In an attempt to become the healthiest person on the planet…I went gluten free. 30 days without eating or drinking anything with gluten in it. This includes bread, pasta, rice, beer…basically everything.
Here’s the story of why…
Why would I do something so STUPID?
Can going gluten free do all of the amazing things Robb talks about?
Okay, so I told you how this dumb idea entered my mind, but I haven’t really given you reason for why.
Well, there are my 3 reasons for going on this diet:
Everyone wants to be healthier. Was a gluten free diet able to help me with that?
Needless to say, the excerpt and the idea of preventing poop in my bloodstream peaked my interested. However, I wanted to dismiss Robb as a QUACK (who wouldn’t when the dude tells you not to eat such AMAZING food anymore?!). But the more I found out about him, the more I realized he wasn’t just blowing smoke up my a$s.
Here’s a lowdown on Robb:
Robb is a former research biochemist, has worked as a review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism (sounds impressive), and is the co-owner of a “Top 30 gyms in America” according to Men’s Health, NorCal Strength & Conditioning.
Pretty impressive resume for a quack. So after that, my curiosity was peaked, and I couldn’t use the this-dude-is-crazy excuse to not go gluten free.
2. Couldn’t find any posts that answered my question
I tend to eat fairly healthy (at least I think so), but I’ve never really prescribed to any diet out there like Paleo or Veganism. I’m usually pretty skeptical of these diets, but I do admit I’m also a little bit curious about them since I always run into stories about how amazing they are. Scott Jurek and Rich Roll, for example, are ultra marathoners I really look up to, and they both promote the Vegan lifestyle.
So, naturally, I turned to Google to see if others have tried going gluten free for 30 days. MAYBE I could save myself the misery by reading about someone else’s time doing this instead. Good idea, right? I thought so.
The problem is, when I went online to look up other people’s results, I couldn’t find any (I even went to page 3 of the Google search!) In this day and age, that’s almost IMPOSSIBLE.
(Well…damn, there goes that idea.)
3. Habit formation
Being that I’m all about habits, I thought to myself, “why the heck not.”
I love the occasional beer after dinner and a cookie from time to time. So, this was an opportunity for me to crack those habits of mine. I figured it’d be hard, but I’d eventually develop a routine that would make these 30-days bearable.
Going gluten free sounds like quitting cold turkey, but I was confident I could apply the Chillpill approach to make this easy and (dare I say it) fun.
“Alright, let’s give this a shot,” I thought.
This was right before New Year’s, so I figured I’d start 2016 with a bang. A gluten free BANG!
So with that, I decided to go gluten free, and give up all of that delicious food.
NOTE: This was a gluten-free diet, not a Paleo diet. I still had soy, beans, and other items that are on the Paleo naughty list. To find out more about eating Paleo, check out “What is the Paleo Diet“.
Here’s How Each Week Went
If you want to get in my during the whole experience, you can check out the daily journaling I kept during the process.
Or you can just catch the highlights below…
Summary of My Experience
Day 1 – Gluten Everywhere!
It’s insane when you look around, almost everything has some form of gluten in it. I went to my local Whole Foods to buy food and everything I wanted to eat had gluten. It seemed like 90% of the food there was contaminated with gluten.
Other than face palming myself like 100x for thinking this was a good idea, I didn’t really have any issues adapting to the new diet. No cravings. No less of energy or crankiness. I even had enough energy to work out that day, so that was encouraging.
Day 2 – MmmM Donuts…
Why can I not get the thought of donuts out of my head today?
This day was all about looking at my daily eating habits and seeing how I can hack it to make it gluten free (I’m not just going to eat salad for the next 30 days).
Day 3 – Would love to drop a deuce…
Started to settle into the routine of not eating gluten, but I’d love to drop the kids off at the pool yet since starting this diet…
Feeling kinda crazy today mostly coz I keep thinking about all of the gluten I’m going to eat when the 30 days are over. The willpower isn’t strong today, but I pushed through. This wasn’t my best day in terms of mental strength. Just felt over the whole thing.
It almost feels like being stuck in a room that you can’t leave.
Day 5 – There’s gluten in sausages? Why? Why does there need to be gluten in sausages?!
Google has been getting a lot of activity from me over the past few days since I found out sausages could have gluten in them. Now I’m literally googling “Does [fill in blank] have gluten in it?” for everything. It’s gotten to the point where, I swear, Google was turning everything I googled into that question (even when it WASN’T a food search).
“Does ESPN have gluten in it…”
“Does Star Wars have gluten in it…”
“Does my horoscope have gluten in it…”
There was this sense of paranoia coz I didn’t want to cheat or screw this challenge up.
