Right upfront, I am not the dieting type. I do not need to lose weight. I consider myself to be fitter than 95% of the adult population. But when my partner recently suggested we do a one-month cleansing diet known as Whole30, I figured why not give it crack. As I write this I’m on Day 10 (of 30), and what an interesting journey it’s been so far.
Generally speaking, Whole30 is a paleo diet. Just stricter. It’s primary objective is not weight loss, but rather to break the chains of addiction we’ve developed over the course of our lives (often unknowingly) to food groups that aren’t especially good for us, potentially triggering things like allergies, inflammation, diabetes, IBS and worse.
Added sugar of any type is out. No alcohol either. Same goes for dairy, grains (i.e. bread, pasta, rice, cereal) and legumes. That basically leaves fruit, vegetables, nuts, eggs, fish, poultry and unprocessed red meat. Oh and coffee, yes, coffee is 100% okay. Phew.
Being the carb-loading, sugar-guzzling cyclist that I am, this new regime has required a massive change to both my diet and routine. It’s required considerable planning, tremendous creativity in the kitchen and while a complete pain in the arse to start with, I’ve now found a groove, knowing what to eat and when to eat it. I’ve never read food labels so closely in the supermarket, which in itself is a hugely enlightening exercise. It’s incredible – and somewhat disturbing – how many things have LOADS of added sugar, for example.
“Aches, pains, shakes, upset stomach, cravings and a general feeling of complete and utter shitness.”
Am I feeling better for all this? Well, I can’t lie. The first week was a complete shambles. It sucked. Big time. I felt bloody awful coming off my sugar addiction ‘cold turkey’. Aches, pains, shakes, upset stomach, cravings and a general feeling of complete and utter shitness. Day 6 (last Saturday) in particular was a shocker, I bonked on a modest ride of just 45km and felt rather depressed as I watched my mates ride off into the distance as my legs said ‘get fkd, you ain’t going anywhere.’ Thankfully I bounced back almost immediately the next day and, having reassessed my nutrition strategy – dates, banana and coconut water are my new best friends – I’m beginning to feel a mental and physical clarity I haven’t experienced for a long, long time both on and off the bike.
Of course I’m only one third of the way into this journey and it may all come crashing down. But I’m starting to suspect it may not be as crazy as I first thought. I’ll check in again a bit later in the month to let you know how it’s all going. Stay tuned.