Episode 187: Blood Sugar Variation, Flexibility, Yen Yoga, Collagen, Elastin, Losing Weight A Second Time, Berberine, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Nov 15

Welcome to Episode 187 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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The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #60 - Wim Hof

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Listener Feedback: Miranda - Answer to Paige’s Flexibility Question Ep. 173

Listener Q&A: Katie - Second Try Has Been BRUTAL

The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #65 - Mira And Jayson Calton

Listener Q&A: Amanda - Berberine

Keto Before 6®

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Join Our New Facebook Group: Life Lessons with Gin and Sheri


Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 187 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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Hi everybody, and welcome. This is episode number 187 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 good. Can I tell you that my bathroom is almost done?

Melanie Avalon: Oh, like finally?

Gin Stephens: Yeah, we've had the plumbing, the lighting was done yesterday. And so, all we need now is the towel bars-- oh, and the medicine cabinet and the mirror have to be hung, then we will be finished. But you could actually go in there and do everything a bathroom is supposed to do. Just you can't look in the mirror or hang anything up.

Melanie Avalon: That is a plus.

Gin Stephens: I know, it is very exciting.

Melanie Avalon: And then, is it just the yard that you're working on?

Gin Stephens: Yeah, we're going to be working on a backyard remodel. That's going to be huge. Huh!

Melanie Avalon: To your tropical oasis with Paris?

Gin Stephens: Will see. Yeah, I'm excited. I can't wait. I miss my screened porch. I looked at my Facebook memories today, and one year ago today I was sitting on the floor in my old house with workmen. We were getting ready. It was under contract and we were getting ready to close at the end of the month. So, gosh, so many memories from that. But I haven't had a screened porch since we left that house.

Melanie Avalon: I didn't realize you had a screened porch.

Gin Stephens: At my other house? Oh yeah, I loved it. I sat out there all the time.

Melanie Avalon: I would not sit up there all the time. Actually, I would during the winter.

Gin Stephens: Mainly, I'm out there in the summer, in the spring, in the fall. When it's cold, no. But I like it the rest of the time.

Melanie Avalon: Speaking of the cold, guess what showed up at my door yesterday and made my life?

Gin Stephens: Well, I don't know, unless it was a chest freezer.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, that would really make my life. You know I had Wim Hof on the show recently? It was a celebratory Wim Hof giftbox with the official-- Oh, it's so exciting. I had a galley of the book. So, I had a pre-release, not finalized version. So, it was like the hardcover actual version, like a Wim Hof towel that says, “Breathe mother F,” because he always says that, that's his phrase. And then, an ice cube tray and a motivational magnet. Oh, my goodness.

Gin Stephens: That's so fun!

Melanie Avalon: My day was made. So, I have a CGM update.

Gin Stephens: Oh, okay, how's that going?

Melanie Avalon: It's going well. I don't know-- today might be the last day. I'm actually interviewing Levels tomorrow. And then, I'm interviewing Nutrisense in a month, but I had a huge epiphany. So, we were talking just a second ago, you and I. I recently did the-- so InsideTracker, which is a David Sinclair affiliated company. They do a lot of genetic testing and blood testing and things like that. And they have a new InnerAge thing. They test, I don't know, it's like 12 key biomarkers to determine your “biological” or your real age. The good thing was that said I was younger than I am. So, I was like, “Okay, that's a plus.” But what was really interesting was I measured my blood sugar on it, and I guess just because of the timing of it-- and it matched my CGM for the time that I got it, but the timing of it, my blood sugar was 79, or something, which is my good number. Historically, I always feel really good in the high 70s.

But looking at my CGM over the past few weeks-- we talked about this last show, it fluctuates so much, even during the fast. If I hadn't been doing the CGM and I just done that one blood test, I would have been like, “Oh, I'm sure my blood sugar is always in the 70s then.” It made me realize getting a blood test and checking your blood sugar, you have no idea. You've no idea what that even means.

Gin Stephens: You don't know where you are on the curve exactly. It could be on the way up, on the way down. That could be your peak, that could be your valley. It's so interesting.

Melanie Avalon: It is. I'm just looking back at all the blood tests I've done historically and how I would so judge myself almost based on what the blood sugar was. Now, I've realized literally, depending on which minute I went in, it could have been--

Gin Stephens: I mean, 10 points higher. Yeah, it's crazy. That was the most eye-opening thing for me.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. And then, the other thing was, how high would your blood sugar go after meals? After your curvy meals?

Gin Stephens: Gosh, I'm trying to remember. It's been over a month. I don't know, like 130 normally? That’s how it would go.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, because I've been in 120s.

Gin Stephens: 120s, 130. One time, it went up a little higher than that, but I don't think it ever went out of the 130s. I don't know. I don't know where that data. I had it somewhere downloaded, but--

Melanie Avalon: Was it just through the FreeStyle Libre app or was it--?

Gin Stephens: It was, but then I found a website that you could sync it with. Let me see, I might have some notes.

Melanie Avalon: While you're looking, the interesting thing that I realized was eating lower carb meals or even fruit meals, my blood sugar, it would spike, but it would go like 110, highest like 120 and then pretty quickly go down, and then it would go down too far. But last night, I ate way more carbs than normal and, oh my goodness, it went up to like 200 something.

Gin Stephens: Oh my gosh. Okay, see, I found some of my data. This is just some very early data that I-- I went up to 135 one time. But normally, like after dinner, I would go up like 112. After pasta, I went up to 121.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, because the highest I would really ever go when eating my normal foods was 120. But it would normally go to 110-ish, between 110 and 120.