Day 7 – 1 Week Down, 3 more to go…
It could just be me Jedi-mind-tricking myself, but I feel a little better today. The GOOD NEWS is that the intensity of my workouts haven’t been affected at all. I was really afraid since I mostly do cardio activities, and I feared the lack of carbs would cause me to half-ass my workouts. But, up to this point, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Day 8 – Should I tell people I have a gluten sensitivity?
Something that made this gluten free month a little bit harder is the fact that I had a planned trip to Colorado for this week (as if this wasn’t hard enough!) My friends and I got into Colorado Springs, and aside from the a few cans of sardines I brought along (thanks Tim Ferriss for this tip), I went out to eat with my friends for lunch and dinner today.
THANKFULLY, I have cool friends who are considerate of this experiment (we’ll see if that changes by the end of the week). I told them I didn’t care where we ate, and that I didn’t want this GF diet to affect their time here. But being the badasses that they are, they worked with me.
Today’s can be summed up with the awkwardness of asked whether or not I had a severe gluten allergy every time I asked a waiter or waitress if they have gluten free items. First of all, I’m happy the restaurants were concerned about me and my health. But I felt like such a d-bag telling them, “No, I’m all good, I’m just a weirdo who decided to put himself through this….”
Yeah…you can can just read “oh, you’re one of THOSE people” written over all their faces…
Day 10 – Excuse Me, but Do You Have a Gluten Free Menu?
The biggest challenge of this week has to be traveling, and not being home where I can better control what I eat. When I’ve gone out to eat, I feel bad because I have to constantly ask if they have gluten free items. I feel like they’re going to do this to me when I do:
Day 13 – Wait…rice doesn’t have gluten in it?
Did I just go 2 weeks without eating rice for no reason? I found out today that plain rice (brown, white, etc.) is gluten free. I literally spent 30 minutes googling to verify this.
As I’ve gone through the month, I kept wondering if this were something I could do beyond just this month. The one thing that kept me from saying yes was knowing I wouldn’t be able to eat rice for the rest of my life. Well, turns out that isn’t true!
Time to celebrate with some sushi (gluten free sushi)
(The GF menu is way smaller than the regular one)
On a side note, I found out that most soy sauce has gluten in it <link>. If you want to eat sushi, make sure to ask for gluten free soy sauce aka tamari.
Day 17 – I can’t drink anymore hard cider
How do people drink this stuff on a regular basis? I tried LITERALLY every type of cider over the last 3 weeks, but it’s just not the same as a beer. Mostly coz it’s too sweet for me.
I did find a cider I could drink, occasionally, coz it doesn’t taste like apple juice. It’s called Squishy, though I don’t know if you can get it outside of Michigan. Squishy is good coz it tastes more like cherries (which I usually hate), but it’s better than apple juice.
(Isn’t that a cute logo?)
Day 19 – Man, that croissant looks good
First of all, the baked goods section of Whole Foods is WAY.TOO.BIG. It’s like 1/4 of the store at my local Whole Foods. Not sure we need all of the various sugary baked goods they’re offering up.
But I digress.
I’ve created a roadmap to navigate the store so I can avoid the baked goods. I’m not doing this because I think I’m going to crack seeing yummy cupcakes or brownies. But, why torture myself if I don’t need to? I mean, I’m not going to be able to eat those things, so why even stare at them? What good would that do?
Day 24 – Do I have to stop?
I’ve been thinking a lot about why I couldn’t keep this diet up after the 30 days are over. Like seriously, what would I be losing out on? Beer and noodles…
I’ve been drinking cider this month, and, I have to be honest, not a huge fan. I’ve never really liked the taste of apple juice, and cider just tastes too sweet for me.
I haven’t been able to find a good noodles substitute during these 30 days. I tried this gluten free pasta, bionaturae, but it was kind of gross. Actually, ittasted fine. It just looked gross. It seemed to dissolve immediately in the colinder and pot and turned into a pasta-y spiderweb that was impossibleto clean dishes and pots that it touched. I’d rather never eat that stuff again.
With only a couple of days left to go, it’s getting to that point where I have to decide if the challenge will be done OR I keep going…
Day 25 – Mexican Food is Great for Gluten Free Diet
I’ve cooked a lot of Mexican meals throughout this month. Eating corn tortillas has been a nice easy way to transition away from bread. (You do want to be careful coz some corn tortillas have gluten in them).
If you’re interested in trying gluten free recipes, our friends over at Athletic Muscle put together a HUGE list of 121 yummy recipes to try. Check them out.
Day 28 – No more corn!
Okay, I know I just wrote a couple of days ago about how awesome Mexican food is for this diet. Well, today I’m singing a different tune. I’m so tired of Mexican food. ACTUALLY, I’m just tired of eating corn tortillas!
