Episode 177: Don’t Fear the Plateaus, Fasting Insulin, Muscle Gains, Mindset, Growth Hormone, Hunger, Blood Glucose Levels And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Sep 06

Welcome to Episode 177 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, hosted by Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine and Gin Stephens, author of Delay, Don't Deny: Living An Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle

Today's episode of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast is brought to you by:

AUDIBLE: This is Melanie's well-known secret for reading #allthebooks #allthetime! Audible provides the largest selection of audiobooks on the planet, in every genre! With Audible, you can listen on any device, anytime, anywhere! Every month, members get 1 credit to pick any title, unlimited Audible Originals, access to daily news digests (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post), guided meditation programs, Audible Sleep, and more! Audible provides rollover credits, easy exchanges, discounts on titles beyond credits, and audiobooks you'll keep forever! For those with children, check out the free Stories.Audible.com! Go To audible.com/ifpodcast Or Text IFPODCAST To 500500 For A 30 Day Free Trial, Including A Free Audiobook!

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BLUBLOX: Go To BluBlox.com And Use The Code ifpodcast For 15% Off!

BEAUTY COUNTER: Keep Your Fast Clean Inside And Out With Safe Skincare! Shop With Us At MelanieAvalon.com/beautycounter, And Something Magical Might Happen After Your First Order!

Molekule Testing

Listener Q&A: Allison - Plateau

Gin Stephens: Intermittent Fasting Approaches, Boosting Metabolism, Making Progress, Hunger Hormones, Breaking Through Plateaus, How To Weigh Yourself, Alternate Day Fasting, Body Recomposition, And More!

AUDIBLE: Go To Audible.com/IFPODCAST Or Text IFPODCAST To 500500 For A 30 Day Free Trial, Including A Free Audiobook! 

Listener Q&A: Amy - Muscle gains

Listener Q&A: Zack - Alternate day fasting, growth hormone, and resistance training

Stronger By Stress: Adapt to Beneficial Stressors to Improve Your Health and Strengthen the Body (Siim Land)

Listener Q&A: Camille - Hunger during fasting

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Listener Q&A: Margaux - IF and elevated Blood Glucose Levels

Melanie's Glucose Monitor

Ami Brannon (Xen By Neuvana): Vagus Nerve Toning, Meditation Alternatives, The Mind/Body Connection, Rebalance Your Body, Lasting Stress Relief, Neuroplasticity, Polyvagal Theory, And More!

Lumen Lovers: Biohack Your Carb And Fat Burning (With Melanie Avalon)


Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 177 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. If you want to burn fat, gain energy, and enhance your health by changing when you eat, not what you eat, with no calorie counting, then this show is for you.

I'm Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine. And I'm here with my cohost, Gin Stephens, author of Delay, Don't Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle. For more on us, check out ifpodcast.com, melanieavalon.com, and ginstephens.com. Please remember, the thoughts and opinions on this podcast do not constitute medical advice or treatment. So, pour yourself a cup of black coffee, a mug of tea, or even a glass of wine, if it's that time, and get ready for The Intermittent Fasting Podcast.

Hi friends, do you struggle to wind down at night? Do you sometimes feel tired and wired? Do you just feel your brain won't shut off? People ask about this all the time. They're stressed, their cortisol is up, so many things. And honestly, the first thing I recommend is getting a pair of blue light blocking glasses. It can seem such a simple thing but the effects are profound. Basically, we are way overexposed to blue light today, through our electronic devices, our indoor lighting and so much more. What does blue light do? It's really stimulating. It keeps you alert. It encourages the release of cortisol and it stops the production of melatonin. If you're living in our modern lifestyle and looking at our modern light, good luck falling asleep. With blue light blocking glasses, you can actually completely take charge of your light exposure.

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One more thing before we jump in. Are you fasting clean inside and out? Did you know that what you put on your skin gets direct access to your bloodstream and in your body can do a lot of detrimental things? So, while you may be fasting clean, you may at the same time be infusing your body with endocrine disrupters, which can mess with your hormones, obesogens meaning they literally cause your body to store and gain weight and even carcinogens.

In Europe, they've banned thousands of these compounds found in conventional skincare and makeup, and the US has banned less than 10. In fact, most conventional lipstick, for example, is high in lead, and the half-life of lead in the body can be up to 30 years. That means every time you put on some lipstick, you might be putting some lead into your bones, which might not leave for three decades. This is a big deal.

Thankfully, there's an easy all-encompassing answer. There's a company called Beauty Counter, and they were founded on a mission to make skincare and makeup products that are safe for your skin. Every single ingredient is extensively tested to not burden your body and support your skin health. You can shop with us at melanieavalon.com/beautycounter and if you use that link, something really special and magical might happen after you place your first order. If you'd like to learn more about safe beauty and also get a ton of amazing discounts and free things from me, definitely get on my clean beauty email list. It's at melanieavalon.com/cleanbeauty.

Not sure which Beauty Counter products to try? I also just made a whole series of online quizzes to match you to your perfect product. Those are at melanieavalon.com/beautycounterquiz. So, here's to fasting clean inside and out. All right. Now enjoy the show.

Hi everybody and welcome. This is episode number 177 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon, and I'm here with Gin Stephens.

Gin Stephens: Hi everybody.

Melanie Avalon: How are you today, Gin?

Gin Stephens: I'm doing great, feeling good. I've just started a new routine, which I'm enjoying.

Melanie Avalon: What is that?

Gin Stephens: When I was a teacher, I had someone who came and cleaned my house every other Friday and it was fabulous. Then when I started working from home, I did not like having someone cleaning my house, but I had gotten out of the habit. It's funny when you're out of the habit of a cleaning routine, it's really hard to get back into one. So, I just decided-- I've been sporadically cleaning here and there, but I've decided, okay, every day, I'm going to deep clean one room. And just that is my task for the day, and then boom.

