Why I Have to Jump Off the Whole 30

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So I found out that this healthy diet may not be the healthiest for me.  I’m not usually one to share my personal medical history (aside from my battle with migraines), but since I invited all of you to join me on the Whole 30 and now I’m dropping out, I thought I’d tell you why.  

Yesterday, I went to the doctor for a checkup.  They did routine blood work as part of that.  Then I got a phone call from the doctor’s office in the afternoon saying that my potassium was too high.  Apparently, that can be pretty dangerous for your heart.

They asked if I was on a potassium supplement.  I’m not.  But I have been eating a lot of potassium rich foods.  It turns out that nearly everything I’ve been eating since going on Whole 30 is high in potassium.

  • Bananas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut and other winter squashes
  • Greens
  • Sauerkraut
  • Oranges
  • Nuts
  • Raisins and dates
  • Beef
  • Parsnips
  • Tomatoes
  • and on and on and on…

I have read online that beta blockers can make it hard for the kidneys to remove excess potassium.  I’m on a beta blocker to help prevent migraines, so I’m guessing that’s part of the problem.

The doctor is giving me one week to get the potassium levels down and we’ll retest.  So I’m jumping off the Whole 30 and giving up all those healthy food in favor of apples, berries, refined grains and coffee.  And if the test comes back fine next week (and it should), I’ll go back to my previous “everything in moderation” philosophy.

So that’s my story.  I think it’s probably an unusual case.  I know lots of people who’ve done Whole 30 and feel much better for it.  If you’re still going strong on Whole 30 (or another clean eating challenge) carry on.  But if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.  Food really does make an impact on our bodies!

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  1. I am so glad you were able to find that out before it harmed you. That is why I like WW, I choose what to eat and make it work within my points {although I’ve totally fallen off the wagon, but I know that I can get back on}.

    • Kristal, I’ve always like the WW philosophy. I’ve never tried it before, but this time I wasn’t trying to lose weight. Which is good, because I didn’t lose any 🙂

  2. I am glad you are okay, Tiffany! I hope you can get those levels down! I know I am in the minority, but I have a background in nutrition and when I figured out I was gluten-intolerant, I still kept eating the things that I feel are still good for me and my body- quinoa, brown rice, and other healthy grains. I get behind the healthy eating behind plans like Whole 30 & Paleo and I am happy it works for most, but I feel my best with some grains. Keep us posted on how things go.

    • Amy, I like your approach to going gluten free. I think that’s part of what happened with me – cutting out all grains meant filling in those calories with other foods that turned out to be high in potassium. Whole grains are also high in potassium. I guess I just need some amount of refined grains. Give me a coffee and a biscuit! 🙂

  3. Not every “diet” or exercise program is right for every person. I think moderation works well and I’m glad you are okay. That’s the most important part! Some of my closest friends do very high impact cardio and wanted me to join them but my body doesn’t respond well to extreme so I’m sticking to my normal exercise routine.

  4. I’m glad you found out quickly! That can definitely cause some issues. I also like the fact that you have shared your honest experience. I don’t think people realize just how much what you put into your body affects your body, and it’s not the same for everyone.

  5. I think people get crazy with this whole ‘diet’ thing anyway. We have to eat what we want to eat and not overdue any one thing. A well rounded and balanaced diet is all anyone needs. Portion control is the biggest thing and getting up and moving. We live in a world where we are obsessed with food and what our bodies look like instead of just living!!

  6. Meg Merkley says:

    IM SO GLAD YOU WENT INTO GET A CHECK UP! No worries. Take care of your health.

  7. We all gotta do what we all gotta do. I think you’re making a smart move. I went on a strict protein diet last spring…the weight was coming off quickly…which is VERY rare for me, and I enjoyed it. Until I woke up in the night with terrible stomach pains…ended up in ER the following evening. Haven’t had a problem since, so I’m with you in the thinking that ALL THINGS IN MODERATION is the best of the best way to enjoy our eating plans. Trust your retest comes back normal. We just never know til we try. Thanks for sharing all the info.

  8. I feel you on the potassium. Im on a renal diet and I cant have potassium, phosphorus sodium and magnesium . My kidneys dont do their job, so Im on dialysis. You will find that most all foods contain potassium , some more than others. I have to pretty much cook all my food from scratch to make sure what I cant have isnt in it. I wish you well,.

