How Effective is the Whole30 and Intermittent Fasting Together?
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Losing weight can be problematic for most people who follow the Standard American Diet. A diet high in sugar and other processed ingredients can wreak havoc on your body and lead to weight gain. Worse yet, this way of eating can increase your risk of developing a chronic disease – in my case it was an autoimmune condition (psoriasis).
Both of these healthy living choices have allowed me to minimize my psoriasis … but they have not cured it.
My goals are to continue keeping my autoimmune symptoms in check through a healthy diet, intermittent fasting, and several other activities like quality sleep and stress management.
Let’s take a closer look at what the Whole30 program is, along with intermittent fasting. Then we’ll dive into my experience of combining both of these healthy living activities together at the same time.
Are you ready to explore?
What is the Whole30 Program?
The Whole30 is a clean eating program (it is a lifestyle not really a diet) where you eliminate foods that cause inflammation in the body for 30 straight days.
Foods that are to be eliminated include – soy, dairy, alcohol, gluten, legumes, and sugar. You should focus instead on eating whole foods (organic when possible) that provide nutrients to your body.
Personally, I have found the Whole30 program to be one of the most sustainable ways of eating that also helps with weight loss.
Several members of my family have done multiple Whole30 rounds over the past couple of years.
Each time I do a Whole30, I usually lose 8 to 10 pounds in 30 days. And most of the time we decide to extend our 30 day window to 60 or even 90 days because this lifestyle makes us feel great!
My oldest son (now 15 years old) who suffers from asthma and allergies has completed several rounds of the Whole30.
We have surprisingly found that when he follows the Whole30 plan for eating, his asthma symptoms almost completely clear up. But when he starts eating poorly again … it almost always returns and he is forced to do breathing treatments.
Now I ask you … would you rather have your kid eat healthy and organic fresh foods? Or would you rather let him or her eat processed foods full of sugar and junk?
The processed food path (which is basically the Standard American Diet) has forced our son to use steroids and other prescriptions to minimize his asthma.
I realize that is a lot to ask of a 15 year old … but it should tell you a bunch about how we all should eat.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not a diet or special weight loss program. It is a pattern of eating where you schedule your meals at certain times of the day for maximum benefit.
So unlike following the Whole30 or paleo diet, intermittent fasting doesn’t ask you to change what you eat … but rather it focuses on when you eat.
Even more important than when you eat is that you restrict calories for a set amount of time … usually a minimum of 12 straight hours without food. However, for maximum benefit … most people who do intermittent fasting try to restrict any calories for at least 16 straight hours.
Usually you are allowed to drink water, black coffee, and herbal tea while in a fasted state.
Personally, I like to follow the 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule anywhere from 4 to 7 days per week. I normally stop eating any food by 8:00 PM in the evening (after dinner) and fast all the way up until 12:00 Noon the following day.
That is a total of 16 straight hours of no calories. The other 8 hours of the day, I am allowed to eat my calories … which means I usually skip breakfast … and only eat lunch and dinner.
One last item I would like to mention about intermittent fasting is a common question of … “is it safe”?
I think intermittent fasting is safe for most adults, but I would not personally recommend fasting to my 15 year old son (unlike following the Whole30 diet). He is growing and maturing and needs those nutrients and calories … unlike myself!
Nor would I recommend intermittent fasting to my wife if she were pregnant. Or my father-in-law who is in his mid-70’s and has diabetes. I wouldn’t recommend it for these situations until they had a conversation with their doctor.
Now let’s look at what happens when you combine both the Whole30 with intermittent fasting.
What Happens When You Combine the Whole30 with Intermittent Fasting?
So what happens when you combine a healthy way of eating like the Whole30 (or paleo or even the keto diet) with a form of calorie restriction like intermittent fasting?
First, I am not a nutritionist or doctor … nor do I have any medical background. I can only comment on my own experiences with combining both (Whole30 and intermittent fasting) into my weekly routine.
Whole30 and Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight
What I have found is that in about a months time (30 days), I usually can drop 8 to 10 pounds rather easy. Of course it really depends on my starting weight, but it doesn’t take much to drop the weight.
So in a way, combining these two strategies is indirectly a way to lose weight. Although I would caution anyone from doing either of these strictly for weight loss. The pounds you lose will be an indirect result of cleaning up how and when you eat … which is a good thing.
Basically instead of dropping weight that would likely be added back on in the future … these two strategies can help you build a sustainable weight loss program. And eventually a sustainable weight management program.
Is the Whole30 and Intermittent Fasting Together Safe?
I would also say that for most adults, there really isn’t much danger to doing both at the same time.