Melanie Avalon: It's really good exercise.

Gin Stephens: It is good exercise. I mopped my great room. We have a giant great room. It's really, really big. But I mopped it yesterday and my arms were like, “Wow, this is quite a workout.”

Melanie Avalon: It really is. I see it as so much multitasking. You get your workout in and you're clean, and stress relief from clean. I mean, it's the best.

Gin Stephens: And then, you feel so good. When you look around and you see that it's clean. So, yeah. Anyway, I'm really enjoying it, and I'm going to have a clean house. I just don't like having somebody clean my house, I realized.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I do. Well, I like having somebody come weekly to keep everything really clean. But then, I like to be organizing and cleaning as well, mostly for the bathroom.

Gin Stephens: You'd like for somebody to clean the bathroom?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: Well, really the reason I loved it for all so many years is when my boys were living at home because every time I would clean their bathroom, I would have rage. When you have sons-- I don't know, maybe if you have daughters, it's the same. If you have a child who's really, really messy in the bathroom. One of my two sons, the musician of the two, I'm not even sure he turned the lights on when he went to the bathroom or even looked at the toilet. It was always such a mess, I was like you have to be trying for the bathroom to be this dirty. So anyway, I was always in a white-hot rage when I would clean the bathroom. Now, he's not here. It's just me and Chad. And Chad, he's got very neat bathroom habits.

Melanie Avalon: That's like my dad and my mom.

Gin Stephens: He's good in the bathroom?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, my dad's a neat freak.

Gin Stephens: That's good. Well, I wouldn't say Chad's a neat freak, but he has good bathroom cleanliness habits, which is really important. Girls, figure that out before you get married. It's true that whoever marries my son that has the bathroom difficulties, I'm sorry, I tried.


Gin Stephens: Not my fault. The other one’s clean. Anyway, I really did like having that task to somebody else, but I think I do a better job cleaning my bathroom than somebody else. I'm very meticulous. I apparently have a way I want it to be.

Melanie Avalon: I hear you.

Gin Stephens: Anyway, it's good, I'm enjoying this new routine. And now I'm like-- it was like I flipped the switch because I was like trying to decide, “Am I going to get somebody or am I not?” And I finally was like, “No, I just want to do it.” And then, I was like, “Alright, I'm doing it.”

Melanie Avalon: Well, I support that. Actually, related story that happened to my apartment and lack of cleanliness from it. The other day, or the other night, well, you guys know I'm a late-night person eater, night owl. Around, I'd say 11:00 PM, I was walking in the kitchen and I felt a raindrop on my head. And I looked up and my light was dripping some water. And I was like, “Oh, that's--”

Gin Stephens: That's never a good sign.

Melanie Avalon: I know. I was like, “That's not good.” But I was thinking maybe it was the air conditioner leaking or something. So, I called maintenance. This is 11:00 PM. Fast forward to 3:00 AM and by that point, it was like a torrential downpour in my entire kitchen. Maintenance didn't end up coming until 2:30 AM. So, from 11:00 PM to 2:30 AM, it just started getting worse and worse. I'll have to send you a video. Did I send you a video? I did. Right?

Gin Stephens: You did. It was also hilarious, I need to tell listeners because it was all done with red light because I can tell you really do honestly have your Joovv on all the time. I was like, “Oh my God, she has her Joovv lighting the room.” Melanie is not kidding. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: I sent it to another friend, and I have my calming music every night. She was like, “If you took the context out,” she's like, “This is really soothing,” [laughs] because it's like a gentle rainfall sound.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, it was. Gentle rainfall, red light therapy.

Melanie Avalon: Listeners, it was awful. And in the meantime, I went to the people above me and knocked on three different occasions really loud, but they were clearly asleep, and maintenance wasn't coming. And I was like, “What do I do?” So, I called the 24-hour water department and they're like, “You have to call 911.” So, I called 911. And the fire department came, and I realized I love the fire department. They're just amazing.

Gin Stephens: Well, for so many ways, we love the fire department.

Melanie Avalon: They're so great. I guess the people above me were there. They were just asleep. So, the fire department got in there and it was their refrigerator.

Gin Stephens: Like the icemaker?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, the filter. Thank goodness it wasn't plumbing, like toilet or something like that. I was really upset because basically, it's soaked through the entire ceiling and mold is-- I just can't have. I lived in a moldy apartment for two years and I start crying. I just can't do that again. I know. That's the perfect situation, especially in the summer in Georgia. So, I was super, super worried about that. So, they ran commercial dehumidifiers. But I was like, okay, because we have that the Molekule air purifier. I had read that it was combative against mold, but I hadn't actually read the studies. I was like, “Okay, this is the moment.” So, then I went and read all the studies. Oh, my goodness. I'm so relieved.

I actually pulled up the papers that they conducted on their studies and I feel so, so happy. I'll put links to all this in the show notes. The show notes are at ifpodcast.com/episode177. In one study, for example, they did it three times and they compared-- they used a technology called PECO that actually works to destroy viruses and mold and bacteria on a molecular level because traditional HEPA filters, they just physically take in or trap the bacteria and viruses, but they don't actually destroy it. And then, they don't destroy a lot of probably viruses and things that are really, really tiny. They can't get even those really tiny particles. The PECO filter, when they've tested it on mold, it reduced the mold spores by 99.9991%. I am so happy, I'm smiling right now. And they tested it on lots of other things, bacteria, but they tested it actually on two viruses related to COVID and it as well reduced it by 99.9935%.

So, the technology actually meets the performance criteria in FDA guidance for use in helping to reduce risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare settings.

Gin Stephens: Oh, that's huge.

