Welcome to Episode 197 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.
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Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 197 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 197 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I'm here with Gin Stephens.
Gin Stephens: Hi, everybody.
Melanie Avalon: How are you today, Gin?
Gin Stephens: I'm great. I am officially starting to work on my next book.
Melanie Avalon: Ooh. That is exciting.
Gin Stephens: It is exciting. It is not an intermittent fasting book.
Melanie Avalon: Last time when you wrote Fast. Feast. Repeat-- that book you did start completely afresh, right? Or did you already have anything written?
Gin Stephens: Well, when I started writing that one, I already had a complete outline of it. Yes, I had a complete outline that my literary agent sent out to different publishing houses. Then one of them bought it. It was St. Martin's Press of Macmillan, and so that's how that went. But this time, when you're already a published author with a publishing house, they get-- well, I guess it depends on your agreement. But they get first right of refusal, I guess, I don't know if that's the right publishing lingo, but they get the first chance to say yes to my next book, and my next book--
Melanie Avalon: Who get dibs basically.
Gin Stephens: Exactly. We pitched a few things in a casual way. My editor’s like, “Yeah, write that one.” That's what I'm doing. I'm so excited. I can't talk about much yet, but more to come. I have a very tight deadline.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, you do?
Gin Stephens: I do.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, man. Have you written anything? Or is it like, you’ve got to just start everything now.
Gin Stephens: I’ve got to just start. I've been thinking about it for months. It develops in my mind. Actually, here's what's really funny. I'm not going to announce what it's about yet, but this is based on concepts that I really wanted to write about almost 20 years ago.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, I did not know that.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I actually have an outline of a book I wanted to write. It's not the same book, but it was a similar concept. I have it from like, gosh, probably almost 20 years ago, like I said. It's a topic that's near and dear to my heart. Just general teaser there.
Melanie Avalon: My correlation to that is Taylor Swift and her most recent album, one of the lines she wanted to write in the song since high school.
Gin Stephens: Love it. Yeah, this is not a topic that's new to my heart, but I haven't written a book about it yet. Like I said, that outline that is in this notebook from so long ago.
Melanie Avalon: I am very excited.
Gin Stephens: This book is not going to be anything like I would have written 20 years ago, obviously. But, yeah, I know, Melanie knows the topic, so I'm very excited about it. People in the intermittent fasting community, I think, will really like it, but also it'll have a broader appeal.
Melanie Avalon: I am so excited.
Gin Stephens: Yay, me, too. I have a lot of work to do. I ordered things that I need. I'm like one of those people that needs the right tools. I'm very old school, so I got I've ordered some new toner cartridges for my printer because I do a ton of printing because I like to work from paper. I've ordered some highlighters.
Melanie Avalon: You print out what you're doing and then you--
Gin Stephens: I need paper. I’ve got to have paper. I have old school highlighters. I get those little post-it flags so you can flag things. I got a big file folder, like accordion folder, because I like to file the papers by topic. [laughs] That's how I work.
Melanie Avalon: That's legit.
Gin Stephens: It is. Like I said, I'm old school. When I write my dissertation-- Oh, actually, here's a funny story. Right this today was the day that we're recording this that I submitted my dissertation for approval, it showed up in my Facebook memories.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, wow.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. Isn't that funny? It was either 2008 or 2009, so that's been a long time. When I was writing my dissertation, I just had piles of papers.
Melanie Avalon: It's crazy to think how long Facebook has been around.
Gin Stephens: Facebook, I know.
Melanie Avalon: I don't know why I feel like-- I don't feel like it's still new, but it doesn't feel like it's been around for like that part of my life that long.
Gin Stephens: So, yup, I was new to Facebook, it was 2008. Funny story-- well, I guess it's not a funny story, but I had been in the hospital for 10 days with Cal working on my dissertation, finishing it up because he had just had appendicitis, really bad and it ruptured, and then he had to have a second surgery. We were just there forever, but we spent 10 days in the hospital, got out the day before Christmas Eve, but it really allowed me to finish things up. But Facebook was new to me back then.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, actually, now that you say that, I remember when I first signed up for Facebook, and it was 2008. Yeah, it would have been 2008. So, that is correct.
Gin Stephens: It was 2008 for me, and it's so much fun looking at those memories, but it also is funny that even now so many years later, that's still how I research with my piles of papers and my highlighters, and that's just-- I learn better on paper. I think that we actually have research that shows that the tactile experience of paper, it's different than reading electronically.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. It definitely is. I'm just thinking about all the ways I consume media researching everything, like audiobooks versus Kindle versus the physical books. It does feel different.
Gin Stephens: If I really need to learn something, I have to have the paper. I really do better with it. I think that there's, like I said, research that supports that with kids as well. So I hope that we don't think that we should do away with paper books.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, yeah. No, 100%. I have an update.
Gin Stephens: Oh, yay. What's your update?
Melanie Avalon: There was something I meant to say, last episode I interviewed Jason Fung.
