Episode 203: Ketone Levels, Magnesium, GI Distress, Pandemic Plateaus, Heart Palpitations, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Mar 07

Welcome to Episode 203 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, hosted by Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine and Gin Stephens, author of Delay, Don't Deny: Living An Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle

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

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Listener Feedback: Crystal - Thank you!

Listener Q&A: Brenna - Ketosis 

‘Optimal ketosis’ is a goal. More ketones are better. The lie that started the keto movement.

Listener Feedback: Mary Ellen - Bioptimizers

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Listener Q&A: Sofie - AMA 

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Listener Q&A: Chris - Heart palpitations

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Listener Q&A: Madeline - Tea

Listener Q&A: Susan - Flavored Seltzer

Listener Q&A: Lisa - Ask me anything episode 200

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Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 203 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. 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., 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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I am loving LMNT and I think you guys will too. Again, this is completely free. You have nothing to lose. Just go to drinklmnt.com/ifpodcast. That's DRINKLMNT dotcom forward slash IF Podcast. And I'll put all this information in the show notes.

One more thing before you jump in. Are you concerned about aging? Well, thankfully, fasting is super incredible for its antiaging benefits. It activates genes in your body called sirtuins, which repair your body and help extend lifespan. Also, during the fast, your body can clean up a lot of harmful chemicals which may be taxing your detoxification systems. In fact, the reason people go gray is because their detox systems start producing a lot of hydrogen peroxide when dealing with toxins. Do you know where a lot of those chemicals come from? Your skincare and makeup. As it turns out, there are thousands of compounds found in conventional skincare and makeup that Europe has banned due to their toxic nature and the US has banned less than 10. When you put these on your skin every single day through your skincare makeup, you're adding to your body's burden and likely aging your skin faster.

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You can shop with us at melanieavalon.com/beautycounter. If you use that link, something really special and magical might happen after you place your first order. Also definitely get on my clean beauty email list that's at melanieavalon.com/cleanbeauty. I give away so many free things on that list. So definitely check it out.

Lastly, if you anticipate making safe skincare a part of your future, just like Gin and I do, definitely become a Band of Beauty member. It's sort of like the Amazon Prime for safe skincare. You get 10% back on all of your purchases, free shipping on qualifying orders, and a welcome gift, that costs way more than the price of the membership. It's completely worth it. So, friends, are you fast and clean inside and out? You can with Beautycounter. Again, that link is melanieavalon.com/beautycounter. And we'll put all this information in the show notes. All right, now back to the show.

Hi everybody and welcome. This is Episode number 203 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I'm here with Gin Stephens.

Gin Stephens: Hi, everybody.

Melanie Avalon: How are you today, Gin?

Gin Stephens: I'm doing great. By the way, if anybody hears something that sounds like a leaf blower, that's my neighbor. The teenager’s outside doing leaf blowing. So, if you hear something weird, that's what it is.

Melanie Avalon: I don't hear anything.

Gin Stephens: Well, I'm glad. [laughs] Someone else might hear. I can hear it even through my headphones.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, really?

Gin Stephens: Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: How are you?

Gin Stephens: I'm doing great. Just busy-busy, working on the new book. I can't wait to start talking about it.

Melanie Avalon: I know.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I'm working on it. It's a lot of work. A lot of work to write books.

Melanie Avalon: I was just telling you before, we started recording that every time I think about you writing it, I get very grateful that I am not writing it. [sighs] It's a lot of work.

Gin Stephens: It really is. I thought of something the other day that made me laugh really hard. Let's see if I can paraphrase it. “If you want to be proud, teach someone to write. If you want to live a life of crushing doubt, write a book yourself,” or something like that. That’s not what it was, but I'm like, “Yeah,” because as soon as you write anything, you're like, wait a minute, “Is that good?” “Is it bad?” Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: I hear you.

Gin Stephens: Yeah. Anyway.

Melanie Avalon: I had a really nice interview, I think, yesterday or two days ago.

Gin Stephens: Uh-huh. Who was that?

Melanie Avalon: I got to interview Terry Wahls.

