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I finished The Whole30 – my personal experience

This is a documentation of my personal experience over the 30 days.

How big was the change in my diet to make it Whole30 compliant?

I didn’t think it would be a drastic overhaul of my diet however the list of foods I dropped for the month from my regular routine is not short.

Items in my diet I dropped for The Whole30 program: Gluten free cereals and grains, quinoa, corn, corn chips, corn tortillas, corn bread, rice, rice flour, gluten free pancake mix, white potatoes, cheese, candy, wine, chocolate, sports drinks, all Sports bars except for specific flavors of Lara Bars, potato chips, store bought almond milk, tamales. I love tamales!

New items I added to my diet for The Whole30 program: Coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut oil, coconut aminos, ghee, sauerkraut, kombucha.

Best new thing I made to eat?

Homemade Whole30 approved mayo. I’ll keep eating that post Whole30.

Did I nail the plan 100%?

No! I had a couple of mindless oopsies a.k.a. slip-ups and three conscious decisions to go off plan a.k.a. cheats.

The oopsie slip-ups:

  1. On a 12 hour drive home from a wedding in Colorado I had few sips of ice-cold Pepsi that DH was drinking. I generally don’t drink soda but have a habit of  sneaking a few sips of DH’s. As I was swallowing the Pepsi sip I realized oops! I was mindlessly following through on a habit.
  2. I ate a veggie burger at the wedding. I just did and it tasted good and after I thought oops-fail!

My slip-ups showed me I eat and drink mindlessly sometimes.

The cheats:

  1. On day ten my 12-year-old son helped me make dinner. He makes a mean stir fry. He had a wok full of veggies and was busy telling me this was going to be the best stir fry he ever made. He poured in soy sauce while I was out getting the steak off the barbecue. I had planned to use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce but hadn’t told him that yet. I ate the stir fry. It was good and I told Wesley it was the best stir fry I had ever tasted. I knew I was eating off plan.
  2. On day 20 at the wedding in Colorado I ate barbecue chicken. I scraped off most of the sauce. It was still super tasty. Also at the same meal I put unknown salad dressing on my salad which was delicious. I was fairly sure the dressing and bbq sauce were off plan and I ate them anyway. Just a little…
  3. On day 25 I went out to a restaurant with DH for the first time on the program. I ordered a chicken spinach salad and forgot to ask for no cheese. It was crumbled feta mixed in and would have been an ordeal to pick out or re-order. I ate it and it was yummy 🙂

My cheats I found educational as I had control over those. Every time I cheated it was in a social setting and my cheat decision was socially based. #1 I wanted to please my son and reward him for making dinner. #2 The wedding was beautiful, I was full of bliss and sitting at a table eating dinner with some of my best friends. I didn’t want to dampen any of that bliss over a little bbq sauce and salad dressing. #3 was for bliss too. I was on a dinner date. I was having a good time and felt it would have been annoying and negative to pick all the cheese out of my salad. They were all conscious decisions, I don’t rate any as fails and would do them all over again. As I said, I didn’t nail the Whole30 program 100% but I did learn a lot from it.

I suppose I am a social creature after all. Food is a social experience for me and 4 out of 5 of my off plan eating fouls revolved around the wedding which was the biggest social event I had this month.

I did use my off plan forays to observe any negative results caused by the non Whole30 legal vittles. About four hours after eating the soy sauce I had an uncomfortable bloated Buddha belly and acne popped up on my chin. I didn’t observe any negative results from the Pepsi, veggie burger, bbq sauce, salad dressing or feta cheese.

What changes did I observe in my body over the 30 days?

Skin.  My skin is clearer after the Whole30 than it has ever been in my adult life, ever. This is the most visible change to me. Something I was eating before gave me acne. I know gluten does but eating gluten-free does not result in skin this clear. There must be something else in my gluten-free non Whole30 diet causing it.

PMS. I completely missed out on my PMS during my Whole30 month. I usually have about 36 oppressive hours of PMS per month. I am aware of it, can predict it on the calendar, manage it ok and hate every single minute of it. What a joy to miss that this month!