Gin Stephens: Here's some data that I had. I had two pieces of toast and two eggs on top, and my blood glucose went up to 109 after two pieces of toast with eggs.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so last night, I ate some-- it's like Rice Krispies but there's no additives or anything like that. And it shot up to 200.

Gin Stephens: Wow, yeah, I never saw anything above-- Really, maybe 140 at one time. I never saw anything above, and I was like, “Oh my God, what's happened?”

Melanie Avalon: 217!

Gin Stephens: Yeah. I wish I had all that data. Even after the muffins, it didn't go up all that much.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it never really dropped hypoglycemic, did you, after meals?

Gin Stephens: No, not after meals. In the middle of the night, it got down in the tiny little red. I can't remember what the boundary was. Was it, like 69 was the boundary? It turns red. I can't remember. But I got down there just a couple times. But mostly it was not there.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, mine would always draw pretty well, although I was talking with Levels about it and they said a few things. And I'm excited because I'm interviewing them tomorrow, so I have so many questions for them. But they said that, A, if you sleep on the sensor, that can cut off circulation, like if it's on your arm, so that can lead to false like--

Gin Stephens: The middle of the night readings can be weird.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it could be that. And then, he also said that they never really test like historically people's blood sugar levels all night. So, we don't have a lot of data in general about what's normal for--

Gin Stephens: That's a good point.

Melanie Avalon: --nighttime, so yeah. Oh, and for listeners. A CGM is a continuous glucose monitor. I've just assumed that everybody knows what you're talking about. But it's basically a little thing that you put on your skin and it measures your-- What is it, interstitial fluid? To give you a sense of your blood sugar levels throughout the day constantly.

Gin Stephens: And it really is fascinating data and I really hope that it becomes more mainstream for people to use as a preventative health measure. It's not a trinket, it's not a fun toy. It's not something like, “Oh, look at this!” It's something that is powerful data. Yes, it's fun to see, it's interesting to see, but it's powerful data about how your body responds to these foods. And so, it can really make a difference when you choose. You're probably not going to choose that Rice Krispy thing again, right?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, no.

Gin Stephens: For me, though, when my blood glucose went up to 135, that was after coconut water, which really surprised me. I mean, I love coconut water.

Melanie Avalon: It's really interesting. It did make me feel better though about the fruit because I was stressing about the fruit. But now it's like, “Oh, well, compared to that.” So, maybe it was a good thing to experience.

Gin Stephens: I made sure to eat the way I normally eat when I was using it. I didn't test things in isolation. When I had the toast with eggs, that's how I would normally have it because I wanted to get a picture of how it looked with my normal day. My normal day really made me happy. My normal day, my blood glucose is within a tight little range and it goes up, but then it goes down. And it's a nice little gentle-- It looked good. It made me feel really good about it.

Melanie Avalon: I'm still a little bit sad because it seems that if I do my keto-ish like approach, it's pretty good, and the Levels app gives me a good metabolic score and it stays within the target range, but I would still in general like it like a little bit lower and then I would also like to be eating more fruit, but goals. The good thing is because it comes in two weeks cycles, the sensors, and I have Levels send me too. So, I have another one I can use. I have to try out Nutrisense and then Levels said they're going to start trialing other brand. So, I think I'll probably trial that as well. So, I think I have like-- what is that? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, that's like 6 more weeks' worth of sensors that I can potentially play with. And then, I'm going to be like never again, not really.

Gin Stephens: It's just so interesting. I really think that people who are concerned about long-term health, before you start having prediabetes, that's when you would know, you could really dial in what works for you and then prevent. If health insurance companies were smart, they would let everybody have a trial of these to see what foods-- anyone who's interested. Maybe not everybody, not everybody cares. But for anyone who did, it shouldn't be so hard to get them. They should pay you to do them. It should be like, “We'll give you $250 if you wear this for two weeks and learn from your data.” I mean that would be a wellness strategy for these insurance companies and it would prevent them from paying out thousands of dollars later for sickness. Anyway, I'm not in charge of that. Nobody has to be!

Melanie Avalon: So, listeners, stay tuned, though, because I will be having two interviews with both companies, and I'll probably have discounts or some sort of offer. So, exciting! Shall we jump into everything for today?

Gin Stephens: Yes. We have some listener feedback, which is answer to "Paige’s Flexibility Question From 173," and it's from Miranda. She says, “Hello, Gin and Melanie. I've been listening to your podcast for two years now and I love all the great information you have to offer and your willingness to entertain so many questions from your listeners. I'm happy to be part of such a valued community. I'm just getting caught up on some older podcasts and have some answers for a question you had from Paige from Australia in episode 173 - does IF increase your flexibility? You weren't able to fully answer this, and I am happy to fill in some blanks for you.

I have been practicing yin yoga for over 10 years and teaching it for over six years. Yin yoga is a style of yoga that focuses on purposefully stressing our connective tissue to increase elasticity and ease of movement. It is thought to have been discovered by monks thousands of years ago to help them sit more comfortably during hours of meditation. Connective tissues are the plastic-like tissues in the body, the fascia, ligaments, tendons, etc., that wrap around and connect muscles and bones. And now, they're discovering it runs like a web through muscle and bone. With stress, injury, dehydration, and life, the connective tissue gets tangled, sticky, and begins to shrink wrap our bodies restricting movement. In order to "untangle" and rehydrate that connective tissue, it needs to be purposely stressed. This is what we do in yin yoga. Stressing muscle is done through resistance movement, with or without weight. We're all very familiar with this.