Melanie Avalon: That's huge. And I didn't realize this. They're actually an FDA-cleared, 510(k) Class II medical device intended for medical purposes to destroy bacteria and viruses in the air. I did not realize this. So, long story short. I'm really, really rocking the Molekule right now. And what I also love about it is, it's really pretty. It's really like sleek and modern design, kind of feels like the Apple of air purifiers. And it also has a silent mode. So, it's actually the only air purifier I can run while we're podcast recording, which is incredible. So, yeah, that's something good that came out of this, as I have a newfound appreciation. I actually think I'm going to order another unit.

But for, listeners, we do have a discount code. And they also come in all different sizes, so they have their Molekule Air. That's what I have. It's for larger rooms up to 600 square feet. They have their Air Mini for smaller rooms up to 250 square feet. And they have their Air Mini+, which has the additional features of a particle sensor and an auto-protect mode, which actually adjusts the fan speed based on the sensor. I think that's the one I'm going to get. Yeah, I just decided.

But in any case, for listeners, we do have a discount code, you can get 10% off your first air purifier order, just go to molekule.com. That's M-O-L-E-K-U-L-E dotcom. And at checkout, you can enter the code IFPODCAST10. So that's molekule.com, with the coupon code, IFPODCAST10 for 10% off. Again, I'll put links to all this in the show notes and I'll put links to all those studies. So, yeah, especially with COVID and how we know that airborne nature of it.

Gin Stephens: Oh, yeah. I feel like if I was still a classroom teacher, I would probably put one in my classroom.

Melanie Avalon: Oh my goodness. Yes. That is so true. I feel everybody should put one in their location. So, yeah. And then one last thing from the situation and then we can move on. But maintenance people did bring this massive commercial dehumidifier. Did I tell you my epiphany that I had?

Gin Stephens: No.

Melanie Avalon: So, I ran it. And then, the next morning when I woke up after the dehumidifier, the air was dry and it felt like California air, and literally my first thought was, I'm moving back to California. I just knew. It was an epiphany.

Gin Stephens: You like drier air?

Melanie Avalon: I do.

Gin Stephens: Okay. It makes a big difference. We just got a new air conditioner in our bedroom that is better at clearing extra humidity and it actually makes it feel better.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I love it. But literally, I woke up and I was like, “California. Here I come.” I was thinking of Alaska. “Nope. California.”

Gin Stephens: Are you definitely moving back or just it sounds fun?

Melanie Avalon: I mean not right now but that convinced me. I think I want to move to Calabasas.

Gin Stephens: Okay, it's pretty.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. So, I'm thinking maybe next spring because I can do winter here. I love winter here.

Gin Stephens: Okay.


Melanie Avalon: Yup. Shall we jump into all this stuff for today?

Gin Stephens: Yes, let's get started.

Melanie Avalon: All right. So, our first question comes from Alison, the subject is Plateau. And Alison says, “Mel, Gin. Thank you both for these informative podcasts. I've learned a ton in the three weeks or so that I've been listening. I never knew I fasted dirty, and I've struggled for years with weight just creeping up each year. For the first time in over 18 months, my weight and inches are reversing. I'm a believer. And now, I know how to fast clean. My question is, is there an average timeframe for when an individual starts IF to hit plateau? Two months, six months? I'm terrified that now that I'm trending in the right direction, my body will plateau before I hit my goal. Thanks for teaching us. Allie.” All right.

Gin Stephens: That's a great question. And the answer is no. There is no average timeframe for really-- I guess, okay, that's actually false mathematically. If you took all IFers together and added together their results, there 100% would be an average timeframe because everything has an average.

Melanie Avalon: I was just going to say it's so funny you can never say there’s never-- [laughs]

Gin Stephens: Mathematically, yes, but is there one that pops up over and over again that we can pinpoint? The answer's no. We do not have anecdotal average timeframe. Mathematically, there's an average to everything but we don't have one because it's so very different from person to person. I don't want you to worry about that. That's the thing. Don't be afraid of what might happen. Instead, wake up every day and focus on what's happening now, instead of living in fear of the future. And this is also why I want you to get Fast. Feast. Repeat, if you haven't read it yet. And I want you to read the Scale-Schmale Chapter, because you may find like I did, if you've heard my story, there was a point when I stopped weighing. After the first year of maintenance, I completely stopped weighing. And I went for on 17 months and then like that without weighing. And during that period of time, I dropped two more jean sizes. Even though I was in maintenance, I continued to get smaller. And so, I assumed that my weight was also going down. I thought I had lost probably 10 more pounds at least. And so, I got on the scale, and I was only down like two pounds. It made me mad because I was like, I should be down 10 pounds to drop two jean sizes down. Then, I realized the scale was no longer meaningful in my life, and that's the day I threw my scale in the trash and I haven't weighed myself as far as like, “Here's my weight since.”

So, what I want you to do is have a whole toolbox of strategies from the Scale-Schmale Chapter, so that even if your scale comes to a screeching halt, you're continuing to check with your inches you mentioned. Your honesty pants, get a pair of goal pants that are smaller than you are right now, try those on periodically, see how you're fitting into them differently. Once you fit into those, get another pair until you get to your goal size. Take progress photos. I don't want you to overly focus on just the scale, because if so, you're going to be disappointed at some point along the way.

And like I said, that's when I threw my scale in the trash when I realized that I was mad that my scale didn't say a preconceived number I had in my head, even though I was buying size zero jeans at the loft. And so that made me realize I got a disconnect from this measuring tool for me. So, don't be worried about am I going to plateau? When's that going to happen? Instead, get a bunch of measures and realize that when the scale stops trending downward, you may be shrinking in size, or vice versa. You could stay the same size but have the scale go down if maybe you're losing visceral fat. Don't just go by one thing. As long as something is trending in the right direction, you're making progress.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. When I read this question, I'm so glad I read your book, Gin, and to had you on the show because now when I read the questions, I'm like, “Oh, Gin talks about this in detail in this part.”

Gin Stephens: Yeah, because I literally talked about everything because I know what questions people ask. Right?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Actually, for listeners, I don't think we announced it on this podcast yet, but I did interview Gin on my show, and I'm not sure when this episode is coming out. That episode is coming out probably around the time that this episode is coming out.

