Episode 194: ADF, Poor Fasted Sleep, Sugar Cravings, Reversing Prediabetes, HbA1c, Other People’s Expectations, Body Image Problems, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Jan 03

Welcome to Episode 194 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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Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 194 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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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. 

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If you'd like to learn more about safe beauty and also get a ton of amazing discounts and free things from me, definitely get on my clean beauty email list, that's at melanieavalon.com/cleanbeauty. Not sure which Beautycounter products to try? I also just made a whole series of online quizzes to match you to your perfect product. Those are at melanieavalon.com/beautycounterquiz. So, here's to fasting clean inside and out. All right. Now enjoy the show.

Hi everybody, and welcome. This is Episode number 194 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 doing great. How are you doing?

Melanie Avalon: Good. Last night, I had my much belated birthday dinner with my family.

Gin Stephens: How was that?

Melanie Avalon: It was good. It was very much like a Melanie Dinner.

Gin Stephens: What does that mean, a Melanie Dinner?

Melanie Avalon: I had for the appetizer kangaroo.

Gin Stephens: Oh my gosh, I don't even know where you get that. I do eat meat, so I don't know why a kangaroo? It made me sad.

Melanie Avalon: I know, I know.

Gin Stephens: I was like, “Aww.”

Melanie Avalon: It's a normal thing to eat in Australia.

Gin Stephens: I guess it is. It's silly to feel that way about like one meat over another meat if you're eating meat. I also think kangaroos might be mean.

Melanie Avalon: I think they are, and I think there's also like a kangaroo population issue in Australia.

Gin Stephens: Oh. I just know when we used to watch like America's Funniest Home Videos as a family. Did you ever watch that?

Melanie Avalon: Yes.

Gin Stephens: Whenever there was a kangaroo, I'm like, “Oop, he's going to kick somebody.”

Melanie Avalon: I know.

Gin Stephens: If they were standing by the river, I'm like, “Oop, they're going to kick them in the river.” [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: Oh my gosh, that's so funny. For people who are interested, it's a lean red meat.

Gin Stephens: Does it remind you of beef when you eat it?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's just a little bit gamier, so that was the appetizer. For the entree, I had rabbit.


Melanie Avalon: Then, for the dessert, I didn't even ask them for this, but they brought me out a Happy Birthday plate and a fruit bowl with just berries. I was like, “This is the only thing I would eat for dessert.” The waiter was like, “I think after two hours, I realized that.”

Gin Stephens: [laughs] You didn't have any sides, you just had the kangaroo meat itself and the rabbit meat itself.

Melanie Avalon: And steamed spinach.

Gin Stephens: Okay.

Melanie Avalon: Then, for the wine, I brought Dry Farm Wines, but I don't like bringing my own wine because I know servers get really annoyed, having been a fine dining server myself for five years. If listeners are curious, for restaurants, how I deal with wine at restaurants, I bring Dry Farm Wines, but then I pick a restaurant that has a really good wine list, and I vet the menu when I get there. If there is an organic wine from Europe, I will drink that. I had an organic wine from Europe by the glass and then my dad always does this, halfway through, he just orders a bottle. Out of all the bottles, he picked an organic wine without even realizing it. It was wonderful. We had that.

Gin Stephens: See, I actually have taken special wine to restaurants before that have a corkage fee.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: I don't mind if I want to have a certain one.

Melanie Avalon: If I do do it, I will basically add in my head another $100 to the bill and tip on that.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, you tip based on if they had ordered one. That makes sense. Yeah. I worked as a server, too. That's actually where Chad and I met. Did I ever tell you that? We were waiting tables--

Melanie Avalon: You waited tables together?

Gin Stephens: Yeah, at the same restaurant. That's where we met, back in 1990. It was the summer of 1990. He was 19, I was 20, and we were both waiting tables at a restaurant down by the river. We were babies. But yes, whenever you have a special deal, any kind of special deal, you want to tip on the amount that would have been if you didn't have a special deal.

Melanie Avalon: We can make this an entire server podcast.

Gin Stephens: I'm a generous tipper. Although I will say one of my pet peeves, it was whenever tips are automatically included. That bothers me. I have always would have tipped better, but it makes me annoyed.

Melanie Avalon: If they do that, then I just add to it.

Gin Stephens: I don't. If someone puts a gratuity on there automatically, I'm like, “Well, sad for you because that's all you're getting. I would have tipped you more.” That's just one of my pet peeves because I never add, even though you could, sometimes a certain party types, I never added. Sometimes I was regretful that I hadn't, but oftentimes it was worth it. Like usually it was.

Melanie Avalon: Actually, one of my favorite things now about, and I'm so grateful for this, but being financially stable from all of the-- like the podcasts and the books and all of that, is that I can afford to tip and it's my favorite thing to do.

Gin Stephens: Oh, me too.

Melanie Avalon: It brings me so much joy.

Gin Stephens: I'm the same way. I love to tip well. Again, like I said, someone automatically adding a gratuity is one of my pet peeves. I don't know why. I'm like, “I would have been more generous, but, oh, well, you chose that. Okay.”

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I guess because it's forced upon you.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I like to be generous because I want to be.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that makes sense.

Gin Stephens: That is a very Melanie meal.

Melanie Avalon: I know. That's the type of restaurants I look for.

Gin Stephens: I don't even know where you go to eat that food.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's called Canoe in Atlanta. I highly recommend it.

Gin Stephens: I've heard of that. I've heard of it.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, you have? All right, because we're both from-- [crosstalk]

Gin Stephens: Well, I lived in the Atlanta area. What part of Atlanta is it in?

Melanie Avalon: I should know this.

Gin Stephens: Is it like Buckhead?

