Episode 185: TREAT Clinical Discussion, Muscle Loss, Headline Vs Study, Circadian Rhythm, Early Window Vs Late Window, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Nov 01

Welcome to Episode 185 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:

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Listener Q&A: Megan - TREAT Clinical Trial

Effects of Time-Restricted Eating on Weight Loss and Other Metabolic Parameters in Women and Men With Overweight and Obesity

The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #37 - James Clement

Gin's Favorite Things

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Listener Q&A: Jeff - Early Is Better?

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Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 185 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.

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And 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.

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Hi everybody, and welcome. This is episode number 185 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 am fabulous, and I have a very exciting announcement.

Melanie Avalon: What is that?

Gin Stephens: For people who can't get enough listening to me talk to you, I'm starting a third podcast. Coming soon. I'll share more details later.

Melanie Avalon: What?

Gin Stephens: Yep. I know you already knew I was working on that, but a third podcast with a friend of mine. For people who listen to Intermittent Fasting Stories, Sheri Bullock, she was episode number nine. And she and I just really hit it off and become friends. We're friends. She and I just went to the beach last week. A few weeks ago, she called me and she's like, “Alright, I'm going to do it. I'm going to start a podcast.” She was asking me for tips about starting a podcast. She said what her vision was, and we were talking about it. It's not going to be an intermittent fasting podcast. It's not going to be about intermittent fasting at all.

Melanie Avalon: How dare you!

Gin Stephens: I know. I feel like now intermittent fasting is just a small part of me. I've got so many other parts of me. But in talking about giving her tips, she was like, “And I'd like to bring people on. What about a cohost? I've been thinking about-- I don't know who it would be.” Then all of a sudden, my brain went, “Ding, ding, ding.” And I said, “Huh. What about me?” She got really excited because she was not asking me to cohost and I wasn't trying to horn in on her podcast idea. But she got really excited, I got really excited. And we just went to the beach for a few days. We hammered it all out. We started a Facebook group to get everybody excited about it. A lot of it's going to be crowdsourced as far as the topics we cover. Anyway, I'm really, really excited.

Melanie Avalon: Well, this is very exciting. You're going to be a three-show woman.

Gin Stephens: Well, I know. It's crazy. I guess my teachers from elementary school, middle, and high school who said Gin talks too much, who's laughing now? But 1st of December, I'll share more information as it goes. But we're giving ourselves a couple months to really hammer out all the details. But it's really, really exciting. We're going to have a community structured around it. And we opened it up, we posted in the Facebook groups about it. And within 24 hours, we had 3,000 members in our community already. And they're all so excited because, again, we're all intermittent fasters. And a lot of people in the intermittent fasting community when you've been doing it, it just becomes part of you. So, you're like, “Alright, now I'm ready to talk about something else.”

Melanie Avalon: Wait, so this community that you created, does it give away what the show is about? Or does it just say--?

Gin Stephens: Maybe. I'll share more later. I'm not quite ready yet. We're still very early. But I know some of the listeners are probably already in our podcast community, but I think it's going to be fabulous. And as we were approving members and looking at how to answer the questions that we asked, like why do you want to be in this community, kind of a thing, what do you want to learn about, they are so aligned with our vision. It's going to be great.

Melanie Avalon: Exciting. 2021.

Gin Stephens: I know, well, it's starting in 2020. But, yes, 2021 is when it's really going to get going. So, I'm just really excited.

Melanie Avalon: It's very exciting.

Gin Stephens: And I'm never going to stop the intermittent fasting communities for anybody who may be worried. I'm not going anywhere, but it's just nice to branch out a little bit. That's probably how you feel on the biohacking podcast, you get to talk about other interesting topics.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I feel that show really satisfies all of my desires to reach out, like you just said, different topics so I'm not just in the intermittent fasting world.

Gin Stephens: And probably this won't surprise anyone, but ours is not going to be biohacking. It's going to be more life hacks, things you want to know about. For example, when you want to go buy a car, I mean, just general types of things. What do you do when you're an empty nester? We're going to have inspirational stories, lots of little segments in there where we collect stories about life. It's going to be really different. It's not just going to be one topic that we talk about for an hour. It's going to have lots of little different things in there.

Melanie Avalon: It's exciting.

Gin Stephens: I know. I can't wait. Anyway, so what's up with you?

Melanie Avalon: Well, speaking of my other show, which is the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast, I probably said this before. I do this thing where I have guests booked for a certain amount of time, like out in the calendar. And then, I'll start stressing and like, “Oh, what if I run out of guests?” So, then I'll massively email 10 or 15 people, and then half of them answer and say they want to come on and then I get really stressed because I'm like, “Oh, my goodness, so many more shows to prep now.” So, I did that. I have a lot of really exciting guests coming on, including one of them who Gin already knows, but Dr. Fung. I am so excited!

Gin Stephens: Very exciting!

Melanie Avalon: It's very weird that we haven't talked to him before, either of us, because you haven't, right? Have you ever talked to him?

Gin Stephens: No, I haven't. I've never talked to him. I feel I've been running along. But I'm sure, yeah, I remember several years ago, even right after Delay, Don't Deny came out maybe, at some point in 2017, I was talking to my sister as my communities were getting bigger and as my book was selling pretty well. And I said, “I wonder if Dr. Fung knows who I am.” She's like, “Oh, he knows.” Just like how we know of everybody. I mean I can't imagine that no one's ever walked into his office and said, “I read Delay, Don't Deny.” I mean, surely. As I look at the weight loss diets category on Amazon, Fast. Feast. Repeat. is usually right next to The Obesity Code, like they've been wanting to every day. Yeah. So, I mean, unless he never looks at Amazon. Oh, can I tell you something? It's hilarious, but a little sad.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: There's a new book on Amazon. And it's called Fast. Feast. Repeat. And it has Delay, Don't Deny also in the subtitle, and it was written by Dr. Gin Herring.