Gin Stephens: Oh, that's fun.

Melanie Avalon: Because it's coming out actually next week. I think next week, probably will have already aired. I'll put a link to it in the show notes, everything Gin said. It's so interesting how things can be going so well and yet our brains want to anticipate failure. Maybe it's just because we're so in awe of something actually working, we think that it can't keep working but a plateau does not mean it's not working.

Gin Stephens: Correct. So important.

Melanie Avalon: It's maintaining a weight and a lifestyle where you are getting the benefits of fasting, you're getting to eat what you want in your eating window. There's nothing wrong with that. That's called just living your life and a lifestyle that supports you. So, I don't think there's anything to fear with plateau. We need another word for plateau. We just need to call it life, I guess.

Gin Stephens: Oh, can I tell you a story that somebody shared in the Facebook group today? It kind of just popped up in my mind when people worry about this isn't working, something's wrong with me. Somebody in the group had been plateaued for a long time and not losing weight, not losing weight, not losing weight, like for a year and a half, not losing weight, but needed to lose weight. And so, finally found a doctor that would do a wide variety of tests. Well, all of her blood work came back beautiful, except for one measure. One measure was off-the-charts high.

Melanie Avalon: Wait, I want to guess.

Gin Stephens: Okay, go ahead and guess.

Melanie Avalon: Give me a hint.

Gin Stephens: Well, her A1c was beautiful.

Melanie Avalon: Okay.

Gin Stephens: Fasting glucose was nice. Guess what was crazy high, off-the-charts high? What would make you not lose weight?

Melanie Avalon: Cortisol?

Gin Stephens: No, her fasting insulin level was at the highest measurable-- it was all the way at the top of whatever graph they had, it was up there. And so, fortunately, I think she was talking to a nurse practitioner in the doctor's office who understands fasting, insulin, weight loss. It was someone who understands all that. The nurse practitioner said, “Well, there you go, that is why you are not losing any weight. You've got to get your insulin down.” And this is somebody in the group who admitted that she had not been fasting clean up to this point. I wonder how many people there are who are fasting but not fasting clean. But she said this was the wake-up call she needed because it wasn't working and then, she had her tests done and the insulin was crazy high. And so, she and the nurse practitioner talked about, “All right, you've got to fast clean. You've got to get that insulin down.”

Melanie Avalon: Wow.

Gin Stephens: I know that just goes to show you that little thing that you think isn't making a difference. Maybe you're A1c is perfect. You're like, “Why am I not losing weight? What's wrong?” If you're doing a little something-something, yes, that's probably causing more of a problem than you think. But if you can get your fasting insulin checked-- I really think that people who are stuck and having a hard time, if they could just get that one measure, their fasting insulin, but finding a doctor who will do it, I think is the challenge for many. It's such an important test. I told you that Chad and I had ours done. Did I tell you that?

Melanie Avalon: No.

Gin Stephens: I must have talked about it on my podcast. We each had that measured and there's like a range of normal, 5 to something is the normal range. I was at the very, very, very, very low, low, low, low, low end of normal. Chad's was like way below normal.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, really?

Gin Stephens: Well, but think about what we know about Chad. He's never struggled with his weight and always worried about trying to even gain weight when he was younger, and it makes total sense. He has naturally low levels of insulin all the time. So, gaining weight is a struggle for him. But I was really happy to see that mine was low. I'm certain if I had it tested back when I was obese, I'm sure it would have been high. But thank goodness for fasting, I think it's corrected it.

Melanie Avalon: I wonder if he has the supercentenarian gene.

Gin Stephens: Well, I don't know. I'm feeling doubtful about that. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I'm fascinated by the supercentenarian gene. We've talked about it before but basically, most supercentenarians, they often don't seem to-- I have talked about this before, but they don't seem to follow any one diet or necessarily like live “healthy lifestyles” that they live to like 110 or so. They think it's because their genes literally turn on all of the epigenetic and genetic processes that we have to do by lifestyle and diet, their body just does it. So, they're like good to go.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, it counteracts everything.

Melanie Avalon: Because everything we're doing with fasting and diet is honestly to turn on these genes to create certain processes that happen in our body. And if the body just does that anyway, then you're set.

Gin Stephens: Well, anyway, it's fascinating that you can be fasting and not seeing the results you're looking for, and you may need to take that extra step to lower your insulin even more. That's why an alternate day fasting protocol can be so beneficial for people who are stuck with the daily eating window approach. And you may need to also tweak what you're eating, if that describes you because getting your insulin down can be related to what you're eating in your eating window, but the alternate daily fasting is a great way to do that. Also, fast clean. If you're not, then I really would start there, but it made me happy to see that she's getting answers and she's like, “Okay, I'm finally a believer now.” I was like, “Okay, I'm sorry that it took that to convince you but I'm glad that you are.” Some of us have to learn the hard way.

Hi, everybody. I want to take a minute to tell you about one of the sponsors for today's show, and that's Audible. Audible is the leading provider of spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks, ranging from bestsellers to celebrity memoirs, news, business, and self-development. Every month, members get one credit to pick any title, two Audible originals from a monthly selection, access to daily news digests, and guided meditation programs.

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We have two that go together. All right, so the first one is from Amy and the subject is Muscle Gains. And Amy says, "Hello Gin and Melanie, I stumbled onto your podcast and started fasting in April of 2019 and haven't looked back. I absolutely love your podcast, this way of life and have never looked or felt better. I am a 43-year-old mother of four children. I just graduated from graduate school and am now a family nurse practitioner. Yay me!” And I say, “Yay, to you, too, Amy,” congratulations.