Melanie Avalon: No, it's this little area. It's like an area that's not Buckhead. I don't know. There's another restaurant right by it that I've been to called Old Vinings Inn.

Gin Stephens: That sounds like Vinings.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, that's probably it. Yeah. [laughs]

Gin Stephens: I would predict you're in Vinings.

Melanie Avalon: I think so. I believe that is correct.

Gin Stephens: That's great.

Melanie Avalon: Good times.

Gin Stephens: Well, I'm glad you had a good dinner.

Melanie Avalon: I did. Of course, when the dinner first started, the waiter came over, and he was like, “I hear we're celebrating your birthday.” Then, my mom was like, “Yes, her--” and then she proclaimed my age to the entire restaurant. I was like, “Thanks, Mom. Thank you.”

Gin Stephens: Embrace it. Embrace the age.

Melanie Avalon: Yes, well, perhaps.

Gin Stephens: I'm telling you, it's going to keep getting higher. And then, you--

Melanie Avalon: Unless we invent time travel or-- I don't know. I'm interviewing Mr-- Like some crazy longevity a person. I think maybe he has some secrets.

Gin Stephens: All right. He's crazy, or his ideas are crazy? Or, he likes crazy longevity? I'm trying to determine which part is crazy.

Melanie Avalon: Crazy in like-- he's not crazy, but he invests in longevity technology. I think our conversation is going to be about like Avatars and that type of stuff.

Gin Stephens: So really out there, but like futuristic kind of stuff.

Melanie Avalon: Like the technological future of longevity, like what that actually looks like. So, I'm pretty excited.

Gin Stephens: Well, we do have robot vacuums now, so we're pretty much in the future.

Melanie Avalon: I dreamed about my robot vacuum last night. So, that's really funny that you said that.

Gin Stephens: I don't have one. Well, see, my house is weird. I have a sunken living room right in the middle. It's a two-story sunken living room, and you come in the foyer and you step down to it and you step up to the dining room or step up to the kitchen, and it might sound weird, but it's beautiful. My house was built in ‘79. I don't know where I would put a robotic vacuum because it can't go up these little stairs.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, yeah, we talked about that.

Gin Stephens: Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Well, you could get the one that makes a map of your house and then you can map it so that it doesn't fall. And then, you could get two, one on the lower, one of the upper.

Gin Stephens: Well, I would need one for the master bedroom and the foyer. It's crazy the way the rooms go around. Yeah. I would need, let me see, one, two, three-- I would need five. Five robotic vacuums.

Melanie Avalon: Okay, maybe not.

Gin Stephens: You know what's funny? Chad loves to vacuum. I got one of those Dyson, it's the cordless that plugs in where there's little ones. I had all these credits for Best Buy because we bought a washer and dryer. If you put it on their credit card, you got all these credits. I'm like, “All right, I'll do that.” I was able to get this Dyson really expensive vacuum for very cheap. Chad will go grab it-- He had never once in the lifetime of knowing him gotten out our big vacuum and vacuumed the house. Every day or something, he'll go grab that little cordless vacuum and go around the house and vacuum stuff.

Melanie Avalon: Still?

Gin Stephens: Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: [laughs]

Gin Stephens: He did it this morning. I was actually trying to watch TV, and he's vacuuming. Look, I'm not even going to complain.

Melanie Avalon: That's so funny.

Gin Stephens: I'm just going to sit here and pause the TV and not worry about it. The man's vacuuming. I've got a robot vacuum, it's called Chad.

Melanie Avalon: That's great. You know what else Dyson makes? They make vacuums and then they expanded their products and made something very specific.

Gin Stephens: I know they have a hairdryer. What is it? Is that it?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, like a hairdryer. Apparently, they put a lot of research into the science of hairdryers to make this crazy hairdryer. I got it. It's incredible.

Gin Stephens: Okay, now see, I'm a little mad now because I had the option to choose that for something that I might want, and I did not choose that.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, it's really wonderful.

Gin Stephens: I’ve got a good hairdryer, I don't need--

Melanie Avalon: I got the straightener, too. The straightener is okay. But the hairdryer, I'm like, “Everybody needs this hairdryer.”

Gin Stephens: How's it special?

Melanie Avalon: I don't know. It looks really strange.

Gin Stephens: Yeah. It's weird. It's like a doughnut kind of.

Melanie Avalon: I don't even know how it works. It has this circle. It looks very futuristic and the air comes through. I literally have no idea where the air is coming from, but it blows out of this hollow circle thing. It's light, easy to hold, and it just dries my hair really fast. Apparently, the science that they did is they make sure it never changes-- The temperature is very tightly controlled of the air, so it doesn't ever overheat your hair. I don't know. It's really amazing.

Gin Stephens: Now, I'm super sad that I didn't choose it.

Melanie Avalon: Next time. So, shall we jump into everything?

Gin Stephens: Yes, let's get started.

Melanie Avalon: All right. To start things off, we have a question from Danielle and the subject is “Sleep and IF,” because this is the Intermittent Fasting podcast if people didn't figure that out yet. Danielle says, “Hi, Gin and Melanie. I have a question about ADF,” which is alternate-day fasting and sleep. I don't struggle with the hunger on ADF, but it has a massive impact on my sleep. Even after doing it for a few months, I never adjust and have very poor sleep on these nights. Usually, my sleep is really good.

My background. I'm currently 121 pounds with muscle as I lift weights two times a week and would prefer to be around 112 to 114 pounds. I am 5’4”, so this is around the lower end of a healthy BMI range. I usually have a three- to four-hour eating window each day and often longer on the weekends, eight hours. I eat everything, but mostly fish plus salad or vegetables, or chicken plus salad, or other meat plus salad, or pasta during the week. On weekends, I may go out for brunch and dinner. So, I have a varied diet, but mostly whole foods with minimal junk foods, although I never ever deny myself anything. I always eat to satiety.