Stressing connective tissue requires consistent tension and/or compression. Usually, both are happening concurrently with minimal muscular effort for a period of time, usually four to six minutes. It takes an average of two to three minutes for the muscles in the area to let go so that the stress can be focused on the connective tissue. During this time, the area being stressed sends a message out, “here's where the work needs to be done.” And the fibroblasts know where to go to start untangling those bunched and knotted-up collagen and elastin fibers and start laying them out in nice, neat, stretchy layers.” And then she adds a little note, this is a very simplified explanation. “This works similarly to acupuncture, but on a wider scale and not literally a pinpoint. Think of a big knotted-up ball of yarn. You have both loose ends in hand, but when you pull, they don't go far. If you take the time, you can untangle the ball of yarn and then layer it back and forth into a nice, neat skein. Now, when you pull on the loose ends, you can pull for miles.

The answer to Paige’s question is twofold. First, Melanie, you are on the right track looking for studies about the effects on cartilage. And Gin, you were partway there when talking about being as flexible at 50 as you were when you were a teen dancer. I believe a lot of that can be attributed to IF and increased autophagy. When our bodies have the time, as they do with IF, they get to go around and clean up the broken-down proteins, i.e., collagen and elastin, which tends to get deprioritized as we age. So, you have less tangled messes that can get taken care of without a practice like yin yoga or acupuncture, although either or both would still be very beneficial.

The second part of the answer, and what I think Paige is experiencing as she was pretty recent in her IF journey, is looking at our flexibility and asking, ‘What's stopping us?’ That answer is either tension or compression or a combination. It's different for all of us in different positions or poses. An easy way to experience this is to stand up, bend over, and try to touch your toes. Can you do it? If not, what's stopping you? Is it the tight sensation you feel in your lower back or in your hamstrings or calves? That's tension. That can be worked through over time with consistent practice. Are you able to touch your toes? Yes. Can you fold completely in half with your head between your knees, your knees on your ears? Why not, what's stopping you? Now, you're likely experiencing compression.

Compression comes in three major forms. Soft, medium, and hard. Soft compression is how it sounds, soft tissue meeting soft tissues, big fat. Using the same example as above, envision an obese person doing the same exercise. Let's pretend they don't have too much tension stopping them from doing that forward fold. They will likely be stopped by the compression of their belly pressing against their thighs. They may still be able to touch their toes or the floor because that can somewhat displace and make space for that to happen. With IF, as we lose this thigh and belly fat, we can increase flexibility. This position in particular will feel a little more comfortable, at least from the compression side of things. And we may start to meet our tension threshold in our lower back and our hamstrings now that we have more flexibility/range of motion. This sensation will likely change as our bodies change.”

Melanie Avalon: Can I interject really quick? So, is she saying that literally losing the weight, it's like a physical barrier that's creating?

Gin Stephens: Yes. When I was obese, I couldn't reach down and paint my toenails. My belly got in the way. 100%.

Melanie Avalon: That is so interesting. I mean, it makes complete sense. I just never really thought about it that way.

Gin Stephens: Yep, I've been there. It's true. I had to sit differently. I couldn't sit cross-legged. And there are a lot of ways I couldn't move. I mean shaving your legs, things like that just were so different to do. It's hard to even remember.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: Putting on shoes, all those things. But, yeah, and now I appreciate being able to just do whatever, use my body however I want to. All right, back to her comments. “Medium compression is interesting and what we often experience in our joints. This is a bone-flesh-bone sandwich. Try sitting on the floor cross-legged style. Do you feel a pinching in your leg creases? This is medium compression. It often feels pinchy. If that position feels completely comfortable to you, great.” It does, by the way, I can sit like that. Can you sit cross-legged comfortably, Melanie?

Melanie Avalon: Pretty sure.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I do all the time. “But I'm sure you've experienced the same sensation in other positions at some point in time. Medium compression often doesn't change in people unless they have “fat show” or “deposits” around the tissues of the joints, most likely in someone more obese. Again, as those fat stores are being used for energy and decreasing in size, there is more space for movement, which equals more flexibility. IF for the win again.

And finally, hard compression. This is bone-to-bone compression. Think of trying to do side splits. Many people can do front to back splits.” Yep, that's the only kind I could do. “But several of those still cannot do side splits.” Yep, I could not do those ever. “Why? Hard compression. They can spread their feet from side to side, have zero tension in their inner thighs, slide down and down, close to the ground and then stuck. What's stopping them? Their hip sockets. The head and neck of their femur fitting into the cup of their pelvis does not have the optimal sizes and angles to make this happen. In yin, we say this person doesn't have skeletal permission to go any further. There is no amount of yoga or stretching that will make this happen for them. Even IF will not change this. This is where we learn to accept our limitations. So, yes, IF can increase your flexibility and I hope this will help people have a little better understanding of their functional anatomy.

If you notice changes in flexibility and increases in the range of motion in your body, please be aware that it's critical to also strengthen the muscles in these areas to prevent injury. We need to have the strength to support the range of motion. Of course, I recommend yoga for this, more flow styles as they strengthen and lengthen muscles at the same time. If you do resistance training, it's very important that you have a great stretching routine on your rest days or at the end of your workouts. Try to hold your stretches with minimal muscular effort for three to four minutes instead of the likely 20 to 30 seconds you're used to. Thank you for listening to this long answer. But I know how much you both dig into research and I didn't want to sell you short.” That was great. Thank you, Miranda.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I learned so much. Who knew?

