Life after Whole30, or any kind of diet, you would probably feel a little lost, like I did. From the long ass post last Monday, I guess it wasn’t that clear what were the good things that following a strict diet like Whole30 brought me. So I decided to sum it up, you guessed it, in a list! In my eyes, Whole30 was just a very thorough list of forbidden groups of food in order to make sure you wouldn’t include sugar or too many carbs in your diet even if you try. Basically, this is what happened when I cut off all of the processed sugar and carbs from my life for one month:
- I didn’t feel hungry at all without pasta/rice/bread.
- I filled up really fast with less food.
- My skin cleared up. After messing up my hormones by stopping and restarting birth control, I was used to having at least one pimple on my face at any given time. Not on my sugarless month, though.
- Brain fog was gone, no need to take naps and I wasn’t tired at all even in the morning.
- Lots of energy throughout the day, better sleep quality.
- 90% of the days, I was in a disgustingly good mood, even on Mondays. XD
- Cravings vanished.
- I got very good at reading labels, I also learned all the sneaky phrases that basically meant sugar. Sneaky bastards.
- After realizing just how limited my selection is, my weekly shopping trip got really fast and easy, cos basically I just go straight to the veggie/fruit part which always comes first in supermarkets in Finland. And usually, right after it, it’s meat and eggs. So for one month, I’m basically done shopping.
There is no doubt many positive things about cutting out sugar that completely. If you are anything like me, if you are even a little bit of an obsessive nature or a foodie or both, you would need a clean cut, strict ass, full of rules of a diet to get you going. I was super surprised that the craving towards anything sweet or pasta or bread just stopped. Cos I wasn’t hungry in between meals, even when I was hungry, I wanted my protein and veggies instead. While cutting out carbs and sugar, I automatically upped my fat intake, and I can’t but notice the benefits of an elevated consumption of fat. Like my face got less oily (which was surprising), the other parts of my body which were usually dry turned less so. And fat saved me from hunger and cravings and prevented any need to binge.
So even during my Whole30 month, I started to look into this low-carb high-fat thing. I even found a lifestyle for that called ketogenic diet. And from that, I dived head first into the confusing world that is diet (aka things we eat). I watched tons of videos about all different sides, those for and against high-fat low-carb, and also high-carb low-fat and anything in between. I watched doctors’ lectures, food authors with their books, personal trainers, vloggers, lifestyle dieters, weight-loss journey recorders etc. etc. It was like a huge dietary buffet so confusing that I wonder how would anyone know what to trust or follow. I got really excited about keto in one point, but I felt like I simply can’t eat as much fat as most keto people online require of me. And my goal was to plan a sustainable diet that I can stick to for the rest of my life. I have no doubt that it’s going to adjust itself. But one more thing I’ve learned during my Whole30 was that I learned to listen to my own body and trust that it is smart enough to know what to do, all I had to do was to reset it first.
Before I arrived at my ultimate plan how to eat post-Whole30, I imagined I could have cheat meals like twice a week. So I chose Indian food as my first cheat meal. I did miss naan bread and I did have the whole naan bread and ate all of the meat but I barely touched my rice. First time for over a month, I got food coma, I could hardly stay awake after dinner. The next day, I woke up with a headache and a pimple on my face. A fucking pimple! And I was so bloated and feeling full well into the next day, and the brain fog was back in full force. On my morning workout two days later, it felt like I was carrying an extra person while working out. So one naan bread affected me for two whole days. I couldn’t help it, I had to rethink my cheat meal system. As for now, I decided on not dedicating any cheat meals, I would just eat a bit of carb whenever I’m forced to, aka when I go out with friends.
As for my day to day diet, I picked and chose the piece that I felt like it’s easy to adapt to. I took greens as the pillar of my diet, and by greens, I mean dark green leaves such as kale, spinach and beet greens. And I eat a LOT of it, 200g daily. And I don’t drink my calories anymore, so I don’t juice my greens either. I found that I really like sauteed kale, and it’s relatively cheap, so I take half of my weekly salad intake as kale. It’s a lot but it’s not that hard as long as you make a thick salad bed on your plate in every meal you eat. I am not doing a lot of protein, just around 80-100g in a day in the form of cheese, meat and eggs. And after the greens and the protein, I feel the rest of the space in my tummy with other vegetables, nuts and fruit. As I am looking to get my dream body, I limit my fruit intake to two portion max a day. As to added sugar, I avoid it as long as it’s convenient. I mean, if there’s 1-3 grams of sugar in a sauce that I’m going to use a little big in my cooked food, I’m going to be okay with it. I still don’t feel like eating carbs like pasta/rice/bread/desserts. I even gave up sugar in my coffee. I did bring back cream, which has 2,3 grams of sugar in it but again, I’m only using a little splash of it in my daily two cups of coffee. I tried counting my macros for like four days and noticed that my daily intake of carbs varies from 20 to 50 grams per day.
And a couple of words about fat. I no longer feel the need to feel guilty about cooking with real butter. Or having the cream in my coffee instead of fat-free milk. Actually, I learned to stay clear of anything that says fat-free, because those products would automatically mean way higher in sugar. Yogurt being a prime example. Read the labels, and you will be surprised. And since yogurt is something I eat a lot of, I decided to bid it a teary goodbye. Or until I get my hands on some full-fat Greek yogurt (they don’t sell it in regular supermarkets in Finland). I also invested in some really good duck and goose fat. And even with all the cheese, butter, animal fat, bacon and cream, I hardly ever go over 100 grams of fat a day. So I guess you got my macros, max 50g carbs, max 100g protein, max 100g fat. So I don’t usually even count my calories because I could barely reach 1600 calories per day with the things I am eating, which is a very good amount for my height and weight when my goal is to lose some fat.
That was it, that was what I eat in a day. But the most important thing that planned to do is about when I eat. And that’s when intermittent fasting comes in. I know, the world fasting sounds scary, unsustainable and unhealthy. But it suits me very well. Unconsciously, I was already almost doing it. I have cut down my workout regiment into three high-intensity workouts per week, and on my rest days, I’m only going to do short strength training and stretching. Some might argue that I don’t need as much exercise to lose fat if I just watch what I eat, but exercising already became my habit, and I feel weird if I don’t do it. So on my rest days, I would skip breakfast, most of the time not eating anything for 16-20 hours. I find it super easy because I usually eat my dinner before six pm, which means 12 hours not eating already when I wake up the next morning at six am. And I usually have my lunch at 11-12 which will already give me a 17-18-hour fast just by skipping breakfast. I do drink a little cup of coffee and lemon water during my fast, cos I learned that anything under 35 calories is okay. The reason why I find fasting so easy is because I’m not even hungry in the morning unless I work out. And it’s also a thing I learned during Whole30, don’t eat if you’re not hungry. And how to know that you are truly hungry and not just craving unhealthy food? This is quite popular online: ask yourself whether you are hungry enough to eat a salad, if not then it’s just a craving. And the high-fat low-carb is going to keep your craving at bay and make intermittent fasting a time-saving and easy thing to do.
I’m actually quite happy with my post-Whole30 plan now. But as I am introducing a little bit of sugar back into my diet, I feel like I’m going through the Whole30 cycle again but just feeling less of it and it’s going away faster. Remember the cycle? The first week, I was tired with a headache, the second week was super bloated and the third week clarity finally. I feel a bit tired last week and even got a headache, and there is a little bit a bloating going on. But I kept my good mood though and don’t feel the need to snack or nap. I trust that my body will adjust itself soon enough and I get to enjoy the food freedom I acquired during Whole30.