I've never been overweight, and I've always weighed around 116 to 120 pounds since age 14. I'm currently 34 years old. I actually have technically time-restricted eating unconsciously since being a teenager because I never ate breakfast anyway. With this way of eating, I easily stay at 121 pounds without any effort. Actually, I am usually slightly lighter, but I gained two pounds since lifting weights at the start of this year, but my inches are smaller. I can't seem to lose and stay at a lower than my current weight. This is where my body likes to be. I tried ADF again recently for two months and lost inches but not much weight, maybe four pounds, but couldn't maintain the eating style because of the impact on sleep. I gained back the little loss that I had after stopping again.

Anything you suggest would be very helpful. I'm even happier being only five pounds less but can't even seem to do that easily. Thank you, and I love your show. I've listened every week since your first episode. You both carefully evaluate research and are critical of fats, which I really like. It's so lovely having an all-women show that is thoughtful and scientific, and you're both careful not to overstep your expertise in the area of health, which is refreshing. I also really enjoy that you each have different opinions with some things and don't need to agree with everything the other says, I think this demonstrates your modesty about your wealth of knowledge on the topic and willingness to adapt beliefs based on science. Danielle.”

Gin Stephens:  All right. Well, there's two things here, two directions that I'm going to go. First of all, I'm going to address the actual first part of the question, but then I'm going to talk about Danielle's struggle overall. First of all, let's talk about sleep with ADF. Danielle, I was the same way. I did not sleep on down days when I was doing ADF. Particularly, I was doing the full fast version of ADF. So, I would have a 36 to 42 hour fast, and then the next day would be an up day. So, I'd have at least two meals on the up days, that's how I recommend that you do it based on the research on ADF. I'm talking about the up day. There's two ways you can structure your down day.

One is the complete fast like I said, 36 to 42 hours. The alternate way you can structure your down day is with a 500-calorie down-day meal. For somebody struggling with sleep, I would recommend that you try that version, the 500-calorie down-day meal and choose something-- a lot of people have trouble stopping at 500 calories. But if you choose something strategically, something that is very satisfying, it will fill you up and you have it later in the day, closer to bedtime, you may find that you're able to sleep with the down day meal. That's just an option. It helps some people. Really, that is why I feel I won't do ADF. I was not a good sleeper on ADF, no matter, it wasn't a good sleep combination for me. I get it. If I needed to do ADF for any certain reasons if I felt I needed it metabolically or something like that, if I was stuck on a plateau and trying to lose more weight, I might would do it for a little while, but the sleep was the issue for me. A lot of people don't have that problem. They sleep great with ADF, whether they're doing the longer fasts or the down day version, but sleep is important and we're all different. So, I completely get the struggle and that was one I faced as well.

Now, let's talk about your weight. You're 5’4”. Now, I know we're all different and there's no formula that's perfect, and I know that. Your frame size can be important, you might have a really tiny dainty frame. I'm bearing that in mind. I once heard a formula that I kind of like as a rule of thumb and it was 100 pounds for your first five feet and then five pounds per inch after that. If we calculate your-- that is to find your “ideal weight,” because as I said, there are a lot of factors at play. But for 5’4”, using that formula, your “ideal weight” would be 120 pounds, and you're right there at 121. The difference between 120 and 121 is a good poop. That's within your maintenance range. I would consider 121 to be statistically the same as 120.

You also said something that was very important, several things. First of all, you said, “I can't seem to lose and stay at a lower weight than my current weight.” One thing I have found over my years of maintenance, my years of maintaining within the range where I am now, this is where my body likes to be, and that really is why I threw my scale away because when I started thinking about my ideal weight, using that formula that I just told you, that would put my ideal weight, I'm 5’5”, I should be 125 pounds at my ideal weight. I got it in my head that I needed to see that number. I didn't wait for a year and then I got on the scale, and I felt like I was at my ideal weight because I was wearing a size zero jeans from the Loft. I knew I didn't need to lose more weight or really want to lose more weight, so I had it in my brain that I would see 125 on the scale.

I got on the scale that day in 2017 and saw 130.2 or some nonsense like that and I was so mad because I wanted to see a different number. But then, I was mad that I was mad and that was the day I threw my scale away because I realized I was where my body wanted to be. I was maintaining within that range wearing the clothes that I felt great in. You have talked about that you have lost inches. When you started lifting weights, you gained two pounds, but your inches are down. This is just a great example of the fact that your body composition is better than it was. Your weight’s up, but your inches are down, that means fat loss and muscle gain. I think it's time for you to break up with the idea of needing to see a smaller number on the scale. Now, if you clearly look at yourself and see that you have excess fat that you can tell is a problem, yeah, that's another issue. I've said this before, maybe not on this podcast, I'm not sure, but I know I've said it on Intermittent Fasting Stories. Women are meant to be curvy and squishy. I'm at what I consider to be my ideal maintenance range weight. I've got squishy parts on me. I think that's how we're supposed to be, and we can get so caught up in feeling we have to be another way. You want to be in a weight range that you can comfortably maintain without having to do things that don't feel right to you. So, I just want you to think about that. Maybe you're exactly where you need to be.

Melanie Avalon: I love that. I feel like you threw away your scale when we had this show, right?

Gin Stephens: We did. Yeah, it was June of 2017 and we started the podcast in April of 2017. I haven't weighed myself since then, except till I got my Shapa scale that I love so much. I went gray on the Shapa of scale right before Thanksgiving because I'd been to the beach a couple times, I'd eaten a lot more, and I could feel it. Gray meant, slowly gaining a little weight. Then, I didn't do anything drastic or freak out, I just stayed on my normal routine. Then, I saw blue, which is losing weight. So, I gained a little weight, then I lost that weight, then Thanksgiving hit. I went to the green, and I've been on the green ever since. That's maintaining. I don't need to worry about the number. Sometimes, I'm curious what the number is, but I don't want to play those games with myself of like, “Man, if only I could just see 125,” because that number is meaningless.