Gin Stephens: I did not know.

Melanie Avalon: I liked her part about this-- What did she say about the skeletal--?

Gin Stephens: Limitations. It's true. Yeah. I was never going to be able to do a side split no matter how hard I tries.

Melanie Avalon: It's good to know that that was not in the cards. Yeah, good to know that with IF and the weight loss and everything, that it can definitely affect our flexibility. All right, shall we move on to our questions?

Gin Stephens: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: All right. So, to start things off. We have a question from Katie. The subject is, “Second try has been brutal.” And Katie says, “I sometimes wonder if my metabolism is irreparably damaged. I'm so discouraged and ready to give up and regain, no pun intended, that unfortunate fat girl mindset that Gin has often described as accepting that you're just going to get fatter and fatter.”

Gin Stephens: I want to interject there. I felt that way for a time. So, for people who haven't heard me say that, there was a time in my life I gave up, and it was sometime around 2012 to 2014 when I just got bigger and bigger, no matter what I did, I couldn't stick to anything. And I just said, “You know what? This is just me. I'm going to be in this big body.” I gave up. But not forever. I didn't give up forever. Thank goodness. All right. Back to you, Melanie.

Melanie Avalon: That's so surreal to me. Till 2014, you were still--?

Gin Stephens: Yeah, 2014 is when I was 210 pounds.

Melanie Avalon: I know we talked about this a lot but the reason that's so mind blowing to me is that-- because I so associate us meeting the first time that I moved to Atlanta, and I moved to Atlanta first time in 2014.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, we didn't meet till 2017.

Melanie Avalon: Was it '17?

Gin Stephens: It was '17. It was early in 17 because the podcasts-- and my book had come out already by the time we met. Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. So, I guess it was like the tail end of when I was in Atlanta the first time but it's just really surreal to me that time in Atlanta the first time around seems so short. So, the fact that all of that transformation happened all during when I was in Atlanta, and we still met when I was in Atlanta--like, that's a really quick turnaround all things considered.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, it really was because I really just was like, “This is it. This is going to happen.” And it did. Yeah, it was. I'm really, really, really proud of that. Looking back, it's hard to remember, I was just talking about how hard it was to paint my toenails and bend around and move. But you just feel hopeless because you've tried so hard. I tried so hard. I talk about this a lot for people who listen to intermittent fasting stories. This theme comes up again and again. And that's my other podcast, Intermittent Fasting Stories, for people who have not listened to that one. But people over and over share how they were successful in so many areas of their life, good at things, smart, well educated, but could not get a handle on the weight. It's really frustrating.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, inspiring, though. Very inspiring.

Gin Stephens: It is, but it's not you, it's biology, it's your body. I wrote this in Fast. Feast. Repeat. It's not that you have failed diets, diets failed you.

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Melanie Avalon: So, back to our question. She says, “I don't want to be back in that place, but I'm starting to feel like I don't have a choice. Not to say bad things about body positivity, but I don't feel positive or healthy in the current permutation of my body, no matter how much I try to regurgitate the mantras of health at all sizes, and it's the size of your heart that matters, not the size of your waist. Tell that to an obese person with an enlarged heart. Originally, I started IF 16:8 in 2017. It worked marvelously. I lost 30 pounds in less than two months without even really thinking about it. I took it very naturally. I figured I'd found the magic formula that would finally work for me after literal decades of failed diets. Naturally, I plateaued but stuck with the process. My doctor even told me how proud she was of me.

Then, my personal life kind of imploded. Last year, my father passed away less than two years after my mother did. Plus, the stress of an estate sale, the holidays, putting the house on the market, and trying to find a place to live. Needless to say, my discipline with food went straight down the toilet. I regained most of the weight I had lost.

Fast forward a year, I'm finally mostly settled. I'm in a new house, I have a decent nest egg. I'm generally in a good place emotionally. For once in my life, I feel fairly secure. I decided it was time to start fasting again. I thought I could slip right back in no problem since the first time it came naturally and worked marvelously. Boy, was I wrong. I've been at it about a month and the only way I can describe it is agonizing. Just as agonizing as all the other diets I did in the past and eventually failed it. It's 100% stagnation and frustration. Before, I ate whatever, and the weight dropped off. Now, no matter what I eat, it stays put. Before, it was easy for me to wait until 2 or 3 PM to eat and stop at 10 or 11. Now, I feel hungry all the time, regardless of how nutritious my meals are. I know, I know. I can already hear you both saying it's only been a month, but what a terrible month it has been, especially contrasted with how easily I fell into it before. What is happening?

I'm 39, so it's a little early for menopause, though it's not totally out of question. I don't have any other symptoms of early menopause though. Does my body need longer to recalibrate the second time or something? I thought once your body learned to be fat-adapted, it remembered. That seems to not be the case with me. Is this a common problem? Help. I love you guys so much. I'm a fan of this podcast and your individual podcast too. Thank you for all your help and advice.” And then, I sent her an email and I asked her what she was eating. She said, “It depends on the day. Sometimes, it's an Impossible Whopper with onion rings. Sometimes it's nutritious Poke Bowl filled with vegetables, beans, and tofu. Sometimes, it's Taco Bell. Sometimes, it's [unintelligible [00:32:42] stir fry with garlic, onions, peppers, snap peas, spinach, mushrooms, and baby corn. Sometimes, it's protein shakes and bars, which I don't necessarily think are the best. But I found that if I have them around, I will have fewer Burger King and Taco Bell days. I also started adding maca root to my protein shakes as suggested by Anna Cabeca on your show, since I also have hormone balance and energy issues. Katie.”

