An Honest Whole 30 Review: My Results

/ / An Honest Whole 30 Review: My Results

An honest review of my results after completing a Whole 30 plus some frequently asked questions, resources, and recipes.

Table Of Contents:

  1. Overview: The Whole 30 Diet Rules
    1. What Exactly Is the Whole 30?
    2. Whole 30 VS Paleo
  2. My Whole 30 Experience and Review
    1. Week 1: Will This Even Work?
    2. Week 2: Things Look Better, but I’m Still Not Convinced
    3. Week 3: Oh my goodness, this might be working…
    4. Week 4: It Actually Works!!
    5. In Conclusion
  3. FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
    1. Is Whole 30 Good For Weight Loss?
    2. Does Whole 30 Really Work?
    3. Is Whole 30 Dangerous?
    4. Do Doctors Recommend Whole 30?
  4. Resources and Links
  5. Whole 30 Recipes

Overview: The Whole 30 Diet Rules:

What exactly is the Whole30?

The Whole30 program is essentially an elimination protocol that is followed for a minimum of 30 days.

Common inflammatory foods like sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol and legumes are completely removed from the diet, and are gradually introduced during a reintroduction period after the initial program is over.

The diet focuses on whole foods, like:

  1. animal protein,
  2. natural fats,
  3. vegetables,
  4. nuts,
  5. herbs and spices,
  6. and a moderate amount of fruit.

For an indepth list of Whole30 program rules for beginners, what you can and can’t eat on the Whole 30 diet, see the Whole 30 official website.

Whole30 vs Paleo:

The paleo diet and Whole30 share many similarities, so confusion is common. However, there are a few key differences:

  1. Both diets do not allow grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods or alcohol.
  2. The Whole30 Diet is a 30-day elimination protocol, and is not meant to be followed forever. After the 30 days are completed, non-compliant foods are mindfully reintroduced to see what effects they have on the individual.
  3. The Paleo Diet is a dietary lifestyle that focuses on the consumption of whole foods that would have been consumed by our early ancestors and tends to be more lenient than the Whole30.
  4. The Whole30 doesn’t allow natural sugars (like honey or maple syrup) or baked goods that mimic non-compliant foods (even if the recipe uses compliant ingredients). So, the Whole30 tends to be seen as more ‘strict’.

For a more in-depth look at the difference between paleo and Whole30, please see this great article from WholeKitchenSink.

My Results After Completing the Whole30:

Week 1: Will this even work?

The first week starts and I’m feeling skeptical. All sorts of questions are flooding my mind on the first day. What if I can’t make it to 30 days? What if I’m not doing it right? What if it doesn’t work??

On this very first day we actually went to a restaurant because my grandmother was visiting. The only compliant option was the chicken salad (no dressing). I drizzled some olive oil over it. Not bad. Kind of meh. Day 30 seems so far away!!

This is when the weird calculations start.

  1. There’s 30 days in a Whole30,
  2. 24 hours in a day,
  3. I’ll have to endure this for 720 hours!!

I realize that having really delicious (compliant) food helps A LOT. Luckily I have the Living Chirpy team to cook for me. Phew!

Mid-week I’m still having anxious thoughts about whether this whole thing is going to work or not. The worst one being: Is Tiger Blood simply a myth?

I also notice that I’m having slightly less cravings. Emphasis on “slightly”.

However, I do feel really sorry for myself when I have to endure the torture of watching my family eat non-compliant snacks.

My sister, Roche, tells me I have to mentally prepare myself just in case this doesn’t work, or if my results aren’t “magical” or “life-changing”. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All I want is to experience Tiger Blood. Is that so much to ask?!

On one of the days my family got takeout for dinner, as well as some ice cream sundaes for dessert. I asked my mom if I could smell hers. Yes. Smell. If I close my eyes and take a big whiff, I can almost taste it.

My body feels tired at this point, but I do notice that I have a lot less brain fog. My stomach is also flatter and less bloated, which means I’m obligated to lift up my shirt and give my belly a big, fat grin every time I pass a mirror.

On the seventh day, my family had pizza for dinner and I had the previous day’s leftovers, and it didn’t really bother me that much.

Changing your life for the better isn’t easy, but it surely is better than being sick from too much sugar, carbs and alcohol.

