Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods-with-no-brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compliant) is totally missing the point of the Whole30, and will compromise your life-changing results. These are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it’s made with coconut flour.
I’m not going to say I didn’t have some pretty difficult moments. For example, don’t purchase an ice cream maker the day you start your Whole30 and let it sit in your entryway for 30 days to taunt you. I did that; it was dumb. Also, there were points in the program on those days when I felt off that I broke down or wanted to throw in the towel. Feeling bad on top of the normal Lyme symptoms wasn’t great, but I’m glad that I stuck it out.
Since then, I've reintroduced legumes, soy, added sugar, and dairy back into my diet. Since I'm lactose intolerant, I was most afraid of dairy, but it seems as of my dairy intolerance has disappeared, which is an unexpected positive. I definitely sleep worse, though, and feel more bloated when I enjoy dairy or carbs with gluten. So going forward, I'll be eating these with more moderation than before.
The paleo diet (also nicknamed the caveman diet, primal diet, Stone Age diet, and hunter-gatherer diet) is hugely popular these days, and goes by one simple question: What would a caveman eat? Here, we explain what the paleo diet involves, its pros and cons, and, ultimately, what a modern person needs to know to decide whether or not to take the paleo diet plunge.
Then there’s the exclusivity factor—more than half of all CrossFitters have a household income exceeding $150,000, which allows droves of gay men to shell out hundreds of dollars a month for an Equinox membership. This, combined with its type-A siren call, a public image unafraid to tout sweaty masculine flesh, and, I would argue, its very bro-ness, and CrossFit’s gay appeal is easier to decipher.
Ever start a diet and get immediately discouraged when the number on your scale hasn't budged after a week or two? Whole30 forbids weighing yourself — a practice which can help shift your mindset to how you're feeling as your success metric. "The scale shouldn’t drive your mood, food choices or overall mindset," says Amy Shapiro, RD. "Continue to live a healthy life and measure how you feel energy and clarity wise." Which means being honest with yourself about how your body feels after going to town on that cheese plate. One of the biggest realizations for me was how much clearer and more energetic I feel when my weekend diet doesn't consist of vodka-sodas and takeout food.
Optimal Diet is a dietary model of human nutrition devised and implemented by Dr. Jan Kwasniewski. Lots of fat and low in carbs. Lots and lots of articles collected from various places. He has an out-of-print book: Optimal Nutrition. The book is explained at the Australian Homo Optimus Association website. A thorough analysis is the first post here: Dr. Kwasniewski's Optimal Diet: Sanity, Clarity, Facts.
The good news is that you'll find yourself craving your junky favorites less as time goes on. But that first week can be notoriously tough as your body transitions to a cleaner way of eating. Now more than ever, make sure you're eating regular, balanced meals and keeping approved snacks like plantain chips with salsa and celery sticks with almond butter on hand. It's always easier to say no to cookies or chips when you're satisfied from eating something clean and delicious—or have another snack or dish to look forward to.
In terms of food, I kicked up my creativity up a notch in the kitchen. I tried experimenting with recipes that were a little more complex than my usual, like making pesto out of cashews and avocados and serving it over a plate of zoodles. I made blueberry energy bites in my food processor to snack on during a movie marathon and grab for a quick breakfast. I also tried new snacks, like bottled tomatillo jalapeno soup from ZÜPA NOMA and chia pudding from Daily Harvest to mix things up.
People looking for support and community – This is the appeal to CrossFit for me: every CrossFit gym has a really tight-knit community feel to it. You’re not just a membership payment to them; you’re a person that needs support. When Nerd Fitness gyms start popping up (don’t think it won’t happen!), I’ll be drawing a lot of inspiration from CF as to how members are so supportive and inclusive of each other.
Still, many scientists have expressed concern that we do not yet have enough evidence to make any strong claims about the paleo diet’s health benefits, especially its long-term effects. In fact, in an article in response to the first review, authors Tanis R. Fenton and Carol J. Fenton, from the Cumming School of Medicine in Canada, wrote a letter to the editor in which they expressed their disappointment with the review. (5)
Chris Masterjohn has Cholesterol: Your Life Depends on It!, another web site pointing out that the war on cholesterol and the push to put people on statins is misguided. The site argues it is actually polyunsaturated fats, not saturated fats or cholesterol, that contribute to heart disease, cancer, liver damage, and aging. He also has a popular blog.
A 2015 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that 76 people who followed the Paleo diet for 60 days (as well as those who followed vegan, Mediterranean and DASH plans for the same length of time) lost an average of 9 pounds and showed improvement in their blood pressure levels. The effects were greatest and most sustained among people who also attended regular diet support group meetings.
Autoimmunity is a process in which our bodies own immune system attacks “us.” Normally the immune system protects us from bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. The immune system identifies a foreign invader, attacks it, and ideally clears the infection. A good analogy for autoimmunity is the case of tissue rejection after organ donation. If someone requires a new heart, lung kidney or liver due to disease or injury, a donor organ may be an option. The first step in this process is trying to find a tissue “match”. All of us have molecules in our tissues that our immune system uses to recognize self from non-self. If a donated organ is not close enough to the recipient in tissue type the immune system will attack and destroy the organ. In autoimmunity, a similar process occurs in that an individuals own tissue is confused as something foreign and the immune system attacks this “mislabeled” tissue. Common forms of autoimmunity include Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and Vitiligo to name only a tiny fraction of autoimmune diseases. Elements of autoimmunity are likely at play in conditions as seemingly unrelated as Schizophrenia, infertility, and various forms of cancer.