Body weight.  +1 lb on day 30. I gained 4 lbs in the first 21 days then lost three of them by day 30. I was following the Whole30 guidelines of not counting calories and eating as much as I wanted for the first 21 days. I am a danger with a can of cashews and ate  too many of them and other  nuts in the first 21 days so cut that out in the last 7 days. I do need to have calorie control. Whole30 guidelines are not to weigh your body until the end but I stepped on the scale at day 21. I guess that is a cheat too but I needed a reality check.

Migraines.  I had two migraines start during this Whole30 month. I had a problem with migraines during puberty and got a handle on how to control them. I average about one per year now so it is unusual and definitely a negative for me to have two in one month.

GI observations. I had no belly bloat and gurgles this month except for the soy sauce incident.

Joints.  My joints felt progressively better as the days rolled on. I have achy hands and knees on a continual basis and by day 30 this had disappeared completely from my hands and considerably from my knees. This makes me want to eat Whole30 every day for the rest of my life. Something on my normal non-Whole30 diet is keeping my joints inflamed.

Poop.  What comes out the other end is all part of it and I would be remiss in missing out this discussion. Besides I think it is one of the favorite topic of endurance athletes. This is where it gets personal! Before the Whole30 my normal routine would be to fill the toilet up at 7 am every day with an amount of poop that shocked me. Sometimes it looked like there was more poop volume than the food I ate. Sometimes it even looked like chopped food not poop. I always wondered if everything was shooting through me and not being absorbed. I did eat a disproportionately large amount of food for my size. Fast forward to Whole30/day 30 >> my poop has changed. Even though I am eating more vegetables than ever the volume has dropped dramatically and it looks and smells like shit not food! Ha – gross. However now I feel like I am actually absorbing the food I eat and getting something from it. Maybe that is why I gained some weight?

Overall. I feel pretty darn great. Energy is good, stoke is high for most things in my life, training is going great, skin is clear, I’m sleeping well (but mostly do – nothing has changed).

My Training on Whole30?

I am currently training to train… or as one of my friends Allison nicely put it, I’m working out, not training. During the first seven days my body did have an adjustment period to the Whole30. I got quite dizzy and had to stop exercising a couple of times in Crossfit and I bonked on every ride I did, even short ones. On day six I rode Guacamole Trail with a friend and he commented he had never seen me so mellow on a bike!

By week two I was fine in Crossfit and didn’t bonk on any short or slow rides. I did have a problem staying fueled on longer/faster rides. On day 12 I got dropped five times in a 3.5 hour fast (well fast for me…) group road ride – thanks for waiting for me that day guys!! I stuffed all kinds of dried fruit and fresh fruit in my mouth to stay fueled but still felt bonky most of the time – uugh. After that ride I brought Lara Bars on rides which are Whole30 approved but discouraged due to the fact most people eat them like candy and one of the program tasks is to get you off candy. I never bonked on a ride again after mixing Lara Bars into the long and fast ride fuel plan. I did not get around to bringing coconut water on a ride. That is still on my to-do list.

Ride food for a three hour  moderately paced mountain bike ride consists of some apple, peaches a Larabar and some coconut flour banana pancakes.

What did I miss most during The Whole30 month?

Snacking. The Whole30 encourages eating meals without snacking between in meals to allow insulin and glucagon to work in harmony. Constant snacking keeps insulin up and doesn’t allow glucagon a chance to take its turn. I learned I am a snacking machine. Limiting myself to meals plus a post workout recovery meal/snack was tough. It didn’t get any easier. My snacking habit is deeply ingrained.

Quinoa. I really like this food and it will be one of the first things I reintroduce. I hope it isn’t the acne culprit.

Dinner dates. I only ate out at a restaurant twice during program and once went off plan with the cheese fail. Normally I eat out more. Eating out is my favorite social outlet. Being Whole30 compliant is hard to manage at any restaurant.

Sports drinks. Particularly berry flavored Tailwind and  raspberry lemonade Carborocket. They are tasty and make fueling on rides easy. I never bonk when I have sports drink in my bottles.