Gin Stephens: Oh, that's exciting.

Melanie Avalon: Which was really exciting. I feel like she's really well known in the holistic health sphere. For listeners, she has a really famous TED talk. She completely reversed her MS through diet, and she's a doctor and does clinical trials. She said something that I thought was so amazing. I was like, “I'm going to start saying this.” Then, I was actually reading Dave Asprey’s book, Fast This Way. He made a similar concept, and it was an idea I wanted to share, which was, she said-- I don't know-- Were we talking about fasting? Yes. I think we were. Yes. Do you know what she does, fasting?

Gin Stephens: No.

Melanie Avalon: She only eats every other day.

Gin Stephens: She's an alternate daily faster.

Melanie Avalon: Mm-hmm. I was talking to her about it. She said, she encourages people, when they're trying to find the fasting schedule that works for them, to do everything out of curiosity. The alternative was like, rather than fear or feeling you have to do it, just being curious about it. Then I was reading, like I said, Dave Asprey’s Fast This Way, and he made a similar comment about-- I'm not sure if he used the word ‘curiosity,’ I think he was talking about doing everything out of wants and not needs when choosing your fasting. It was just basically this idea from both of them about not having fear or feeling you have to do certain IF protocol or feeling it's this rigid thing that you have to do, but rather just something that you get to do or you want to do, or you're curious about, and I thought that was really freeing.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, the whole idea of getting your mind in the right place. I had the Mindset chapter in Fast. Feast. Repeat., just having the right mental attitude towards what you're doing. Then, you start appreciating the fast for what it is, instead of just living for the feast. There's a lot of good stuff going on in our bodies, so we learn to appreciate that very much. The fast is powerful.

Melanie Avalon: Exactly.

Gin Stephens: I'm glad that you had a great chat with her.

Melanie Avalon: It was good. Then I told you, I'm going to interview Gary Taubes.

Gin Stephens: Awesome.

Melanie Avalon: So excited. I was thinking about it. Well, he's not paleo. I always say that Rob wolf was the person who initiated me into the health world, but I think Good Calories, Bad Calories was the first book I read about carbs at least.

Gin Stephens: Right. Yeah, I read that one.

Melanie Avalon: It's a doozy.

Gin Stephens: It really is. If I just could take one thing away from that book, it was that it's a lot more complicated than we thought. That's what that really taught me and-- oh, just because somebody says something doesn't mean-- [laughs] That really sent me down the path, I think, you're right of this is really complicated. Our bodies are not just calories in, calories out.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. He has a new book. Have you read it yet, The Case For Keto?

Gin Stephens: No, but I've read an analysis of it. Somebody that I really like, Marty Kendall, Optimising Nutrition.

Melanie Avalon: Who I'm also going to interview.

Gin Stephens: I just had him on my podcast.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, you did interview him? How did it go?

Gin Stephens: Yep. I interviewed him this week. He's so fantastic. He's great.

Melanie Avalon: Did you read his new book?

Gin Stephens: Which one?

Melanie Avalon: Well, it's not out yet. I don't know if he sent it to you before the interview.

Gin Stephens: The one about keto?

Melanie Avalon: Mm-hmm.

Gin Stephens: Yes. I've read it. I read it. The myths?

Melanie Avalon: Yes.

Gin Stephens: Yes. It's so good. We talked about it in the interview. Yes, he sent it to me. I read it, but I was like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah,” the whole time I was reading it. Then when I talked to him, it was great. By the time this episode comes out, mine will not have come out yet with Marty. Marty Kendall has an analysis of Gary Taubes’ new book, on his Optimising Nutrition website. and Optimising is spelled with an S because he's Australian, if anyone's looking for it, but anyway.

Melanie Avalon: I'm curious to see how the timeline goes if I release those episodes back-to-back because I know Marty, I don't know if it's a critique, but he analyzes.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, it's a bit of a critique, not in a bad way. I think that Marty may have been closer in beliefs to what Gary Taubes is now and then has learned more and moved away from some of them, if that makes sense. Everything that Gary Taubes says, Marty Kendall used to agree with all of them and over time has learned more and moved away from them and maybe feels that Gary needs to move away from some of them as well. I don't know if that makes sense. When I read his critique, I think that's the way I would summarize it.