Melanie Avalon: Oh my gosh. It's ridiculous.

Gin Stephens: I know, I would really like to meet Dr. Gin Herring because she sounds amazing. And her title is so very similar to mine. And has 81 five-star reviews. And one of them said that they've read all of my books, and they love them.

Melanie Avalon: All of your books?

Gin Stephens: Yeah. Uh-huh. Mine, me. So, people do not buy Fast. Feast. Repeat. by Dr. Gin Herring, because that is a fake person and that is not my book. So, I've emailed my publisher, hopefully they can get that one taken down. But, clearly, I mean, it's ranked in the top 100,000 of all books on Amazon, which means somebody is buying it.

Melanie Avalon: Right. It's insane.

Gin Stephens: It is insane. Amazon should really do a better job because they know that that is nothing but a copycat. They should know. You would think that with the way you publish self-published on Amazon with Kindle Direct Publishing, it has to go through like a process and then it gets approved. They need to put human eyeballs on those books and say, “Is this a copycat of a book that's already out there with the name that's almost exactly the same as the real author?” Because there are a lot of people that is their entire business model is making books that are almost like a real book. And the name of the author is clearly not real, because it's-- there was one book called Fast. Feast. Repeat. The Cookbook, written by Steven Gin.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness.

Gin Stephens: I know. I feel like Amazon should be able to notice that's not really a real book and that it's just there to trick people. Amazon, I'm counting on you. You can clean this up. I love you but you're going to have to do a little better. That's all I have to say.

Melanie Avalon: I have an exciting announcement that I realized we never announced.

Gin Stephens: Ooh, what is that?

Melanie Avalon: I'm really upset. We'd like implemented this, but then we never actually told the listeners.

Gin Stephens: Oh my God. What is it?

Melanie Avalon: You might not even know.

Gin Stephens: I might not know.

Melanie Avalon: Our episode show notes have transcripts.

Gin Stephens: Oh, I knew that we were doing it. I saw it through emails when they're sending them, but I didn't know that it was like--

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. So, I'm going to start saying that. When you go to the show notes for today's episode, ifpodcast.com/episode185, there are transcripts.

Gin Stephens: Awesome.

Melanie Avalon: So, if you miss something, I guess people who can't hear will not be listening to this right now. But we did get requests from people who are deaf. So now, they can read it. And yeah.

Gin Stephens: Well, I'm so glad.

Melanie Avalon: Yep.

Gin Stephens: All right. Well, are we ready to get started? The first question is a very important one, a doozy, and oh my God, I've been so angry about this whole thing. So, literally angry. Go ahead, read it.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. Our first question comes from Megan. The subject is "TREAT Clinical Trial." And Megan says, “Hello, ladies. I appreciate your podcast and thorough research and explanations. Can you guys please review and comment on the TREAT clinical trial of intermittent fasting? They found no weight loss in 12 weeks with overweight and obese patients. I'd love your thoughts.”

Gin Stephens: All right. Yeah, I'd be glad to talk about that. First of all, I'm so proud of my community, because I posted an announcement about this the day after it came out and the comment section was just beautiful. So, bravo to all of you in the community, they get it, they understand it, they understand what was wrong with this study. It's not that there's necessarily something wrong with the study, although I definitely have some thoughts about that. But it's the conclusion that made me angry. Okay.

Let me read it. I'm sure everybody's probably seen the headlines, but the name of the study, “Effects of time-restricted eating on weight loss, and other metabolic parameters in women and men with overweight and obesity, the TREAT randomized clinical trial.” Now, I'm not going to tell you anything about the study other than let me read the conclusion to you. If all you read was the title and the conclusion is what I'm trying to get across. Okay, so the title you got what that is. The conclusion is, “Time-restricted eating, in the absence of other interventions, is not more effective in weight loss than eating throughout the day.” I see red every time I read that, that is one sentence. Okay, now, why is this so frustrating? That's when we need to talk about what did they actually do.

Basically, they put people into two groups, okay, and one group for 12 weeks. These were people, men and women, 18 to 64 years old who had a BMI from 27 to 43. So, it's really important to know also that these people were overweight or obese. Every person was overweight or obese. And they put them in two groups. One group was told to eat three structured meals a day, and the other group was told to do 16:8 eating whatever they wanted, ad libitum is scientific words for that. Eat however you want, from noon till 8:00 PM. So, the one group was told eat three meals a day, and the other group was told eat whatever you want in an eight-hour eating window,

Melanie Avalon: And the three meal a day group could have snacking.

Gin Stephens: They could also have snacks if they want, yes. But also, of course, they were not clean fasting, the group that was fasting was not fast and clean. But that's a whole other wrinkle. And so, I'm not even going to get into that right now. But they did 16:8, the participants were overweight and obese, and they did 16:8. And so, I think the conclusion should be time-restricted eating with a 16:8 approach, in the absence of other interventions, is not more effective in weight loss than eating throughout the day. But you know what? I said that in Fast. Feast. Repeat. I have a whole section where I talk about different eating windows, and in that section, I say 16:8 is not enough fasting for weight loss for most of us. I mean it's the approach my husband, who is thin and didn't need to lose weight, it's what he does.