This week I’ve realized a few things:

  1. How much I mindlessly snacked throughout the day, now that I’m making a point not to do it. Scary!
  2. My breathing is better. I always have breathing issues when I eat sugary or processed foods, and it’s one of the first things to alleviate when I eat clean.
  3. Completing the first week of the Whole 30 diet feels good. It’s 1/4 done and seems a lot more manageable.

Week 2: Things look better, but I’m still not convinced.

Things are starting to look up. The sugar-less days don’t seem to drag by anymore. Getting through Week 1 is definitely one the first big challenges of the Whole30.

This week starts off with a restaurant dinner. I’m getting used to saying, “I’ll have the filet, please. NO BASTING OR SAUCE!” I swear I have a well-developed palate, this is all just for an experiment, folks!

I experience one of the first days where I don’t feel the need to take an afternoon nap.

  1. Energy levels are improving.
  2. Jealousy levels, however, still need some work, seeing as I wrote that I was “jealous of the chocolate and pizza my sister ate” in my Whole30 Day by Day journal.

My stomach also feels a bit weird and rumbly, which they say is normal at this point in the program. I also noticed that my skin seems smoother than usual.

Apparently you are most likely to quit your Whole30 during Days 10 or 11, because the newness has worn off, but it’s too early to feel the magic yet. Stay strong!!

Honestly, at this point I felt fine. Not good. Not bad. Just fine.

  1. When I do music practice now, it feels a lot easier to focus, and I’m taking in more information than I did before.
  2. There’s definitely some improvement in my mood and general outlook on life.

Even though I’m noticing a lot of little improvements like this here and there, the program still doesn’t feel completely worth it just yet. I daydream about all the non-compliant foods I’m craving and scroll through pictures of decadent chocolate desserts on Pinterest. Hey, it doesn’t hurt just to look.

I also spoke to soon about the hardest days thing.

My ‘Hardest Day’ hit me on Day 12. The feeling of wanting to quit and gorge on desserts and pizza and pasta was overwhelming, but a part of me really wants to see what happens if I stick it out to the end. I can always gorge after 30 days if it doesn’t work. Onwards!

After my almost-quit I just go through the motions and come to the realization that my Whole 30 experience might not completely mirror the standard Whole30 timeline.

On the last day of Week 2, we ordered food for delivery from a nearby restaurant. My filet had basting on it, even though I had asked for one without any. Oh well. I rinsed it under some running water as best as I could.

During this week I could definitely feel my energy levels improving. Something that I did not expect was a clear mind and better focus. You don’t realize how much food affects your focus until you cut out the bad stuff!

Week 3: Oh my goodness, this might be working…

It feels good to be officially halfway through the program. There’s this feeling of: Hey, I can actually do this thing! I definitely have more confidence in myself to complete this challenge.

On Day 16 we moved to a new house. Of course, I was an idiot and didn’t plan ahead. All of our cutlery was in an unmarked box somewhere and the delivery people didn’t bring any either, so I ate steak and salad with my bare hands. Now that’s dedication!

I’m also dreaming about eating non-compliant foods, which is apparently quite common when doing the Whole30.

I’m starting to feel good. This feels sustainable. I don’t feel AMAZING yet, but I’m starting to accept that it’s a trial and error process, and proper healing is most likely going to take longer than 30 days.

The results haven’t been dramatic so far, but I feel like I’m on the right track. But let me tell you, there’s nothing that makes you feel more motivated to keep going than a really good Whole 30 compliant meal. It’s essential that you enjoy your food.

Near the end of the week, my aunt baked some…wait for it…NUTELLA FUDGE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES. Are you kidding me?! Now, anyone who knows me knows that I. Love. Chocolate. Brownies.

Watching everyone else eat them it utter ecstasy was not fun. What better way to test my resolve than to shove a tray of gooey fudge brownies in my face?

Except for the brownie incident, the improvements I’m seeing are really encouraging.

  1. My clothes are sitting looser.
  2. My mind feels clear when I study.
  3. My skin looks good.

Could the Whole30 actually be working??

Week 4: The Whole 30 actually works!

It’s the last stretch! I’m so excited to finish the program!