Melanie Avalon: Do you know what does the vacation mode do on the Shapa scale?

Gin Stephens: Okay, the vacation mode, yeah, I do know what that is because you put it on vacation mode when you're not going to be home, or if you don't want to weigh and it doesn't count it against you with your weighing streak. Really, it's nothing, no, it's no big deal. It's just that Shapa will fuss at you for not weighing because you get off of your weighing streak. It wants you to weigh daily because that's really the whole premise of it is that it keeps track of your overall trend, so it needs the data. When I went to the beach and didn't have my scale because I'm not going to take my scale on vacation. I'm just not going to do that. I put it on vacation mode. Then, when I came back and got right back on it, I was off of vacation mode.

Melanie Avalon: Okay, so it's not making any changes to how it interprets your--

Gin Stephens: No.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. Because I was like, I don't understand how that would work, but that makes sense. I love what you said. I feel people who, which is a lot of us, get fixated on numbers, you can tell because the weight that you fixate on will be a very specific number, like 121.

Gin Stephens: She said she's always weighed between 116 and 120 since the age of 14, but she's still right there. She's still right there. She's like, “Oh, no, I'm 121.” That's fabulous, especially if you started weightlifting.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. My question is because she really wants to lose five more pounds. Does that five pounds look any different on your body? Why?

Gin Stephens: That was why was that I mentioned the part about, do you see five extra pounds of fat on your body? Or, is it just you want to see that number on the scale? Because I can't imagine-- if she's been 116 to 120 since the age of 14, I can't imagine that she sees 5 extra pounds of fat at 121.

Melanie Avalon: I love everything that you said about the ADF. When people write into us about ADF, it is hard to know which version they're doing, because when I hear people doing ADF, I actually automatically assume they're doing the 500-calorie version. Do you assume they're doing--?

Gin Stephens: The full fast? Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I can't sleep fasted. I just can't. I actually have a question for you, Gin, from me about ADF because I've thought about this before about how-- if I could do ADF, and actually do it, what would that look like? The only way I think I could do it and sleep would be if I did a 500-calorie meal, like you talked about and took a Benadryl.

Gin Stephens: Well, see, for me Benadryl keeps me awake because I'm the opposite. I have that ADHD brain, and Benadryl makes me wired.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Which is, of course, because we are the complete opposite in everything.

Gin Stephens: I'd be awake for the rest of my life. All those Tylenol PMs and Benadryl, that's the same ingredient. But, no, I cannot sleep on Benadryl. I wouldn't do it. If something is making you not be able to sleep and you're having to take something like that, I wouldn't do it.

Melanie Avalon: This is just something that I thought about because I am not really a fan of-- I guess Benadryl is technically a pharmaceutical. I'm a fan of not doing things like that if you can at all help it, but I have thought before I'm like, the cost benefits of doing ADF with Benadryl. This is just something I pondered.

Gin Stephens: I don't think you would like ADF because you wouldn't want the up day. I feel you wouldn't like the up day. You have to eat at least two meals, possibly three. I don't think you'd want to do that.

Melanie Avalon: No.

Gin Stephens: ADF is not for you, Melanie. It's not for me right now either. Like I said, I'm not ever going to say never. I won't say I will never do something again. But I feel I won't do ADF, and I'm not anti-ADF. I don't think it's bad, some people love it. They love it. It's what works best for their body. Some people are scared of it. I almost hate to say that I don't want to do it because then people are like, “Well, Gin doesn't like it, I'm not going to like it. I don't want to do it,” and then they dread it. But then, they start doing it and they love it. I don't want people to use my feelings about it. I'm not anti it, and I know people who love it. A lot of my moderators do it and love it.

Melanie Avalon: I wish I was one of those people, but I'm not.

Gin Stephens: Why? Why do you want to do it? Just to have a longer fast?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, mostly. If it works well for you, it seems like a really great lifestyle practice for those that works well for, so that's why .It's like for those people who do really thrive on a vegan diet, it's like I wish I was that person, but I'm just not.

Interestingly, really quick tangent, my sister was there with us last night and she is vegan. She said she had this huge realization that bread made her feel really awful. She was thinking it was the folic acid added, but I was like, but I don't know. I think it's probably the gluten. She said she had a huge epiphany pretty recently about just how much food makes her feel. I was like, “What do you eat?” She was telling me the foods that she eats in her vegan paradigm and they were actually-- so if I were to do paleo vegan, they were all that. It was like non-gluten-containing grains like rice, quinoa. It wasn't legumes. It was lentils, vegetables, fruits. I was like, “This is very paleo.” It was just really exciting and interesting-- It’s interesting because she's not really looked into paleo or doesn't really know any of the-- well, I don't know if she knows, but she doesn't hardcore focus on why certain foods may be inflammatory for certain people but to see her naturally gravitate to the foods in a vegan paradigm that I would consider to be the least inflammatory or a least problematic was, it was pretty cool.

Gin Stephens: She's listening to her body. It makes sense that the foods that worked for your body as far as like-- you gravitated to paleo foods, and she has too.

Melanie Avalon: What I was telling her was I wrote my book What When Wine-- well, it released in stores in 2018, but I wrote the first version in 2014. Despite everything that's happening, there's been so much research, so many findings since then, actually really all of it, I still pretty much feel the same with everything that I've seen since then about the potential inflammatory nature of the categories of foods and then same with the fasting. It's nice to see that, rather than being like, “Oh, I thought this was absolutely amazing.” And maybe it's not or-- yeah.