Melanie Avalon: Do you know Gary founded with Peter Attia, what is it?

Gin Stephens: Was it NuSi?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I followed that whole story when they were doing their studies, and it's fascinating the whole idea of, they funded these studies, and they didn't exactly find what they thought they would find and a lot of debate about that. It's fascinating.

Melanie Avalon: I'm imagining Case for Keto is probably very long. I haven't even picked it up. I'm like, “Oh, no.” I have so many other books I'm reading right now that I just have to get through. I’ve got to take a breather, but it's going to be fun. Shall we jump into everything for today?

Gin Stephens: Yes, let's get started.

Melanie Avalon: All right, so to start things off, we have some listener feedback. The first one comes from Crystal. The subject is, “Thank you.” Crystal says, “I don't have a question. I just wanted to say thank you. I've been dabbling in IF for the last year, mostly in a 16:8 model. Like many people, I heard that 50-calorie rule, I would wake up to two tablespoons of a sweet creamer in my coffee, because it was only 50 calories at 8 AM. At 10 AM. I'd be starving, like that shaky, low blood sugar hungry. I'd have a small breakfast, then basically snack all day, have a big dinner, stop eating at 6 PM. After 6, I drank a cup of tea with stevia and usually a diet soda. I was constantly fighting hunger, it was a total chore. Many days I would cave and not fast at all. My willpower cannot override the hunger I was experiencing.

Since listening to your podcast and learning about spikes in insulin and the benefits of clean fasting, I've dropped my bad habits and I feel incredible. I rarely feel hungry. I never have that low blood sugar feeling. I no longer crave sugar. I have so much energy all day. I find that if I cave and open my window early, I regret it. My weight loss has increased dramatically. My blood glucose has normalized. I just want to say to those just starting out, having a less strict fast isn't helping you. It just makes fasting so much harder. You gals have changed my life. Thank you so much for all of your research and for sharing.”

Gin Stephens: Well, thank you so much, Crystal. I loved reading that. If it were true that putting a little something in there made it easier to fast, I'd be putting a little something in my coffee too. The science explains why and I'm so glad that you stumbled upon our podcast and listened and that it's helping you. Because I remember those days before I was fasting clean, that white knuckling that I was going through. Oh, by the way, Melanie, that made me think of something that Marty Kendall and I talked about when I interviewed him last week and that was the whole putting all the fat in your coffee and why that is not a good strategy for weight loss. Marty agrees with me. [laughs] He agrees with me that the goal is not-- and actually reading his blog is what informed me because I've been reading his blog since 2017, I think, something like that, but his explanation of ketones in the blood and what does it mean and chasing high ketone numbers being not what we're wanting to do, Marty really has a great way of explaining all of that, so you get it. That really helped me understand along the way reading his blog.

He talks about how our goal is not to have ketones, our goal is to get into ketosis, which I have said multiple times-- we've said it on this program, and in this podcast. Putting the fat in your coffee may not have the giant insulin response that sweetener would have, but it's still not what you want to do if your goal is to burn your body fat.

Melanie Avalon: We have a question from Brenna. The subject is “Ketosis.” She says, “Hello. This question may have been answered before, but I figured I'd give it a go. I've been fasting clean since April 2020 with an average eating window of six hours. Starting out, it was 16:8 and now it's mostly 20:4. I'm a carb lover like both of you, but don't follow a specific diet. My meal/snack foods usually consist of a lot of carrots, potatoes, brussels sprouts and apples, along with chicken or ground turkey for protein. I also enjoy things like Barbara cereals and animal crackers, always a kid at heart.