  9. Very interesting! Well I’m glad you found out and I appreciate your update. I hadn’t heard of Whole30 until your original post and then checked the book out from the library to get more informed. Although I’m not officially doing Whole30, I starting cutting out bread and pasta around the beginning of the month when you started and have been eating more potassium-rich foods than I normally do. Good reminder to keep everything in moderation. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought a huge bag of sweet potatoes at Costco! LOL!

  10. glad you found out quickly. funny, most diets say consult a doctor before beginning and I always just assumed it was for liability purposes. but I guess it is a good idea!!

  11. And this is why not all diets work for everyone.
    I used to read a blog by a reformed vegan, who had to become a mostly vegetarian. Turns out that the lack of meats in her diet was making her ill (not because of the lack of protein. She was eating too much fibre, and it was causing damage).
    Good on you for picking it up so early, and being open and honest about why you stopped the diet.

  12. Yikes, glad you caught it early enough to avoid a major problem! You tried something new, which is always good, and you learned something new, also good. So overall, I’d say your Whole 30 experiment was pretty successful. And you shared what you learned, so we learned something new too 🙂

  13. Funny that you mention this on Thursday. I started having some issues on Thursday as well. Four years ago I was diagnosed with Syndrome X. It is a narrowing of the small vessels that feed the arteries of the heart. My cardiologist told me it is caused from hormonal changes as I am going through menopause. He put me on a beta blocker to slow my heart rate down and that took all the jaw pain I was experiencing away. Yesterday morning I started having the pain again. I went to the clinic and had my blood drawn for testing to see if there is a potassium issue. Thanks for keeping us updated! Once I get the results back, I may adjust my Whole30 plan as well.

  14. I didn’t realize that. I just started a new beta blocker also for migraines. I will make sure to have my potassium levels checked on my next blood test.

  15. My husband had the same issue with high potassium. He would drink a glass of orange juice daily and smoothies with bananas. His was real high he was put in the hospital till it was lowered some. So we watch our potassium intake to keep it in check, he just had blood work done and all tests came back with great numbers, even his A1C numbers are lower.. Lucky we didn’t have any pre diabetes to worry about.

    • Ronda, I’m glad he was able to get the numbers down. Wow! It’s really strange that the healthy food doesn’t always lead to a healthy outcome for everyone. Too much of a good thing I guess.

  16. My mother, who is on betta blockers also, had the same potassium problem.

  17. Sylvia Tully says:

    I’m so glad I read this. My urine has had a sweet order the last couple of weeks, I ‘m a kidney transplant patient, but no one has told me to watch my potassium. I will be seeing the nephrologist in a couple weeks and will follow up on this. Thank you so much for being up to date.

  18. Tiffany, I always enjoy your contributions here at eat at home. I’m sorry you ran into this problem, and am grateful that you’ve shared it with us. I have trouble with this diet being a little too extreme for my system, as well.

  19. Tiffany – any update? My recent blood tests show high, and getting higher potassium levels (been Whole 30 for 75 days or so).

    • That’s interesting that your levels are still going up. Has your doctor said anything about that? I don’t have any updates on myself. When I tested again after getting off Whole 30, my levels were back to normal. I haven’t tried going back on Whole 30 since then.

    • Linda, how are you doing now? I have been on whole 30 / keto diet for about two months. I feel better than ever, my digestion is much better, I sleep very well etc. However I had a blood test the same week and my potassium came up high which never was the case in the past. I don’t even eat that much potassium rich food, not sure what is going on… I would appreciate an update on your levels. Did you change anything?

  20. Melanee V-M says:

    Have you thought of using sourdough items? Seriously. I’ve just gotten into that to balance the absorption of vitamins and still having very flavorful, healthy items. Your body slows down the absorption of sugars and doesn’t freak out so much with unbleached flours…. It is a nice balance. I also am on beta blockers and a potassium sparing diuretic. I have to be careful as well. Soups are great to have lots of broth to spread out the potassium. Great way to get healthy but not “overloaded.” Good luck!

  21. Just going to add that I have been following the Whole 30 plan since January 1, 2016. Had blood draw in early March and potassium level came back high. First time for me too. The day of this draw, my BP was very low too. I have since had BP rechecked and it was in normal range. The doctor wants to rerun blood work. I am confident it is elevated due to diet. Darn bananas, cashew nuts, almond butter, sweet potatoes- good bye!! :(. I had been following W30 for NSV’s and not weight loss. It helped with inflammation issues. Thanks!

  22. Shirley /dawson says:

    This is very good to know. Thanks.


  1. […] sure it has a lot to do with the fact that I started the Whole 30, quite the Whole 30 and at least for this week I need to watch my intake of high potassium foods.  Frankly, it all […]

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