- The Whole30 diet is meant to last for 30 days and it involves a lot of restrictions.
- Those following the Whole30 diet cut out snacking as well as sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy.
- If you’re still hungry on the Whole30 diet, you might not be consuming enough fat.
- In some cases, the hunger could be a result of your body and brain not reacting well to the restrictions and limitations of the diet.
Whole30 is a 30-day diet that asks followers to stop eating sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy. The idea is that by eliminating these “trigger foods,” people can identify ingredients or food groups that are having a negative impact on their health. Even though the plan includes a lot of different food options, constant hunger can still be a problem for some who are trying to follow the diet.
INSIDER spoke to nutritionists and dietitians to figure out the most likely reasons you might still be hungry on the Whole30 diet.
You’re just not eating enough
One of the most common reasons people feel constant hunger during the Whole30 diet is a simple lack of food.
“Many people approach Whole30 as a weight loss diet and reduce caloric intake. Whole30 is designed to treat inflammation and limit intake of processed foods, it is not designed as a primarily weight loss diet,” professional chef and certified integrative nutrition coach Laura Brooks told INSIDER.
Trying to reduce your caloric intake while also eliminating food groups might leave your stomach growling. The cure for a constant feeling of hunger while following Whole30 might simply be to consume bigger portions that leave you feeling satisfied.
You’re not pairing foods properly
Neglecting to pair your foods correctly can leave you feeling hungry and low-energy. For example, you might want to consider adding a bit of fat to your next fruit snack.
“Food combinations are very important when considering body satiety. A piece of fruit, while healthy, might make you hungry an hour later. So, pairing the fruit with healthy fats, like almond butter, can keep your blood sugar stable for a longer period of time,” certified integrative nutrition coach Erin Assenza told INSIDER.
Getting enough fat, fiber, and protein is important when you’re seeking satiety. Some options could include adding avocado to your morning scrambled eggs or serving up your apple slices or sweet potato with almond butter.
You’ve lost touch with your personal hunger cues
If you feel like you’ve spent years trying one diet after another, it’s possible that your natural hunger responses have become confused. You may be confusing real hunger with cravings for specific foods or even thirst.
“If you’ve been on diets before, it is quite possible that you’ve stopped listening to your hunger cues. However, a sudden or dramatic change to what you eat each day might cause you to suddenly pay attention again. If you’re used to eating a certain way, you may feel hunger when you’re not following that pattern,” Katie Goldberg, registered dietitian and co-founder of EKG Nutrition, told INSIDER.
To figure out if your hunger is a psychological response to stress or boredom, try stick to regular mealtimes and make sure you’re eating enough. It’s also worth noticing if your hunger would be satisfied by any food, or if you’re actually just craving one specific treat.
You’re not getting enough fiber
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Eating enough fiber is a crucial part of feeling full and satisfied, especially if you’re eliminating foods like pasta and bread. “Some people on Whole30 only eat animal protein and fat, both of which are lacking in substantial fiber,” explained Brooks.
Soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance in the stomach. It slows down digestion, which helps stabilize blood glucose levels and lower cholesterol. This can also help you feel fuller for longer so you may want to incorporate more fiber-rich foods like vegetables, sweet potatoes, coconut, or berries into your daily meals.
You’re not consuming enough fluids
The brain can sometimes mistake thirst for hunger. If you’re not taking in enough fluids, whether from beverages or food, you might be dehydrated.
“Increasing protein or fiber intake (both could be common to Whole30 participants) means your body needs more water to help properly digest and absorb. If you haven’t increased your water intake, you might be dehydrated, which can show up as hunger,” said Goldberg.
Though you shouldn’t resort to drinking more water in order to stifle actual hunger, grabbing a glass of it when cravings strike might help you figure out what’s real hunger and what’s dehydration.
You keep making the same dishes over and over
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Getting stuck in a cooking rut is all too easy when your ingredient options are limited. Putting the same few dishes on repeat might make meal prep simpler, but your palette might be starving for novelty.
“You were so excited in the beginning to try new recipes, but you have fallen into the same easy recipes. Your body craves diversity and eating the same foods is not as mentally satisfying,” said Brooks.
If you find yourself plagued by post-meal cravings and don’t feel satisfied by your food, try whipping up a new recipe to keep things exciting and maintain momentum on the Whole30 plan. Fortunately, there are dozens of recipes specifically for those following the Whole30 plan.
You’re feeling deprived
Unless your preferred indulgences are vegetables and nuts, following Whole30 is likely going to mean temporarily cutting out some of your favorite comfort foods and treats. This can amp up your cravings and make you feel unsatisfied by your meals.
“Whole30 is a restrictive diet and restrictions breed desires. In other words, once we deem a food ‘forbidden,’ we create a vulnerable landscape to temptations and cravings of the forbidden food. Substituting this food with Whole30-approved options may satisfy you in the short run, but will likely leave you unsatisfied down the road,”
Whole30 may not be a good fit for everyone. For example, if you’re a pasta fanatic, substituting real spaghetti with veggie noodles might not hit the spot. If you’re someone who can’t stand being told “no,” even by yourself, Whole30 meals could leave you feeling hungry and craving more.
Fortunately, there are some Whole30-friendly solutions to common cravings, like satiating ice cream cravings with frozen bananas. You can also try snacking on roasted, crispy seasoned veggies when you find yourself craving potato chips. The food blog A Clean Bake also has a roundup of Whole30-friendly desserts that can satisfy your cravings if you’re willing to do a bit of baking.
You’re not eating enough carbohydrates
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Even though the Whole30 plan eliminates carb sources like rice, quinoa, and wheat, it does allow for carbohydrates from sources like potatoes and fruit. Cutting back on these carbs might leave you feeling weak and hungry.
“Reducing grain consumption can result in a lack of proper carbohydrate consumption. Carbohydrates are necessary for many bodily functions; in fact, they are the body’s primary source of energy,” said Brooks.
Be sure to boost your carb consumption to quell hunger and keep you energized on the Whole30 diet. Sweet potatoes, plantains, winter squash, beets, and bananas are all Whole30-friendly carb sources you can incorporate in your diet, according to the Real Foods.
The Whole30 plan allows for three meals per day, but snacking is discouraged. If you’ve been sneaking a snack in between meals, it could be leading to you feeling more hunger rather than less.
“The meal template is three per day with no snacks allowed. People find this difficult to adopt, as we are so used to snacking in the standard American diet. Snacking can elevate insulin production which causes spikes and dips in blood sugar, which in turn creates regular feelings of hunger,” certified nutrition coach Emma-Louise Parkes told INSIDER.
If you’re finding it difficult to avoid snacking, try enjoying larger portions of meals packed with a balance of protein, fat, and fiber that will keep you full for longer.
You’re not eating enough fat
Just because Whole30 emphasizes cutting out foods like butter and junk food doesn’t mean you should be trying to strip your diet of fat. In fact, not including enough fat on your plate might be the root of your hunger.
“People in a dieting mindset will often cut a lot of fats from their diet. Fat helps keep us full and is a satiety nutrient. We digest fat slower than carbohydrates and protein, therefore staying full longer when we eat it,” registered dietitian Melissa Giovanni told INSIDER.
Make sure you’re incorporating enough Whole30-friendly sources for fats like olive oil, coconut milk, avocados, and nuts into your diet to ward off hunger.
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