Gin Stephens: Yay.
Melanie Avalon: It's so exciting. I mentioned you a lot on that show. Just because I was saying that, I mean, we talk about him all the time on this show.
Gin Stephens: Did he say Gin Stephens, who is that?
Melanie Avalon: No, he did not. [laughs] I realize I just mentioned you, I didn't even say Gin Stephens. I just mentioned you, I assumed he already knew who you were. He probably does. But I remember after I said it, I was like, “Oh, I guess I just sort of assumed that he knows who you are.” Yeah, it was really, really great. It's funny because when I first started my other show, the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast, I really wanted to bring him on. I assumed at that time that when I brought him on, it would be about fasting, because that's his thing, but his newest book, as I mentioned before and as listeners might know, is about cancer. So, that was what the episode was about. It was really, really fascinating, really. I feel listeners will learn a lot.
Gin Stephens: Well, that's fabulous. I will always be a Jason Fung fan.
Melanie Avalon: Me, too. He's so nice, too.
Gin Stephens: He really is. Yeah, he seems like such a nice guy.
Melanie Avalon: He's just a really nice person. So that was quite an honor. I have one other really tiny little thing. You know how last episode we were talking about, the listener had the question about not being able to handle carbs and glucose. We were talking about like fructose and glucose and glycogen and fat and all of that. I mentioned that I was listening to an episode with Peter Attia that basically went deep, deep, deep into the metabolism of all those things. After we finished recording, I was like, “You know what, I should probably finish listening to this episode.” I did. You know how I always talk about that when they do studies on people overeating carbohydrates that really-- it's only really a tiny amount that becomes fat?
Gin Stephens: Yep. And often that their metabolism increases-- [crosstalk] Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: The speaker who I really am going to try to get on my show, he's a professor at Yale. So, I emailed him last night to his professor email, we shall see. He was talking about that process, but then he was actually saying that and people who are insulin resistant and who have metabolic issues that, it can double like the normal rate of fat from carbs.
Gin Stephens: That makes total sense though, think about that. If you have really, really high levels of insulin, all the time, your body is primed to store more things.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, so I felt bad that I felt good because he said that I was like, “Oh, man.” I was like, I've been like saying this whole time, and then Peter Attia asked him. He literally asked him about the studies I had read, he said, “You know that they do these studies that test with overfeeding carbs and it really isn't that much of a change.” Peter wanted to clarify, like, “Is that not the case in insulin resistance?” And he said, “Yeah, it does seem to be more.” I felt a little bit better that I guess, Peter Attia was thinking the same thing as me. The good thing is, he said it can double like the normal amount. The normal amount still isn't that high. It's still I think much harder to gain a lot of extra fat from excess carbs compared to extra fat, given the context.
Gin Stephens: Most people do not just eat excess carbs in isolation, and that is why people are so confused because if you say, “Hey, I eat too many carbs,” so tell me what that looks like. And they'll start naming things like pizza and doughnuts and french fries, which are carbs. Also, fat, people just really are confused by what a carb is, like a cookie. If you said, “Is this a carb or a fat?” People would probably say, “Oh, that cookie is a carb.” No.” It is carbs, but it also has a ton of fat. That's I think what really is confusing. People very rarely eat a high carb, low fat diet.
Melanie Avalon: Where it's actually low fat.
Gin Stephens: Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: They didn't discuss this specifically, but I would love to bring them on my podcast. I could just pick his brain so much, but I do wonder, in a really insulin resistant person with metabolic syndrome, I wonder what it would look like if they only ate carbs and way overate, compared to an insulin sensitive person, how much fat could be created?
Gin Stephens: Here's the study we need. We need to compare two groups of people doing the same exact thing, people who are metabolically healthy and lean compared to people who have metabolic syndrome and give them the exact same ratio, and see what happens. That'd be fascinating. You and I could design studies.
Melanie Avalon: We could.
Gin Stephens: I totally could. I joke about this in Feast Without Fear, my second book. I taught elementary kids how to do science fair projects. Controlling your variables is like science fair 101. Fourth graders can get it. I remember reading them when we were doing our science fair unit one year, I read them a nutritional study and the children were able to find the flaws, fourth graders. They're like, “You can't do that. They didn't control the variables” I'm like, “Yes, I get it. Yes.”
Melanie Avalon: It's so hard to in a free-living situation.
Gin Stephens: Well, it is. It's easier with paper airplanes than it is with humans.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. The other thing I wanted to clarify, I think this is what I said last time, but I wanted to double clarify because I finished listening to it. His primary theory, this guy, who I really want to interview is that in insulin resistance, first, it's not the liver that becomes insulin resistant, per se, it's the muscles. The muscles throughout our body stop adequately taking up glucose, like blood sugar, sugar from our food, and then the liver becomes insulin resistant. And then everything just goes from there, way worse.
Gin Stephens: All gunked up from there.
