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I Tried the Whole30 Diet and Here’s What It Did to My Skin and Body

What are the real Whole 30 diet results? Charlotte tried out  the popular diet for an entire month and it’s safe to say her life is changed…

The Whole30 program reminds me how I first felt when I started a multi-step Korean skincare routine: daunted and skeptical. But after seeing the results—a more toned, slimmed body, along with a clear, sharp mind that wasn’t weighed down by a feeling of sleepiness or fogginess—I was hooked. Most importantly, I emerged from the Whole30 program with a new mindset on how I approach food, and I can’t wait to continue this new lifestyle!

For those of you who are new to the Whole30 program, here’s a quick explainer: It’s a program that tries to get you to focus on only eating healthy, fresh whole foods in your diet. It encourages you to eat lots of protein, fresh veggies and fruits and skip out on the things that will weigh you down. To be more specific, for 30 full days, you must avoid the following foods:

  • Sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Grains
  • Legumes (apparently beans are inflammatory!)
  • Baked goods
  • MSG
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy

(The background for each is listed here on the Whole30 site, so check the site for more details)

Since I started detailing my journey on Instagram, many of you had asked how my Whole30 experience was, I decided to journal out what I was feeling during each week and why it in fact has changed my approach to food!

To set the tone, I need to explain what my previous eating habits were. I’m not a dieter. Luckily, I have been blessed with a fast metabolism that gave me the fortune to eat whatever I wanted without having to worry too about my weight. I’m also not very athletic or fit. For the exception of running a half marathon I ran in 2017 (which was not an easy task and I had to truly train for it), I normally work out only once a week.

In fact, I didn’t even know what the Whole30 program was until Dave introduced it to me on New Years Eve. We had done a plant-based diet a few months back, and I was largely uninspired by it because I didn’t notice many positive changes to my body (my skin had more breakouts than before) so I wasn’t expecting much from the Whole30. Little did I know it would really be life-changing. Here’s what I experienced week by week:

Week 1:

My biggest weaknesses out of the list of non compliant Whole30 foods include grains and alcohol. I love rice and noodles so much, I would marry them if I could. I also love drinking a glass of wine every night, and the weekend usually doesn’t pass without me and Dave polishing off a bottle or two.

The first few days, I started to crave all my usual dishes. I was extremely worried about lasting a full 30 days and almost regretted posting about it because then I couldn’t back out of it. What actually caused me to keep going was that four days into the Whole30, I started to have a dull headache, which is apparently very common! Reading up about it, I found out that that carbs and sugar are what your body uses to burn for energy, and with none of that in your diet, it switches to fat. That transition period creates a period of dull headaches. It was kind of insane how fast the headaches started after my diet changed! I knew this was a program worth investigating further if my body was already reacting to the changes.

Tip: To satiate our need for alcohol, we started drinking sparkling water. La Croix did the trick. It’s sugar-free, bubbly, and makes me feel like there is a party in my mouth, sans alcohol! I was never into sparkling water, and now I order it at restaurants instead of a glass of wine.

Week 1 Takeaway: I was pretty surprised at how much sugar was in a lot of food, especially when I was eating out and in things like condiments and alcohol. It forced me to look at every single ingredient in the food label and educate myself on how the food was made, just like how I pore over my skin care labels.

Week 2:

We figured out pretty quickly that we’d definitely have to cook a lot more at home. This was one of our New Year’s resolutions anyway, so that worked out perfectly.

This also means that I really did not have a social life the month of January. I did not go out for fear of not being able to eat anything that was Whole30 compliant. It was shocking to me how most restaurants put sugar, grains, and dairy in every single dish. I just avoided going out altogether!

Results: I was shocked how much weight Dave and I dropped in just 10 days. Dave works out six days a week, every morning, and after 10 days on Whole30, he looked more slim and chiseled than I’d seen in years. I never started this diet to lose weight, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the pudge I’d formed over the past year in my stomach area had quickly melted away. I was still just working out once a week. As for my skin, I didn’t see a positive or negative improvement at this point.

