On July 8, Nik and I started the Whole30, which is a 30-day challenge to go full-ass paleo. It’s a program by the (rather shark-eyed) Whole9 people. I have yet to finish “It Starts With Food,” their book, which details the hows, whats, and whys of the Whole30, but I hear tell it’s mostly about avoiding sugar, grains, and processed food. I already do this. My CrossFit box is having a challenge to keep it up for 30 days, and Nik wanted to give it a shot. So I’m joining in, too.
There are many reasons why people attempt the Whole30. Some do it to kick sugar cravings, which I suppose is a great way to do that — stop eating it and eventually you’ll learn to live without it. I don’t think sugar is poison. It’s just unnecessary most of the time, too much is added to processed food, and it wastes calories you could — and should — spend on eating healthier, more nutritious things like duck eggs fried in delicious, delicious bacon fat.
Some do the Whole30 to find out if they’re lactose intolerant or gluten intolerant. I know I’m not either.
Not sure what to expect. This is mostly how I eat anyway. I’m not doing this because I think the paleo diet is some religion you have to be faithful to. Not doing this because I have to “detox,” which is fucking stupid and I want all of you to ban that word from your vocabularies right now because it’s inaccurate at best and self-loathing at worst because, listen to me, you are not “toxic” unless you’ve been exposed to actual harmful chemicals like for instance snake venom or maybe cadmium, in which case you should be reading this from a hospital bed being treated by actual physicians. You’re not toxic because you ate a cruller.
What I want out of the Whole30 are aesthetic and performance benefits. I want to drop body fat and build more muscle. My diet’s already about 90% great. Just wondering what would happen if I took that to 100%. I’m going to adopt an exercise regimen to cut fat in July anyway, so let’s see what happens when I pair that with tightening up the nutrition to nutso levels. It’s like that episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” when Picard interrupts the crew’s off-duty poker game to see if Geordie can please boost the Enterprise’s already remarkable engine-efficiency another 3 percent, just to be a dick.
Here are the basic don’ts of the Whole30 and how I should be able to handle them:
Hard. This means no sugar, no honey, no maple syrup, no Sweet & Low, agave nectar, no fucking stevia or whatever the shit. I’ve cut out a lot of sugar in my life, but I’ve kept it in my coffee. I drink about three cups of coffee a day for the caffeine. Each cup has 2.5 teaspoons of sugar. I don’t like my coffee black, because I’m a wuss. So I’ve switched to tea, which I have a better time drinking black. Results two days in so far: I’m unbelievably crabby. FUCK YOU, just because.
Easy. I’ve been stone-fucking-cold sober for many months now and I don’t miss alcohol in the slightest. So telling me I can’t have alcohol for a month is fine. Make it two months, ten, a million. Whatever. I have no problem with people who want to drink alcohol. I just don’t see the value.
Easy. I don’t eat most grains anymore anyway. I don’t eat bread or corn or pasta or quinoa, rarely eat rice and oats. Gimme another one.
Easy. I don’t like beans, so I don’t eat them. This also means no peanut products like peanut butter. I have it occasionally, but I’m switching to fancy-ass almond butter for a month. No legumes also means no soybeans, which means no soy, which is fine because tofu is horseshit masquerading as food.
A little hard. I drink at least some milk every day — usually in my coffee, which, again, I prefer very sweet and milky and weak because I’m a delicate pansy. I also cook with butter, so that’s out. Although I guess I can use clarified butter or ghee, because they’ve said that’s OK even though this makes very little sense but whatever. I often make post-workout protein shakes with milk, so those are no-go. I’ll have to give up cottage cheese too. My love of cottage cheese is legen — wait for it — DAIRY. Holy shit did you see that? Nailed it.
No carageenan, MSG, or sulfites
A little hard. I don’t know what in the frig carageenan is, and I don’t eat MSG except when I have Chinese takeout. But I think there are sulfites in my bacon. YOU SONS OF BITCHES. Fine. I’ll either go without bacon for a month (yeah, right) or I’ll pony up for the fancy-ass Whole Foods fuckery.
No white potatoes
Easy. Only sweet potatoes are allowed. Um, OK. I don’t totally buy their rationale behind this rule (quote: “This is somewhat arbitrary”), but whatever. I don’t really eat too many potatoes anyway, so this should be fine.
No weighing or measuring of food, no counting calories, no weighing yourself
Somewhat hard. I go back and forth on measuring stuff like this. I like to do it every so often just to make sure I’m hitting my numbers. It feels weird to go too long without it. Maybe this will be a good thing. Maybe I’ll build more confidence going through my day not doing it all the time.
I guess whey protein is out of the question. I use whey protein in a post-workout recovery drink and as a protein supplement. I’m not about to shell out primo bucks for Whole9-approved protein powder when I’ve got about 4 pounds of perfectly fine whey protein at home. So I’ll have to find alternatives. After doing a tiny bit of research I’m pretty sure my creatine supplement is OK, but I might skip it because I’m not sure it’s in the spirit of the Whole30.
Here’s what I do eat:
- Fuckloads of eggs. I already eat about 4 eggs a day. I’ll probably eat a few more.
- Duck eggs. You’re missing out if you’ve never eaten a duck egg, srsly.
- Fuckloads of meat. Keep in mind I’m trying to pack in at least 200g of protein a day to maintain and build lean mass. If the chicken goes extinct in July, you know who did it.
- Fuckloads of vegetables. Two varieties per meal.
- Fuckloads of fats. About an avocado a day, plus olive oil and coconut oil.
- Some nuts. I’m doing almond butter. It’s OK.
- Sweet potatoes. I’ll probably have one or two a day.
- Sardines. For the fish oil, Omega-3s, the Vitamin D, and the calcium. A tin of them mashed up with half an avocado, in a bowl, with a fork is good eats.
- Tea. Again, very crabby. But I’m alive.
One last thought before I go. A suspicious bastard like me sometimes thinks this is basically a way to get people to shell out money on more expensive groceries. Don’t be the chump who buys readily available cheap peanut butter — buy almond butter because blah blah blah. You mustn’t buy regular butter at $2.50 for 4 sticks, hell no — drive your broke ass to Whole Foods and buy ghee for $16 a jar. Don’t buy that $5.99 a pound beef — get grass-fed meats at $15 a pound because your standard cow eats corn and gets vaccinated and therefore yak yak yak. Don’t get regular vegetables — fork over more money for the organic crap. Don’t drink milk at $2.89 a gallon — use coconut milk. Not in the carton — in the can. I hope I’m wrong, and I get more out of it than a lighter wallet.∗