So, I am so irate that they used a study of 16:8, and then generalized it to, “Oh, time-restricted eating doesn't work,” because that is ridiculous. We've got Krista Varady’s research that she did earlier this year and I guess the media can't remember that they just reported about this one in June. Krista Varady, who is a well-respected intermittent fasting researcher-- actually it was July. She found that there was weight loss in a four-hour or six-hour eating window. So, the part that's so frustrating is we've been saying a lot from the beginning all along based on what we see with people who are intermittent fasters that eight hours may not be a short enough feeding window. 16 hours may not be enough fasting. You're not going to flip that metabolic switch, a lot of people. And so, it's just been very frustrating to see the media were like, “Well, it just showed intermittent fasting doesn't work.” That's not what it showed at all. All right. That's my ranting.

Melanie Avalon: You know what else is interesting?

Gin Stephens: What?

Melanie Avalon: It's also interesting that both groups lost weight.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, exactly. And actually, they did lose more. The eight-hour eating window group did lose more, but it wasn't statistically significant. So, there is that little feature as well. But we often see that with people that are overweight and obese, it can take their bodies longer to adjust to intermittent fasting. We know that if you're overweight and obese, you probably have higher fasting insulin levels. So, it's going to take more time for that to correct. I mean there's so many variables here, but the way that the media just gleefully said, “Oh, look, intermittent fasting doesn't work.” Forget about the fact that just two months ago, we had a study that showed it did. Anyway, but then people were freaking out. And I did just say how my community was overall fabulous. But a few people tried to post like, “Oh my God, it doesn't work.” She's like, “I've lost for 40 pounds. But I just saw study that said it doesn't work.” Well, clearly, it worked if you lost 40 pounds, so we've got to really think about this. No one told my body intermittent fasting didn't work when I lost 80 pounds.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, and the thing is, I do find the response that's been so passionate and fearful in a way. I can't make objective statements, but I don't really ever see myself becoming fearful or freaking out from a study. It's just information.

Gin Stephens: One of the thing that freaked people out was that they had a little muscle mass loss.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, actually, yeah, we should talk about that.

Gin Stephens: But here's my thought there. First of all, they were not fasting clean, because they were allowed to drink zero-calorie beverages, I'm assuming they had diet sodas, I don't even really know. They even said, for example, only 83% of the fasting group even was compliant. So, I don't even know what that means. Maybe only 83% even did it and it was self-reported. So maybe the compliance was even worse than that. We don't know. But they were not fasting clean. They were not fasting clean, and they were very likely not fat adapted. So, the whole magic, what Dr. Mark Mattson always talks about in his work for the New England Journal of Medicine in his research, flipping that metabolic switch and becoming fat adapted is key, if you want to tap into fat stores, that's part of the metabolic magic, is that being fat adapted.

Melanie Avalon: I was really shocked actually by the muscle mass loss because, yeah, what they found was that the weight loss did seem to be mostly for muscle.

Gin Stephens: And can I tell you, a friend of mine actually emailed Mark Mattson? I did not. I'm scared to reach out to him because I was such a fan.

Melanie Avalon: Wait, wait, wait, wait. This is hysterical. I don't know, because I just feel I'm reaching out to everybody all the time.

Gin Stephens: I just love Mark Mattson so much. Anyway, but my friend, she's a moderator in my group, sent him an email, and he replied, do you want to know what he said?

Melanie Avalon: Maybe I should email him. What did he say?

Gin Stephens: The two major flaws in the JAMA study were that they did not determine calorie intake or diet composition. And they did not track exercise levels. His point, I guess, being that the two groups were so different.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: Maybe the eight-hour people were actually eating more. And therefore, it was kind of amazing that they-- you know what I'm saying? We don't know, they might have eaten more food in eight hours.

Melanie Avalon: We don't know. But they could have been eating twice the amount and have comparable-- So, let's say that was the case. This is just hypothetical. But just to play a story game. If they were eating way more, but lost the same or even more, you would have a completely different conclusion sentence. I mean, you could.

Gin Stephens: You surely would, but we don't know because we don't know what they ate. So, really, if they had matched the groups controlled for calories, or given the exact same amount of food, just eating in a different pattern, then you would know. Basically, this study shows that if you tell people eat whatever you want for eight hours, you're not likely to lose weight. But I learned that when I read the eight-hour diet that promised you could and I didn't, it didn't work for me-- So, just to say that again, in case people, I really think this study showed that telling people to eat whatever you want for eight hours is not good for weight loss. That's all it showed.

Melanie Avalon: My version of the study would be like, add in another factor, like eat only whole foods or something and see what happens. I've had James Clement on my show, he wrote a book called The Switch. I'll put a link to that episode in the show notes. But he's really big in this world. And I asked him his thoughts. And he said, basically, something similar to what you just said, you can't just necessarily eat whatever you want for this amount of time and expect weight loss.

Gin Stephens: Although they did lose a little weight. They did lose a little. But they could have been eating twice as much as the other people and we just don't know, that would have been a great study if we knew what they were eating. Of course, self-reporting is always hard. But if they gave them like, “Here's the food you're all going to eat,” like match them in a different way. The variables were not very controlled.