Melanie Avalon: He was talking about the massive benefits of exercise for insulin resistance, that is something I was familiar with. But I think I'm realizing more and more how important exercise is because there is non-insulin-dependent glucose uptake into the muscles. Even if you are insulin resistant and can't get glucose into your muscles through the normal mechanism of insulin, you can through exercise. That's why one reason it can be so, so important.
Gin Stephens: Oh, that's fascinating. Makes sense. It totally makes sense. Our bodies are amazing. Man, they're not just little simple in/out boxes, there's so much going on.
Melanie Avalon: Also, the evolutionary benefit. Insulin resistance is probably an evolutionary thing. It's our bodies trying to protect us from starvation.
Gin Stephens: Everything our bodies do is to protect us. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: It has good intentions, it just goes all wrong.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, because we're doing all these wacky things that we think are the right things to do, and they're the opposite. And our body's like, “Let me help you with that.”
Melanie Avalon: And like the body Setpoint, which the interview coming up this week. Good times.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, absolutely.
Melanie Avalon: For listeners, this show notes will be at ifpodcast.com/episode197. I'll put links to all that stuff that we just talked about.
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Shall we jump into everything for today?
Gin Stephens: Yep, let's get started.
Melanie Avalon: All right, so to start things off, we have a question from Becky. The subject is, “How do I know my maintenance weight?” Becky says, “Hi, Gin and Melanie, I love your show. Super fun. Thanks. I've been fasting for four and a half months. Now, I usually do a five-hour window. But I am not super strict and sometimes open it up to eight hours, and sometimes tighten it to three. I clean fast all of my fast. It worked fairly well, and I love how I feel, but my results are interesting/confusing. I started at 182 pounds, I'm 5’8” with an athletic build, and very quickly got to the mid 170s. As the weeks went on, my weight loss slowed, though. Interesting to look back at the Happy Scale app and see that it was 2 pounds per week initially, then 1, then 0.7, then 0.5, then 0.3, etc. Now for weeks, it has been point one pound per week. Well, actually for the past couple of weeks, it has been no loss at all, because I've been eating Christmas goodies. Currently, I'm hovering between 168.5 and 170 pounds.
My question is this, how do I know what my final/maintenance weight will be? When I got married 12 years ago, I weighed 167.5 pounds. I looked fantastic and I was super proud of myself. Like I said, I have an athletic build. I've always been a competitive swimmer. I've competed in triathlons and other races for fun. I'm happy with the way I look, and my husband tells me I don't need to lose any more, but I wonder if I should be shooting for a lower weight? Or is it even possible? I wear a size 8, so I think perhaps I'm just a very dense person. Your thoughts/insights would be appreciated. Thank you so much, Becky.”
Gin Stephens: This is such a great question because so many of us get hung up on that number on the scale, which is why I ended up throwing my scale away. I've told this story a million times. I haven't seen a number on the scale since 2017. I haven't seen a number. The question is, how do I know my maintenance weight? The thing that I think is so important is that you can't know. I've seen so many people really, really stress over a number. They get in their minds that they have to weigh-- let's say for you. You said you weighed 167.5, Becky, and you looked fantastic, and you're proud of yourself and your husband thinks you look great where you are right this minute, but you remember 167.5 is a golden weight for you. Even though right now you weigh between 168.5 and 170, which by the way is statistically you're there at the same weight because weight goes up and down. You're just right in there. Even with a margin of error, if you have a different scale, you could weigh exactly the same amount in your scales just weighing you differently. Does that make sense, Melanie? Do you understand what I'm trying to say? There's like a standard error of measurement with any tool or device or anything. Maybe you're 168 to 170 now is the same as your other scale was at 167.5.
My point is that if you decided you had to see 167.5 on the scale in order to be happy, I think you'd be setting yourself up for long term failure and disappointment just because our bodies are naturally going to fluctuate, and so much of it depends on our body composition. If you're super muscular which you say that you are, you've got that athletic build, and you feel great in your body, and you look great in your clothes in your size that you like, I would 100% forget about the number. You could even gain weight on the scale, and lose fat and be leaner, but your weight is higher on the scale. I think you're now at the point where your scale number is meaningless.
Right now take photos of yourself wearing an outfit that you feel great in or even if you have a pair of pants that are a little tight, make those your honesty pants, take photos from all the different angles with those pants on. Then three months from now, take the photos again and compare. I bet you'll find you're a little bit leaner three months from now, but your weight may not change at all on the scale. I would consider that you're right now in your maintenance range, and let your body do what it does with body recomposition over time. You have my permission to never worry about a number again. It's why I love the Shapa scale so much, I just worry about what my overall color trend is doing, and I don't have to see a number. What do you have to say, Melanie?
Melanie Avalon: I love that. I'm just pondering how crazy technology and the concept of time is because I am going to refer Becky to an episode that I have not recorded but will have aired two days ago or three days ago, last Friday. When this episode comes out, this is a Monday, the Friday that just passed, I will have aired that episode about Setpoint. Although I haven't even recorded it yet, but I anticipate.