Gin Stephens: Well, good. I'm glad that she's figuring it out.

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Gin Stephens: Our next question is from Allison, and the subject is “Sugar cravings once I open my window.” Hi, Gin and Melanie, I love your podcast and have been IF for about three weeks. I did IF about a year ago, but slowly went back to my old habits. During my first try of IF, I did a 16:8 window, I now have a five to six-hour eating window. I've noticed that I don't have cravings during the fasted state, but once I start eating, all I want is sugar. I usually open my window with something healthy like avocado and tomato. Once I'm satiated from a hunger standpoint, a major sugar craving kicks in. Have you heard of this and do you have any suggestions?”

Melanie Avalon: All right. Allison, thank you for your question. I feel there are probably three potential things that could be going on here. One is, especially since you talked about you did IF but then you went back to old habits, it could literally be a habitual thing that you associate eating with sugar, with those types of foods. So, it could just be the habit brain kicking in. Also, similar to that, it could be we know when we eat sugar that it releases feel-good neurotransmitters, so it could be just wanting a drug basically. That can seem a little bit intense, but when they do studies in rats, for example, rats prefer sugar to cocaine, which is crazy. So, it could be that, it could be a comforting thing like eating sugar makes us feel-- it sends our bodies a safety signal because of the calorie nature of it.

The third thing that it could be which is actually very different is, if she was opening her window with protein and then craving sugar, a case for that is often because we can get a reactive hypoglycemia from protein, and the sugar helps balance that out. But she's opening it with avocado and tomato, and feels satiated, and then has the sugar craving. So, I don't think it's that case. It really sounds habitual.

One of the things that I have heard is that the way you can identify if it's a craving is if it is for a very specific food, and you just want that one food. Because when you're hungry, and it's not a craving, you can think of lot of probably like whole foods that would tastes really delicious. But if it's like, “Oh, I really want Skittles,” or, “I really want cereal,” or, I really want this one specific thing, then it's quite often a craving. As for the advice-- Well, first of all, Gin, what are your thoughts about the source of this?

Gin Stephens: Well, first of all, one thing I think that is important is that she's only been doing IF for three weeks. We do see people who are still in the adjustment phase have a tendency to have that, that drive to eat more during their eating window when they're first starting as their bodies are adjusting. It has to do-- you're not well fueled yet in the fasted state because your body is still becoming fat adapted. So, you open your window and then bam, now you're craving that that energy that your body is not quite getting yet. When people find that, that calms down after they become fat adapted and adjusted to fasting, so I don't know if that's part of what's happening for you, but it could be because the timing is right.

Also, I mean I still get sugar cravings every day, sometimes. Well, I mean, not every day, but I do like to have something sweet. I don't think of it as a negative. I think of it as, why does every human crave something sweet? Why have we decided that that's bad and wrong if we all do it? What I do, and I've discovered if you've been listening to the podcast for a while, that too much sugar gives me restless legs. So, I'm mindful of what I choose and what I eat. But I do not beat myself up for wanting something sweet. Maybe I have a couple of Medjool dates. That satisfies that craving for something sweet, closes my window beautifully. I've been having smoothies to close my window. Now, these are smoothies made with whole foods, really high-quality foods. I talked about before. I'm loving Daily Harvest smoothies. If you go to the favorite things tab of ginstephens.com, I have a link there, but they're really high-quality ingredients, it satisfies my need to have something sweet. They don't have any added sugar. They're sweetened with things like a banana or dates. They also have things in there to balance it out like chickpeas, which might sound weird, but it's delicious. It balances it out with some protein and it's after my meal.

Yesterday, I actually had some vanilla ice cream because we had some still in the freezer from the holidays. I just had a little bit, and it wasn't a problem. I want you to think about this. If you're like bingeing on low-quality sugar things like packs of cookies, then obviously that would not be a good long-term strategy. But if you were like, “I love cookies, and I have cookies, and I'm craving a cookie and I'm going to have one,” or choose something, if you don't think cookies serve your body well, then think of something that would and have that. Melanie loves pineapple, that would meet her sweet craving. Don't feel guilt from it just because maybe you think that that we're not supposed to have anything that tastes sweet. I don't agree with that idea.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, it's so interesting with fruit. Some people, that works really well. For me, it works really well but some people that makes them more hungry. Knowing what type of sweet, so between the more simple sugars found in fruit compared to the more complex sugars found in something-- well, if you made like-- I'm paleo finding it, but if you made like a cookie out of starches, although that have sugar in it, so I guess that would be all of them.

One thing you could try is opening, because she said, okay, she opens with avocado and tomato. I know I said that some people will eat protein and then they crave the sweet because they need it to help process the protein without having a reactive hypoglycemia response. One thing you could do is open with avocado and tomato and protein. Opening with protein because protein is extremely satiating, and you might find that opening with that and fat which would be avocado, you might have less with the craving. Yes, I like what you said about that.

Gin Stephens: We have so much guilt around the whole idea of wanting to eat something sweet. I do think that, like you mentioned before, we know about the rats and the-- I'm talking about just refined sugar they'll just go to it more than just cocaine. Some people do have the areas of their brain that light up and they consider themselves to be sugar addicts, and they need to not have sugar and I'm talking about sugar itself. But then, some people have taken it to the point where they're like, well, anything like fruit, anything sweet is bad, and no one should ever have any of that. I'm not going to say that there aren't people that need to avoid that, and I understand. If someone says to me, “I can't eat fruit. Fruit is bad for my body,” I believe you. But I don't think we need to be caught up in the paradigm that craving something sweet means I'm bad and weak.

