Months ago I took a food sensitivity blood test to see which foods I may have problems with. I created a video series to share my journey. In part 1/3 I tell you about the test and specimen collection method,
In part 2/3 I tell you what foods my serum reacted to, and what changes I would make to my diet,
In part 3/3 I share a few thoughts about my results and the test.
This is a complex topic so I have written a full discussion below.
If I had to pick one word to describe my results from this dietary shift, it would be predictability.
Predictability of energy levels
On day 1 of the elimination diet I noticed the biggest change: no mysterious fatigue incidences. So I’ve been getting up between 4:00 am to 6:00 am for over 5 years now, and around 9:00 am to 11:30 I always felt fatigued. I always attributed this to some mysterious sleep-wake cycle circadian rhythm fluctuation thing. I experienced this everyday. But since I’ve been on this diet it’s been gone.
So what happened? My test results reflected an immunological response to both egg whites and egg yolks, and I cannot remember a breakfast I’ve had without eggs, like, ever… For most of this year it’s been something like 1 carton of whites with 3-6 whole eggs. On top of that, I was also eating rice bread (I was trying to avoid wheat and oats) and drinking a protein shake made with a protein blend containing mostly rice protein. I used almond milk as the liquid for the shake. Rice and almonds were other foods my serum reacted to on the test. So my breakfast had a lot of my “reactive foods”.
My quality of life is immensely better when I don’t feel tired mid-morning everyday. And so it’s actually turned out that now all incidences of fatigue I experience, I can trace back to a cause; yesterday’s workout, not enough sleep or poor sleep, been awake too long, getting up after sitting in a movie theater for 3 hours when I have DOMS, etc, I can trace it back to something. If I fix those, I’m not tired. I’m happier not having to drudge through that fatigue state every morning now. End of mysterious fatigue in my life.
Predictability of body composition
About a week into the diet I noticed my body composition stopped fluctuating. You know how sometimes you look in the mirror and you look a little fatter, maybe retaining a little more water? Sometimes you look softer and sometimes you look hard as nails. I always thought this fluctuation was normal, but ever since I jumped on this diet the fluctuations have mostly gone away. I look better much more consistently. There haven’t been any times where I was like “why do I look so soft right now?” or “why do I look flat?” … I know why I look soft or flat now if I do, it’s because I haven’t trained bodybuilding style enough for several days in a row, or I ate an entire tub of cottage cheese mixed with several scoops of whey protein powder for a gut bomb. I can trace everything back to a source now. End of those mysterious negative body composition fluctuations in my life.
Predictability of aches and pains
About three weeks into the diet I noticed my knees and ankles felt much better. The theory is that the IGG antibodies your body releases in response to the foods you react to can cause inflammation in the body, and inflammation can cause joint pain. *shrugs* hey I’ll take it, nice bonus I didn’t expect. To give you an example of what I mean, have you ever felt okay, then all of a sudden some joint or tendon or ligament in your body hurts massively just out of nowhere? Like, you’ve been sitting for awhile and you get up and everything seems normal then just BAM your knee or ankle is absolutely pissed off. I’d get that sometimes, but now I haven’t gotten it since I went on this diet. I didn’t change anything else I was doing, I wasn’t doing any new special mobility or recovery work, and I was still training like I usually do. So, if I’m hurting now, it’s only because I fucked myself up or overdid something. End of mysterious aches and pains in my life.
Predictability of flatulence
I’ve never really had a really bad problem with this (except the six months before my appendix ruptured while that organ slowly decayed…) so all I can say is this: before I went on this diet I’d have some excessive gas here and there but it was more random, now it’s not random at all. If I eat a ton of cruciferous vegetables or beans, I’ll get gassy. That’s about it. I know what’s causing my gas now. If I’m farting it’s my fault and I know what I ate that caused it. End of mysterious flatulence in my life.
Massive food cravings
This is the 2nd hardest diet I’ve done (the hardest diet was merely an aggressive caloric restrictive liquid based diet). The first 10 days of the diet were terrible. I was having massive cravings for the foods I eliminated, especially eggs. I thought of them every time I ate, I thought how much better eggs would be than whatever I was eating at almost every meal of the day. I thought I was going insane. I was an egg addict. At times it was about as distracting as caffeine withdrawal. It really felt like a drug withdrawal. The staff at Immunolabs told me this happens for most people. It’s kind of like craving a cigarette when you try to quit smoking, your body can crave things that aren’t good for it. After 10 days I stopped craving the foods I eliminated, including eggs.
Just imagine you have a list of common whole foods, some of which are additives in thousands of products (corn, wheat, milk, eggs, olives, canola) and you can’t eat them or any food products containing them. It’s terribly inconvenient. You have to look harder at labels, ask harder questions about recipes prepared by others, and be more careful than you’ve ever had to be on a diet. It’s not just food cravings you have to fight, it’s the unknown.
For the first 2 weeks I was having trouble getting my calories in. I had to cut out a lot of things and I felt pretty restricted. Potato saga was getting really old, really fast. I had to begin preparing the foods I could eat in new ways. So potatoes, I learned to cook some really good scalloped potatoes and began making mash potatoes with sweet potatoes too. Tomatillo salsa added a much needed flavor to my quinoa and chicken dishes. Ground beef was getting monotonous until I began making meat loafs, shepherd’s pies, and special burgers. Etc. So this was the first time in my life I actually had to prepare my foods with a little more consideration for flavor. Until I did this, I was having trouble getting my calories in, and feeling annoyed with what I had available to eat. So it hasn’t been easy, but like anything else, it gets easier if you keep doing it and often times the hard things are the things that give you great results.