Gin Stephens: We're time traveling fasters.
Melanie Avalon: I anticipate I will be talking about a lot of this because what's really interesting is she talks about she saw a very consistent weight loss trend on the Happy Scale with the two pounds, and then 0.7, then 0.5, then 0.3, and now 0.1. And that's something at least Jonathan Bailor who I'm interviewing, he has a documentary coming out in his book, Setpoint something. The word ‘setpoint’ is in the title. As you’re losing weight, a lot of things are happening, so there's less of you, so you lost weight. Automatically, your daily energy expenditure automatically is not going to be as high because the more you weigh the higher daily energy expenditure, so there's that, because we don't know at all, but before I say all of this, I'm not saying, Becky, I agree with everything Gin said, I'm just going into this concept of what might be happening with weight loss slowing down as you lose weight.
The second thing is depending on what you're eating, and depending on your fasting habits and everything like that, a lot of people who are doing conventional typical dieting, so this really doesn't even probably apply to Becky, the body does perceive the weight loss is a negative that it has to combat. So, the metabolism can also slow down so it becomes harder and harder to lose weight, the more and more you lose weight. There is this idea of setpoints that the body reaches where it doesn't really want to lose much weight beyond that. And if you think about it, they also doesn't want to gain much weight beyond that.
Gin Stephens: That's exactly right.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that's something he was talking about to reframe, like--
Gin Stephens: Exactly. We've got some people in the group that really just have like, I was talking about. I don't think I really explored it, but they want to see a number on the scale that's-- I don’t know, [unintelligible [00:28:44] 10 pounds lower than they are right now. No matter what they do, they can't see that magic number. Their body is happy where they are. It's not gaining, it's not losing. It's just this is where your body is happy. I really think we need to embrace a point where it becomes easy for our bodies to maintain, and you don't have to stress about it.
Melanie Avalon: You can reframe the setpoints as really working in your favor. Most of the studies that they do on setpoints, people who are chronically dieted down their bodies try really really hard to gain back the weight. Then people who are chronically overfed. I mean, most people gain weight, some people gain a lot of weight. Some people barely gain any weight, but regardless of the amount of weight gain, the body-- I'm pretty sure in all of the studies the body makes compensatory adaption. If you eat way, way over your calories, it's very unlikely that your metabolism is going to slow down from that. You're most likely going to burn more, even if it's not burning enough obviously to mitigate the weight gain, the body still fights it. There'll be a lot more information once I actually record that show, which I'm recording in three days from now, I think. I think Gin answered it really well, because Becky sounds happy with her body.
Gin Stephens: She talks about how when she weighed practically the exact same thing when she got married 12 years ago and looked fantastic. I really think, Becky, you are in your maintenance range, and that's the point I want to keep hammering home. Maintenance range. We're recording this, it's almost New Year's Eve. We're not quite out of the holiday season, I'm pretty sure right now, I'm higher on my maintenance range than I was before Thanksgiving, but that's okay. I am very sure my weight goes up and down within that range and has for all these years. I'm not having to buy bigger clothes and not having to get all new, smaller clothes. Focus on that range idea, instead of a number.
Melanie Avalon: That's one thing I want to ask him is what is the typical amount of pounds for that range? Because he did say in the book that it's about 20 pounds?
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised.
Melanie Avalon: That it's pretty hard.
Gin Stephens: I don't think mine fluctuates 20.
Melanie Avalon: Sorry, not that it fluctuates 20 pounds, but there's a 20-pound range that your body is going to fight to stay within.
Gin Stephens: Okay,
Melanie Avalon: So, it's going to be really, really hard to gain more than 20 pounds, it's going to be really, really hard to lose more than 20 pounds. Well, depending on what you're doing. Just basically that that might be the window, no pun intended that you have to work with.
Gin Stephens: That makes sense. It makes me really sad when someone's fighting over 10 pounds, it's really, really hard to force your body to be lower than your body wants to be. I am very lucky, and I know it. But I know that my setpoint, if you will, of where I am right now is where my body likes to be because I've maintained it over all these years, since I lost the weight with intermittent fasting. But if I decided I needed to see 10 pounds down, I would have to work really, really, really hard to do it. Could I do it? I don't know if I could do it. I don't think I could lose 10 more pounds and maintain there without really being miserable. So, I want to be happy.
Melanie Avalon: That's something I do really want to ask him. I've heard this theory floating around that if, and I asked for in my Facebook group, which everybody should join, IF Biohackers. I asked what questions people had about setpoint, and a lot of people wanted to know, there's this idea out there that if you hold a weight for a certain amount of time that your body accepts that new setpoint.
Gin Stephens: Research has shown that in general, we don't know a ton about setpoint, Maybe he's going to say a lot of things that are new, that would be exciting. When I was researching setpoint for Fast. Feast. Repeat., it's still a little nebulous, what you can do to lower that setpoint, that whole diet that I did that was so crazy, the Shangri-La Diet, where you're chugging the oil, his theory. He was a doctor that wrote it. His theory was that when you break the calorie association with taste, or something or other, that it would lower your setpoint. I'm like, “I'm going to lower my setpoint. I'm chugging this oil.” That was so funny.
