Self-Experimentation

Whole30

I followed Whole30 from September 20, 2018 until October 19, 2018 to see if it would have any impact on my gut microbiome. I suspected that it would have a detrimental impact. Here is a summary of my experiences and results:

Day 1

Today I am starting Whole30 to see how it affects my gut microbiome. Notes: I will be following the food guidelines but not the food preparation guidelines, as I am only interested in the impact of the inclusion/exclusion of actual foods. I also will continue to track my intake (against Whole30 guidelines), as my current goal is to gain weight.

Day 10

My life is just one big sweet potato. As expected, it’s difficult to eat as much as I want, but I’ve managed to meet my calorie and nutrient goals every day so far. I’m eating the same amount of calories as I was before I started, but I feel less full after I eat. I also feel less hungry in between meals.

For the first week, I was craving foods that I normally eat, like oats, yogurt, chocolate, toast, and snack bars. I was also craving foods I don’t normally like or want, like Snickers bars and pizza. I want to chew gum. I increased my carb intake on Day 8, and I’m feeling much better. (I am making weekly increases to my intake while doing this, as my goal to gain weight takes precedence over sticking to Whole30 guidelines like “don’t track food intake or weigh yourself.”) The first night I had terrible night sweats. Sleep has been mixed; some nights I’ve slept better than usual despite cutting out Olly sleep gummies. Nearly every day so far, I’ve had menstrual cramps and bleeding despite taking my birth control pill as usual. Days 1-4 were the worst.

Despite maintaining a fairly consistent fiber intake, digestion has been worse on Whole30. I was also bloated the first few days from the sheer volume of food, but that seems to be over now. I feel flat and bleh despite having ample glycogen stores. I salt my food and take electrolyte capsules to keep electrolytes in check. I sometimes take calcium and/or iron too. Other nutrients seem fine.

I have effectively transitioned from a balanced diet where nothing is off limits to a restricted diet where an absurd amount of food choices are off limits. I’m getting into a routine where eating has become more of a chore than an enjoyable act.

Day 14

Tomorrow will be Day 15 of Day 30, and my opinion has not changed since before I started this 30-day experiment. So, what do I think about Whole30? I think that it is simultaneously genius and utterly stupid.

The prevalence of obesity alone shows that we cannot rely on our internal regulation mechanisms to maintain a healthy weight. To solve this problem, the creators of Whole30 simply cut out all foods that we tend to overeat. They justify these eliminations by explaining potentially negative effects that these foods may have on our health. Absolutely genius. On an individual level, this diet can improve one’s health without he/she ever having to weigh food or track calories.

What makes it stupid?
1.) This diet is not sustainable on a population level. Imagine if everyone ate high-quality, ethically sourced, meat, seafood, and eggs several times per day and nobody ate grains, legumes, or dairy. Whole30 is effectively a luxury diet for people who can afford to exclude plant-based protein from their diets.
2.) Restricting oneself from so many foods can have a very negative impact on mental health (and, if calorie intake is low enough, physical health as well). Do not touch Whole30 if you have a history of disordered eating.

Day 26

I’ve traveled 3 times while doing Whole30, and I must say that it actually makes it very easy to choose nutrient-dense foods. My go-to meals have been veggie-stuffed omelettes with sides of potatoes/fruit and customizable salads and bowls (e.g. Chipotle). I also always pack raisins, nuts, and bars — RX bars and Larabars have been my favorite vegetarian and vegan options, while Wild Zora bars, Epic bars, and Chomps sticks have been great meat-based options. I eat more carbs than many people who do Whole30, so if you stuck to a lower-carb, higher-fat split, it would be even easier. Fresh fruit has been pretty easy to find though.

Today is Day 26, and I secretly love Whole30 at this point. I feel great! But I still intend to reintroduce all food groups following an accelerated Whole30 reintroduction plan starting next Saturday so that I will have at least tried all food groups again before my wedding the Saturday after that.

Day 30

Today is my last day! Digestion improved tremendously throughout the 30 days. On Day 2, I remember feeling bloated, but after the first two weeks, digestion was better than ever. In fact, it seemed to be best when I was traveling—probably because of the variety of foods I was consuming.

I did Whole30 during a reverse diet (i.e. I have been increasing calories to come out of a caloric deficit).