“I primarily do 16:8, 7 days a week. I work out fasted, CrossFit-style workouts about three to five days a week. I'm 5’2" and weigh between 110 to 114. I started at 128. I'd really like to gain about five pounds of muscle. My gym people tell me protein, protein, protein. What do you suggest is the best way for me to add muscle? I don't want to mess with autophagy. I currently eat lunch around 12:00 or 1:00 and eat dinner around 6:30. I don't really snack. I eat all the things and don't calorie count. I take a multivitamin and take NAD+ GOLD. I really appreciate any guidance you can give me. Thank you for putting together this podcast and being such a valuable resource for those of us navigating the fasting lifestyle. Your fan in Florida, Amy.”

And then, Zach says, "alternate day, fasting growth hormone, and resistance training." “Hello Gin and Melanie, sorry in advance for the long question.” And Zach, it is not a long question. We have seen a long question. This is not a long question. Zach says, “Thank you both for all that you do. I'm a former college football player who is down to 210 pounds from around 300 pounds, thanks to IF and eating whole/paleo-ish foods. I really appreciate all that you have done for me personally and the IF community as a whole. I've been one meal a day for the most part for about one and a half years. I want to start putting on more muscle by doing resistance training, specifically weightlifting. To do so, I plan on starting to do alternate day fasting, where I eat and lift on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and clean fast on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.”

“My question, if I want to take full advantage of the growth hormone associated with autophagy and long fasts, would you recommend that I lift on the morning of my eating days completely fasted or after eating something that won't completely down-regulate autophagy, i.e., no protein? If you suggest that I eat before my workouts, what would be the best macronutrient breakdown to ensure that I still have light levels of growth hormone circulating? I would assume that something high in fat like an avocado and/or exogenous ketones and coffee would provide me with ketone energy and keep autophagy functioning at a relatively high level. Thanks again for everything and I hope to hear your response soon. Best, Zach.”

Melanie Avalon: Some good muscle building, fasting questions. So, I just finished reading Siim Land’s new book, it's called Stronger By Stress: Adapt to Beneficial Stressors to Improve Your Health and Strengthen the Body. I'll put a link to it in the show notes. But he dives deep into all of this, into resistance training, muscle building as well as how to pair it with fasting and how to best support muscle growth. We've talked about this at length before on the podcast, but a lot of people often say that-- they think two things. They think that you have to eat immediately after working out to build muscle. And then, they often think that you can't “absorb” more than like 30 to 40 grams of protein per meal.

So, to address both of those, because it ties into this, when you do resistance training, which is the best way to build muscle, it creates signaling in the body for mTOR, which is a growth signaling hormone in the muscle. That signal in the muscle stays on for up to 24 hours, probably at least 24 hours-- or around 24 hours. The point of that means that you don't have to immediately eat protein right after doing resistance training on your muscles. You have a window of 24 hours in which to eat your protein.

And then on top of that, I talked about how people often think that you can only eat 30 to 40 grams or absorb 30 to 40 grams. The confusion there is actually because when you eat a meal after 30 to 40 grams of protein, it doesn't stimulate muscle protein synthesis anymore. So, it basically caps out. Once you hit 30 to 40 grams, it's not like you can stimulate more muscle growth in that meal, but you still assimilate the rest of the protein. So, if you eat like 100 grams of protein in a meal, you basically get the benefit of 30 to 40 grams of muscle growth stimulation, but you're still going to use all of that protein. So, that whole idea that you don't use it or don't absorb it is just not correct information.

As to how to pair this with intermittent fasting to get the best gains and Zach touched on this, but while fasting-- while it is a catabolic process, meaning there's muscle breakdown, it is stimulating and upregulating growth hormone and it's making you more anabolic when you actually do eat, so it's actually a great way to build muscle. You don't have to eat prior to resistance training to build muscle, you just don't. You can do intermittent fasting and you can build muscle. An exception, and Siim Land talks about this in his book a little bit, is that maybe if you're doing longer fasts, you could possibly supplement with certain branched-chain amino acids that can be used by the muscle to completely discourage catabolism of the muscle. It's a much more complicated routine and nuance. So, I just will refer you to that book, but I can tell you more the basic protocol.

Basically, you're going to want to assuming you're pairing this with intermittent fasting like both of our listeners are, I would recommend working out in the fasted state, you don't need to fuel beforehand. Obviously, it's great to fuel with coffee because that's going to encourage energy, it's going to encourage fat burning, but you don't need to fuel with calories per se. You can do it fasted. And then, you have a window of 24 hours to eat your meal, which you want to be-- if it's a one meal a day, you want it to be high protein. It probably wants to be high protein either way, if this is your goal. If you want to maximize muscle growth, you might want to have a longer eating window, like a 16:8 type thing, where you split up that protein intake into two separate meals because what that'll do is then your-- I talked about that it caps out after 40.

Let's say that you have 100 grams of protein all in one meal, compared to two meals where you have 50 grams each time, you're going to stimulate muscle growth twice rather than once where it capped out. That doesn't mean you can't do the one meal a day, you can. If this is really a goal of yours and you want to do it faster and do it to the tee, you might want to consider a longer eating window.

Gin Stephens: Well, here's what's interesting to me, his whole question-- that whole question is coming with the idea that for some reason we're going to have more growth hormone with alternate day fasting because he's talking about wanting to do alternate day fasting to have extra growth hormone. And I'm just not sure that growth hormone just goes up, up, up, up, up continually throughout the longer fasts. We know that fasting is associated with higher levels of human growth hormone, not everything always like, if you keep going, it just keeps going up, up, up, you know what I'm saying?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I was actually just about to talk about that.

Gin Stephens: Oh, you were about to say that? Because that's the whole thing that--

Melanie Avalon: I was going to layout the protocol and then address his--

Gin Stephens: Okay.

Melanie Avalon: We're on the same page.

Gin Stephens: Good because I don't think that alternate daily fasting is what I would recommend just because-- Okay, go ahead.

Melanie Avalon: No, I'm so glad you brought that up.