Melanie Avalon: I'm also thinking the calories in, calories out model is just so not comprehensive. One of the other things in that Peter Attia episode that the guest was talking about which-- this is something I've been familiar with, as well. This is a banned drug that nobody should take because people died from it. But have you heard of DNP?
Gin Stephens: I'm not sure.
Melanie Avalon: I'm just really fascinated by this. It was one of the first anti-obesity drugs, and it was in the 1930s. The way it worked was it basically increased, it's called like uncoupling. Basically, it made cells just burn energy as heat. It basically just told yourself to just burn calories and not-- basically just ratcheted up people's metabolisms to the point that people actually died from it and it was removed from the market. That just goes to show that with signaling of things that your body-- we can eat things, but it says nothing to whether how those cells are going to burn it or not. If they want to, if they have the signaling, which was happening with that drug, for example, or maybe other lifestyle options, I don't know what all leads to that. If they “want to,” they can just burn calories as heat, which I guess is what happens a lot in those overfeeding studies.
Gin Stephens: Yep. I really think that insulin has a lot to do with your setpoint, honestly, I think that people with a high level of circulating insulin are likely to have a high setpoint. As you lower your insulin levels, I think it lowers your setpoint, and do I have like a study, I can pull out that says that? No, but I do think that's instrumental.
Melanie Avalon: Actually, that was one of the things he was saying in the book was that I don't remember exactly. It was something to the effect of people who are thin compared to people who are obese, oftentimes-- well, I guess there is the insulin resistance issue, but as far as their experience of food and the calories they're getting from that, and the energy, it's almost it's like the same, it's just that the body setpoint is different, or the insulin might be playing a factor. What I'm saying is basically, people who are obese might be eating less and doing all the things, but because of their setpoint, or insulin, or whatever it may be, to their body, it won't have the same effect. I'm not saying this very well. It was just a really interesting idea of underweight and overweight people sort of being the same, but the setpoint just being at a different place.
Gin Stephens: There's just so much we still don't know, because the body, it responds to everything. It's not like-- just like you mentioned a little while ago, it's hard to do a study and control the variables with people, because even when you try to control all the variables, your body's got a million other variables back in there. You're like, “I'm going to do this.” But your body's like, “Well, then I'm going to do this.” We don't even know all the things it's doing sometimes. My body might do something different than your body does with the same inputs. It might depend on my insulin levels, or whatever. My gut microbiome, my genetics.
Melanie Avalon: We talked about this before, but you could have a thin person who you would think is more insulin resistant, because they don't gain weight as easily. It can actually be because their fat cells, instead of dividing to form new fat cells to gain weight, they just become inflamed and just get bigger and bigger and bigger and become insulin resistant. But it makes it harder for them to gain weight, compared to people who easily gain weight, but it's because when their fat cells are full, the fat cells divide and form new fat cells, which actually protects them from insulin resistance. It's actually more healthy metabolically, but they're more likely to become overweight, which is really interesting. Basically, with so many things going on behind the scenes-- they think that's one of the things in Asian populations, because Asian populations don't have as much of an obesity problem, but they have a lot of metabolic issues. It's probably a genetic thing where their fat cells don't divide to form new fat cells to protect from an influx of excess calories.
Gin Stephens: That's fascinating.
Melanie Avalon: So many things.
Gin Stephens: Our bodies are great and everything they do are trying to help us.
Melanie Avalon: This is true.
Gin Stephens: That was very interesting. I look forward to talking to you, Melanie, after you talk to him.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, yeah, I know. I’ll report back.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. All right. So here we go. The next question is from Samantha, and it is two parts, “Fasting Burps/Supplements in Canada?” She says, “Hello, ladies. You are so great and it's lovely to have your company and great banter to listen to during these interesting times. You often keep me company during home renovations. I've been trying to catch up on the podcast right from the beginning and getting pretty close. Some of the many great tips blur together as I've learned so much, so I was hoping for some advice. I started with 16:8, quickly moved to 19:5, and often stretch as far as 21:3, basically one meal a day. I've thrown a weekly 36-hour fast in a couple of times now just to try it and to rotate my clock if I have brunch plans with family. I feel great and my lifestyle really suits the IF lifestyle. So thank you.
I have had a few typical digestion ups and downs as expected, but tweaking here and there as I go. Right now though, I have odd bloating. There were a few days when I wished I could poke my tummy with a pin to release the pressure. I would give anything for a burp. Some helpful advice from the Facebook groups suggested soda water. I thought it odd to add carbonation to a gassy situation, but it seemed to help a bit. Why? Now for the last few days, I've found myself burping on an empty stomach, no soda. Usually 14 to 20 hours into the fast, I burp repeatedly. I did the baking soda test over a week ago and no burp. Now I burp on an empty stomach. Not enough gas. Too much gas. I'm confused. What's the mechanism problem here?