Melanie Avalon: What I want to know is how they did determine estimated energy intake because they did. It's weird, they estimated the energy intake. So, they said, at the end they have a section called Strengths and Limitations, and they say that, “A limitation is we do not have self-reported measures of energy or macronutrient intake. Although we did not measure calorie intake, mathematical modeling of changes in energy intake suggests that calorie intake did not significantly differ between groups. This model has been validated to be more accurate than self-reported energy intake.” I need to like look into this. I don't even know what that is.

Gin Stephens: We didn't count calories, but we used this other method to estimate-- I don't know, that's weird.

Melanie Avalon: The studies that are linked to for that are ones called objective versus self-reported energy intake changes during low carb and low-fat diets. And the second one is validation of an inexpensive and accurate mathematical method to measure long-term changes in free-living energy intake. Listeners, I apologize that I haven't read those yet. I'm going to report back on this. That's interesting. I want to know what this magical mathematical model is that's more valuable than self-reporting.

Gin Stephens: I know that mathematically knows what how much you're eating.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I don't know. I'm very intrigued. That’s like Santa Claus.

Gin Stephens: Is it riding a unicorn?

Melanie Avalon: I don't know.

Gin Stephens: All right. Now can I also tell you one of the conflicts of interest?

Melanie Avalon: Uh-huh.

Gin Stephens: One of the scientists that was on this is a cofounder and equity stakeholder of a company that is keto. It's a keto company. They sell a breath analyzer for keto and also lots of keto snacks. Yeah, they would have a lot of interest if they're selling you snacks, that they would have an interest in wanting you to not fast because they want to sell you keto snacks. I just thought that was interesting. I didn't even notice that, it was somebody in my group that noticed it, that they had that conflict. Oh, and another one of them, also two of them have connections to that keto group, the keto company. I just think that's interesting.

Melanie Avalon: I want to know if-- because I read a lot of the coverages of this, like the articles about it and there have been some interviews with the main guy. They make it sound like he says he's stopping intermittent fasting from what he found, but I want to know if they twisted his words. The way they posited it, I could see how maybe they did but I'm not sure, I don't know, this is just me.

Gin Stephens: How they twisted it?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: I mean I can tell you right now, I am 51 years old. I am menopausal, by the way, I'm on the other side. I'm officially there. I'm officially in menopause. I don't even know what words to use. I'm not sure how to say it. I don't have muscle measurement prior to starting intermittent fasting when I was obese versus now. But I'm not sitting here with lack of muscle. I mean I've been doing intermittent fasting since 2014 and I'm not sitting here, this emaciated muscleless old lady. In fact, my Shapa scale that you stand on every morning that I talked about in another episode, estimates my age based on my body composition alone, as 31.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, wow.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I'm 51. My Shapa scale this morning said, my Shapa age based on my body composition is 31. So does that sound like--

Melanie Avalon: I'm going to get the Shapa scale.

Gin Stephens: Oh my God, I love it so much. Go to ginstephens.com/favoritethings tab everybody. There's a promo code there. It's IFSTORIES. I love getting on the scale. I just went to the beach, like I said, and you come back from vacation and you probably ate out several times. I got on the scale anyway, I didn't care because I can't see the number. I just got on and got off because I don't have to be tied to a number.

Melanie Avalon: It's very exciting.

Gin Stephens: I just see my color, but my age was 30 before I went to the beach, and now it's 31. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: That is funny.

Gin Stephens: So, I probably have a little water retention, but it doesn't matter. I'm not upset about it. But I am not sitting here like this crazy muscleless 51-year-old person. Anyway, I know I'm just one person, but I don't also have an eight-hour eating window day after day after day and drinking my zero-calorie sodas. I don't. I drink black coffee. I drink plain water. I fast clean. I have a four-ish, five-ish hour eating window. It works great.

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Melanie Avalon: Megan also says, “In general, how do you guys respond in your personal lives when someone uses studies like this to tell you ‘IF is wrong,’ just trying to prepare myself.”

Gin Stephens: I think the key is in really understanding what the study was because when I first saw the headlines, the first person sent me the article saying intermittent fasting doesn't work-- Okay, first of all, we have hundreds of thousands of people that would say otherwise. But I couldn't wait to get my eyes on the actual study. And then, when I read it, I was like, “Well, okay, I'm not surprised at all that they found that out.” In fact, if you had said to me, “Hey, Gin, let me tell you this study design, what do you think they'll find?” I would have not been surprised at that. I would actually really love to work with some scientists. I mean I have a doctorate in gifted education, I know about research design. And I also have a lot of practical experience with intermittent fasters, hundreds of thousands of them. I would love to help someone design a study at a research institute, work with them as a consultant for free. I would just love to do it, help design this study. A study with clean fasting, a study that we can really give them a long period of time. Let's control those variables. I mean, I know how to control variables, my elementary science lab background. I have a master's degree in science education for kids, I did the science fair with kids for years and years and years. Elementary kids know how to control variables better than some of the research studies I've read.

Melanie Avalon: I still think I have the most brilliant idea for an intermittent fasting study. [unintelligible [00:32:45] I think I've said it before, I think it would be a way to completely get rid of the placebo effect. You have to take a pill, like you think the study is about the pill and the qualifications of the pill is it can't be taken with food. And the way it's set up is it'll force you into a window without realizing it. So, you'll be taking pills at certain times, and it'll force you into a window. You think they're testing the pill, but really, they're testing fasting.

Gin Stephens: That's a great idea.

Melanie Avalon: Isn't it?