My thoughts and feelings
When you’re on a diet like this you become pretty myopic about your feelings in relation to your reactive and safe foods. What about spoiled food? You can still feel like shit if you eat bad spinach. That has nothing to do with food allergies. Food additives? I mentioned I cut out protein powder. But with that I was cutting out artificial sweeteners, thickeners and preservatives. Rice? You’ve heard about arsenic in rice? If I’m feeling better because I stopped eating rice, maybe it’s not the rice allergy, but the arsenic in the rice? Milk? Maybe a problem with milk isn’t always an immunological response to it, but a body’s lack of enzymes to digest it efficiently. There are dozens of reasons you may not tolerate foods. Dozens of reasons a food will make you feel like crap. Even food combinations! For example, I discovered on this diet that oatmeal, one of my “safe” foods which I thought I “knew” I didn’t react well to, in fact, may actually be a food I tolerate well after all, but I was always eating it with whey protein mixed into it or I put it in protein shakes. I seem to always get problems when I combine oats and milk. So I started eating oatmeal with my beef and brussel sprouts for breakfast and I felt… excellent! I’m guessing now, oatmeal, for me, is one of those foods that is either very bad or very good depending on what I eat it with. Or maybe it was the protein powder? Anyway, I can see how this type of diet can also mess you up: if you are reacting to potatoes and eggs, and so you replace them with dog food because it has beef and corn in it… well… haha! Look, food source and quality matters too. You have to replace good foods with other good foods, not dog food.
Honestly, the science behind IGG food allergy theory is shaky. This panel tests for what food analytes your body produces an IGG antibody too, but it doesn’t specify which IGG type, there are many types of IGG. Who is to say all types cause inflammation in the body? Who is to say they cause inflammation at all, perhaps the antibodies produced are a benign by-product of your body having had adapted to the food? Googling leads to more confusion. Talking to the staff at Immunolabs or any other company that provides these type of tests will give you a biased response. In fact, I’m not convinced myself. However, just because something isn’t proven doesn’t mean it won’t be proven eventually. The science of IGG food reactions looks to me to still be in some sort of infancy. So honestly, I have no clue…
Despite the shaky science for IGG food allergy tests and the diets associated with them, one thing is clear, the results I got from this diet are good. So even though this particular food challenge diet might be questionable in its reasoning behind why it works (immunology), the test results provided me a damn good starting point and source of guidance for determining what good foods I needed to challenge.
Will I reintroduce the challenged foods?
The foods on the panel I reacted to that I wasn’t already eating: I’m going to simply avoid them. Things like yellow squash, watermelon, hazelnuts: I won’t bother with them. My serum reacted to them when I was never eating them anyway, to me that’s a little suspicious. I don’t really care for these foods so it’s not a problem to just avoid them.
Rice is a food I was eating a lot of that I reacted to, I’ll reintroduce it out of convenience and economy. I’ll add a cream of rice meal here and there, and a rice dish here and there, but I won’t be eating insane amounts of it again like I was. I was really eating 1-2 cups of cooked rice about 3-4 times per day. Now I might have 1-2 rice dishes per week.
Finally, eggs? The almighty, mancore breakfast essential, a legendary bodybuilding food, the food I missed the most… Ground beef has been a more than acceptable substitute for me, and other meats are available as well, but I really love eggs, so I’ve reintroduced them into my diet but I’m very careful. I eat a couple whole eggs a few mornings out of the week now. So far no problem.
I would like to get tested again later down the road to see if my food sensitivities change, it will probably end up leading to a rotational style diet in the long run if I get renewed results again from any new changes. Really, I see this type of diet as a form of leveling up. Calories and macros are for beginners, determining how your body reacts to individual foods is professional level, especially if you’re cognizant of how your body’s reaction to them may change overtime as you eat them regularly. I’ve been saying it for years, foods matter, you gotta pay attention to the actual foods. Carbs do not equal breads and sweet potatoes and corn and oatmeal. Yes, those are all carb dominant foods, but they’re completely different foods. Your body reacts to them all completely differently. You don’t eat carbs, you eat foods! You gotta figure out what foods your body reacts to well, and which ones it doesn’t, and that might change overtime.
One more cool thing and my recommendation
Oh, and one more thing that’s really bad ass with this diet is refeed. Refeed days are often hit and miss for most of us. Sometimes you come out of them feeling super human, other times you come out feeling like you fucked up, like you have a hangover and feel congested. I did a few refeed days on this diet with the foods I was allowed to eat, and I gotta say, when you refeed on a diet like this, the results are unbelievable. I’ve never experienced such a massive boost from a refeed day as I did when I did it on this food challenge diet.
So my recommendation is this: start thinking about foods, start questioning each kind of food you put in your body. Research food challenge diets online, and if you want to get some guidance, I’d recommend getting the panel I got. Since Immunolabs invited me to do the aforementioned video series and make a report, they’ve also provided me an affiliate link in case you want to save money on their tests. Their tests are a really good starting point for this type of dietary exploration and optimization.
Use the code JUJIMUFU to save 50% off these tests: http://www.foodsignals.com/JUJIMUFU