So far, I've been guilty of making too many changes at once regarding my food choices. It's been hard to track what is good and bad. So, I want to slow the changes down. I've been doing IF for 12 weeks, and I think I'm down about 12 pounds. I'm really happy with the big picture and in it for the long haul. I would love to lose another 10 to 15 pounds, but mostly just want to feel good. So far, I often feel great but sporadically have this bloating and gassy issue. Is there a particular supplement I should try first? Is this an enzyme/probiotic issue or an HCL challenge?
Lastly, I'm Canadian. So, I sure hope all these amazing products and hacks are available up here, too. Otherwise, I may have my research cut out for me. All the best to you both and thanks again for such great podcasting. Thanks, Sam from Canada.”
Melanie Avalon: All right, Samantha. Thank you so much for your question. A lot of things going on here. I did research on the drinking carbonated water for stomach issues. The consensus on the internet is that it's really most likely an old wives tale. A lot of the original forms of soda that would have been used were things like ginger soda, so maybe the ginger was having an effect, or something about-- you know how Coca-Cola is made from kola bean? Something about the original form of that with the kola. I'm not sure. The thing that made the most sense to me was that oftentimes GI distress is-- this is something I knew before but I saw it again last night. Gin, did you know that our stomachs don't actually have pain receptors?
Gin Stephens: Well, no, I don't think I did.
Melanie Avalon: Any discomfort we feel is pressure, not pain. A lot of stomach discomfort comes from gas, food, bloating, and the associated pressure from that. Supporting stomach motility can relieve it, and so there's this theory that the carbonation stimulates stomach motility that gets things moving and relieves the stomach. In any case, it seems to mostly be-- I mean, if it works for you, great, but I couldn't really find much science behind it. That said, as far as the cause of the burping, this is actually something-- because I struggled with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth for a long time SIBO. That is an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine, so higher up in your GI tract than there should be for that type and amount of bacteria. Something that people experience a lot with SIBO, a lot, is GI distress, burping, gas, especially when they'll go fasting, they will start burping and the consensus in all the people who struggle with it is that it seems to be oftentimes like a die-off effect while fasting of these bacteria releasing gas.
One of the primary bacteria that's associated with GI issues, and especially SIBO and especially IBS with constipation is not actually a bacteria, it's an archaea. It's a methane-producing bacteria called archae bacteria? I'm not really sure. In any case, these little nasties, they release methane gas as a byproduct and they also release it, I don't know when exactly. I feel they're releasing when they're digesting substrates, but then people seem to experience them releasing it while fasting. Like I said, I don't know if that's a die-off effect fact that methane gas and this is getting really granular. That methane gas actually serves as a neurotransmitter in the stomach that further slows motility making things worse.
A lot of people do find that if they can get that under control, though, that it resolves. That's why I love, and so many people in my groups have reported this back, Atrantil. It's a supplement, it's all natural, but it's made with three different compounds. It's some polyphenols and things like peppermint, horse chestnut extract, and one other thing, and they work together to target specifically that type of bacteria. So many people find so much relief. I would definitely 100%, Samantha, consider trying that. You can get it at a lovemytummy.com/ifp, and the coupon code, IFP, will get you 10% off.
As far as the stomach acid, the baking soda. What's going on there is that we should have a certain amount of stomach acid which is really, really important to digest our food. It's really important to keep our stomach free of parasites. It's very antibacterial, anti-parasite, it keeps things clean. A lot of people actually struggle with not enough stomach acid because of the diets that we're eating, our stress levels decrease it. Oftentimes people actually need more stomach acid rather than less. That's why they'll take things like HCL, which is supplemental stomach acid, basically that you can take. I personally use it to support my food. The baking soda test is because baking soda reacts with stomach acid to create, is it carbon dioxide? It releases a gas. [crosstalk] When people do that challenge, it's basically trying to see how much baking soda do you need to create a burp. In theory, if you have adequate stomach acid, when you take the baking soda, you'll burp pretty soon. If you don't ever burp, or if it takes longer than three to five minutes, you might be really low in stomach acid.
What it sounds like to me, Samantha, I would 100% try supporting your digestion. A lot people can try enzymes and/or HCL. Since it seems like you probably have low stomach acid because you never burped with a baking soda. I would start supplementing HCL with your food to help try to make things break down and support motility and I would also try that Atrantil. Yeah, the way they say to take it on the bottle is to take it with meals or before meals, I think. I actually take it in the morning because I do one meal a day and then I take it in the morning fasted and that works really well for me. But I think people also will take it the way the bottle prescribes. I think those two things, and she also wanted to know about Canadian supplements. I don't know if Atrantil ships to Canada. I hope they do. I feel like they might, let us know. HCL, you can definitely get in Canada. Gin, do you have thoughts on all of that? That was a lot.