Gin Stephens: Because I didn't hear you saying anything about that and so, I was like, “Wait, what about that?” Okay.

Melanie Avalon: To Zach's point, if you're wanting to build muscle, I would not do ADF. That's what I was going to say. If muscle building is your goal, longer fasting is not what you're going to want to be doing. That's going to be much more catabolic. It's fine for muscle maintenance and health and longevity like we talk about all the time. But if you want to build muscle, doing that longer fast is going to more substantially break down your muscle. And what Gin said, that's actually a fantastic question. I haven't researched-- because I know I said before that mTOR caps out, I would imagine growth hormone does too.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, exactly. We just assume that if something goes up, then you fast longer, it's going to go up, up, up, up, up, but that's not necessarily an assumption. I wouldn't think that it would.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, actually to read a quote from Siim’s book, he says, “If you're losing muscle and strength, then you should dial down on how much faceting you're doing.” So ADF, no, let’s not.

Gin Stephens: Yeah. ADF is a very strategic protocol for certain things, like if you need your insulin down or if you are plateaued on the eating window approach, or if you think your body's adapting to the eating window and you're not losing weight, you need to shake things up, get that metabolism going. But for muscle building, hmm-mm, that wouldn't be my recommendation.

Melanie Avalon: I want to read what Siim recommends at the end. He says, "Resistance training stimulates mTOR.” Oh, he says actually keeps it elevated for up to 48 hours. But he says that's why you should work out optimally three to four times a week. "The minimum effective dose is two times, but it results in less muscle hypertrophy than working out more frequently. Based on current research, maximum growth can be achieved by working out with 6 to 12 reps per set with 60 to 90 seconds for rest, and total it takes about three to four sets per exercise." So, I would recommend probably going more that route, not the ADF route. Either a one meal a day or a longer eating window daily and then working out three to four times a week with the 6-12 reps per set with 60 to 90 seconds for rest, and making sure that you get adequate protein.

As far as how much protein you need to eat, he says aim for 0.6 to 0.8 grams per pound of lean body mass. So, that is per your muscle, not your overall weight. Per lean body mass on rest days and 0.8 to 1.2 grams on workout days. So, did we answer all of their questions?

Gin Stephens: I think so. I mean she wants to gain muscle. And so, really, just so you know, Melanie, you answered perfectly about protein, protein, protein. If she's eating two meals a day, work out fasted, eat you two meals, you'll be fine. You will gain the muscle, but the gains come from the working out and then you're refeeding during your eating window.

Melanie Avalon: Exactly. So, she's working out in the morning, I'm assuming eating one between 12:00 and 6:30.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, she said works out fasted, so perfect.

Melanie Avalon: So she's good. And then yeah, Zach, we would recommend not doing the ADF and doing something similar to what we just discussed. We're on the same page.

Gin Stephens: Perfect.

Melanie Avalon: Awesome. All right. The next question comes from Camille. The subject is Hunger During Fasting. And Camille says. “Hi, Gin and Melanie. I've just started listening to your podcast and reading Gin's new book. I've been intermittent fasting for about two years, but not consistently. I recently started again a few weeks ago doing 16:8, eating from noon until 8:00. I've been clean fasting, only having black tea in the mornings and saving my delicious coffee with milk for the afternoon. The problem is I get really hungry when I wake up in the morning and it continues until 12:00. I can't change up the times much because my fiancé gets home late from work and we eat dinner together around 7:00. It's discouraging. It makes me want to go back to eating breakfast, even though I've lost a little weight in the past few weeks. How can I stop being so hungry in the morning? Am I doing something wrong? Thanks.”

Gin Stephens: All right, Camille, first of all, you're new back to it. It sounds like you may have just started fasting clean. I'm going to make a suggestion to maybe not have the tea. Maybe tea is not working well for you. You’re having black tea in the mornings and having coffee with milk later in the afternoon. I wonder if black coffee-- I know you don't seem to love the coffee because you described coffee with milk is delicious. I'm inferring from that that you do not love black coffee, but I would like you to consider having the black coffee instead.

Also, with the black tea, I'm curious as to whether you're brewing it yourself or drinking a bottled tea product because a lot of bottled products have added mystery ingredients that do break a fast. Citric acid is one we avoid because it adds a tangy flavor. Maybe you're brewing your own black tea and that's not an issue for you. But tea is one of those things. For me, tea makes me queasy on an empty stomach. I don't do well with tea at all. Actually, I don't like tea. But maybe try coffee instead and see if that helps. And realize that you are still in early days.

Also, I know this sounds crazy, but you may not be quite getting to fat burning ever and so, you're never just quite there. With an eight-hour window eating from noon to 8:00, you may never be depleting your glycogen sufficiently, you may never be quite getting into that fat burning, and so that's why you're kind of white knuckling it every day.

So, if you could give yourself just a few days with some shorter windows just to see-- you don't necessarily have to have a shorter window every single day of your life, but to try to get through that, get past that difficult phase. You may be just trapped in the adjustment phase. You said you started a few weeks ago, but because you have that long eating window, that can make the adjustment phase take longer. So, that may be why you're struggling. Think about the 28-Day FAST Start. Think about how to maximize the time that you're in the fat-burning state.

Melanie Avalon: I was going to suggest the same things. I was going to suggest maybe doing a smaller eating window, maybe changing the coffee to black and making it earlier.

Gin Stephens: As I do different things day to day, if I have a really long window one day or have extra sugar or drink extra alcohol, it can really make the fast harder the next day. And I can really feel the moment my body switches over to fat burning and then it gets better. I've been doing it long enough to be in tune with my body. And I know that if you're stuck in that period where you're never quite getting there, you're just always having the hard part.

Melanie Avalon: I also thought of a super random hack today actually.

Gin Stephens: What is that?

Melanie Avalon: It's not really directly her question, but you know how some people miss munching on things? It's not so much like a hunger. It's more they just--

Gin Stephens: Mouth action.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. So, we talked before about the Komuso Shift’s necklace.