Fruits are not only delicious, but they’re also great for you. That said, fruits (even paleo-approved ones) contain large amounts of fructose which, while much better than HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), is still sugar. If you’re looking to lose weight on the paleo diet, you’ll want to cut back on your fruit intake and focus more on the vegetables allowed on the paleo diet. However, feel free to have one to three servings of fruit a day. Check out this list of paleo diet fruits and see if you’re not hungry by the end! (We’ll admit, we’re partial to blackberries!)
The only way this works is if you give it the full thirty days: no cheats, slips, or “special occasions.” This isn’t a hazing, a boot camp, or us playing the tough guy. This is a fact, born of science and experience. The Whole30 is, at its heart, an elimination diet. Just a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods could break the healing cycle; promoting cravings, messing with blood sugar, disrupting the integrity of your digestive tract, and (most important) firing up the immune system. One bite of pizza, one spoonful of ice cream, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30-day period and you’ve broken the “reset” button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1.
The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. – Robb Wolf
And again, there’s no concrete scientific proof that the paleo diet wards off disease, Sandon says. Any evidence of its benefits is anecdotal. Although some studies seem to support the benefits of the paleo diet, many scientists still believe we don’t yet have enough evidence to know whether the eating approach is totally healthy and without risk. “Nobody knows the long-term effects of this diet because no one has researched it to any degree,” Sandon says. It’s not really a new concept; instead it’s one that’s been recycled through the years, she adds.
Trying to devise an ideal diet by studying contemporary hunter-gatherers is difficult because of the great disparities that exist; for example, the animal-derived calorie percentage ranges from 25% for the Gwi people of southern Africa to 99% for the Alaskan Nunamiut. Descendants of populations with different diets have different genetic adaptations to those diets, such as the ability to digest sugars from starchy foods. Modern hunter-gatherers tend to exercise considerably more than modern office workers, protecting them from heart disease and diabetes, though highly processed modern foods also contribute to diabetes when those populations move into cities.
Foods allowed during the program include meat, nuts, seeds, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruits. During the Whole30, participants are advised not to count calories or to weigh themselves. After the program is complete, participants are counseled to strategically reintroduce foods outside the endorsed Whole30 list, document the health consequences and culinary value of these additions, and determine if the addition is desired. The program's founders believe that sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, and legumes affect weight, energy, and stress levels. Losing weight is not a focus of Whole30; calorie-counting and weigh-ins are not allowed.
A strict paleo diet does not allow dairy products because hunter-gatherers did not milk cows. Some paleo dieters say dairy is OK, especially if it is grass-fed because grass-fed butter, for example, has more omega-3s. Fermented dairy products are also OK for some paleo eaters because they have a lower content of lactose and casein, the two concerns paleo dieters have with dairy.
Grass-fed meat is recommended on the paleo diet because it is leaner than meat from grain-fed animals and has more omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats that reduce inflammation in the body and protect your heart. A typical American diet is high in saturated and trans fats and lower in healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats, hence the paleo diet's emphasis on grass-fed meats.
Still, it was a tad depressing to watch my boyfriend eat whatever he wanted while I was on the sideline sipping tea. "I miss sharing food memories with you," he said at one point. Sigh. So the next day, we headed to a local brunch spot, and I ordered a Whole30–compliant dish from the menu. I got a bunless burger topped with a fried egg, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and onion plus a side salad instead of fries. Let me tell you, this bunless burger tasted like the juiciest thing I'd eaten in my entire life. After nearly two weeks of cooking every meal, it was nice to have someone else do it for me.
So what does the science say about the paleo diet? Some research suggests that the health claims hold truth. A review analyzed four randomized, controlled trials with 159 participants, and researchers found that the paleo diet led to more short-term improvements in some risk factors for chronic disease (including waist circumference and fasting blood sugar) compared with other control diets. (4)
It's that time of year again, when all of your friends and family members are making resolutions to be healthier in 2019. Expect to see lots of the following on Instagram in the next month: #DryJanuary, #NewYearNewYou, #Whole30. And for anyone looking to try the latter, I applaud you — and I encourage you to do it. I decided to give the much-buzzed-about Whole30 diet a try last November.
As part of our #MyFoodFreedom book club this month, Whole30 Certified Coach, Kate Baldacci is sharing her tips for how to share your Whole30 experience with your loved ones. You can connect with Kate by visiting www.coach.whole30.com/coaches/kate-baldacci/ Visit whole30.com/2019/01/book-club-2019 for the Food Freedom Forever reading schedule and list of events.
To get an idea of what that means, we turned to the experts, including Loren Cordain, PhD, a professor emeritus at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the author of The Paleo Diet; Erin Holley, RD, of Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio; and Lona Sandon, PhD, RD, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Snacks: Snacks were a problem for me. One of favorite snacks is cheese, but dairy was not allowed in the program. One of the most recommended snacks is nuts, but I can’t have them because I have diverticulosis. My fall back was celery with almond butter. It seem to fill me up while meeting the requirements of the Whole 30 plan but it was pretty boring.
For instance, the fat allowance of the diet may be problematic. “My biggest hang-up with the paleo diet is all of the saturated fats it promotes with all of the meats,” explains Holley, noting that you could look for a locally sourced meat, whose origin and method of raising you're aware of, as a healthier option. Saturated fat from meat has been linked with an increased risk of early death. (9)
CrossFit, Inc. has also been criticized for having a "cavalier" attitude towards rhabdomyolysis by promoting a character known as "Uncle Rhabdo" (a cartoon clown dying in a dramatic fashion—hooked up to a dialysis machine, with his kidneys and intestines falling on the floor). In response to this criticism, Greg Glassman stated "We introduced (Uncle) Rhabdo because we're honest and believe that full disclosure of risk is the only ethical thing to do."