Gin Stephens: [laughs] I knew you were going to talk about SIBO. I just had a feeling that sounded like SIBO to me. I'm glad that my hunch was right.
Melanie Avalon: Because I've seen that historically in the SIBO communities, they'll experience exactly what Samantha's experiencing. When they do fasting, which tends to really help with SIBO, but they often will get burping while fasting, if they do have those methane-producing organisms.
Gin Stephens: It makes total sense because the gas is coming from somewhere, and it's coming up, so it's coming up through that mechanism from the small intestine. So, that makes total sense.
Melanie Avalon: Something else you could try, Samantha, dietary wise, is a lot of people benefit from a low FODMAP approach. That's basically-- research I've seen, you can get all of your nutrition from it. It's basically just the types of carbs that are less likely to support fermentation from gut bacteria from the gut microbiome. So, that might be a dietary approach to try as well, and your one meal a day. You can get my app, it's called Food Sense Guide, it's at melanieavalon.com/foodsenseguide, and it actually has over 300 foods and it shows their FODMAPs. If they're high, low, medium in FODMAPs. Not just FODMAPs, there's 11 other compounds. So, you can see everything else like histamine and oxalates and gluten and lectins. But the FODMAPs might be something to try, a low FODMAP diet. Again, that was a lot.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, but I think that's good advice. I think you covered it well.
Melanie Avalon: Do you see that in your groups, Gin, people burping during the fast?
Gin Stephens: No. [laughs] Not really, not a lot. I mean, it doesn't come up much.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, that's so interesting. I thought that maybe it would have come up a lot. But, yeah, it comes up all the time in the SIBO groups.
Gin Stephens: Well, that makes sense. They've got that in common.
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Melanie Avalon: We have a question from Jennifer and the subject is “Question.” Jennifer says, “Hello ladies. I'm new to intermittent fasting but all of my life I have not really enjoyed breakfast, but did it anyway because I was worried that my metabolism would slow down. After listening to you, I have been able to fast guilt-free, so thank you for that freedom. Before intermittent fasting, I had been on a keto diet for about two years. As such, I think that my body fat adapted pretty quickly. I was easily able to immediately go down to just one meal a day and I open my window between 6 and 6:30 PM with a non-alcoholic beverage most days and a glass of wine two days a week. I also have a light snack, such as raw veggies and dip. We usually sit down to dinner between 7 and 7:30. My husband rolls his eyes at my new fasting lifestyle, and did the same with my keto diet. He is happy to eat simple carbs, does not seem to care much about what he eats and loves to feed himself and my two boys, ages 12 and 9, processed foods.
My question to you pertains to when I sit down to eat with my family, I'm usually the one who is making and eating something different than the rest of my family. I'm more flexible on the weekends and usually will join in with what the family is eating as long as I get to pick. This is fine with me and we have adapted to this lifestyle. However, during the week, since my children and husband are eating processed, partially digested foods, they're done with dinner very quickly. It doesn't take long to wolf down a cheeseburger. For me, this is my one and only meal of the day. I like to savor my food and eat slowly. Also, I'm eating whole foods such as a very large salad and raw vegetables which take a lot longer to eat than processed foods. I find myself rushing through dinner, just so I am not the last one eating with everyone staring at me, like I am the glutton who is still eating when everyone else has pushed their chairs back from the table. Also, I am usually the one driving the dinner conversation which makes it even more difficult to eat quickly.
How do I still enjoy my dinner, eat slowly, enjoy conversation with my family without feeling like a glutton because everyone else is done and I'm still eating? I find myself stealing a few bites of my dinner while doing the dishes, just so I don't have to make everyone wait for me. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this? Thanks so much. I love your show. It provides me not only with motivation, but validation for what I am doing despite the naysayers I live with.” She also says, “I've been catching up on all of your episodes, I'm worried that I might miss your answer. Do you also email a response in case I don't find it for quite some time if you read my question on the air.” For that last question, because we do get that occasionally. In case listeners are wondering, we don't email when the question comes on air, so you have to keep listening if you want to know of your question. I wish we could. There's just so--
Gin Stephens: So many things to keep up with.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that's the answer to that. Jennifer, we are answering your question, so hopefully you're listening. I thought this was a really great question because recently we've been getting this question a lot about, oftentimes mom's not wanting to eat dinner and having an earlier window and struggling with that aspect, but this was the first time getting a question where she does do the one meal day dinner, but there's this timing issue. I just thought this was a great question. So Gin, do you have advice?
Gin Stephens: I think you have two options. One of them is, and this might be a wacky one, but this really might be your answer. You like to open your window between 6 and 6:30. Maybe have your separate meal then, eat the food you want to eat that's going to take you a while to eat, and you're not going to feel like someone's watching you or you're rushing or whatever. And then, when your family eats between 7 and 7:30, you've already eaten, you sit with them, you keep the conversation rolling, you keep them company, you have your family time, and you don't feel you're stressed out with having to shove your food in or finish it later secretly, to say, “I'm going to eat earlier, and then I'm going to sit with you.” Maybe have your raw veggies and dip when they're having their dinner, just flip it. Flip your snack. Have your meal, then have a little something else. That's one suggestion.