Gin Stephens: Oh, yeah.

Melanie Avalon: This came to me today. I got so excited. So, we talked about it before it's-- well, tangents. I've been prepping for Wim Hof. James Nestor who wrote a book called Breath. I've pretty much decided that breathing is going to change my life. But in any case, we talked before about this necklace called Komuso Shift and it's a necklace that's really pretty, but it helps you breathe slowly. So, you inhale through your nose and you breathe out through the necklace and it forces that really, really long exhale. It helps deal with stress and switch you to the parasympathetic nervous system state. I've actually been using it a ton now because I was reading-- and I promise this relates to what I was talking about. Sorry for the tangent. I was reading in James Nestor’s book, apparently a really, really long exhale is really, really key to-- it's interesting. It's a theory I was unaware of that actually we need more carbon dioxide, like we're breathing almost too much and too shortly and too quickly, and we're not getting that longer exhale, which lets out the oxygen and lets carbon dioxide do its work in ourselves. So, this necklace actually supports that.

But the point is, today in my Facebook group, somebody posted about how they were going to get it because they were trying to break their vaping habit and they said they wanted to get it to do that instead. And then I was like, “Oh my goodness,” people who have the munchie, hunger-type cravings, they could get this. And instead they could do that, do the breathing through it and calm themselves down.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I think that's a great idea.

Melanie Avalon: The discount code for listeners is-- I’ll put a link in the show notes, but it's komuso.com. And our coupon is actually 20% off, which is awesome. So, it's komusodesign.com, with the coupon IFPODCAST, that will get you 20% off. I use mine all the time now, especially since reading James. Have you read that, Gin? Are you familiar with it, his book, Breath?

Gin Stephens: I have not. I've seen it around Amazon, but I haven't read it.

Melanie Avalon: I'm so obsessed now with Breath. I'm like, “Oh, I haven't been breathing.” Everybody breathe-- I just want to go out to random people on the street and be like, “Are you breathing?”

Gin Stephens: You should do that. That would be fun. And then, let us know what happens.

Melanie Avalon: I will let you know how it goes. Oh my goodness.

Gin Stephens: And also have a Joovv with you and shine it on them.

Melanie Avalon: And then, I'll find my perfect match like that guy at the grocery store wearing the BLUblox.

Gin Stephens: All right, we have a question from Margot. And the subject is IF and Elevated Blood Glucose Levels. “Hello Gin and Melanie, I love the podcast and have learned so much from both of you. I am 42 years old and have been doing IF for over two years now. I mainly have a window of about 24-ish. Two days a week, I throw in a 36- to 42-hour fast. The longer fasts are not hard for me. I actually have to force myself to eat so I can have a family dinner with my son. I am just not hungry a lot of the time. I started IF to tighten up and lose about five pounds. I was never overweight but was looking to maintain and tone up after the birth of my son four years ago. After I started researching the health benefits of IF, I have stuck with it mainly for the purposes of autophagy and healing. I always clean fast and do HIIT workouts or vigorous walking in the fasted state.

This is why I was a little thrown when I went to have bloodwork done last week and found that my fasting glucose was 106. I was shocked. I had been fasting for 16 hours when the test was done. I normally eat very clean in my window, mainly paleo, but allow for some flexibility on weekends. This number makes me very nervous. Going back through old bloodwork, I do see that my fasting glucose levels typically are in the 90s. I thought that with IF, they were supposed to drop due to insulin sensitivity."

"Then, I started thinking. I remember an episode where Gin was talking about black coffee actually raising glucose levels in the fasted state, not due to high blood sugar, but because it helps the liver clear out glycogen more efficiently. I did have a cup of black coffee the morning of my blood draw." At this point, this is just me, I'd like to go ding, ding, ding. All right, now I'm going to keep reading. " I am very nervous. I have messaged my doctor and asked for a retest but also asked to have my hemoglobin A1c levels tested. In the meantime, I also remember Gin talking about having bloodwork done to test her fasting insulin levels, not glucose. Can you please provide that information? I would love to have that test as well even though it is not mainstream. I should also add that I did faint during the blood test. I never do well with blood draws, and I wonder if that's why my level spiked as well. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on all of this. Be well and stay safe. Margot.”

Melanie Avalon: I did not plan this. It's so perfect, though, because we talked about the-- Okay. Yes. So, this is actually very common, people on low carb diets or fasting finding out they have higher blood sugar levels and there are multiple potential reasons for that. To mention the coffee and helping the liver clear out glycogen or coffee can spike cortisol and have that response to the liver release glycogen or actually produces glucose. So, the blood sugar in your bloodstream can come from three potential places. It can come from the food you just ate if you're in the fed state. It can come from liver glycogen and muscle glycogen. So, carbs released basically from your liver. Probably doesn't come from a muscle, it probably just comes from the liver now that I think about it.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I don't think it would come from the muscle because your muscle isn't releasing glycogen into your blood. The muscle glycogen is there to be a source of energy for that muscle.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so it'd be coming from the liver. Or if the liver does not have glycogen, the liver can produce glycogen from protein and a process called gluconeogenesis. And actually, little fun fact that I didn't realize, and it blew my mind. Did you know, Gin, that in type 2 diabetes, the majority of the blood sugar and their elevated blood sugar levels is not from the diet. It's from gluconeogenesis, did you know that?

Gin Stephens: Well, I did not know that. No.

Melanie Avalon: Blew my mind. Metformin, which is often prescribed for diabetes and blood sugar levels and things like that, there's theories about its mechanism of action, but it's quite likely that it's because it stops the liver from the gluconeogenesis process.

Gin Stephens: That's very interesting.

Melanie Avalon: It was such a radical shift for me because this whole time I thought it was the carbs you're eating.

Gin Stephens: Well, even that's what Fung says. Fung says stop putting them in.

