What To Expect
Days 1 to 7:
The first week will be tough as your body heals and adjusts to this new way of eating and your brain wraps itself around going without all its habitual sweet tastes and sugar-driven energy spikes. In addition, the reward, pleasure, and emotional connections to supernormally stimulating nutrient-poor foods will take a lot longer to overcome, so the cravings can be intense. In fact, many participants have reported craving-driven dreams about off-plan foods – some so intensely real, they wake up feeling guilty. Talk about an unhealthy psychological response!
Since you’ve removed many of the dense carbohydrates from your diet (like sugars, grains, and legumes), your body can no longer rely on those sugars as a primary energy source. That often leads to “withdrawal” symptoms like headaches, lethargy, and crankiness- the “carb flu” as your body adjusts to its new fuel source. Ease off your physical activity this week-don’t take part in any big races or events, and don’t expect to set any personal bests in the gym. Your body is desperately trying to recalibrate during this first critical week, so give it the time, space, and rest it needs to do so.
You may see a significant change in your body as you shed excess water weight and the incumbent bloating. Don’t get too excited: This probably doesn’t represent much true fat loss-it’s just your body’s way of letting go of some of the physical effects of your old eating.
Days 8 to 14:
Most people report that their “carb flu” symptoms are gone by the very end of the second week. During this week, most people report falling asleep faster, sleeping better, and more consistent energy levels. At this point, your body is already more efficient at using fat (dietary and body fat) as fuel. Once your metabolism has become “fat adapted,” you’ll notice that your energy levels are much more stable than they ever were with processed foods and an incessant influx of sugar.
However, although you are starting to feel better, the healing process takes much longer than a week or two. Digestive distress in common and may take a few months to completely resolve. The inflammation-causing foods you’ve been eating have been like sandpaper in your digestive tract for all the years you’ve been eating them. Remove all of them, and your digestive tract starts to heal-but the healing process can be unpleasant. Constipation or diarrhea, cramps, bloating, gas and general discomfort are common, and are all a normal part of the process, as your intestinal lining starts to repair itself, some gut bacteria die off, and the extra thick protective layer of mucosal lining starts to slough off.
If you’ve dramatically increased your fruit and vegetable intake, that could also be playing a role in your digestive distress. Try eating more cooked vegetables than raw and having more frequent, smaller serving of fruit throughout the day, as opposed to one or two larger serving. In addition, if you’re relying too heavily on nuts and seeds, you may find digestive relief from swapping those for fats like avocado, coconut, and olive oil.
We know this part isn’t fun, but ride it out. It gets better quickly, we promise, and once your digestive tract has healed. It will be happier and healthier than it has been in years.
Days 15 to 30:
Much of what happens during this time depends on your health history and habits. You may notice improvement in ailments-skin clearing up, allergies diminishing, joints no longer aching. Most people are sleeping well and are energetic and attentive throughout their day. Your gym or sports performance may take an upturn, and you may find that your mental focus and physical coordination are better. And you’ll probably notice that your clothes are fitting differently by this point, too.
Your taste buds should also be waking up right about now, allowing you to truly appreciate the flavors found in the fresh foods you’re eating. But you may also be getting a little bored with your food if you relied on the same basic “go-to” meals for the first two weeks. There are plenty of sites on the internet now if you don’t want to purchase a cookbook yet.
During this time, you also may start thinking, “I’m really feeling better now-two weeks is probably enough.” We call this the “bright, shiny, toy” mentality-the novelty of the program has worn off, but your still weeks away from completion. Time to snap to attention-don’t get lazy or let your guard down! Now is the perfect time to experiment with new foods, new spices and herbs, and more exotic dishes-and draft a few strategies to combat the sugar dragon when it unexpectedly roars back to life in your brain. (And we’re sorry to say, it probably will.)
Even if you haven’t achieved all the results you’d hoped to by the twenty-ninth day, hang on: you cannot reasonably expect to completely reverse decades of poor eating habits in just thirty days. At some point, we promise …..The magic will happen. In the meantime, be patient, don’t ease up on your hard won discipline, and focus on all the things that have improved in your life since starting Paleo—that should supply all the motivation you need to keep up the good work. But we’ll caution you now….
Resource: Whole30 It Starts With Food