Now that you’ve got an idea of what to expect on day 31, how do you maintain the fabulous results you’ve gained over the past 30 days? While occasionally having a little bit of ice cream, because let’s be real…..
That’s a great question to ask, but before we get into that, let’s talk a little more about Food Freedom and how life after Whole30 can be different, permanently.
What is Food Freedom?
Food Freedom is when you feel in control of what you are eating, not when what you are eating is in control of you.
Food Freedom is when you can ask yourself what food you really want, and you make a conscious, deliberate decision in the moment. You aren’t held hostage by your Sugar Dragon or promises of fried crunchy goodness. You think about what you want, you make a decision, and you move on with your life.
Eating food (or succumbing to it, as it used to be) isn’t riddled with emotions. You aren’t overcome by guilt about what you’ve eaten, and you feel like you can enjoy the entire experience of eating food, without needing to beat yourself up about it after the fact.
For how many of you is food a very emotional topic and experience? Eating healthy is really tough! The topic of food and diet alone can be divisive even just within ourselves.
How is Whole30 related to Food Freedom?
Maybe you’ve gotten accustomed to black coffee during Whole30. Maybe you realize that an occasional piece of fruit adequately satisfies your sugar cravings. Or maybe after a day of not eating clean, you look forward to returning to a more balanced diet because you appreciate the way it makes your body feel. You like feeling like a normal human being. You prefer to not be weighed down by skin issues, lethargy, a tight waistband, and indigestion. And you’re willing to eat in a way to support those preferences.
Whole30 shows you how good it can be when you finally get your eating habits right. Although Whole30 is not a permanent lifestyle, Whole30 frequently serves as a “reset” that gets you closer to successfully living a life of Food Freedom from here on out.
What Whole30 isn’t meant to be is a punishment, and it is certainly not the enemy. This challenge was meant to be an enlightening experience that brought you closer to living a life of Food Freedom.
No matter how tough it got or how miserable you felt, you all accomplished a BIG thing by sticking to Whole30 for 30 days.
Respect the effort you put in. You all should be super proud of yourselves for making it through Whole30.
Ok, so get to it already! Now that Whole30 is almost over, how will I handle life after Whole30?
We’ve talked about the proper way to reintroduce food, but after that, is it a big free for all? It depends, right? No one will hold your hand or give you points for what you decide to do after tomorrow. But I’ll share with you what Lee and I have been following since we finished our first Whole30, and what has allowed us to continue the benefits of Whole30 while still being normal human beings.
The 80/20 Rule
We generally follow the 80/20 rule while eating Whole30 or Paleo (less strict version of Whole30). Following the 80/20 rule, 80% of the time, you eat “healthy,” and 20% of the time, you loosen the reigns a bit. I put “healthy” in quotes, because your version of healthy may be very different from mine. You may decide that you run like a machine on rice. Or maybe you’ve learned that for as amazing as garlic is, your stomach disagrees. Figure out what healthy is for you. For us, it’s Whole30.
There are a lot of competing thoughts out there as to how to split up 80/20, which you can definitely Google. I’ll tell you how we follow the 80/20 rule.
There are 3 meals a day, 21 meals in a week. 20% of those meals can be non-Whole30. 20% of 21 comes out to 4.2, so for the ease of implementing this rule, we go with 4 meals, or “one day plus” to decide when to deviate from Whole30. We eat Whole30 throughout the week, and we enjoy the weekend. That, for us, is Friday night and Saturday. By Sunday morning, we’re back to Whole30.
Here are a couple things to keep in mind:
- Maintenance v. Transformation: The 80/20 rule is a great maintenance plan that is healthy but reasonable. Moderation is the name of the game here. However, if you’re trying to lose weight or make a big transformation, following the 80/20 rule will not be the most effective way to do that.
- What the 20% Looks Like: In line with Food Freedom, we don’t recommend sitting down with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts for 4 meals straight. Maybe it means having pizza on Friday night, going out to lunch with the Lobo crowd after the Saturday WOD, and having a drink Saturday evening with a balanced meal. When I say “loosen the reigns” I don’t mean “light your hair on fire.”
That’s great. I want to maintain the results I’ve seen, but I’d really like to lose (more) weight. What can I do?
Another great question. This is also a concern for many people who go through Whole30 and do not lose as much weight as they expect.
As I mentioned at the beginning of our Whole30 challenge, Whole30 is not intended as a weight loss diet. It oftentimes happens because when you clean up your eating, excess fat naturally falls off. However, it is not a deliberate weight loss plan.
That being said, if weight loss and body recomposition are your goals, consider going on a macros diet. Whereas there is less regulation on quantity on Whole30, a macros diet is 100% based on how much you consume. At the end of the day, the boring truth is that you need to consume less than you burn. That, in addition to focusing on the quality of food you consume (by focusing on your macronutrient breakdown), can be the next step in your strategy for losing weight.
Interested in getting started?
Here’s a quick primer to starting a macros diet:
- Calculate your macros using an online calculator.
- Follow your macros, using MyFitnessPal (or another online food tracker) and meal prep. Meal prep will always be your friend, Whole30 or no.
- On a weekly basis, check your weight and waist measurement to see if these numbers are decreasing.
- If/when fat loss stalls (per scale AND waist measurement), slightly modify your macros and keep going.