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How to optimize your workout for Whole30, according to celeb trainer Astrid Swan


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Let’s face it: Prepping for Whole30 can be as difficult as being on Whole30. From expunging non-approved foods from your pantry (looking at you secret stash of dark chocolate) to overhauling your grocery list (goodbye, almond milk), planning your one-month detox requires discipline. And when it comes to working out, your go-to best practices could need refocusing, too.

Celebrity trainer Astrid Swan, who’s certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, says modifying your exercise routine might be necessary due to the physical changes, like fatigue, you experience during the cleanse—especially since you won’t be reaching for the same quick carbs and protein you typically use to fuel your fitness routine. Rather than freezing your gym membership, though, Swan says a few tweaks to your workouts are all it takes to keep active on the diet.

Here’s how to modify your workouts to maximize results while on Whole30, according to Astrid Swan.

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How fitness beginners can work out on Whole30.
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Be realistic with your expectations

If you’re new to working out and are using Whole30 as a chance to create a healthy lifestyle for yourself, congrats. But remember to stay realistic with your goals and what you hope to accomplish with such a big lifestyle shift—or risk burning out before you’ve even had a chance to shine.

“If you’ve never worked out before and woke up on January 1 and said to yourself, ‘This is my year! I’m going to work out five times per week and do Whole30!’ It’s too much to handle, too soon,” Swan cautions.

Stay realistic with your goals and what you hope to accomplish with such a big lifestyle shift—or risk burning out before you’ve even had a chance to shine.

Instead, she advises keeping your focus on feeling good while following Whole30, rather than overwhelming yourself with the new eating habits and a super-intense workout schedule simultaneously. A great balance, according to Swan, is starting with three workouts per week and (maybe) working up from there. After all, you’ll likely be experiencing a sugar detox, complete with cravings and headaches.

Swan suggests a workout plan that looks something like this: For week one, try a Pilates reformer class to “focus on engaging your core and lengthening the muscles.” Next, mix it up, she says, with a high-intensity class like those offered at Barry’s Bootcamp or Fhitting Room. Then take a rest day. “On day four, reassess,” she says. “Can you jump into a more cardio-based class? See how your energy is feeling. Take another rest, and then find something else that’s going to be a balance in between. That could be a hike or a more intense, 30-minute workout.”

For the following week, Swan says you really have to be honest with yourself about whether you can tack on another HIIT workout—going to four instead of three for the week—or if sticking to three is really all you can manage. And ultimately, don’t feel bad about keeping your workouts within range, she adds.

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Advanced workout tips for Whole30 participants.
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Listen to your body

Even if you tap it back on the reg and know your pyramid sets from your burnouts, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your workout habits while on the Whole30. Regardless of how fit you are, you’re still putting your body through a major shock by cutting out the carbs and sugar that it might be used to.

“I would say just pull back a little bit on your intensity. It could be that you’re still working out five and six times per week, but maybe you’re not going at that 90-percent effort level,” says Swan.

So maybe consider posting up in the second row at spin class instead of working through your bike push-ups front and center, or forgoing extra reps when weight training, she says. Instead, focus on your form.

Swan’s number-one piece of advice for both new and experienced workout junkies? Listen to your body. “If you notice that you’re dizzy, if you’re getting headaches after your workouts, if you feel like you’re not recovering fast enough, then reassess,” she says.

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Fruit and nuts are a pre-workout snack for Whole30.
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Don’t underestimate the power of a pre-workout snack

Even if you’re used to fasting before workouts, while on the Whole30, Swan recommends scheduling a pre-workout snack break to combat fatigue. Her favorite? A handful of almonds and a piece of fruit that’s easy to digest.

“It’s sugar, a healthy fat, and a bit of protein,” she says. “That would give you a winning combination.”

Swan also notes that all bodies are different, but as long as you opt for a snack that has some combination of the three, you’ll be powering through your workout in no time. And remember, she says, after the initial 10–14 days on Whole30, your energy will increase because your metabolism is focused.

Added bonus: “You’re getting more sleep because you’re not processing sugar like you were when you consumed the carbs that turned into sugar,” she says. All together: Ahhhhh.

Even with the best advice, Whole30 can be challenging—here’s how to deal when the struggle gets real. Wondering what to do once you’ve made it through a month of Whole30? Melissa Hartwig has answers

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