What is it? Who's behind it? Is it for us? Just a few of the questions we have about the Whole 30 Programme a phenomenon that is sweeping across the US and looks set to hit the UK in 2018.
A huge advocate for Whole 30 in the UK, is the tireless; Aly Harwood, A.K.A. @whole30ukchallenge so we thought we would pick her brains.
We feel tired just reading about Aly's normal week. It is a combination of running from Waterloo to work 4 mornings a week, 2 or 3 land training sessions for rowing (the dreaded ergs and core sessions), 1 horse riding lesson and then 4 hours rowing on the Thames each Saturday and Sunday! And if that wasn't enough also working a full time job ... and cooking (almost) everything from scratch!
"It's a little manic! I love it and I do not want to change how active my life is, but I need to fuel it with a diet that keeps me going".
So how did Aly adopt the Whole30 programme?
18 months ago, Aly's eczema was driving her mad and it got to the stage where she was having restless nights sleep due to it waking her up during the night. Aly was fed up of the doctor prescribing steroid creams and tablets which worked whilst using them, but as soon as the course finished, would just lead to her skin flaring up again. Aly therefore, thought a trip to the dermatologist was the only option and this led to her looking into her lifestyle and diet and whether this was having an impact on her skin. As a result, Aly started eliminating certain foods out of her diet, which after some research came across the Whole30 eating programme. And when we say programme, we really do mean programme and not a diet, as Aly says -
"Note: I always use the phrase eating plan NOT diet - this plan is not designed for weight loss which the word diet is associated with. It is working out what foods work for you and ensuring you have a healthy relationship with food".
What are the basic rules of the whole30 programme?
Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) you are unable to consume during the programme. These are seen to have a potential negative impact on your health and fitness. In theory, the Whole30 Program has been devised to eliminate these food groups from your diet for 30 days to see what effect this has on your body.
- Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial
- Do not consume alcohol, in any form
- Do not eat grains
- Do not eat legumes
- Do not eat dairy
- Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
- Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients
So essentially, Aly (self quoted) became a cavemen. It wasn't all easy though.
"It took me a while to work out how much I needed to eat to get enough energy. 4 days into round 1, I came up in a red, lumpy rash and on day 10 I nearly threw up on the tube! The detox for my body was intense! I didn't realise just how much sugar I consumed and my body was not happy about me going cold turkey. However, by day 30 I was sleeping so well, my skin was clear and smooth, I had plenty of energy, I had lost some weight and I was loving experimenting in the kitchen to develop new compliant meals. For me dairy is a no-go".
18 months later, how is Aly getting on?
I have completed another round of the Whole30 plan but my training has increased, so I need a lot more calories! I'm a sucker for a challenge; I have signed up for a 100km ultra challenge and the Great North Run. Fruit and nut bars are great but just not enough to get me through, this is where FORI bars stepped up. They fill me up and now i'm hooked. 20g of protein and it's not a boring chicken breast, or several boiled eggs. They're quick, easy, guilt-free and everything I need in a bar.
To follow Aly on her journey check out: @whole30ukchallenge, good luck keeping up!