Day 30 – The Moment of Truth…
I woke up this morning to the last day of my 30-day challenge. Wow, that month went by fast! Is it really over already? Looking back, I can’t believe I bitched about this so much during Week 1. Once I decided to fully commit to this, it got a lot easier. And standing here on Day 30 having gone 30 full days without gluten is a testament to how everything starts with your mentality.
I was very curious to see how my overall fitness and health improved, so I did my final fit test today. I decided to track this by doing the Insanity “Fit Test” 3 times – Day 1, Day 14, and Day 30. If you’re unfamiliar with the “Fit Test”, it’s a 25-minute exercise where you go through 10 exercises, one after another, for about 60-seconds per. The goal is to do as many as you can in those 60 seconds. Exercises include Suicides, Switch Kicks, and Modified Push-Ups. I settled on the “Fit Test” for a couple of reasons
- The structure already exists, so why reinvent the wheel.
- I don’t typically do Insanity, so I was working my body differently than I normally do.
- It’s hard!
You can see the results below.
I’d take these numbers with a grain of salt.
- My general fitness and cardio is bound to improve, even slightly, if there’s any consistency
- Even if there is improvement, can I say it was the diet?
For these numbers to really mean anything, I’d probably have to do the diet again, take the fit test, and not exercise over the 30 days. Either way – just wanted to see if there was any improvement OR if my fitness got worse.
Life After Gluten Free
So, I took a little break from writing down my thoughts, and wanted to give myself time to soak in what happened during the 30 day experiment. It’s been a week since, and I’m back to eating gluten.
Do I think the experiment was worth it?Definitely.
Things didn’t start well. My energy was fine, I didn’t notice a dip, but my happiness was low. All I wanted for the first few days constantly was a cheeseburger or donuts (which I don’t normally eat). I felt like I was mopping around, not enjoying a single second of the experience.
However, something clicked inside me, and after a few days I felt like I was enjoying the diet.
This new found sense of positivity really helped me – my energy was up and I felt happy. I also felt way more productivity – not in a concentration or focus kind of way. But I felt like the diet helped me more quickly decide what to eat and what to cook. The diet restriction simplified the decision process, which in turn saved me a bunch of frustration and wasted time.
Physically, I don’t feel any better or worse now that I am eating gluten again.
There were improvements in my “Fit Test” results as you can see, but I can’t say with any certainty that the diet had anything to do with it. I took some time off from running a couple of months ago to recover from a foot injury, so my cardio was junk when I did the first fit test (which I expected).
The other 2 fit tests showed improvements, but was it coz I started to pick up my running again throughout the month? Maybe.
I think next time, if I do something like this again (which I probably will), I’ll avoid working out during the 30-days. That’s going to suck so bad, but it’s probably the only way to really know if the diet was responsible for health improvements.
So yeah, like I said, no noticeable health difference between now and during the 30 days without gluten. Well, I guess that’s not 100% true. The one caveat is that my gut hasn’t handle the sudden intake of gluten again very well…
(This sums it up)
How Did I Do It?
I imagine this is something you’re probably wondering – how did I do it?
Well, here are 3 things that I think helped:
1 – Having a clear goal
This was super important. This 30-day challenge was a pretty drastic change to take, so I had to fully understand the commitment and what was involved.
What’s the goal? No gluten. How long? 30 days.
Clearly defining the parameters of the experiment helped tremendously with the next thing.
2 – Tracking my progress
Progress? What kind of progress?
Like, did I eat gluten or not in a day? This is exactly what I mean. I could’ve done this in any number of ways – using a habit tracking app, physically tracking it on a calendar, etc.
What I did was journaling as a way to track my progress.
Every single day, I would write down how that day was for me – physically, emotionally, food wise, temptations etc. Partly coz I wanted some way for you, the reader, to see how the experience was for me, but also it was a way for me to celebrate each day as I kept my gluten free stretch alive day in and day out.
Since I clearly set my goal, I could easily write down whether or not I was meeting the goal.
The best and easiest way to track your progress is by using a Habit Card. Learn more about this amazing tracker here.
3 – Having others hold me accountable
I knew this was going to be hard. That’s why I did it. But temptation was all around me, so I knew it was important to the success of the experiment to lean on my support system to hold me accountable.
I publicly announced to friends that I was going on this diet for 30-days. They teased me, but they also supported me.
I also felt like they were invested in my diet, so I didn’t want to fail them.
So, yeah, those were some of the tricks I used to get myself through these 30 days. I’m not exactly sure how to end this, I guess this is as good as time as any. WOW, what an experience!
Again, I’m happy I did it.
Thanks for Reading!
If you enjoyed this, I’d love for you to share this! I’ll give you some gluten for it. 🙂
Have any questions for me?
You can ask them below in the comments section. I’ll make sure to respond as soon as possible.
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