  1. My energy and mood feels the most stable they’ve been in a while.
  2. My breathing feels clear and open.
  3. My body feels ‘light’ and ‘clean’.
  4. Also, it seems like my short-term memory is improving as well.

I woke up on Day 23 at 3:30am just smiling and feeling GOOD. Could it possibly be my first drops of…tiger blood??

  1. My skin is starting to glow.
  2. I’m better at studying.
  3. My mind is clear and I grasp concepts and remember them easily. Brain power!

However, doubts about the Whole30 diet still manages to creep in whenever I feel a sudden pain in one of my joints.

I hardly have any cravings for non-compliant foods or desserts at all. The rest of the family had takeout for dinner and it didn’t bother me one bit. A lot of the itching and gallbladder pain that I had struggled with has gone away. My pores seem to be shrinking, which means I might finally hop on the #nofilter selfie bandwagon.

Doing the Whole30 feels so natural at this point. I’m starting to get nervous about the progam ending. I’ve been seeing a lot of results, but I’m not where I want to be just yet.

When Day 30 finally rolls around, I feel PROUD. I did it! I gave my best despite the obstacles and many inconveniences. I realize that completing the Whole30 is only the BEGINNING of a lifelong process of building healthy habits.

I feel so good that I continue eating Whole30-style for another 15 days!

In Conclusion – What I’ve Learned During My Whole30 Diet:

My Whole 30 Review: Final Thoughts About My Results

Feeling discouraged or like you want to quit is NORMAL and part of the process. If you can mentally prepare yourself for that, then you’ll be much better equipped to deal with those negative feelings once they arrive.

A supportive network of people is essential. People who will keep you accountable and cheer you on when you’re not feeling your best, or when your willpower feels like it’s starting to wane.

A lot of the time, things get worse before they get better. Most people go through an adaptation period, which can include:

  1. an upset digestive system,
  2. headaches,
  3. physical weakness,
  4. low energy,
  5. and mood.

It gets better, but you have to stick it out.

Healing is a slow process. It doesn’t happen overnight. The crazy miracle testimonies are only a fraction of the amount of people who actually partake in the full Whole 30 Challenge.

Most people will probably experience a gradual improvement in symptoms.

The Whole30 is not a magic pill that will cure your health issues. Even Whole30 compliant foods might trigger an autoimmune reaction, and it’s your job to figure out what that is and adjust your eating plan accordingly to suit your personal needs.

This is only the beginning. If you want to be a healthy person for the rest of your life, then you have to be a dedicated healthy eater for the rest of your life.

Whole 30 FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Whole 30 good for weight loss?

Whole 30 is NOT designed as a “quick-fix” weight loss program. Read the creator Melissa Urban’s explanation here: Whole 30 Weight Loss Hacks

Although, if you are used to eating the “standard American diet”, jumping into a Whole 30 will almost guarantee some weight loss during these 30 days – especially if you have some extra around the waist.

It’s just important to note that the point of this program is not weight loss, but when you’re only eating good whole foods and being active – weight loss will probably be a welcome bonus to this program.

Does Whole 30 Really Work?

Yes. It works for a large amount of people, but it’s not perfect and definitely not a miracle worker.

Here’s a quick overview of why it might not or didn’t work for you:

  1. You didn’t do it right.
  2. Thirty days wasn’t long enough to “reverse” decades of unhealthy behavior, or stubborn medical issues.
  3. You aren’t paying attention to the right stuff (if your only focus if weight loss, you might miss all the other great stuff that happened).
  4. There are still “trigger” foods in your Whole 30 diet. (Too much “healthy fat, eggs, nightshade vegetables, nuts, etc”)
  5. Other lifestyle factors (emotional stress, over-training, etc)
  6. Diet can’t fix everything (you might need targeted intervention for specific issues).

The official Whole 30 website has an in-depth article of possible reasons and explanations of why it didn’t work for you. Find it HERE.

Is Whole 30 dangerous?

Some nutritionists argue (read this article) that Whole 30 messes with your digestion (by gutting out soy and pulses) and mention that the nutritional benefits far outweigh the possible “anti-nutrient” qualities of these foods.

It’s thought that you might induce food sensitivities when reintroducing foods after completing the Whole 30 diet. By cutting out certain foods for a long period of time, your gut microbiata composition shifts and possibly drives down the amount of enzymes to digest these foods.