Gin Stephens: That’s a lot. And I see that the shift happened when you had the very stressful time of your life. You were having a lot of trouble in your personal life. Your father passed away, you recently had lost your mother, lot of stress, the holidays. And then, we've had a pandemic. So, I don't want to make light of that. But even people who did not have all the other stresses that you're going through, people have had trouble this year just because of the stress that the pandemic and all of that-- I mean, even if you had been safe at home and you haven't had any thing that is really gone wrong for you, still, the word 'pandemic,' the way that everything is set uncertain, watching the news, it has been a terribly, terribly stressful year. So, I want you to not discount all of that. The fact that it seems like you're wanting to eat, it's very likely to have something to do with the stress response, like you are just in-- you're craving food early in the day. You can't wait till 2 or 3 to eat. You’re also only a month in, which I know you said that we would say, but it is true. So, think about this. A lot of stress. You've been through a lot. You're hungry, hungry, hungry. You're fighting with it, and it's only a month in.

So, I want you to think back to when you first started in 2017. I bet you approached it with a different kind of mindset. I bet you were just trying it, you were excited, you were eased in, you let it unfold. You felt great. But right now, it feels like you're starting in a different mental place. I would encourage you if you don't have Fast. Feast. Repeat., get it. If you do have it or once you get it flip to the Mindset chapter. That is a really, really important chapter that I think could make a difference for you. Start working on changing yourself talk.

You may also want to kind of ease back a little bit. It sounds like you're really trying. Sometimes, when you try, try, try that makes it actually even harder. Maybe you're forgetting that it was a little challenging at the beginning when you first started, and you've forgotten what it was like in 2017. And you're expecting to just all of a sudden be able to wait till 2 or 3, when really, maybe it took you a while. I also want you to really examine your fast and make sure you're fasting completely clean. You didn't mention that at all. You also said you started intermittent fasting in 2017. That was a long time ago. That was before-- my guidelines for the clean fast have certainly evolved, the more I've learned and the more people I have worked with over the years since 2017. So, I really want you to examine what you're drinking. Are you putting lemon in your water? Are you putting a little splash of something in your coffee or sweeteners? That sort of thing. Is it having a little apple cider vinegar? Really, really think to anything that you're having. Stick to plain water, no flavors, nothing added. Sparkling water, no flavors, nothing added. Black coffee, plain tea, avoid all those fancy herbal teas with the fancy names. Just stick to tea, actual tea, and see if that helps.

Instead of forcing yourself to wait till 2 or 3, maybe say, “Alright, I'm going to open at noon. And I'm going to have a high-quality lunch. And then later, I'm going to have a high-quality dinner.” And you could probably fit in a six-hour window with a lunch and a dinner that are not giant lunch, giant dinner, but a satisfying lunch, satisfying dinner, within six hours. If you're white knuckling it, I want you to switch things up and try them, do different things, and see until it feels good again.

Also, work to de-stress. Anything that makes you feel good and helps you relax, add those things in, whether it's a hot bath, a sauna, working out, reading a book, anything. Listening to music, anything that helps you de-stress and feel better. What would you say, Melanie?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I think you said a lot of great things. I recently interviewed the Caltons, they wrote a book called Rebuild Your Bones. It's about osteoporosis and bone health. But it's really about the role of micronutrients in our health and how our modern diets, it's hard to supply enough nutrients and how things like stress, really, really deplete a lot of our nutrients and our bodies aren't getting all the nutrients they need. It's very likely that we won't ever feel satisfied or full. And you went through such, such an intense stressful period that I feel probably when you first started IF, it was working for you, there wasn't this whole stress aspect. And then, this is what Gin was talking about, going through that really, really stressful time, it can really, really deplete a lot of nutrients in our body can be really taxing on our body and have a lasting effect. And I think when a lot of us go through that, it can make everything harder, including fasting, including adhering to a diet and everything.

And I say that to encourage you because I think focusing on nutrition could be really, really huge. Originally, she didn't say what she was eating, and if we just had that question without knowing what she was eating-- because you were saying that when you first did IF, you ate whatever you wanted, and the weight just dropped off. And now, it doesn't seem to matter how nutritious your meals are. What I'm wondering is because just hearing your meals, it sounds like you do alternate between meals that are potentially more on the nutritious side, like whole foods based meals, and then a lot of fast food. While a lot of people can do IF and eat fast food and see weight loss and experience the benefits, I still think food choices are really, really huge. So, I think it can be hard to know if you're doing well regardless of what you're eating, if you're not eating a certain way for a long enough period of time. So, what I mean by that is, say one day you eat more on the nutritious side. But then, the next day, it's more fast food and then it's back and forth.

Unless you're eating really nutritious meals for a longer period of time, it might be hard to know if you really are feeling this way regardless of what you eat. If you're open to not eating the fast food and focusing more on like whole foods-- and when I say whole foods, I don't mean store, I mean whole foods, especially that the foods that really appeal to you and that are really high in nutrition. I would give that a try. I would almost say in the situation that it might even be better if you're open to it. If you're really struggling with hunger, I would almost say try a spiel of-- because what windows she's doing?