Starting weight: 110.9
Starting average daily cals: 1550

Ending weight: 108.0
Ending average daily cals: 1850

Workouts: average 3 strength workouts and 3 outdoor runs per week

I actually wouldn’t mind continuing with Whole30 if my wedding weren’t in 8 days! I want to reintroduce all food groups by then instead of all the sudden eating bread, cheese, and ice cream for the first time in over a month at my wedding.

Results

Microbiome (tests taken pre and post Whole30):
Whole30 pretty much wrecked my gut microbiome. Nearly all health indicators (for gut conditions, gut symptoms, metabolic conditions, cardiovascular conditions, and kidney conditions) were worse after Whole30. Overall microbial diversity stayed the same, but probiotics decreased—ZERO of 21 probiotic organisms were detected after Whole30.

Heart health (“baseline” results from May):
LDL cholesterol increased 91 to 96
HDL decreased 85 to 81
HbA1c was nearly the same (5.1 to 5.0)
Total cholesterol decreased 189 to 186
Total cholesterol:HDL increased 2.22 to 2.3
Triglycerides increased 76 to 77
Triglycerides:HDL increased .89 to .95
hs-CRP decreased .46 to .33
Looks like my results are slightly worse overall except for hs-CRP dropping ever so slightly and HbA1c staying nearly the same. I don’t know if I should really try to interpret these results because the differences are so small.

Food Diary

Whole30 day 1
Preworkout: matcha with collagen, butternut squash
Postworkout: eggs, squash
Lunch: banana-egg pancakes, eggs, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower
After work: sardines, carrot spirals
Dinner: eggs, kale, spinach, avocado, nutritional yeast, kimchi, potato

Whole30 day 2
Breakfast: eggs, potato, coffee with collagen
Snack: sweet potato, egg whites, nut butter, blueberries
Lunch: catfish, purple sweet potato, carrots, olive oil
Dinner: sardines, avocado, kale, spinach, butternut squash, carrots, nutritional yeast, cashews

Whole30 day 3
Pre-5K: bananas, coffee wiith collagen
Post-5K: sweet potato, peach, almond butter, egg whites
Lunch: sardines, egg, olives, potato, asparagus
Snack: peach
Dinner: sweet potato, banana, blueberries, egg whites, avocado, cashews, kale, spinach, nutritional yeast

Whole30 day 4 (traveling)
Preworkout: banana-egg pancakes
Postworkout: sweet potato, egg whites
Lunch: tuna, almonds, sweet potato, riced cauliflower, kimchi, asparagus
Snack: kombucha, chicken sriracha bar, cashews
Dinner: chipotle salad (steak, extra fajita veggies, mild salsa), banana

Whole30 day 5 (away for conference)
Breakfast: fruit salad (cantaloupe, honeydew, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, pineapple), epic bar chicken sriracha bar, coffee
Snack: fruit salad, almonds
Lunch: deli turkey, lettuce, tomato, pickle, fruit salad (snagged 2 servings of everything)
Snack: almonds
Dinner: poke bowl (zucchini noodles, mixed greens, tuna, salmon, shrimp, pineapple, daikon, red onion, avocado, carrots, cucumber), almonds

Whole30 day 6 (traveling)
Breakfast: chicken sriracha bar, fruit salad
Lunch: salmon packets, apple, carrots, tomato, bell pepper
Snack: mixed berry rx bar, fruit salad
Snack: chicken sriracha bar, blueberry rx bar
Dinner: eggs, spinach, nutritional yeast, banana, blueberries

Whole30 day 7
Breakfast: can of pumpkin, almond butter, egg whites, matcha with collagen
Lunch: banana-egg pancakes with blueberries and extra egg whites
Snack: banana-egg pancakes with blueberries and extra egg whites
Dinner: egg, egg whites, avocado, potato, tomato, kale, spinach, nutritional yeast

Whole30 day 8
Pre-workout: sweet potato, macaboost, matcha with collagen
Post-workout: sweet potato, egg whites
Lunch: jumbo lump crab, avocado, cashews, carrot spirals, hot sauce
Dinner: Atlantic salmon, butternut squash, broccoli, olives
Snack: egg, egg whites, potato, avocado, spinach, kale, nutritional yeast