The other is, tell your family how you feel. You can say, “I understand that y'all are done first, it would make me so happy if you would sit with me. And then let me eat slowly and we can just use this visiting time.” The part about where you are feeling like you're a glutton, that's something you're putting on yourself. I guarantee your husband and kids haven't said you're a glutton, stop eating, they're not saying that. You've got to get rid of that thought. Stop putting that thought on yourself because you're eating high-quality whole foods, it takes longer to eat those foods. It's 100% you're not being a glutton and I do not think that they think that. They might be irritated because they want to go do something else instead of sit with you. They might be thinking that, because I know families, but they're not thinking that you're a glutton. My mother was always a really slow eater, and I can remember being a kid and sitting there and like, “Come on, hurry up,” especially if we were at a restaurant. She was taking forever and just really, really slow, but it wasn't that I felt like she was a glutton, it was that I was ready to move on and do something different.
So, think about either eating beforehand, or having a conversation with them and saying how you feel. Just say, “I feel I'm having to rush. I feel I'm having to eat really fast. It would make me so happy if you could just sit with me while I finish.” Either one of those would be a solution. What do you think, Melanie?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I love that so much. So speaking to both, so the first option that you gave about eating before and then finishing with the family, I guess if she did have a conversation about the glutton and didn't feel like a glutton, because that might solve it, because if she has conversation and realizes that's not perceived that way, the alternative to eating more before and finishing with them would be eating with them, and then finishing after, which is sort of like--
Gin Stephens: What she's doing.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah.
Gin Stephens: Maybe you feel you don't have to make everyone wait for you. We're great at not wanting to put anyone else out, but you know what? Maybe they need to be put out and sit there and be with you as a family. Just say, “We're going to sit here as a family and spend some family time.” So it's not just about eat the food, go.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. At restaurants, I'm always this way. I'm always eating right until the very, very end, eating slowly. And then usually, everybody wants dessert, and I just want like another steak. That's when I eat everybody else's leftover meat, as well. I feel like I did probably used to feel like a glutton with that, because I literally will eat other people's leftovers. But I know I'm not, and I know what's going on. So, I don't really care.
Gin Stephens: I don't take on other people's feelings about how I'm eating at this point. Now, when I weighed 210 pounds, I think I felt more judged. If someone was like, “No wonder you weigh 210 pounds, look at how you eat.” I think I was very sensitive at that time. But now, I'm fortunate, obviously, I'm not overweight, I'm able to disconnect from that, and I don't feel food judgments from people. I don't accept it, no matter what I'm eating. Even if I'm choosing to eat something that's different for me, however much of it I eat is my own business at this point. You know what I mean? I do have a lot of sympathy and empathy for people who are still overweight and feel that judgment because I remember feeling it then I did feel it. And so, I don't have words of wisdom other than it's normal to want to eat a big meal that we were-- what's that Robb Wolf book, Wired to Eat? We are wired to enjoy eating a substantial meal. When I was overweight, I felt guilty about it, but now, I realize that's how our bodies feel great, not overeating, but eating a substantial meal feels good, and we shouldn't feel guilty about it.
Melanie Avalon: Exactly. All right. Jennifer, definitely write back and let us know if you implement any of these and how it goes. It reminds me of we got that feedback last week.
Gin Stephens: From Bronwyn?
Melanie Avalon: She had a suggestion for a listener who was struggling with what I said at the beginning of this question. Having an earlier eating window and not wanting to eat with the family. She was saying that once she told her family the situation, it was actually completely fine. So, you might be surprised just talking about it like Gin suggested.
Gin Stephens: If you're eating something different, anyway, I think that makes it easier to just eat at a different time because really the family time being around the table is the being together. That's what it's about. It's about being together.
Melanie Avalon: Exactly.
Gin Stephens: Good times. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. A few things for listeners before we go. If you'd like to submit your own questions for the podcast, you can directly email email@example.com. Or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. You can find all of the stuff that we like at ifpodcast.com/stuffwelike. The show notes for today's episode will be at ifpodcast.com/episode197. You can follow us on Instagram, my favorite. I am @MelanieAvalon, Gin is @GinStephens. I think that is everything. Anything from you, Gin, before we go?
Gin Stephens: No, I think that's it.
Melanie Avalon: All right. Well, I will talk to you next week. I guess next time I talk to you might be depending on when we schedule, it might be 2021.
Gin Stephens: I think it will be. Yeah, even if people are listening to this one in 2021, we're still in the past. We haven't time-traveled to the future yet. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: So, I'll see you next year.
Gin Stephens: All right, next year. Bye.
Melanie Avalon: Bye.
Thank you so much for listening to The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. Please remember that everything discussed on this 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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