Gin Stephens: She didn't say. She said she's having a hard time getting to 2 or 3, which is why I suggest, don't force it, if you're not feeling good yet. Even though before you eat-- but right now is different.

Melanie Avalon: It was easy for me to wait until 2 or 3 and stop at 10 or 11. So, she was eating like an eight-hour window from 2 to 10. So, I would almost suggest-- I don't know why I say almost. I would actually suggest that you maybe consider trying a not a fasting approach right now and actually just a food approach and eat when you're hungry, but eat whole foods and see if you can get more in touch with your satiety signals and how you're reacting to food without the fast food and things like that that might be hacking your cravings and making you want more. And then, after cleaning that up for a little bit, then move into the eating window and you might find that it's a lot easier to have a fasting window. I just really think the food choices are really huge. I think a lot of people think that when they do IF that it means they can eat whatever they want during the window. And that doesn't always work, especially if it's meals that are not that nutritionally supportive.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I have a section in Fast. Feast. Repeat. about the phrase, “Eat whatever you want” and that people misunderstand it. When we say eat whatever you want, we mean eat whatever you want. We're not going to say this is the style you must eat to do intermittent fasting. But it doesn't mean eat whatever you want! Like, often use the analogy, you're a college freshman with your first meal plan and mom's not there. That happens for a lot of people. They've been careful eaters and then they start intermittent fasting, that is portrayed as eat whatever you want and then they throw all the other out the window. I was already eating like a college freshman before I started intermittent fasting. I did not have good nutritional habits. Over time, my tastes did change. I've talked about that a lot. But most of us are going to find, we feel better when we eat nutritious foods. That's just a fact and that's what our bodies need. So, really keep in mind that, yes, you can eat whatever you want, but that's not permission to eat whatever you want.

Melanie Avalon: Few other things, she says that she has protein shakes and bars, which she doesn't think are the best. But if she has them, she's less likely to eat Burger King or Taco Bell. What other foods could you keep on hand, whole foods that would also if you eat them, make you less likely to eat Burger King or Taco Bell? You're the one in control, you're the one in charge here, you're the one choosing what you want to buy what you keep in your house what you have access to. So, I'm sure there are foods you can find that you do think are the best and that you can keep on hand and that you could eat and have fewer of the fast-food days. Also, if you're drinking protein shakes, that's something actually, for example, that I would suggest switching that to whole foods protein. Instead of a protein shake, have chicken breast or steak or something because it's going to be much more satiating. I don't see really any reason to, especially if you're struggling to lose weight, to make all of these calories so easily assimilated.

Gin Stephens: Can I tell you what I found recently that has been just amazing for opening my window? I don't have an official affiliate relationship with them, although I'd love to. Hello, Daily Harvest, send me an email. Daily Harvest, I've been using them after I saw several people recommend them. And, yes, gin@intermittentfastingstories.com, Daily Harvest, I would love to hear from you. But I can't figure out how to contact them because I would love to have them sponsor my podcast.

Melanie Avalon: Wait, what did they do?

Gin Stephens: They have food, it is-- I mean, I know it's not all-- it's a lot of grain in there, some grain, not all grains, but it's some things you probably wouldn't eat, but it's whole foods and it comes frozen. And they have bowls, and they have flat-breads, and they have smoothies, but the ingredients list is so clean and good.

Melanie Avalon: Are they plant based?

Gin Stephens: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: I think they might have emailed us before.

Gin Stephens: Well, see if you could find that email because I just found them as a person. Gin Stephens, the person. And I have been opening my window every single day with one of their soups or one of their bowls. My husband and I will split one of their smoothies after dinner as a dessert. They don't work well for me on an empty stomach, but they work great as a dessert. We'll just share one. They are so good. If you go to ginstephens.com on the Favorite Things tab, I do have a link there that you can use to save money. It's not official, like sponsorship or anything. It's just like any person could share their link. That's what I'm doing. But it's on the Favorite Things tab at ginstephens.com. But it's also really, really tasty, and I'm not plant based. So, I might have one of their bowls and it might have lentils in there plus a ton of veggies, maybe kale. But it's so quick, you can just pop it in the microwave.

I'm going to cook a big dinner later and I cook it and prepare it, but I don't want to also fuss around with something to open my window. So, their lentil bowl with all the veggies that I can pop in the microwave, maybe I'll throw a little sour cream on there. Yes, that flavor profile that would do well with some sour cream. And I am just so satisfied. Instead of grabbing the cheese and crackers again, I'm having this really nutritious food. So, I'm just a fan. I'm really excited and recommend it. The food is so good. And my husband loves it, I love it. And it's quick. See, that's the thing. I'm busy, I'm working during the day and then I'm going to cook a full meal later for dinner, I don't also really have the time to-- and I was finding myself always grabbing broccoli and hummus or cheese and crackers. And I was in a rut just because I could grab that.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I think that's a great suggestion. I would really focus on the food choices if it was me.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I think that's good advice. All right. We have a question from Amanda. Amanda says, “I started listening to the podcast last week on episode 41 now. I remember you mentioned berberine and I want to know if I can still take it without a meal because I've tried to do one or two 40-hour fast a week. Bottle says once daily with meal or as directed by a healthcare professional. I typically have a window later in the day for regular days, just not sure about taking it on 40-hour fast days. I just bought it today. So, I want to know the best way to take it before I start. I've been intermittent fasting since February of 2020.”