Gin Stephens: And I also think you should have one more group that doesn't take the pill that-- see if those two groups have any differences. One group that fasts with the pill, one group that fasts without the pill, and then the other group.

Melanie Avalon: A group that knows they're fasting.

Gin Stephens: Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: But without the pill.

Gin Stephens: Because the pill is also a variable. See, that's the thing. That's the tricky part with people. The pill is also a variable, even though you're doing it-- because maybe the pill’s affecting them some way.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, because the way I was thinking it would be two groups and a control group. But the two groups taking the pill, one group because of the timing of when they have to take it, it forces them into an eating window than the other group. Yeah, the other group, it doesn't.

Gin Stephens: But what if the pill itself affects their fast somehow?

Melanie Avalon: That's always the thing.

Gin Stephens: Right. That's why I would have a group that didn't take the pill, just to see.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I think would be a really cool study though.

Gin Stephens: Well, anyway, it's just so frustrating to me. I have a listserv that I'm on, is that what it's called? I don't even know, where I get email. It's like an email a summary of obesity. It's like obesity and something, something, whatever. And it's all the studies that relate to obesity and weight loss in any way, shape, or form. And they have a section, study versus headline.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, I like that.

Gin Stephens: Oh, yeah. Let me find one and I'll share it with you because it's hilarious, but study versus headline are so funny because really the reports-- here it is, Obesity and Energetics Offerings is the name of it. Okay, so headline versus study. All right, here's a study. Vitamin D deficiency serves as a precursor to stunted growth and central adiposity, I hate to say it, in zebrafish. That was important. The headline was, “Vitamin D deficiency can lead to obesity.”

Melanie Avalon: Oh my gosh.

Gin Stephens: Okay. There's one example. All right, let me read another one.

Melanie Avalon: That's ridiculous.

Gin Stephens: I know. Headline versus study. Study, perceived change in physical activity levels and mental health during COVID-19. Findings among adult twin pairs. Headline, researchers perplexed, COVID-19 stress may be hard to beat, even with exercise.

Melanie Avalon: I'd have to read that study.

Gin Stephens: Here's another one. Study, REM sleep stabilizes hypothalamic-- I'm sure I said that wrong-- representation of feeding behavior in mice. Headline, REM sleep affects our eating habits. They just over-generalize, and the way they've portrayed this study is just maddening. And I also saw, I don't know if I'm allowed to say that Jason Fung also responded to you about it. And he's not a fan of the study, either. Right?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it was perfect timing, because I had literally just booked him-- or talking to him about booking him for the show. And so, I was like, “I hope you're surviving the TREAT study.” And he said clearly, something about like, that's what happens when you have people who have never--

Gin Stephens: With no clinical experience with intermittent fasting?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, try to design a fasting study.

Gin Stephens: That's why I think that I'd be really good at helping scientists design a fasting study because we really have a lot of anecdotal of what's worked and what hasn't, and what people have tweaked and what has led to success versus when they weren't finding success. So, I know that what we have is not hard science, but it's absolutely valuable. It should not be discounted, just because we're real people in a group. We're people who are trying, and we know what things are working. And it's often not 16:8. That's why I said that in Fast. Feast. Repeat. You may really love 16:8-- because people sell it as like, easy. If only it was just that easy. Just do a 16:8, you're going to lose weight, it's going to be fabulous, eat whatever you want. Except that's not what happens.

Melanie Avalon: I think it can actually make you a million times worse potentially if you are doing 16:8 seeing it as like this binge fast, eat all you want. And then, if you're eating things that are close to my heart, like high seed oils, fats that are wrecking you metabolically, if you're just going to town on those during this time, I mean, I just think it will make things worse.

Gin Stephens: I think eating terribly for eight hours and fasting for 16 could be more detrimental than eating a healthy diet within a more standard like a 12-hour-period.

Melanie Avalon: If I had to choose between those, 200%.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, so a lot of frustration in the intermittent fasting world. Hopefully, the attention span will be short. There'll be something shiny for them to talk about next. And maybe another good study will come out. But, again, replying to Megan, I'm not sure I really answered her question. How do you respond when someone uses studies like this to tell you IF is wrong? You need to be really aware of what the study actually did. Go to the study. Don't just read what the media tells you about the study, read the study. And then, if you're educated, you can start picking out the flaws.

I've mentioned this before. I read a study one time, I read sections of it to fourth graders who were able to find the flaw in the control. Yeah, there was one group that was eating low carb, and one group is eating low fat, but that group was allowed to eat-- I mean, it was ridiculous. It didn't show anything. And the kids are like, “They didn't control that variable.” I'm like, “Yeah, but they used this to prove something.” Anyway. So, do your research, and also, if you know it's working for you and you feel better, trust that. I trust my body, and my body loves this.

Melanie Avalon: You can find a study to pretty much say anything about anything you're doing. And probably, it'll say it's right or it's wrong.

Gin Stephens: It's true.

Melanie Avalon: When it comes to food, at least.

Gin Stephens: It's true.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. This is what I said earlier. I don't have any fear about studies, I literally have zero fear, zero, because if you think about it logically, if the reason it's so terrifying is because it was poorly constructed, or it's not making the right conclusions, or it wasn't-- if there's a reason, then it doesn't matter. Then, there's no reason to fear. If it does show something, okay, there's something to learn from that. There's no reason to be scared. I don't think we should ever be scared of knowledge or questioning or looking at new information. And this is not a good example, because we just talked about how this study is more an example of the first situation where it's not even something to be scared of.

