Curious about the Whole30 diet? Today I’m sharing a full post on my first Whole30 experience, including why I chose to do Whole30, what meal plan I followed, and my Whole30 results with before and after photos.
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My Whole30 Results & Experience (+Before & After)
I did it, ya’ll! I successfully completed Whole30! And honestly- it’s been LIFECHANGING for me. I’ve never felt better (energy-wise), I feel more confident, and I’ve FINALLY gained a healthy relationship with food that I’m incredibly happy about.
Today I want to talk all about my first Whole30 journey with you and share why I decided to do Whole30, what the process involved, and my overall review of the Whole30 diet. I’m also answering some of the reader questions I received on Instagram and I’m very excited to share my Whole30 results with you with before and after transformation photos that I’m pretty darn proud of.
For those considering Whole30, I’ll be sharing a couple helpful tips at the end of this post, but be sure and comment below if you have any additional questions about Whole30 and I’ll be happy to answer them!
Why I Did Whole30
About a year ago I shared this honest post on my lifelong struggle with yo-yo dieting and negative body image, and how my overall goal was to start eating more clean.
And I can honestly say that over the past year I made a lot of improvements with eating healthier and incorporating more veggies and fruits into my diet. Unfortunately, a lot of the so-called “healthy” foods that I was eating was really just “crap in disguise”, and they were actually hindering me from ever really reaching my health and fitness goals.
For most of 2019 I busted my butt with working out daily, adding in extra steps and activity to burn more calories, and followed a mostly healthy diet. But no matter what I tried I just wasn’t seeing any real results. It was super discouraging and my stress levels started hitting an all-time high. I was exhausted ALL THE TIME and I started getting sick more frequently, eventually leading me to go to the doctor (which I normally never go to).
I ended up having back to back infections in the Fall and knew something had to change. I was tired of being tired all the time, tired of no longer feeling super confident in my body, and ready to make a major lifestyle change for the better.
Like it or not, I finally realized that the change I needed to make was in my diet, and after a lot of research and reading the book It Starts With Food, I decided to do the Whole30 elimination diet to reset my body. I knew it was going to be a challenge but I was ready to make a commitment to myself, my body, and my health.
What is Whole30?
Whole30 is a 30-day clean eating meal plan where you eliminate certain food categories from your diet in order to give your body a nutritional reset. Whole30 focuses on eating fresh, non processed foods such as meats, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats for 30 days, while cutting out processed foods that can cause a number of health issues.
This includes avoiding:
Following the 30 days you start a re-introduction period of 10 days or more where you re-introduce food groups one at a time to see what reactions (if any) your body has to them. Whole30 is the best program out there for understanding what foods are best for our bodies and using this process is the best method to discover any food sensitivities or allergies you might have and not even know about.
My Whole30 Experience + Reader Q&A
Was Whole30 Hard?
Yes and No. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t a cake walk eliminating all of those things from my diet. I also made the brave/insane choice of doing Whole30 in the month of December which just so happens to include my birthday, Christmas, and New Years. That meant saying no to a lot of the foods I would normally indulge in during that time.
Did I miss having cake on my birthday and eating Christmas cookies? Sure. But at the end of the day I wanted to make a CHANGE and start my new year off right, and if that change meant making some sacrifices for a few weeks, then it was well worth it in my book.
Plus once I started noticing all the positive changes in my body, my mood, my stress levels, and my sleep/energy, I was hooked.
How Did You Handle Eliminating Sugar?
The number one question most of you asked about was in regards to eliminating sugar. Eliminating refined sugar and added sugars from your diet is honestly probably the most challenging part about Whole30 simply because sugar is in EVERYTHING.
Seriously go read the labels on just about anything in your pantry or fridge and I can guarantee you that you’ll be shocked and amazed by your findings.
The sugar detox in the first week of Whole30 was the hardest part for me for sure and I literally remember waking up on Day 3 or 4 feeling like I had been ran over by a freight train.
Those feelings thankfully subsided pretty quickly though, and I started feeling SO much better once my body wasn’t full of processed junk.
Without Any Sugar – What Did You Snack On?
You might think that with no added sugars in your diet that you’ll be completely deprived the whole month, but your taste buds quickly change and I discovered several new healthy food loves in my diet.
While there’s not really a whole lot of snacking during Whole30 simply because you’re eating more healthy, filling foods, some of my favorite indulgences that I would eat once or twice a week included sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon, sliced banana with drizzled almond butter, and baby carrots with healthy guacamole dip.
I also loved occasionally snacking on healthy nuts like cashews or almonds when I needed an afternoon pick me up in between meals.
What Foods Did You/Didn’t You Miss?
Pizza, tortilla chips, and Mexican food were the main food items I missed while doing Whole30, but that just motivated me to find healthy alternatives in the mean-time.
I learned to really love baby carrots, zucchini, and sweet potatoes in the place of chips, and Mexican food can still be amazing minus the tortilla and cheese. I also ended up making a super delicious cauliflower crust pizza with sausage, spinach, onions, and peppers on it. (I didn’t even miss the cheese!)
In terms of foods and things I didn’t miss – I now haven’t had a soda in two months and I honestly don’t miss them. I used to love my Sprite and Dr Pepper and I might eventually indulge in drinking one every once in a blue moon, but for now I’m happy with keeping all that extra sugar out of my system.
What Are Your Trigger Foods/Foods You React Badly To?
The re-introduction period was extremely eye opening for me in learning what foods my body does not react well to. In fact, that’s why it took me a little longer to post this because I ended up getting pretty sick from a few foods.
I learned that I have a slight aversion to legumes including peanuts, peanut butter, peas, beans, and soy. It’s not bad enough that I can never eat those foods, but they definitely are not something I’ll be eating in my diet on a regular basis. I also don’t respond well to a lot of gluten in my diet, and have pretty much been eating mostly gluten free lately. Again small amounts of gluten are fine, but nothing crazy.