Melanie Avalon: The only context I would add, and it's 100%, it's not a moral thing. It's not bad and weak. The only caution I would add is if you are following a super high-fat, super low-carb diet, and you have a craving for something sweet, this is just something I thought for a really long time, but I think it's best if you've just had a really high-fat meal, and you're craving something sweet, I don't think it's the best to combine super high-fat with sugar in that situation. I like to-- personally, I would like ride it out with something like stevia or something like that, and then bring in carbs in the more of the context of not a ketogenic diet. That's just something I felt for a long time.

Gin Stephens: That's someone who is purposefully being ketogenic.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, because I think what happens a lot is, and I've said this before on the show, but I feel like a lot of times people will do ketogenic diets and it's not satiating, and it's not really working for them that well, but they're eating like a super, super high-fat version. Then, they get sugar cravings, and then they're like, “Oh, whatever, I'll just eat all the sugar.” In that context, I think that can create a very unhealthy or potentially damaging metabolic state, in that acute moment. I've always thought that it's like coming off the keto diet if you want to bring back carbs. I think doing some fast, so addressing the craving with something sweet that's not actually sugar, and then doing your you're fast, and then the next day approaching it with more carbs in a lower fat context.

Gin Stephens: Yeah. I think it's distinguishing between sugar craving and the craving for something sweet, because for me, it's the craving to have a little something sweet. Back in the day when I was trying keto, I made keto cheesecake and that satisfied the craving for something sweet.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Which I'm assuming you probably made it with--

Gin Stephens: Whatever all that stuff was. All the artificial stuff that you were using back in the day with that. Anyway, but I always had that little taste for something sweet that I needed. I don't think of it as a negative or a weakness.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. That's why I personally-- like I was doing low carb for a long time. I did for a while see it as a weakness or something like you just said, but then I realized I was much happier doing intermittent fasting and then having all the sweet that I wanted in the form of fruit and satiating that at night in my eating window, and that worked really well for me. I switched to a lower fat context for it.

Gin Stephens: The smoothies, we're really enjoying them. Chad and I'll split one. It's just so funny because for a while, he was like, “Let's just have fourth of one and save it.” And I'm like, “We're not doing it,” because he's one of those naturally thin people that has appetite correction. He's like, “I only want a little bit.” I'm like, “Well, then just throw it away. I'm making a new one tomorrow. We're not going to have a quarter of a smoothie every day.” [laughs] It is so funny. He's the person that will leave like two green beans on his plate.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I can't do that.

Gin Stephens: Just eat the green beans, eat the green beans.

Melanie Avalon: Especially when I go to restaurants, it's completely cleared. I always look around and people-- a lot of people do, not finished everything, and I'm like--

Gin Stephens: I do stop eating, sometimes I'll be like, “I've had enough of this chicken, you want the rest of this piece of chicken?” I'll hand that to him, he might eat it, or I just won't finish it. But two green beans or a quarter of a smoothie, no.

Melanie Avalon: I've always finished everything my entire life.

Gin Stephens: Really? I don't always but I tend to if it's something I'm really enjoying.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: Anyway, that's funny.

Melanie Avalon: Shall we go to the next question?

Gin Stephens: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: All right. This comes from Nelson. We don't have the subject, but Nelson says, “Hey, ladies, I love your show. To make a long story short, I discovered IF--" this is a really old question, but I came across it and I just was like, “Oh, I have to read this. This is crazy.” He says, “I discovered IF by a group of extras at a shoot for Manhunt for Netflix where Melanie's name was mentioned early spring 2019.” This just cracks me up because I used to do that all the time. Doing extra on shows for TV and Netflix and stuff like that. So, it's funny to me that people were talking about me in that situation.

Gin Stephens: That is funny. Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: That's so funny. I could have been on that set. Well, 2019, I could have been. He says, “I lost over 100 pounds now. It's not only the lifestyle I love, what I love is that I made it fit me. Do you know what I mean? Nothing drastic, just delay, don't deny. So simple. Now for my question, I'll reach maintenance at 180. I'm 224 today, I was 330. My wife thinks I'm too skinny. My mom too. Everybody around me is over 275 pounds and now they're all wondering what I am doing. I gave them your books, but my wife wants me heavier. What do I do? By the way, I'm a 56-year-old father of eight boys, married for 26 years. Happy fasting. Thank you for all that you do.”

Gin Stephens: This is a great question, Nelson, thank you for sharing it. I'm going to share a personal story from my life when I first was approaching my goal in 2015. Keep in mind that I had been 210 pounds most recently, and I had been up in that 180 to 200 range up and down around and there for a few years prior to hitting 210 and realizing that I was obese. My husband had been used to seeing me heavy. So, then when I was getting close to my goal weight, my initial goal was 135 pounds, because that was 75 pounds down, that seemed like a number that if I ever could just hit that 75 pounds down, 135 seemed perfection.

Then, I got there and I'm like, “Alright, I met my goal.” But then, I realized I did still have some fat to lose, which is true, I did. I did go on to lose at least five more pounds around in there to hit around 80 going. But the point I'm making is, when I hit that 135, my husband said, “You're too skinny.” He had seen me way less than that early in our marriage when I was younger, and he never said I was too skinny then. But after seeing me at 210 and then around the 180s for a while, suddenly, it was a big change to see me at 135. He was like, “Yeah, you don't lose any more weight. Do not lose any more weight.” I ignored him, did whatever I wanted to do. And he doesn't think I'm too skinny, even though I am two sizes down from where I was at that day, that I hit my goal and when he said don't lose any more weight, I'm two sizes down from that day and he does not think I'm too skinny now.