Whole30 day 9
Breakfast: butternut squash, blueberries, sunbutter, cashew butter, egg whites
Snack: turkey stick
Lunch: sweet potato, egg whites, avocado, kale, spinach, nutritional yeast, asparagus
Dinner: shrimp, zoodles, cauliflower rice, broccoli, carrot, mushroom, onion
Snack: sweet potato, sunbutter, tea with collagen

Whole30 day 10
Breakfast: pumpkin, almonds, egg whites
Snack: apple cinnamon kids rxbar, banana
Lunch: sweet potato, egg whites, avocado, kale, spinach, nutritional yeast
Dinner: Atlantic salmon, crab, potato, riced cauliflower

Whole30 day 11
Breakfast: sweet potato, banana, almond butter, egg whites
Post-workout: sweet potato, pumpkin, egg whites
Lunch: Atlantic salmon, potatoes, olive oil, ketchup
Dinner: eggs, kabocha, sweet potato, avocado, asparagus, kale, spinach, nutritional yeast

Whole30 day 12
Breakfast: sweet potato, almonds, egg whites, pumpkin, macaboost
Lunch: butternut squash spirals, canned salmon, avocado oil mayo, raisins
Dinner: eggs, egg whites, potato, avocado, tomato, kale, spinach, nutritional yeast

Whole30 day 13
Pre-workout: banana, coffee with macaboost and collagen
Post-workout: sweet potato, egg whites
Snack: curry turkey bar
Lunch: carrot spirals, canned salmon, avocado
Snack: apple cinnamon raisin kids rxbar, rxbar vanilla almond butter
Dinner: eggs, potato, avocado, kale, spinach, nutritional yeast

Whole30 day 14
Breakfast: sweet potato, pumpkin, almonds, eggs, matcha with collagen
Lunch: cod, plantains, olive oil, raspberries, broccoli
Dinner: eggs, potato, avocado, kale, spinach, nutritional yeast, broccoli

Whole30 day 15
Pre-workout: banana, coffee with macaboost and collagen
Post-workout: sweet potato, pumpkin, egg whites
Lunch: eggs, egg whites, plantains, olive oil
Dinner: salmon, plantains, almonds, riced cauliflower
Snack: egg whites, avocado, kale, spinach, nutritional yeast, raspberries

Whole30 day 16 (traveling)
Breakfast: banana, pumpkin spice rx bar
Snack: cherry pie larabar, wild zora chili beef bar
Lunch: grilled chicken, coconut oil, bell pepper, broccoli, strawberry spinach cashew larabar
Snack: pineapple larabar, epic sriracha chicken bar
Dinner: grilled chicken, baked potato, broccoli

Whole30 day 17 (comic con)
Pre soul cycle: apple cinnamon raisin kids rx bar
Post soul cycle: egg, egg whites, spinach, coconut oil, sweet potato, blood orange carrot ginger kombucha
Lunch: turmeric ginger beet larabar, chomps turkey stick, wild zora curry turkey bar, banana
Snack: cherry pie larabar, apple cinnamon raisin kids rx bar
Snack: shrimp cocktail

Whole30 day 18 (traveling)
Breakfast: omelette with broccoli, tomato, spinach, and a side of potatoes, unknown oil
Lunch: chipotle steak salad (steak, double fajita veggies, double mild salsa, lettuce)
Snack: apple, strawberries, fennel
Dinner: di stationer salad; roasted peppers, mushrooms, olive oil; codfish puttanesca (cod, olive oil, capers, olives, tomato; broccoli, cauliflower, carrots; fried potatoes (alert the whole30 police)

Whole30 day 19 (traveling)
Breakfast: apple cinnamon raisin kids rx bar, wild zora foods curry turkey bar
Snack: mixed berry rx bar, epic chicken sriracha bar
Lunch: salad with chicken thigh, lettuce, carrot, tomato, cucumber; second salad without chicken; banana
Snack: multi-green kombucha
Dinner: eggs, sweet potato, spinach, kale, avocado, kimchi, nutritional yeast

Whole30 day 20
Pre-workout: banana, coffee with marine collagen and macaboost
Post-workout: pumpkin, egg whites
Snack: apple cinnamon kids rxbar
Lunch: chicken apple sausage, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, sunbutter
Pre-midterm snack: banana-egg pancakes
Dinner: egg whites, sweet potato, kale, spinach, avocado, kimchi, nutritional yeast