I recently purchased a Keto-Mojo blood glucose monitor out of curiosity. I am a nurse and I tend to like numbers and raw data. To my surprise, I am barely reaching ketosis when I thought I'd feel it in my body. I would get the odd taste in my mouth and feel energized towards the end of the fast. My average has been 0.4 mmol after 20 hours of fasting, and I've heard 0.5 mmol is considered nutritional ketosis. I've tried to do my own research, but I can't seem to find anything unless it's related to a ketogenic diet, which I absolutely refuse to do. I thought I heard y'all talking about how we shouldn't be measuring ketones, but I may be mistaken. I would love your feedback on this. Thank you so much for your podcast. It's been so great. Thanks again, Bren.”

Gin Stephens: Thank you for asking, Brenna. That is fantastic. Going back to what I was talking about with Marty Kendall, he has got a blog post that I want you to look for on Optimising Nutrition. It's called “Optimal ketosis is a goal. More ketones are better. The lie that started the ketone movement.”

Basically, we are not chasing high ketone numbers. You really need to just read what Marty Kendall says about it, because it's fascinating. He started off the same thing, reading about nutritional ketosis that you're talking about there. Here's something though that's so interesting. People who are in ketosis long term, ketone levels drop over time, Marty talks about this. He even talks about-- he had Steve Phinney who was one of the authors of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, which is where some of these numbers started off. He had Steven Phinney at his house staying with him, when they were [laughs] having low carb down under and they were talking about it, and about the chart that was in the book that people keep referring to. That chart was based on blood ketone levels of participants in two studies from the 1980s. Okay, that's where they got that chart from.

Melanie Avalon: This is the original chart that came up with--

Gin Stephens: Yes, the one that everyone is using as this is what we should be striving for. Basically, these people were new to a lower carb diet at the time that they were tested, so ketone levels were high. Basically, the whole keto community has begun to realize over time, “Oh, ketone levels go down.” “Oh, it doesn't make any sense to chase high ketones.” All the things you had, and Marty goes into this all in his keto myths-- and he's not anti-keto. When you read the title of his book, you might think that it's a book against keto, but it's a book that's trying to bust the myths, the bad advice that's out there, like, “Oh, if you're not getting high ketones, just add more fat, add more fat, have more fat.” Well, adding more fat is likely to give you higher ketones, but why? Well, because your body is going to be making them from all that fat you're consuming, is that going to help you? No. It might look better on paper if you're shooting for this high number, but now you've got all this extra energy from the fat that you're consuming. He and I also talked about the eat more fat to lose more fat myth. It was fabulous because I said there's one thing that people always say that's bad advice in the groups when someone's saying, “I'm struggling with keto, what should I do?” I'm like, “So, Marty, what do you think the number one bad advice we always hear is?” He said, “Eat more fat.” I'm like, “Yep, that's it.” Eating more fat is not a winning strategy for really anything, basically. It might give you higher ketones, but that's not our goal.

Look for his blog post. Just like back in the day when I was reading Dr. Fung’s blog post, this is before The Obesity Code came out, and I'm digging down the rabbit hole and reading this post and that post from Jason Fung and being like, “Oh, my gosh,” it was mind blowing. The same thing happens when you start reading some of Marty Kendall’s blog posts.

Melanie Avalon: She doesn't even really want to do keto, but she's eating a lot of carbs and not experiencing.

Gin Stephens: Okay, it sounds to me she's confused because she thinks her ketone levels should be higher, because she's heard that you get into ketosis during the fast. So, it sounds to me like Brenna is thinking that you want to be in art and science of low carb living, high levels of nutritional ketosis levels of ketones during the fast, and that is not true. She's chasing high ketone numbers, but we're not trying to get high ketone numbers. We're trying to get into ketosis-- we enjoy being in ketosis. I'm not even going to say we're trying to get into ketosis really, because you can lose fat without being in ketosis. We want to prove that we're in ketosis by finding these high numbers that we think we need. That is not what you need to do. That's my point.

