogen window of hard work, does that matter?) or c) Maybe this whole thing just isn’t for me, and the headache of being regimented about food will cause more mental harm to my training than physical benefit?

    Any thoughts or comments?

    Thanks,

    Ray

  74. says

    Michelle, my first suggestion to her was to increase her fiber intake. it takes alot of fruits and vegetables to get daily allotment of fiber.

    Are people supplementing to get fiber? How can she increase fiber intake without bloating? Suggestions??? Supplement suggestions??

    Thanks

    Jassen

    BTW, I’ve lost 12 pounds in 16 days!!!

  75. MichelleB says

    Jassen,

    Take a look at these high fiber foods: http://www.dlife.com/photoGallery/viewGallery.php?albumId=206&photoId=823&ts=1274060009206

    Some she can have and some not. But you’ll get the idea. For example, blackberries have 7 grams of fiber and strawberries only have 3 – for 1 cup each. If you are struggling to get in the fiber, you need to make the best food choices possible.

    I wouldn’t go with a supplement – it’s not natural and you can get what you need from food. Is she eating the same foods all of the time? do you know the quantity? Do you know what the fiber count is for that quantity? I would target 25 grams of fiber per day and aim for 5 meals a day (5 grams for each meal/snack).

    I would bet that there is something that she is eating on a regular basis that is causing bloating/gas. I can’t do broccoli because it does that to me. I avoid it or only eat it once a month or so. she should play around with the fruits/veggies to see if this is the case.

    I hope this helps!

    Michelle

  76. giulia g. says

    Hello all, you are SO very inspiring! I was just fortunate enough to spend some quality time with Whittney this weekend, and even though i committed to doing the Whole30 on May 12th, I am now that much more motivated and excited about it! Thanks to Whittney, both my sister and I started last week, WOW Whittney, that’s 4 people now whose life you have affected in the most positive of ways:)

    Thanks to everyone for this post, it’s what i go to for a boost now….

  77. says

    Thanks MichelleB. Very helpful and she is doing much better.

    I’ve been waking up much earlier these past few weeks. Weird…but it def. has to do with this diet.

  78. Tristy says

    Hey guys! Just wanted to say thanks again for the fantastic seminar this past weekend! Everyone learned so much and we are all pumped to get started on our Whole 30. We are waiting until after Regionals are over this weekend, and then we are fully committed to our Whole 30 program! I will keep you updated on our progress:) It was lovely meeting you both…have a safe journey as you head north!

  79. Daisy_zmommy says

    Started this saturday, 23 May. Have not had any incline to cheat. I have not eaten meat for over a year now, no particular reason, just dont like the taste, but other than that, I eat pretty clean food so this transition isnt that difficult for me. Just had a question about saltin food, so far I have not put any salt in my food, so how much is too much? or should I just keep it salt free? How do I replenish my sodium intake if I am just sticking to the plan? Thank you and good luck to everyone doing this with me~It’s realy not hard!

  80. says

    To everyone,

    Sorry for the delay in response to your comments/questions. We’ve relaunched the Whole30 program (it’s here: http://whole9life.com/2010/05/whole-30-v2/) and have been preoccupied with what’s going on there. If you’re new to the Whole30, please review the questions/comments on the new Whole30 post, and repost your questions if necessary. We’re doing the Whole30 with you while on the road for our nutrition workshops, so we’re working hard to do our best, too. Welcome to everyone who has recently jumped on the Healthier-Than-Ever-Before Train!

  81. Helen says

    Hi All

    I’m a little late to join the party but like Liz I’m here. This is my third round of whole30 over the last 6 months (every second month I eat ‘normal’ paleo) and I love it. On the couple of occasions over the last month when I have chosen to eat grains or dairy I have felt gross afterwards. I’m using this whole30 month to make sure I stay on track.

  82. Chuck says

    Thanks for the great workshop yesterday (Northern Nevada)… Today was day 1 and I’m ready for day 2.

  83. says

    I am starting day 1 today. I weigh over 100 pounds more than my goal weight. With that being said…I am excited to make a fresh start. My biggest concern is giving up beans and potatoes. Please…wish me well.

  84. says

    Dawn,

    Welcome aboard! We’ve relaunched the Whole30 program (it’s here: http://whole9life.com/2010/05/whole-30-v2/) and are only responding to Whole30 comments there now. If you’re new to the Whole30, please review the questions/comments on the new (“Version 2.0″) Whole30 post, and repost your questions if necessary. Welcome aboard the Healthier-Than-Ever-Before Train!

    Dallas

  85. Emily says

    Hi all… just thought I’d check in.

    Re CSAs – I just joined one and I love it! I did receive peas in the pod in my last order and gave those away, but otherwise it is really helping encourage me to eat veggies!

    I’m in the middle of *The Omnivore’s Dilemma* (which I know has been mentioned before on this blog) and it is strengthening my resolve to eat this way just to not support the industrial agriculture complex, if nothing else (I know there is a lot else :) ). I highly recommend this book!

    I’m on day 22 of changing my eating… I can’t call it a Whole30 because I did chose to take part in a birthday last week. I am enjoying the amount that I’m ok eating! I love that I can eat tons (of veggies and meat) and not feel guilty or bloated or gross. My energy levels seem to be coming back (they got really low around day 12). Interestingly, I’m finding that I can breathe better during workouts and just normally… maybe I had inflammation in my lungs? I attempted to climb a 14teener around day 15 (it was planned before I began the Whole30) and felt ok, but did experience more altitude sickness than I ever have previously. Not sure if that is related? I have noticed that my boyfriend and I tend to blame everything on “the diet” – ie, the dog is barking, must be the diet; the car is making a weird noise, must be the diet. When you have a hammer everything is a nail…

    Thanks to all who post here – I really enjoy reading about others experiences! Melissa and Dallas, have you ever considered a forum? Thanks for all you do.

  86. Craig Price says

    If I substitute coffee with limited caffeine tablets for school purposes, would that suffices in the context of trying to identify effects on my body? I have a reasonable idea of what pure caffeine does to me ….

  87. says

    Craig,

    Dude, I don’t like the caffeine tablets in general, because from what I’ve read, plenty of the potential benefits of coffee (that help to outweigh the downsides) are the non-caffeine components, so taking a caffeine pill sounds a lot like self-medicating with a potent stimulant drug. I guess I’d tell you to study earlier in the day, and get your sleep so your brain can actually absorb what you’re trying to learn. Best,

    Dallas

  88. Craig Price says

    Dallas,

    Hey, thanks for your thoughts. Yeah, I know I have reservations myself about taking caffeine tablets, including knowing that I am both missing out on the positive effects of tea and coffee, but also possibly short circuiting the body’s natural pathways for dealing with caffeinated substances.

    However, if the bottle’s ingredients are correct, then that is all I have to worry about. And the fact that it’s a pretty small sample – around 75-150 mg. And never more than 400 (or supposedly two big cups of coffee).

    I am just curious on how “cheating” this would be for the 30 day challenge.

  89. says

    Craig,

    Don’t get excessively wrapped up in the technicalities. The Whole30 is primarily about drastically changing your dietary habits – and the way you think about food, and I suspect that a couple NoDoz won’t derail that improvement. Just steer away as much as possible.