People have to adjust to the new you. Choose a way where you can healthily maintain and feel good in your skin. Don't fixate on the number. Maybe it's 180, you're 224 today, maybe it's 190, maybe it's 175. You don't know. Just let your body decide what feels right to you and what's easy for you to maintain. When you get there, your family will adjust to your new size. Our bodies do not want to be too skinny. So, it's really unusual that anyone would lose below a weight that is healthy for your body. I wouldn't stress out about that. Let them adjust and they'll see. What do you think about that, Melanie?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I think that's great. I think maybe when it comes up something that you can focus on rather than debating the weight is shift the focus to talking about how you feel health-wise, like how you're feeling better and have that discussion, rather than trying to be defensive about the weight or the size.

Gin Stephens: Right. We hear this a lot, that people will say, “Well, now everyone around me tells me I've lost too much weight, I'm getting too skinny.” Whenever anybody asks that, I say, “Alright, what's your height? What's your weight?” They're always in a healthy BMI range when they're saying this. I've never once had anybody say a weight that puts them below a healthy BMI range. It's just that I really think it takes time for people to adjust to the new you.

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Gin Stephens: This is from Rebecca, and the subject is “Bloodwork/Glucose.” “I have been clean fasting since March 1 of 2020. And I'm amazed how fit I feel and how loose my clothes are. I thought I was doing well prior until I realized by putting stevia in my coffee, eating sugar-free breath mints, I was compromising my fast. I know now. Here's my question. I was watching my A1c levels climb since the majority of my dad's side of the family all have diabetes. All of them. I was watching my level climb, and a year ago, my A1c reached 5.7, which is pre-diabetic. Since I got on track, it is now 5.5 for five months, which I thought would even drop more when I started to clean fast in March. Shouldn't that have dropped more? Also, my glucose level went from 89 in January 2020 to 100, and I fasted 15 hours. Any suggestions as to why that went up? Thank you so much. Sincerely, Rebecca.” She said, “By the way, I have your book, Gin, and also pre-ordered your new book coming out this month. I also bought The Obesity Code.” So, that lets me know she sent this in in June. At the time that she wrote this, she was only three months into intermittent fasting. That's important.

Melanie Avalon: Awesome. Thank you so much, Rebecca. For listeners, who are not familiar, HbA1c is, so we have our blood sugar that we can monitor which is in your blood. Then we have our HbA1c which shows longer-term effects of elevated blood sugar levels on our red blood cells. The turnover rate is three months. So, we tend to see changes in HbA1c on a three-month timeline. I'm so excited because I finally released my first episode. Had I released it last time we recorded, Gin, with Nutrisense?

Gin Stephens: I'm not sure if it had been released yet.

Melanie Avalon: I'm really excited because I actually just released two days ago, finally, finally, finally, the episode because Gin and I have been talking about CGMs so much on this show recently, which are continuous glucose monitors, which give you a real-time picture of your blood sugar levels throughout the day. I interviewed Nutrisense. There's two different companies that I was trialing. There's Nutrisense and Levels. I'm interviewing both of them and bringing them both and releasing episodes with both of them, but I did release just now the episode with Nutrisense, which is making CGMs accessible to the general public. The reason I'm talking about this is, we dive so deep, Rebecca, if you listen to that episode, I think it will help you so much. We went really deep into HbA1c, blood sugar levels, higher fasting blood sugar levels while fasting, like she says that she's fasting 15 hours and now her blood sugar was up from 89 to 100.

I will say one of the biggest things I've learned from wearing a CGM, because I've been wearing one for about a month and a half now, is just how for a lot of people and for me how much your blood sugar can change throughout the day. So, like you could measure one moment, and it might be 89 and then you might wait five minutes and measure it and it might be 100. It can really change that much.

Gin Stephens: It really does.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, based on a lot of factors. Interesting thing about HbA1c, that's why it is a better marker because you are seeing the longer-term effect. That said, in the interview, the founder Nutrisense, her name is Kara Collier. She was actually talking about some of the potential issues with HbA1c, and there is some debate about factors affecting it and how reliable it is. But all of that said, it is possible-- and this is something that I asked Kara, because a lot of people doing fasting and/or low carb diets, actually find that they’d start having higher fasted blood sugar levels, usually around like 100, kind of what Rebecca is experiencing. The question I asked Kara this, I also asked at Levels, her name was Casey, I asked her as well. I am very curious about people who are doing fasting-- and we don't know if this is the case with Rebecca, but a lot of people who are doing fasting, doing low carb, and experiencing a slightly elevated fasted blood sugar, the flip side is they don't tend to be getting the huge spikes. When they're eating, they're not getting these crazy high blood sugar levels, but the fasted blood sugar, maybe at a higher baseline. I am personally really curious, and I don't know that we have the answer to this yet about the cost-benefit of all this and how it is affecting things like HbA1c and things like that.

The point of all this is, Rebecca, if this does continue to be a thing, especially since you really want to take charge of this, I would really, really recommend getting a CGM if that is a possibility for you. You can go to melanieavalon.com/nutrisensecgm, and the coupon code, MELANIEAVALON, will get you 15% off and they do have a two-week one. I don't think the code works for that. They have a two-week one and they have like three months and six months in different plans. Anybody who is trying to figure out their blood sugar levels, their HbA1c, they're fasting, the foods they're eating, how it's affecting them, the CGM might really, really help. Her question is any suggestions as to why it went up? It could be the fasting, it could be just when you tested it, when you took that blood sugar draw. It could be that maybe if you tested it at a slightly different time that it would have been in the 80s as well.

Gin Stephens: That was mind blowing to me from wearing the CGM. Then I was like, well, this is now a meaningless question because it just really could have been five minutes earlier, you could have had-- or 30 minutes earlier, it could have been completely different.

Melanie Avalon: It's really shocking, actually.