Gin Stephens: You go back to that conclusion. Let me read this again, listeners. The conclusion was, “Time-restricted eating in the absence of other interventions is not more effective in weight loss than eating throughout the day.” And I would just like to say, how many times have we tried weight loss eating throughout the day? And we were able to lose weight, but were we able to keep it off? For me, I lost weight 100 different ways and never one time in my life, did I keep it off until time-restricted eating. So many flaws in that conclusion. I mean, actually maybe 12 weeks of a low-calorie diet where I was eating throughout the day, maybe I would have lost more weight than with time-restricted eating, I don't know. But there's more to it than just head to head, which one makes you lose more weight? Talk to me after you've been doing it for four years, and your fasting insulin levels are normalized and your A1c is normalized and that's really important.

Melanie Avalon: Yep. Exactly. Don't have fear. That's the other thing, if you have fear, you're not going to want to-- I don't think we should be scared of looking at anything, even if it's wrong. Don't have fear. There's no reason not to. And to her question about how do you respond? Gin just said it really well, you can talk about what the study actually showed, what we do know, personal experience, and all of the myriad of other studies that show the complete opposite. So, there's so much research.

Gin Stephens: Yep. All right. Moving on to a question from Jeff.

Melanie Avalon: I knew that was going to be like most of our episode today.

Gin Stephens: I knew it was too. It was important, and I'm sure it made a lot of people out there go, “Ha-ha, I told you so. Intermittent fasting doesn't work.” I mean, “No.”

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, the next question kind of ties into this as well.

Gin Stephens: I also find, Melanie, that what's so interesting whenever I'm talking to people, and they're like, “Well, I tried intermittent fasting, and it didn't work for me.” Whenever I'm having that conversation with someone, they were not fasting clean, I mean, 100% of the time, I'm like, “Well, what did you drink?” They're like, “Well, I would start my day with coffee with butter and coconut oil. And then, I would have diet sodas, and then I would have a Gatorade Zero.” I'm like, “All right, well, I bet you're starving all the time, weren't you?”

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: And they're like, “Yeah.” I'm like, “Well, let me tell you why.”

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Gin Stephens: We have a question from Jeff the subject is “Early is better?” He said, “I listened to Dr. Greger on nutrition facts. He says that eating your calories earlier is better given circadian rhythm and all that. So, I try. And my window is 11:00 to 7:00. I snack from 11 kind of on healthy snacks and then supper time, I pretty much eat what I want, but not too heavy. And then, if I stop eating after seven, I know I'll go to bed with a light belly and all is good. Question I have is do you see value in Dr. Greger’s advice and would you consider sharing that with your listeners. Because of circadian rhythm our bodies metabolize calories differently during the day than overnight.” And that is Dr. Greger’s theory, that's just me saying that, that last part, Jeff wrote it, but he was summarizing Dr. Greger’s theory.

Melanie Avalon: Actually, I'm glad we had this question too because it was one other thing to clarify from the TREAT study that we didn't mention was-- I think it's interesting people's perceptions of early versus late because in the study that we just talked about their window was 12:00 to 8:00. And they were considering that a late window because one of the things they talked about in the end was saying that maybe if it had been an earlier window, so like a breakfast, lunch situation, that the results might have been different, which is interesting. I feel like they probably-- I don't know if it would have been different.

Gin Stephens: For me, it would have been harder to stay compliant. I wonder if they'd have seen their compliance numbers go down from 80. I mean, 83% is not a huge compliance amount.

Melanie Avalon: The reason they said that they wanted to do 12:00 to 8:00 was they thought people would be more compliant because it was easier to skip breakfast, and, yeah, skip dinner. But I just thought was also interesting because Jeff is doing a very similar window. He's doing 11:00 to 7:00 instead of 12:00 to 8:00, but he's considering that an early window.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, that is true. Good point.

Melanie Avalon: And for me, that would be an early window.

Gin Stephens: Me too. I'm not hungry at 11:00.

Melanie Avalon: I can't even say when I eat because people would freak out.

Gin Stephens: It's 2:00, and I'm not even hungry. 11:00 is like so early to me, though.

Melanie Avalon: I know. It really is. Yes, we've talked about this a little bit before. The main takeaways or the basic idea here at least, and this is just my opinion, but there is a lot of research looking at early versus late night eating. A lot of that research has people still eating though throughout the whole day. So, what happens is by the time evening comes, they have eaten earlier. So, it's not like they were fasting and then ate in the evening. Usually, it's just more weighted towards one side.

Gin Stephens: Can I clarify what you're saying? I know exactly what you mean. What you're saying is some of these studies show that later in the day, insulin sensitivity is worse, but they've been eating all day. So, it might have to do with the length of the time period that they were eating. If you eat for 12 hours, 14 hours in a row, later in that eating day, your insulin sensitivity is wrong. And it's not time of day that's the problem. The problem is that you've been eating all day.

Melanie Avalon: Because when you've been fasting, you're pretty insulin sensitive. If you're fasting all day and then you have a late eating time, you're probably going to be insulin sensitive. The times you're not insulin sensitive is if you've also been eating earlier.

Gin Stephens: We really need a study with the early window and a late window with all other variables being equal, which is what we don't have. A really good study. There's some study-- there is one that I've read, and they did do that, but it was very short, and they found no difference.

Melanie Avalon: I did find one. I think it's when we talked about on the show before and it actually did-- I'd have to revisit it, but it was controlled. And it did look at this and it did seem to find that early was better.