I don’t see any issues with following the Whole30 to be honest (again I’m not a doctor).
Eating a whole food diet with lots of vegetables, some fruits, healthy fats (like avocado), some meats, nuts, and seeds is really a fantastic way to eat. And that is pretty much what the Whole30 and paleo diets are (with a few exceptions).
Let me ask you this … do you think giving up sugar and alcohol is going to negatively impact your life? Or what about dairy? Last I checked, cow’s milk is made for baby cows … not so much humans.
Gluten and legumes I could see some benefits … but they can cause inflammation in some people.
So really I see very little danger to following the Whole30 program.
When it comes to intermittent fasting, I could see it being a concern for some people – like children and pregnant women. But in reality, it is mostly just skipping breakfast … assuming you follow the 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol.
You are not starving yourself. And you still need to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
I think most Americans could probably do without eating a carb loaded breakfast a couple days per week and do just fine.
What Else Happens When You Combine Both Whole30 and Intermittent Fasting?
So what exactly happens when you combine both the Whole30 with intermittent fasting?
We already know that it has the potential for weight loss. And that it is pretty safe, but you should still talk with your doctor before given it a try.
Now I’d like to share in more detail my experiences following the Whole30 while doing intermittent fasting several days per week.
My Experience Combining the Whole30 with Intermittent Fasting
I think that following the Whole30 program (for at least 30 days) is great for eliminating foods that cause inflammation in the body.
For example, I have found that doing a Whole30 or even following the paleo diet (similar to Whole30) can really help reduce my autoimmune symptoms.
I’ve written about it several times already on the blog, but I have psoriasis … which is an autoimmune condition. Instead of taking steroids to control this autoimmune disease, I am opting to minimize the symptoms through my diet and healthy living practices.
The Whole30 has helped (but not cured) my psoriasis by eliminating a lot of the toxic foods I used to put into my body like dairy, gluten, and sugar.
I’ve noticed certain foods that are cooked in canola oil make my psoriasis worse. Even though canola oil is technically allowed in moderation on the Whole30 … it has been known to cause some inflammation.
When I eat dairy or gluten, I notice an increase in my autoimmune symptoms. And I’ve even experienced some arthritis after eating a lot of gluten.
So clean eating has really helped me figure out what foods cause inflammation in my body.
At the same time, I also use intermittent fasting as a way to minimize and control my psoriasis.
Just like with eating healthy, fasting has helped to curb some of my symptoms but has not cured my psoriasis.
I have found that the longer I go without food, my psoriasis is less inflamed. Because of this realization, I have started experimenting with a 24-Hour fast … which I would like to eventually add in a couple times per month.
The combination of doing a Whole30 and intermittent fasting at least 4 days per week has helped me keep my autoimmune condition controlled. However, as I have already mentioned … my psoriasis is not fully cured (and won’t ever be 100%).
My hope is to continue using a combination of healthy eating and intermittent fasting to prevent my autoimmune disease from getting worse.
In addition, my goal is to try and take preventive steps to reduce my risk of developing other (more severe) autoimmune conditions.
But my plan of controlling my autoimmune condition doesn’t just stop there. I am doing several other healthy living activities that have helped somewhat.
What Else Am I Doing Other than the Whole30 and Intermittent Fasting?
The Whole30 and intermittent fasting are not the only steps I am taking to get healthy.
For example, I am also focusing on getting adequate exercise. My weekly goal is to do 3 or 4 HIIT workouts that are around 30 minutes in length. I also try and run once per week, while also doing a good amount of walking during my lunch hour at work.
I do at least 30 push-ups per day … as part of my 10,000 annual push-up challenge. This may seem insignificant, but over the course of an entire year this can really pay some dividends.
As part of intermittent fasting, I try and drink a lot of water. This helps clean out the toxins in my body. My goal is to drink half of my body weight in ounces of water (90 ounces) every day.
Lately I have been focused on getting quality sleep in order to help with weight loss and reducing inflammation. I want to give my body time to rest and recover. This helps minimize my autoimmune symptoms.
Stress management is yet another healthy lifestyle change I am making. I recently wrote about how I believe chronic stress was the cause of my psoriasis. So if I can’t control my stress, then I am more prone to developing additional autoimmune conditions and making my psoriasis worse.
As you can see, living healthy takes a lot of effort from many different places. All of these healthy activities combined (along with Whole30 and intermittent fasting) are part of my journey in taking control of my health!
Have you experienced doing a Whole30 at the same time as intermittent fasting? What were your results? Was it an effective weight loss tool or did it help with any autoimmune conditions?