Today is day 30 of my second round of Whole30. I completed round 1 in February 2016 and had good results so when I started to feel heavy, sluggish and my pants became a bit tighter in January of this year, I knew W30 was again a good option to help rid myself of those extra post holiday pounds as well as kind of detoxify myself from the more than occasional vegan junk food treat.
Not enough of this
My diet in the last 12 months has veered from vegan to vegetarian and back. As a vegetarian, I still ate a mostly vegan diet but would have greek yogurt 3-4 days per week. I still declined meat, eggs, honey and gelatin for ethical and environmental reasons. With W30 it’s nearly impossible to follow the traditional version as a vegan or vegetarian as it is very meat heavy and does not allow legumes, lentils, tofu, tempeh (or any soy product for that matter.) There is a vegetarian version which does allow those things and that is what I decided to do for this round. I also purchased eggs from a neighbor which was my solution to the ethical and environmental concerns I have regarding consuming them. I realized that when I cut out processed soy “meat” products from my diet, I was really lacking protein sources so ethically sourced eggs is something I am comfortable with and will likely continue.
To put it in a nutshell, vegetarian Whole30 is an extremely clean vegetarian diet which for me meant cutting out all grains (see ya later oatmeal and quinoa) processed soy (goodbye Gardein nuggets) and ALL desserts (RIP Justin’s PB cups), in favor of fruits, veggies, tofu, beans, and lentils.
I am used to cooking upwards of 5 nights per week and have been meal prepping on Sunday’s for the last 5 or 6 years so that was neither of those presented a Whole30 challenge for me. I’ve found that devoting just 2 or so hours on the weekend can save so much time and energy during the busy week. The other key to survival during W30 is to plan ahead which meant that I always had a piece of fruit or Larabar in my purse just in case. During a true W30, snacks are not usually permitted but with my intense activity level, I felt like it was something I needed to do.
Ok on to the running portion of W30. Many people are wary of attempting this while training for a race. As a long distance runner, I run and work out year round so there really isn’t a time when I am not active and when W30 might be “better”. My mileage varies but I typically maintain 25-30 miles per week on the low side. February is a good month as it is in the very early stages of marathon/ultra training. My longest run for this round was 16 miles and my weekly mileage capped out at about 40. In February, I average about 130 miles.
In addition to a lot of easy miles, I had a lot of tough workouts this month which went surprisingly well given the transition to W30
With W30, it’s important to remember that this is a SIGNIFICANT shift in eating that can throw your body into WTFmode for a few days or possibly a few weeks. I think that how you react in part depends on how different W30 is for you compared to your past eating habits. For me, 2016 was rough. Cutting out sugar took a big physical toll on me and I experienced sluggish, low energy runs for approximately the first two weeks. It was the first time that I relied only on dried fruit for pre and inter run fueling and my body didn’t love it. It took some time to become accustomed to the change in fuel source for me as previously I was able to give my body an immediate dose of sugar via a Gu or other similar product. My beloved Tailwind was also eschewed in favor of water which I don’t mind but carries an adjustment period. Although I was mentally prepared for it, I didn’t experience the same exhaustion this time around which I suspect is due to the fact that I didn’t drastically cut carbs (hello beans) during this round as I had in 2016. Bloating, poor sleep, fatigue and mental fogginess are all noted to be possible in the early weeks of W30 but I am lucky as I did not experience much of that this time around.
As mentioned above, inter run fueling becomes a whole new ballgame during W30. Gone are the waffles, gels, chews and tailwind. Also gone is peanut butter and jelly which is another quick and easy favorite for me. Pre run, I used dried apricots and figs, inter run I got a little creative and used almond butter stuffed dates which are amazing!! I also used a W30 compliant fruit bar from Trader Joes which was both sweet and dense so I never felt hungry on my runs which can happen for me. I had one rough run where I only ate 1 date prior to running an extremely challenging trail. Within the first 3 or 4 miles, I already felt hungry and my Larabar helped but it was clear that I should eaten more before starting out. Lesson learned.
Post run was a challenging time for me and was when I experienced a fair share of urges to say “F it, give me some pizza.” Weekends were especially rough as I run both days and I experienced intense hunger for basically the entire weekend. Again, snacking is not recommended but I feel like ultra training is a bit of an extenuating circumstance. I snacked on fruit, mustard covered carrots, sweet potatoes with eggs, and pickles. Staying full was hard and I had to make a concerted effort to eat nutrient dense food every few hours or I would feel uncomfortably hungry. I definitely went off the rails at times but remained compliant. The last two weekends I started making a compliant chia seed pudding to take with me to eat immediately following a long run. I got into the habit of running and going out for breakfast with friends after on Saturdays and having that sweet and nutritious pudding really helped me while I was around others partaking in cheese, cinnamon rolls and pancakes. Eating out is hard but doable as long as you have a plan going in.
That wraps up my overview of Whole30 and experience with running. Tomorrow I’ll share my results and a quick day in the life of eating while on the plan!