Gin Stephens: Is that the one though where they ate longer and the light one?

Melanie Avalon: It was the one with shift workers and they were trying to figure out if insulin and all of that, was it adapting to like the pattern of the eating or was it literally from like the circadian rhythm of the world, and it seemed to be from the circadian rhythm. At the beginning, it would adapt differently to the person.

Gin Stephens: Were they eating like in the middle of the night?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: See, that's a whole different variable also.

Melanie Avalon: It's been a while since I read it.

Gin Stephens: That is a completely different variable that to me, doesn't show anything because we know that shift work itself is an issue. You're waking and your sleeping at different times so there's more than just the eating is at a different time. Yeah, I don't think I would draw any conclusions from that.

Melanie Avalon: These are my personal thoughts, and this is not based on any one study. This is just--

Gin Stephens: Because we don't have one. We don't have a good one.

Melanie Avalon: This is just based on the collective literature that I've read to date, including a lot of Dr. Greger’s work, which I have talked about this before. I love reading his books because I get exposed to so many studies because he footnotes like every other sentence. That said, it's not-- Gin was getting upset in the beginning, now it's my turn to get upset.

Gin Stephens: Get upset, get upset.

Melanie Avalon: That said the overwhelming amount of cherry-picking that I perceive that he does, and misrepresentation of studies is very upsetting. And I think because he cites so many studies so constantly, he comes off as very authoritative and very like, “Oh, he knows what he's talking about because he just quoted the entirety of scientific literature and has references to it.” And I think a lot of people just take that at face value rather than going and looking and seeing what he's citing. A lot of it is spot on. Some of it is not spot on. Some of it's completely misinterpreted. But the main thing is he really, really just pulls the studies to support his primarily plant-based paradigm, doesn't represent the rest of the literature in my opinion. And I'm saying that as in kind of a way as I can, but that's just-- I don’t know how to say that. That's the sense I get.

The final thought is he also tries to make it very clear that he doesn't cherry-pick. He says that all the time. So, it's a little bit frustrating. That said, from everything that I've read and seen, I actually do think, I don't know, because the study hasn't been done. But I actually do think if everything was controlled, I actually think it'd be better for people eating earlier rather than later. I do.

Gin Stephens: And by better, you mean better with your physiology?

Melanie Avalon: Metabolically, yeah. I think it would probably be better for insulin, hormones, and sleep.

Gin Stephens: See, I can't sleep when I have an early window. I absolutely can't sleep when I have an early window. Have you ever tried it? Have you tried having an early window?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's always an epic fail. Which brings me to my second point.

Gin Stephens: But were you able to sleep?

Melanie Avalon: The reason I do think so is the best sleep I ever have is on those days when for some reason-- I mean, true. It's usually because I'm sleep deprived, so I need a nap. But it's like, when I take a nap and I'm in the fasted state, there's just something-- I don't know, I feel if I could fall asleep in the fasted state, and I don't mean severely fasted, but I don't know. I think if the body could be not digesting during these precious sleep regulating-- or during the part of our sleep, where we're supposed to be doing repair and all this stuff and not completely in the fed state, I think it would probably be more beneficial. I just personally is, what you just said, I can't really sleep on an empty stomach.

The second part of all this was, while I think in theory if you can magically force yourself into an early window versus a later window, while I think the early window would probably be better, I think practically a large percent of people, the way they can implement it, and stick to it, and keep to the eating window and get the benefits and sleep and do all these things is with a later eating window. And I think that practicality of it far, far, far outweighs any hypothetical concept of having it in the morning versus the evening.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, and it's all theoretical again. I've yet to see a long-term, well-designed study with all variables that were controlled, and they weren't eating in the middle of the night as shift workers work because that's a whole extra variable. I've yet to see one that was well designed and long term. The one really short one that we have, they found no difference.

Melanie Avalon: I'll have to double-check that one because I don't really remember the details.

Gin Stephens: Okay, but all this to say, I know people, personally, one of my moderator friends, she has a breakfast eating window. She wakes up, she eats breakfast, she closes her window by 11:00 or 12:00, and she feels best that way. She sleeps better when she does that. That 100% works better for her body. And so, that's the thing. Just because Melanie and I do better with a later window-- and my window is shifted earlier than Melanie's. I've been opening my window lately more around 2:00 or 3:00 a lot of days. And since I'm not drinking right now, closing my window at dinnertime, so no more after 7:00 because I'm not finishing up a glass of wine or anything. So, instead of having a window that's more like 4:00 to 9:00, it's more like 2:00 to 7:00. And that's feeling really good for me right now. But I wouldn't call that an early window, or a late window. It's just like a dinner hour.

Melanie Avalon: To me, it would be so early!

Gin Stephens: Yeah. See?

Melanie Avalon: That's so funny. Which is a good example of how-- I'm like an extreme case scenario.

Gin Stephens: Also, how my window has shifted over time. And honestly, it was later because of wine. It was my wine window. By the way, I'm sleeping so great. Sleeping so great. I had wine the other day. I had a couple glasses of wine, and I didn't feel as well. I'm not going to never drink again but--

Melanie Avalon: I'm not going to never not drink again.

Gin Stephens: Well, good.

Melanie Avalon: No, that's not true. I mean, I don't anticipate going completely sober for a year and a half. By sober I mean, like not drinking.