Melanie Avalon: Stop putting in, what?

Gin Stephens: The carbs, stop putting them in, when he's talking about what to do. Stop putting them in.

Melanie Avalon: Like in your diet?

Gin Stephens: Stop eating them. Yeah, that's when he's suggesting that you go more low-carb approach.

Melanie Avalon: But, yeah, it's most likely more just a complete dysregulation of the metabolic system of the body to adequately use-- it's not able to tap into fat for fuel, and then it's not able to adequately use blood sugar, so cells aren't using blood sugar. So, they might be calling for the liver to produce more blood sugar because they're not receiving it. So, then it's just building up in the blood. It's really, really fascinating.

Gin Stephens: Everything is just bad. It's crazy. Everything is just out of whack.

Melanie Avalon: And my current theory is that this is possibly all from refined seed oils. Not all from it, but I think that might be one of the largest contributing factors. I just always want to throw that out there because I'm really passionate about it, and I keep hearing about it more and more. But in any case, so to her question, yes, it happens. We see it a lot. It could have been the coffee, it could have been that when you go in the fasted state, your liver is releasing or producing glucose. If people aren't scared to pricking themselves, it's really not hard to take your own blood sugar, you don't have to go--

Gin Stephens: Well, she faints. I don't think Margot is going to be good at that. Yeah, sorry, Margot. Melanie is not about to suggest that you give yourself blood tests. No. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: This is not for you, Margot. But for anybody else since I'm already saying it, you don't have to like go to the doctor has your blood sugar, you can get a glucose monitor. And once you do it once-- I swear it's not that hard. I'll put a link in the show notes to the ones that I have, but if you have a fainting problem, which speaking of, do you know, Gin, why we faint?

Gin Stephens: No. Is it lack of oxygen to the brain somehow?

Melanie Avalon: It's from the vagus nerve actually. I actually don't know a lot of details beyond that. But I know that basically it's a response from the vagus nerve and it causes you to faint. And I'm bringing that up because I actually recently did an episode on the vagus nerve, which blew my mind. I will put link to it in the show notes. But as far as the levels spiking from the fainting, I don't know about that.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I wouldn't know about that either.

Melanie Avalon: But what I would suggest is, yes, retest, maybe do it without the coffee.

Gin Stephens: With no coffee. 100%, I would not do a fasted blood draw with coffee. I would not. Don't have anything before the test. I would have it again.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, and then testing your hemoglobin A1c will also be pretty telling. For listeners not familiar, it shows the long-term effects of glycation on your red blood cells because when blood sugar is elevated for a long time, it glycates your red blood cells and so the hemoglobin A1c-- it's going to tell you, if your blood sugars are consistently elevated over time rather than in that literal moment. I started a Facebook group for people who have the Lumen and Biosense breath analyzer devices to measure ketones, carbs, and fat burning. People so often keep getting more and more surprised that it seems that they switch to this carb burning state even when they're fasted. It just keeps happening so much. I think it's because a lot of people in the fasting state, their body, it responds by producing blood sugar rather than tapping more into fat. So, yeah.

Gin Stephens: Oh, and I did want to answer Margot’s question. Get your fasting insulin. It's not special information. You want a fasting insulin level test. That's what you want because she said, “Could you please provide that information?” That's it, just ask for that. You want your insulin levels.

Melanie Avalon: I'm going to say, I wonder if that'll ever become a standard test. Probably not.

Gin Stephens: It's just so interesting that it's not and that people have to fight for it. It tells you so much. I just keep thinking to this poor girl that was having all this struggle and no wonder she wasn't losing any weight because her insulin was through the roof.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, we should change that.

Gin Stephens: We absolutely should. That is more important. She thought she was fine because our blood glucose levels and her A1c was fine. Her body was great at clearing out excess blood sugar. Well, of course, she had really high levels of insulin. So, it kept cranking out more and more and more. Eventually, it's going to turn into full-blown insulin resistance.

Melanie Avalon: Think about that. Say you're fasting, have high insulin, the insulin is trying to lower your blood sugar. Then your liver, like everything we're talking about might be like, “Oh, low blood sugar, let's produce more sugar.” So, it's like this spiral.

Gin Stephens: And you're not well-fueled because you can't tap into your fat stores and I could see that as a scenario where your metabolic rate could go down over time, because you're not well fueled because that's the key when your body is not well-fueled, your body cranks down your metabolism. So, you're trapped in this cycle of not accessing your fat stores. I mean you're not eating, so it's like there's no fuel and you probably would feel terrible.

Melanie Avalon: I talked about it before, but I really had a mind-blown moment reading Fatburn Fix, that I'm still reading but how she talks about how both the pancreas and the brain can send signals to the liver to release blood sugar. So, basically, there can just be so many signals going on in our body, poor body, it's just trying to give you energy.

Gin Stephens: Exactly. Your body is trying to help you at all times. Never forget that. Your body wants you to survive.

Melanie Avalon: It's on your side.

Gin Stephens: Yep. It wants you to survive, thrive, and reproduce.

Melanie Avalon: It does. All right. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. So, for listeners, if you would like to submit your own questions to the podcast, you can directly email questions@ifpodcast.com. Or you can go to ifpodcast.com, and you can submit questions there. You can also follow us on Instagram, we're @ifpodcast. You can follow me, I'm @melanieavalon. And you can follow Gin, she's @ginstephens. And yeah, I think that's all the things. Anything from you, Gin, before we go?

Gin Stephens: Nope. I think that's it.

Melanie Avalon: All right. Well, I will talk to you next week.

Gin Stephens: All right. Bye-bye.

Melanie Avalon: Bye.

Thank you so much for listening to The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. Please remember that everything discussed on the show is not medical advice. We're not doctors. You can also check out our other podcasts, Intermittent Fasting Stories and the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast. Theme music was composed by Leland Cox. See you next week.


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