Melanie Avalon: All right, berberine. So, this would actually be a really good situation to have a CGM to see how you react to berberine during the fast. So, for listeners berberine is-- Well, okay. So, there's a drug called metformin that a lot of listeners are probably familiar with. It's often prescribed for diabetes, but it can have really remarkable effects on lowering blood glucose levels, lowering HbA1c, discouraging the liver from producing glucose, things like that. Oh, and activating ANPK, which is one of the main genes that we activate during fasting that has a lot of the beneficial effects of fasting.

So, the reason I say all that is berberine is a natural plant compound that has been found in studies to have very comparable effects to metformin without a lot of the potential side effects of the pharmaceutical. Studies have found that by taking berberine, that it can decrease insulin resistance, just in general can make the insulin in your body be more effective. It can help your cells break down sugars, so use sugar more effectively.

Like I said, it does decrease sugar production in the liver, and I mentioned this before, but one of the most mind-blowing things to me is that in diabetes, the majority of the elevated blood sugar is actually not coming from the diet, it's coming from the liver producing sugar. Do, berberine can interfere with that process, and it might actually even support beneficial gut bacteria, which is really interesting. So, point being, I actually ordered some berberine after doing all this research. It's usually suggested that you take it right before meals, like three times a day. I assume you could take it during that long fast but my only concern would be, depending on how you're reacting to it-- Did she say she started taking it already?

Gin Stephens: No, she wanted to wait.

Melanie Avalon: And she's going to do a 40-hour fast. You might find-- if your blood sugar is already low, on that long fast, the only thing I would be worried about would be if it dropped you too low and then you got symptoms of hypoglycemia. So, that would be something that you'd have to experiment with.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I probably would just follow the directions of the bottle and not try to take it in a long fast. I just wouldn't. I would just take it once a day with the meal, like it says, or if you're not having a meal, don't take it.

Melanie Avalon: If you are measuring your blood sugar-- although we just talked to the beginning about how that might be all over the place. But that might be a situation where if you're long into your fast and you measure your blood sugar, and it's good, I probably wouldn't take berberine at that moment because probably just going to drop it lower. On the flip side, if you're long into your fast and your blood sugar's high, then you might want to take it and see what happens. I'm really excited now because I just ordered some and I want to see how it affects my CGM.

Gin Stephens: Well, definitely share that after you've tried it for a while and let us know what happens.

Melanie Avalon: I will. I do take oftentimes Keto Before 6, which is my Quicksilver Scientific, and it has a lot of ANPK activators. So, I just mentioned that ANPK is genetic pathways that are activated while we're fasting and is responsible for a lot of the benefits of fasting. And so Keto Before 6 contains-- it's different compounds that all activate ANPK. So, it contains berberine. It also has quercetin and I think resveratrol and milk thistle and a few other things. I've been taking a little bit of berberine via that, but I haven't taken like just berberine. So, I have to report back. But I'm a fan of the concept of berberine. I'm not a fan of most pharmaceuticals, but I don't really know how I feel about metformin. I'm very intrigued by metformin. I think if I ever were to experiment with a pharmaceutical, I would experiment with metformin out of curiosity.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, because a lot of people just take it for health benefits.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I know David Sinclair talks about it a lot. Peter Attia, I think, talks about it. It's one pharmaceutical that often comes up in discussion on a lot of the podcasts that I listened to about the potential benefits. Some people will pretty much take it for life, kind of like aspirin. It doesn't do the same thing as aspirin but as far as “pharmaceuticals” that potentially might have more health benefits than not.

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We have a question from Heather. Subject is "Transition Period." And Heather says, “Hi, guys. I just started IF five days ago. I'm currently doing a six-hour eating window. My husband and I decided to start a healthier lifestyle and we each chose our own method. He is counting calories and I am attempting IF. I've absolutely loved IF so far. I'm the type of person that has in the past claimed to need food every 10 minutes. I truly didn't know that I would be able to maintain this lifestyle for more than one hour. I know, I'm crazy. Anyway, this week has been wonderful. I feel more energy throughout the day. I've not felt deprived at all, and I am enjoying my food so much more than I did when I was eating all day. I'm currently going through your podcast from the beginning and I'm on episode 11.” I hear you meant 11, that’s so long time ago.

Gin Stephens: I'm sorry if we gave bad advice on episode 11.

Melanie Avalon: Sometime, I'm going to have to go back and listen to just like a random episode from that time period. I might do that. She says, “I hear you mentioned the transition phase or period, and I'm curious how long that usually lasts. I've had moments in my fasting period where I'm tempted to reach for food out of sheer habit or quick moments where I feel hungry because my body is used to eating very often. Does this go away? I thought I would add that I've only lost about one pound so far. I would have been discouraged by this if it were not for your podcast. I'm trusting the method and I'm waiting for more results. Thanks so much.” All right.

Gin Stephens: All right, Heather is on day five. So, Heather, I hope that you fast forward to this new episode and hear it now. I really don't want you to expect any weight loss in the first 28 days. That's what I've got in my 28-Day FAST Start of Fast. Feast. Repeat. So, a pound and five days is actually really good. Remember, also, I don't want you to weigh every day and think of the fluctuations. I mean I do want you to weigh every day, but I don't want you to get caught up on the daily fluctuations. I want you to weigh daily and then once a week, calculate your weekly average. So, if you're on day five, you don't even have a week yet to have a weekly average. And, of course, I don't want you to do that till after your first 28 days.