Gin Stephens: I went to the beach last week and didn't drink the whole time I was there. And I had just as much fun. I worried about that because I thought back and from even when I was a child, my mother and watching the adults with their cocktails, and that's how they relax, that's how they had fun. Then, I went to college, and it just became internalized like, “Oh, if we're having fun, if we're at the beach, if we're at a party, we've got to have alcohol, that's what you do.” So, I was like, “Alright,” well, this is the first time I ever in my entire life, went to the beach with a friend and did not drink alcohol the whole time. Which sounds crazy, but it's true. I mean ever since I've been an adult. I mean I was like 12 years old at the beach with a friend not drinking. But I mean as a grownup who legally can drink. I drove everywhere. I didn't have to take Uber. That was really nice. I just drove and at a restaurant, I got club soda with a splash of cranberry and some lime. And I felt like I was having a cocktail. I had just as much fun. I didn't feel like I missed a thing. It was very eye opening. I just drank because I felt like it's what you did. And I also slept so much better at the beach, anyway.

We're all so different. We really, really are. That's the point. You do great with the wine. I don't do as great. I still love it. I'm still going to have it here and there. But never, never again, like as a day-to-day part of my life, I think. I think I can safely say that. I'm never going to have a daily glass of wine.

Melanie Avalon: And I think I probably will or like a quarter of a glass at least. I've said this before, but to clarify when I was-- the year and a half, I actually was still having like a tablespoon of liquid wine.

Gin Stephens: I just can't imagine having a tablespoon of wine.

Melanie Avalon: Like a sip. Just a sip, as a medicine or something.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I get it. I really love wine. I love it.

Melanie Avalon: If listeners do drink wine, drink the only wine I drink, which is Dry Farm Wines.

Gin Stephens: Dry Farm Wines, I'm a fan. It's the only wine I will drink from now on for the rest of my life. I can say that 100% because if I'm somewhere and they have just standard one, I'd rather drink zero. Nothing.

Melanie Avalon: I was thinking about this. I haven't been like-- I don't know if bars are even open right now. But I haven't been out to like a bar.

Gin Stephens: They are.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. I haven't been out in that type of setting in quite a while. And now I'm like, “What will I do if I--"

Gin Stephens: Caveat, they are where I am.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, they are here too, I think. Actually, there's one bar I really want to go to where I think they have some sort of like-- they were the first one in Atlanta to have an air COVID-purifying system thing.

Gin Stephens: Oh, that sounds good.

Melanie Avalon: I don't know how that actually works. But I was like, “Oh, that sounds exciting.” Oh, yeah, I think we talked about this and it's a speakeasy, which they don't have in Augusta.

Gin Stephens: I don't know if we talked about that on the air or off the air. I think it was off the air.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: I had just as much fun having my club soda with a splash of cranberry. I felt like I was drinking a cocktail. And I had just as much fun. So, it's a new chapter. The first time I go anywhere with my college friends and I'm like, “I'm going to have club soda with cranberry.” They're going to be like, “What!?”

Melanie Avalon: That is a nice thing. You can order that, and if you don't say that it's not a drink--

Gin Stephens: I don't care if people think I'm drinking or not drinking or anything. I want to feel good, that's what I've come to terms with. And so, I feel better when I don't drink. And that's crazy to me because drinking has been part of my life. 30 years, I've been drinking legally.

Melanie Avalon: For listeners who do want to drink, you can go to dryfarmwines.com/ifpodcast and get a bottle for a penny.

Gin Stephens: You sure can and I highly recommend it. I highly recommend it!

Melanie Avalon: Me too.

Gin Stephens: Even though, so. I'm definitely not anti-drinking, or anti-people who want to drink around me, but I didn't feel like I was missing out, that was the part that was crazy. Other people were drinking around me, my friend was drinking. We had another moderator friend that came down to spend a night with us. There were three of us. They both opened a bottle of Cava.

Melanie Avalon: Like Kava-kava? Did they brew it?

Gin Stephens: Well, Spanish wine. Am I saying it wrong? C-A-V-A? Is it Cava? I don't know. It's a Spanish sparkling wine?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I thought you're talking about kava-kava, like the tea.

Gin Stephens: Oh, no. This was Spanish sparkling wine. Yeah, they were drinking Spanish sparkling white wine. They call it Cava, isn't that how they say it? Anyway, whatever. However, they say it I've only seen it written and never heard anyone say it as far as I know. But they were drinking it in champagne glasses right there in my condo. And I was like, “I don't even want to have it. I'm going to drive us to dinner. I'll be fine.” And I was like, I've never driven to dinner at the beach because we always are drinking. It was very different. So, anyway, I liked it.

Melanie Avalon: So, good times.

Gin Stephens: It is good times. We had a really good time.

Melanie Avalon: Well, for listeners, the show notes for today's episode will be at ifpodcast.com/episode185. Those show notes will have transcripts. So, definitely check that out. If you'd like to submit your own questions to the podcast, you can directly email questions at ifpodcast.com or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. You can follow us on Instagram. We are @ifpodcast, I'm @melanieavalon, Gin's @ginstephens. And I think that is it. Anything from you, Gin, before we go?

Gin Stephens: No, I think that's it.

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

Gin Stephens: All right. Talk to you then.

Melanie Avalon: Bye.

Gin Stephens: Bye-bye.

Melanie Avalon: 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.


Check out the Stuff We Like page for links to any of the books/supplements/products etc. mentioned on the podcast that we like!

More on Gin: GinStephens.com

Theme Music Composed By Leland Cox: LelandCox.com

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