On the dairy front, I was so happy to learn that it didn’t bother me since I love eating greek yogurt and I missed being able to make recipes with milk in them. I did notice cheese can bother me a little, but I think as long as I’m careful with not overdoing it it’s fine.
What Was Your Favorite Takeaways from Whole30?
Processed foods really are NOT good for you. We hear it all the time, but once you eliminate it from your diet and see the changes that start to occur in your body, mind, and overall health, it’s super eye opening. I quickly learned that cooking your food at home and filling your diet with fresh meats, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats is the way to go.
The great thing about Whole30 is there’s no calorie counting or tracking carbs/fat – you simply learn to eat what portions work for your body. Before Whole30 I used to obsess over calories and would deprive myself of carbs/fat and it wasn’t helping me at all. Now I understand that great nutrition is about filling your body with good for you foods, and I’m now actually eating more foods at my meals than I ever have.
I now look forward to cooking and doing weekly meal prep and I’ve loved discovering new healthy foods and flavor combinations that fill me up without any guilt. It’s also been great to cook healthier foods for my entire family and teach my kids about making better choices.
My Whole30 Results + Before & After
Over the 30 day period I lost a total of 7.2 lbs and 4.75 inches. I’m SO happy with my Whole30 results and I feel (and look) so much healthier now. As I’m only 5’1″, the area where I always gain weight the quickest are my thighs and arms, and I can really tell a dramatic difference in the before and after in those areas.
I also couldn’t believe my Whole30 results with my stomach. It’s amazing the difference it made in my stomach and how much flatter and toned it is now. I was literally carrying around so much bloat from all the added sugar and grains in my diet, and it was awesome to see how quickly my body started changing once I eliminated those food groups. As you can see in the photos, I’m still seeing consistent results even 3 weeks after Whole30 from all the healthy diet changes I’ve made.
Beyond weight loss, doing Whole30 has dramatically helped improve my sleep at night and in eating better foods I have so much more energy now with a stronger immune system. Before Whole30 I always felt like I needed a nap just to make it through my day and now I’m able to tackle my day with full force, and I actually have energy to do things with my kids in the evening. I’ve also noticed I have more restful sleep at night with less hours, which is really nice.
After Whole30 / What I’m Currently Doing:
After Whole30 I can honestly say that I have zero plans to go back to my old ways of eating. Whole30 for me was such a life-changer and through the process I rediscovered my love for cooking and trying out new foods/recipes.
Currently I’m following the rule of 85/15 in regards to my diet, with eating a mixture of mostly Whole30, Paleo, and some Keto recipes with a few indulges here and there. I plan to continue eating clean and healthy most of the time, while still allowing myself to enjoy a cookie, dessert, and slice of pizza every now and then.
I love to bake (and eat) and that’s not ever going to change, but it’s been awesome learning ways I can make my favorite recipes a little healthier with simple modifications and ingredient swaps, like I did with my Skinny Spinach and Artichoke Dip.
Read Next: Life After Whole30 – 6 Month Update
My Advice For Anyone Considering Whole30:
Grab these Whole30 Essentials – Before starting Whole30 you definitely need to read the book It Starts With Food as it truly helps put everything about the Whole30 diet into perspective. This book was truly what helped me understand the tremendous impact our food choices plays on our lives and helped motivate me to complete Whole30. I would also recommend the Whole30 30-Day Guide as another great resource to have. It walks you through the entire Whole30 timeline of what to expect each day, and includes a list of Whole30 approved food items, and a full section with yummy Whole30 recipes.
Meal Planning is Key – In order to have the most successful Whole30 results you really have to meal plan each week. You’re pretty much going to be cooking all of your meals, since anything processed or quick and easy is a no-go. I typically did all my grocery shopping on Saturdays and would spend Sundays cooking and prepping for the week ahead. This helps save so much time and stress throughout the week and made the whole process more enjoyable. This Sausage and Egg Breakfast Casserole and Instant Pot Hamburger Soup were favorites of mine.
Eating Clean Isn’t Cheap, But It’s Worth It – Be prepared to spend a little more money up front on eating healthier. Buying fresh meats, veggies, fruits, and non-processed ingredients can add up really quickly, but keep in mind the benefits it will have for your body and health. I plan to do another Whole30 post where I’ll share a Whole30 approved shopping guide, and where I found the best deals on Whole30 compliant items.
Plan a Whole30 When You’re Not Busy – Whole30 is a huge commitment and should be done when you don’t have a ton of other things going on. As insane of a choice as it may seem, that’s why I did it in December while I knew my kids would be on Christmas break and I had a little extra time off from the blog. It’s also best to choose to do it during a time when you’re not going to be traveling, as eating out while remaining Whole30 compliant is very difficult.
Don’t Be Intimidated – A lot of people write off Whole30 as being too hard, and I honestly get that it does seem crazy to eliminate so many food groups from your diet. But at the end of the day, Whole30 is as easy or as hard as you make it out to be.
Whole30 was challenging (especially in the first two weeks) but by no means is it the hardest thing I’ve ever did. It helped me gain a healthier relationship with food and a greater understanding with how nutrition really works that I never would have had if I would have given up. Plus once you do Whole30 it really makes you realize YOU ARE CAPABLE OF ANYTHING.
I hope you enjoyed reading today’s post on my Whole30 Results & Experience! Doing Whole30 was honestly the best decision I could ever make for myself and I’m so happy with my Whole30 results!
Have you ever considered doing Whole30? What questions do you have about it? Let me know below!
Thanks for stopping by! – Cara
Read Next: Life After Whole30 – 6 Month Update