So, on day 29, I'd like you to weigh again, and then weigh daily and once a week, calculate your weekly average because really, it's only the overall trend that matters. So, as far as the adjustment period, that really varies for everybody. Bert Herring talks in his book about three weeks. Three weeks to adjust. And I think that is actually overly optimistic. And maybe now with how everyone seems to have metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, people are just not in great shape starting out. I sure wasn't. When I started out, I wasn't in great shape, physically, I was obese. And so, three weeks is a little bit optimistic. So really, some people find it takes as long as 8 weeks, 12 weeks even, depending on you and your body, to really feel like you're starting to adjust to intermittent fasting.

And if someone's been obese or overweight for a long time, it can take even longer. A lot of that has to do with what your fasting insulin level is, and you're not going to know what that is unless you've had a test, and most people haven't. Melanie, someone was talking recently in the Facebook groups about trying to get a fasting insulin test, and her doctor's like, “That's not what you mean. You want to get a blood glucose test.” And she's like, “No, I want fasting insulin,” he's like, “No,” [gasps] And the doctor could not understand why someone would want a fasting insulin test, or couldn't figure out how to write it on the forum, didn't know what she was talking about. I'm not saying that to say bad things about doctors, because there's a lot of doctors who are using them and understand them and all of that. So, you probably don't have your fasting insulin levels. But if your fasting insulin levels are high, it's going to take time for that to come down and that's part of your body's adjustment before you'll see the benefits of fasting.

Long story short, we really could say three to eight weeks for the adjustment period, but it really can vary wildly. If you were someone who was eating keto prior to starting intermittent fasting, your body may already be fat adapted, and so your adjustment period might be very brief. I mentioned before on the podcast, in 2014, when I finally was able to start intermittent fasting and finally stick to it for the first time ever, I had been trying keto that whole summer, failing at keto. I mean I was doing it, I didn't lose any weight. I did it 100%, didn't lose a single pound. Now, I know that's not how my body feels best. But I probably became fat adapted, and I was definitely in ketosis. Wasn't losing body fat, probably because I was eating a lot. Eating a lot of fat, not having any need to tap into my body fat. But as soon as I switched to intermittent fasting and added that carbs, I felt immediately better, and I started losing weight right away. I didn't have to have an adjustment period. So, all that to be said, it really, really varies.

Melanie Avalon: I think that's great. I think you covered it.

Gin Stephens: Yeah. It's going to be months before Heather gets to this episode if she's listening from episode 11.

Melanie Avalon: Good times. Okie-dokie. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. If you'd like to submit your own questions for the podcast, you can directly email questions@ifpodcast.com or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. The show notes for today's episode will be at ifpodcast.com/episode187. Those show notes we'll have a full transcript, so definitely check that out. You can join our Facebook groups. I have IF Biohackers: Intermittent Fasting + Real Foods + Life. Are we plugging your new Facebook group, Gin?

Gin Stephens: Well, I do have a new Facebook group if anyone is interested in things outside of intermittent fasting because I talked about that I've started a third podcast. We've actually recorded episode 0, which is our trailer episode and also episode 1. The Facebook group is Life Lessons with Gin and Sheri. The podcast will come out-- we're hoping for Episode 1, December 2nd is our target release date. And our first episode is all about sleep.

Melanie Avalon: I just recorded two back-to-back part one and part two episodes again with Dr. Kirk Parsley, listener Q&A on sleep and both of them are almost three hours.

Gin Stephens: We talk about Dr. Kirk Parsley and his Sleep Remedy on the podcast, but we also talk about the sleep chronotypes. You and I've talked about that before, right? I'm a lion, you're a--

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. What was it, a wolf or something?

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I think you're a wolf. Sheri is also a wolf, my friend Sheri. Late at night, yeah, Sheri’s a wolf. My cohost on the other podcast is a wolf, just like you. That'll be coming out December 2nd. The reason we decided to start with sleep is because we asked people what they were interested and hearing and that came up over and over. People are struggling with sleep.

Melanie Avalon: I know. I emailed the first heart one episode to my assistant and it was three hours. She was like, “I didn't realize there was so much to know about sleep.” And I was like, “This is just part one. There's a part two coming.” There's so many questions. There's so much. That was one of the good takeaways. Because so many people will say that we all are naturally early birds, and I asked him about that, and he was like, it's not really debated in the scientific literature about there being different circadian rhythms for people.

Gin Stephens: It's known that it's true, right? Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. He was like, it's not really controversial. And I was like, "Oh, okay. Then, why is everybody saying that we're all early birds."

Gin Stephens: I know. The early birds started that. People who are one way, really, really assume that everyone else should be like that.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Kind of like with food and diet and everything.

Gin Stephens: I mean, I really think they're like, “Well, I wake up really early, and I feel great and I get a lot done. So, you should do that, too. And if you can't, you must be super lazy.” And that's how these things get started. And, no, it's not that you're super lazy or even lazy at all. You just have a different rhythm. You're more productive later in the day, and you could feel like a loser and a failure because you're fighting against your body.

Melanie Avalon: Yep. 100%. All right. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. And I will talk to you next week.

Gin Stephens: All right. I look forward to it.

Melanie Avalon: Bye.

Gin Stephens: 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.


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