Tips: To substitute my need for noodles and rice, I ate a lot of sweet potatoes and potatoes. It was satisfying because it was starchy and it filled me up. Keep in mind these were not deep fried and were not doused in ketchup! Just because potatoes are Whole30 compliant, does not mean you can eat fries or chips because that doesn’t fit in with the spirit of Whole30.

Week 2 Takeaway: Eating Whole30 helped us save so much money, and we became more adventurous with what we cooked. It forced us to cook with veggies and ingredients we rarely used before. I discovered broccoli rice and cauliflower rice, which helped minimize rice and noodle cravings! And I found sugar-less kimchi from Whole Foods. It wasn’t the best tasting kimchi I ever had, but it did the job! I also ate a lot more fruit. I swear I could taste the natural sweetness of the blueberries, bananas and the watermelon more now that I wasn’t always eating processed sugar in the rest of my foods.

Week 3:

This was the most difficult week, because by now it became a mental challenge. Even though I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, suddenly all I wanted was a gooey, chocolate chip cookie or even a burger and french fries with a refreshing Coke.

Results: But I was continuing to see results on my body, and my skin also became clearer, to the point where I got more compliments! I deal with hormonal acne, and I realized that I was NOT dealing with any additional breakouts. I still need to continue the Whole30 long term to see if it will truly impact the hormonal breakouts I tend to have every 60 days, and I will update you!

Tip: Get an Instant Pot! It’s this life-changing instant cooker that makes it super quick and easy to make delicious meals. You throw in everything from sweet potatoes to chicken wings, and it’ll cook everything as if it was slow cooking (or being steamed) for the whole day. We used it almost every single day and it made plenty of leftover for lunch.

Week 3 Takeaway: This month was one of the busiest months for me work-wise, because I was juggling several different projects. It required me to stay concentrated on the weekends and in the evenings. Not drinking wine every day like I had before enabled me to stay laser-focused on my work until the late evenings. I accomplished so much and stayed productive.

Week 4:

After a hard and challenging week, by week four I was mentally back on track, ready to finish off strong. I was feeling lighter, healthier, and my mind was still feeling clear. Normally after lunch or on weekends I feel like taking a nap or drowsy and even foggy, but I was feeling great and I never “needed” coffee anymore. At this point I was just drinking coffee for the taste, and not for a caffeine kick.

It’s true what they say about it taking three weeks of discipline for something to become a habit, and I can say that it was completely the case for me. I was so used to cooking, eating fresh and whole foods, and it was encouraging to see the results I was seeing. This program created a whole new lifestyle for me, and I knew it would have lasting effects!

After Whole30:

I finished the Whole30 without a cheat day. I was extremely proud of myself by making it through. But I’m not going to lie, I was counting down the days when I could finally indulge in non-compliant Whole30 meal. But when it finally came down to eating my first meal—which happened to be Cuban sandwiches in Miami—I have to say it was a bit anti-climactic. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted great, but I felt a tad bit weird about eating bread again. I noticed a few hours later I was feeling drowsy and in need of a nap!

The whole rest of the week I was in Miami, I was on vacation mode so I indulged in a few drinks and heavier meals with lots of carbs. Let’s just say I was so shocked to see the differences in my body. I was more bloated, and my once super trim stomach was already quickly going back to its pudgy state, pre-Whole30 program.

The bottom line:

The aftermath (and seeing how your body reacts after you re-introduce the foods you avoided for 30 days) is as enlightening as when you’re on the program. I was able to clearly see what these particularly foods did to my body.

If you’re interested in learning more about food, cooking more, and exploring better, healthier options for your body and overall wellness and health, I highly recommend the Whole30. This is not a diet because I truly ate all the foods I love (steak, fruits, and potatoes, salsa) to my hearts content; I just relied less on the foods that are not so great for your body. I’m inspired to continue to eat Whole30, and eat the non-compliant foods in moderation. I won’t completely cut it out but I definitely will change my approach to how I incorporate it in my diet!

+ Have you seen any Whole 30 diet results? Share your story with me in the comments!

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