What did I discover and will keep in my post Whole30 life?

Paleo mayo. Coconut flour banana pancakes. Mmmmm. Curry made with mashed sweet potatoes, mashed butternut squash and coconut milk for the sauce. Sauerkraut and kombucha were two things I had never consumed before and I liked.



That was my month on Whole30.



It Starts With Food

The Whole30 for Athletes
By Lynda Wallenfels Google+

  13 comments for “I finished The Whole30 – my personal experience

  1. Avatar
    September 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Great post Lynda. I read the book It Starts With Food and flirted with the idea of doing it, but alas I am a weak man. Hell being part time Paleo 5 days a week is a struggle at times!

    Saw the mayo recipe, seems like a good one.

    “the soy sauce incident” I just like the sound of that.

    Lastly, FINALLY someone NOT me talking about poop. 😉

    Thanks again for the post. Coming from an athlete and coach it really pust some stuff into perspective for athletes thinking about dong the program.


  2. Avatar
    September 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I’m curious how you’d contrast it to Paleo Diet for Athletes from Friel and co.

  3. Avatar
    September 17, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Ashwin – The book The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Friel and Cordain encourages going off plan (meaning consume non-Paleo foods) to fuel exercise and recovery. They have a timetable advising you when and how long to go off plan. Whole30 is all in, no cheats, no off plan. You do Whole30 or you don’t. There is no modified Whole30 plan.

  4. Avatar
    Carey Lowery
    September 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I accidently discovered that quinoa gives me “gluten-like” symptoms, albeit short term. After a 3-4 week period of not having quinoa for breakfast (no real reason, just happy having eggs or smoothies), I had it 2 days in a row last week. By the mid-morning of the second day, I thought I had been glutened (bloating, mild stomach pain, could not fuel properly). Scary situation, as this was the day before The Pisgah Monster Cross.

    Fortunately, the morning of the race, my coffee, rice, and eggs went down easy and the symptoms did not appear. Sadly, as much as I enjoyed the quinoa, I have eliminated it as well. Thinking my body cannot tolerate the saponins in it. Yes, I thourougly wash it before preparing it, but some say that a certain percentage still remains.

  5. Avatar
    September 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Carey – Thx for your feedback. I am six days post Whole30 and haven’t tried quinoa yet. Too bad quinoa didn’t work for you but good news you have identified that. You clearly rallied for PMC!

  6. Avatar
    Brad Mullen
    September 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I thought I was doing good by going Gluten-Free, for the most part, but now I feel like a pig!!! Everything you mentioned that you gave up is on my list, except cheese. Almond Milk & rice – oh no! And I thought I was doing the right thing. Now you’ve got me thinking again. Will life ever be the same again? And great poop recap 🙂

  7. Avatar
    November 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Some decent advice here.

  8. Avatar
    February 28, 2014 at 10:46 am

    So did you end up making any long term changes to your diet post whole 30?

  9. Avatar
    February 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Amanda -Yes I did make permanent changes. Quite a few of them!

    – I did not return to adding creamy or sweet things to my coffee. I prefer it straight up black now.
    – I reacted poorly to rice, corn, gluten free oats and quinoa after The Whole 30 and eliminated them again. I avoid all grains for the most part.
    – I became more tuned in to bad food reactions and can identify when I have eaten something that does not agree with me.
    – I love kombucha. It is a treat and I occasionally drink it. I have not made my own yet. I should.
    – I still use coconut oil, flour, flakes, butter etc. Love coconut.
    – I often make bone broth. I disguise it as chicken soup and feed it to my kids and they love it.
    – I still use my crockpot all the time.

    I did go back to my habit of snacking non-stop which is not Whole 30. I dislike waiting 3-4 hours between feedings! That was hands-down the most difficult part of the Whole 30 to achieve for me.


  10. Avatar
    megan wall
    May 27, 2016 at 9:11 am

    have you found what was the cause or trigger to your acne??

  11. Avatar
    May 27, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Grains. Particularly corn.

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