It might worsen your cravings, because of the overly restrictive nature of the Whole 30 diet.

Red and processed meats have been linked to numerous chronic diseases and since plant-based protein sources are cut out and replaced with animal protein – it’s argued that this diet could likely increase your risk of certain diseases.

In the end, the Whole 30 diet is not meant to be followed forever – only 30 days. So, these concerns from nutritionists might not matter in the grand scheme of things.

The benefits of completing a Whole 30 (in my personal opinion) far outweigh these problems that may or may not occur if you follow the Whole 30 indefinitely (which you shouldn’t).

Do Doctor’s Recommend Whole 30?

Doctor’s do praise the fact that Whole 30 is a “learning diet”, in order to help you understand how food affects your body.

The problem is that although the program is designed to be temporary – it is extremely strict and very hard to sustain. Therefore not truly helping people make long-term improvements to their eating habits.

See Dr. Seema Marwaha’s article about “fad diets”.

The official Whole 30 blog also has a great article about Doctors and Whole 30 HERE and a resource for linking you to doctors that understand and support the Whole 30 diet.

We own all the Official Whole 30 books by Melissa Urban and thoroughly recommend them:

  1. It Starts With Food
  2. The Whole 30: The Official Guide To Total Health and Food Freedom
  3. Whole 30 Day by Day: Your Daily Guide To Whole 30 Success
  4. The Whole 30 Fast and Easy Cookbook
  5. Whole 30 Slow Cooker
  6. The Whole 30 Cookbook
  7. The Whole 30 Friends and Family
A stack of whole 30 books

The official Whole 30 website gives you access to a host of helpful Whole 30 pdf downloadables like:

  1. The Whole 30 Rules
  2. The Whole 30 Shopping List
  3. The Whole 30 Guide To Sneaky Sugars
  4. And Many More!!

If you sign up for the Official Whole 30 Newsletter, you also get a great Starter Kit.

Whole 30 Recipes:

While completing a Whole 30, we also developed a bunch of our own Whole 30 compliant recipes. They’re all super quick and easy – and most importantly – DELICIOUS.

a grid of whole 30 recipe photos

Here’s a list 10 of our favorite recipes we ate during my Whole 30:

  1. Simple Instant Pot Chicken Stew
  2. Best Instant Pot Cottage Pie
  3. Chicken Zucchini Meatballs
  4. One-Pot Paleo Chicken Dinner Recipe
  5. One Pan Tandoori Fish and Garlic Butter Cauliflower
  6. Instant Pot Paleo Chicken Noodle Soup
  7. Instant Pot Ground Beef Hamburger Soup
  8. Easy Paleo Canned Tuna Fish Cakes
  9. OnePot Amish Beef and Cabbage Skillet
  10. Avocado Tomato Cucumber Salad

Find more in our Whole 30 Category.

Have you completed a Whole 30? If you have any thoughts about The Whole 30 or know of great resources to help others with their Whole 30 journey, please let us know in the comments below!

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    1. Hi Rich,
      I did not actually weigh myself while following the program. My hope when starting it was definitely to see an improvement in “non-scale victories”, things like: energy levels, sleep quality, clear skin, etc.

      After the first two weeks, I did notice less bloating and looser clothes, but weight-loss was definitely NOT my priority when I started this as I was already at a healthy weight. The Whole30 program discourages weighing yourself as scale weights can fluctuate wildly. Here’s an article from them about it.

  1. Hi, thanks for sharing this article, it was very interesting to see your results and hear your opinion. I have IBS and follow a strict Low Fodmap diet, so I could definitely relate to your experience with food when dinning out and meals with family & friends, its like that for me all the time. Sometimes its challenging but I’m used to it now. Lucky for me I don’t have a sweet tooth, so sugar I can live without, however grains such as oats & rice I eat but in moderation, same with dairy, I don’t cut out any food groups, I just eat whole natural foods that agree with my stomach. Since following the Low Fodmap diet my stomach has never felt better 🙂

    1. Hi Helen, that’s great to hear that the Low Fodmap diet has done you so good. I’m definitely interested to research more about it and give it a try myself! Thanks for your comment!

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