Whole3 day 21
Breakfast: eggs, turkey bacon, kabocha squash, cashew butter, raisins
Lunch: banana, canned salmon, riced cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, raisins
Snack: kombucha
Dinner: egg whites, chicken apple sausage, avocado, kabocha squash, blueberries, kale, spinach, kimchi, nutritional yeast

Whole30 day 22
Pre-workout: banana, coffee with pumpkin spice nutpod, collagen, and maca boost
Post-workout: pumpkin, pumpkin spice nutpod, egg whites
Snack: wild zora curry turkey bar
Lunch: oysters, butternut squash spirals, tomatoes, olive oil
Snack: banana-egg pancakes
Dinner: egg whites, turkey bacon, avocado, kabocha squash, kale, spinach, kimchi, nutritional yeast

Whole30 day 23 (traveling)
Breakfast: banana, kabocha squash, egg whites, cashew butter, sunbutter
Lunch: banana, apple cinnamon raisin kids rx bar, wild zora curry turkey bar
Lunch 2: chipotle steak salad (steak/veg/salsa/lettuce), Granny Smith apple
Dinner: the protein bar fall bowl 30 (chicken, eggs, butternut squash, turmeric-roasted cauliflower, kale, spinach, toasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds), healthade ginger lemon kombucha

Whole30 day 24 (in Chicago)
Breakfast: omelette with broccoli, tomato, spinach, and ghee; apple, raisins
Snack: apple cinnamon raisin kids rxbar, wild zora curry turkey bar, chomps turkey stick
Lunch: chipotle steak salad (steak/veg/salsa/lettuce); apple, raisins
Dinner: another chipotle steak salad

Whole30 day 25 (in Chicago)
Breakfast: egg white scramble with mushroom, broccoli, tomato, spinach; pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries, grapes; almonds
Lunch: steak salad from chipotle and an apple cinnamon raisin kids rxbar
Snack: epic chicken sriracha bar, apple cinnamon raisin kids rxbar
Dinner: the protein bar fall bowl 30 (chicken, eggs, butternut squash, turmeric-roasted cauliflower, kale, spinach, toasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds)
Snack: wild zora curry turkey bar

Whole30 day 26 (traveling)
Breakfast: the protein bar AM bowl 30 (egg whites, ghee, butternut squash, turmeric-roasted cauliflower, kale, spinach, almonds, hemp seed blend); healthade ginger-lemon kombucha; apple cinnamon raisin kids rxbar
Lunch: chipotle steak salad; raisins, almonds
Snacks: 2 bananas, raisins, 2 chicken sriracha epic bars
Dinner: sweet potato, sunbutter, tea with collagen and pumpkin spice nutpod creamer

Whole30 day 27
Pre-workout: banana, clementine; coffee with collagen, maca boost, and pumpkin spice creamer
Post-workout: sweet potato, egg whites
Lunch: eggs, sweet potato, banana, grapes, clementine
Snacks: blueberry rxbar, cherry pie larabar, chomps turkey stick
Dinner: tuna, almonds, potato, broccoli, cauliflower, nutritional yeast, celery

Whole30 day 28
Breakfast: egg, egg whites, sweet potato, grapes, strawberries, sunbutter; coffee with collagen, macaboost, and pumpkin spice creamer
Lunch on-the-go: blueberry rx bar, chicken sriracha epic bar, banana, carrots, tomatoes
Dinner: eggs, egg whites, sweet potato, potato, avocado, kale, spinach, nutritional yeast

Whole30 day 29
Pre-workout: 2 bananas; coffee with collagen, maca boost, and pumpkin spice creamer
Post-workout: egg whites, canned pumpkin
Lunch: lobster, avocado mayo, sweet potato, fennel
Dinner: salmon, potato, broccoli, riced cauliflower

Whole30 day 30
Breakfast: sweet potato, eggs, cashew butter; coffee with collagen, maca boost, and pumpkin spice creamer
Lunch: kabocha squash, pear, sunbutter, cashew butter, egg, egg whites, pumpkin spice creamer
Snack: crab, avocado mayo, sweet potato, celery, ginger-lemon kombucha
Dinner: salmon burger, egg, potatoes, ketchup, grapes, strawberrie

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