Gin Stephens: It really surprised me a lot how much it varied from minute to minute, even in the fasted state. You assume that when you're fasted, it is just steady there. But no, your body is constantly keeping it within this range. Your liver dumps some more glycogen, it just keeps going up and down within this range.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, and that's something that's really good about doing like Nutrisense because you have an app with it and you can see, has like tables and charts. Even if it's changing, you can see where the general line is, and then it gives you scores. It does all the analyzing for you. It makes sense of the data to let you know if things are potentially a problem or not. The other thing really cool about Nutrisense is-- and you can opt-out if you don't want this, but they actually talk to you via email or via chat, I think, in the app, and give you advice and guidance and can interpret your results for you, which I was like, “Wow, this is pretty cool.” It's very, very tailored to helping you figure things out. If you really want to figure it out, that could definitely be something that could help you. I found for me that I wasn't like super happy with my fasted blood sugar levels, and I started supplementing with berberine that had a profound effect on my fasting blood sugar. I'll put a link in the show notes to the berberine that I'm taking. It's the Thorn brand. But yeah.

Gin Stephens: I also want to put out there. We don't know, this is really important, the A1c is a measure of your past two to three months of blood sugar. It gives you that average. It had been 5.7, it got to 5.5, and she said she thought it would drop even more when she started to clean fast in March. So, I don't know when her A1c was tested. She's only been doing clean fasting for three months, so I imagine that her A1c was tested at some point within that three months of the clean fast. That's really not much time. It takes people a lot longer to see positive changes in their A1c than just at first because our bodies, we have the adjustment period for intermittent fasting. Our bodies are doing a lot of changing, a lot of healing. So, it's not like it happens overnight. Like now, I'm fasting everything's fixed. Now, it might take a year for you to see, you see the trend over time, maybe get it tested every three months. And hopefully every three months, you'll see that trend getting better, but not at first, and she's still really right there in the beginning.

Melanie Avalon: She hasn't mentioned at all what she's eating. If what you're eating, you're massively spiking your blood sugar, and depending on how long it's taking for that blood sugar to come down, that could be a huge factor. I don't think people can always fast themselves out of foods that aren't working for us. So, hopefully, that was helpful.

A few things for listeners before we go. 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/Episode194.

Oh, listeners, for Episode 200 we are going to do an Ask Me Anything Episode. So, if you have any questions, you can ask Gin and I anything about our personal lives or anything, our opinions on whatever. So, just send us those questions and put AMA in the title so we know that that's what it's for. You can get all of this stuff we like at ifpodcast.com/stuffwelike. I wanted to mention because I was talking about Dry Farm Wines in the beginning, you can get a bottle for a penny from Dry Farm Wines at dryfarmwines.com/ifpodcast.

Gin Stephens: Ooh, can I tell you what I got Chad for Christmas?

Melanie Avalon: Dry Farm Wines?

Gin Stephens: I did.

Melanie Avalon: You did? Oh.

Gin Stephens: Yeah. I've ordered him-- I'm not drinking wine right now, but he's drinking wine. He has literally gone through my Dry Farm Wines because that's all he wants to drink now. I was like, “I'm going to get him some Dry Farm Wines.”

Melanie Avalon: I'm doing that for my dad too.

Gin Stephens: I love it.

Melanie Avalon: Does he drink red?

Gin Stephens: Chad likes red. Yeah, he prefers red. I got him a box. Yeah, and you can get a gift box. I don't know if people know you can do that. You can send someone a gift box.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, you can do like a one-off.

Gin Stephens: Yep. You don't have to send a subscription.

Melanie Avalon: I've been gifting myself because I'm going faster than my subscription.

Gin Stephens: When I was doing that, I was going faster than my subscription, I would just go in and change the next ship date.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I've done that, and I've done gift box.

Gin Stephens: But anyway, so I've got to try to figure out how to intercept the box before he sees it because he's home for the semester there. He's grading final exams. I'm just going to be standing at the curb waiting for it to deliver.

Melanie Avalon: “Don't look. [laughs] Don't look while I sign for this heavy box.”

Gin Stephens: When I see that it's out for delivery. I'll be like, “Please go do a lot of shopping for me at the grocery store.” Anyway, I just had to throw that in about Dry Farm Wines because we love it.

Melanie Avalon: Love them. If you'd like to get a bottle for a penny, you can go to dryfarmwines.com/ifpodcast, and you can follow us on Instagram, the place to be, with Gin and I. [laughs] I'm starting to have the time on my life there. I'm Melanie Avalon, Gin is Gin Stephens. No, friends, for reals, follow me. I'm doing a lot of giveaways. For the CGM episode, I'm giving away a CGM.

Gin Stephens: Woo, can I enter-- [laughs]

Melanie Avalon:  Sure. If you win, I'll be like, “Nope.”

Gin Stephens: Okay, never mind.

Melanie Avalon: No, you can enter. Enter, and then when I do the drawing--

Gin Stephens: I cannot win. That's fine. Okay.

Melanie Avalon: I will die if it lands on you. That'd be so funny.

Gin Stephens: That would be funny.

Melanie Avalon: No, every episode that I release now if they have something that is giveawayable, I'm asking them if they'll give it away.

Gin Stephens: Oh, that's a good idea.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so it's been CGM. So, that giveaway will probably be over, but there might be another one going on when this comes out in January. Happy 2021, Gin.

Gin Stephens: Awesome. Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Happy January 4th to you.

Gin Stephens: We're recording this way in the past, but I think we're all ready for some 2021.

Melanie Avalon: I think so. Gin is GinStephens on Instagram. I think that is everything.

Gin Stephens: I think so too.

Melanie Avalon: All right. Well, anything else from you before we go?

Gin Stephens: Still no. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: I will talk to you next week.

Gin Stephens: All right. Bye-bye.

Melanie Avalon: Bye.

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


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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