Melanie Avalon: Especially if, like for Bren, if she's happy with her diet and likes how she's feeling, it'd be one thing if she wasn't losing weight and didn't feel she was in the fasted state, and was trying to tweak things, then that actually might be a case where she might want to look at our food choices, to possibly further encourage the entry into ketosis because I don't want to discourage people from doing low carb diets, if they want to do it. It is very likely if you're eating high carbs, and then you switch to low carbs, yes, you'll probably get into a deeper state of ketosis, either deeper or sooner, it is going to make a difference, most likely. I'm not trying to discourage people from doing that. If it's somebody like Bren who has no interest in doing ketogenic is happy with her diet, but the only thing that's bothering her is that she's not getting this certain number on her Keto-Mojo, I would not stress about that.

Gin Stephens: She's been getting 0.4 and she's like, “Well, I really need 0.5.” No, no, no. Even if you're only getting point one, that's showing that you're getting into ketosis, we're not trying to have high levels. Marty has another blog post, not the one that I just said, I can't remember the name of this one but has wonderful graph, I'm pretty sure I've referenced it before here on the podcast that health is associated with less energy floating around in your blood of all types.

Melanie Avalon: Like just in general, yeah.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, we don't want to have high levels of blood glucose floating around in our blood. We know that. High glucose in our bloodstream is bad. We don't want to have high levels of fat floating around in our blood. We know that. We also don't want to have high levels of ketones floating around in our blood. During the fasted state, we really want low levels of things floating around in our blood. We're not trying to get them up. That would be like us thinking that we needed high levels of blood glucose in our blood. That mistake, if you're like, “I'm trying to get my blood sugar up as high as I can, because high is better.” No. It would be the similar kind of idea.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, exactly. All right. Shall we jump back to-- going out of order.

Gin Stephens: Go back, yes. Anyway, so thank you, Crystal, back to the original question about the clean fast. Yes, the clean fast matters, and we're so glad that you found that it does. Now, we have one from Mary Ellen, and the subject is “BiOptimizers.” She says, “Hi Gin and Melanie. I don't have a question but would like to give feedback on a product you endorsed for others who may have issues with constipation.” She says, “I am a 49-year-old registered nurse. I've been an intermittent faster for two years and have had great success. I love this way of life. I follow a 4:3 or 5:2 lifestyle and my down days are on days I work since I have amazing energy while fasted. I have had chronic constipation since my 20s. I've been to GI docs, have had colonoscopies, have tried every fiber and supplement. But the only way I have a bowel movement is by taking milk of magnesia once a week. This works but as you can imagine, it's a lengthy and “explosive” event.

I heard the endorsement on the podcast for BiOptimizers Magnesium supplement and decided to try it. Well, I have taken two capsules for the past four nights and, drumroll please, I have had a bowel movement the past three mornings. A normal BM, no diarrhea or pebbles. This is amazing. A total game changer for me. I can't believe how much better my tummy feels. I know it's early on and I'm hoping my body doesn't become acclimated to it. I do have plenty of room to increase the dose if necessary. I just had to share this for any other IFers who have the same issue. Thank you, Gin and Melanie for your great advice. Take care, Mary Ellen.”

Melanie Avalon: Awesome. Well, as a fellow struggler of GI issues, I love receiving emails like this. Yes, we've had Wade on the podcast, one of the founders of BiOptimizers, we did a whole episode on magnesium and how basically our bodies are just depleted. Magnesium is one of the minerals that is really hard to get an adequate amount of today from our food, because the soil is just so magnesium depleted. They formulated their magnesium supplement to have-- there's like seven forms of magnesium, so it has all of those forms-- especially in my group, IF Biohackers, people talk about this product, Magnesium Breakthrough. A lot of people experience other great benefits, like reduced anxiety and stress. Then, a lot of people do see a lot of improvement in their bowel movements. Super excited to hear that.

I think they're actually a sponsor on this episode. If you listen to the ad that we are running, I'm not sure where it's going to be placed. It might have been at the beginning or it might be in the middle, that's where you can get the link to our latest offer for them because I don't know if it's magnesium right now. It's always changing. Yeah, they're a really great company.

Gin Stephens: They really are.

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Melanie Avalon: All right, shall we jump into some questions?

Gin Stephens: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: We have a question from Sophie. This is a lingering one from our “Ask Me Anything” episode. She says, “I'd like to know the potential diminishing returns of fasting over time for weight loss. Anecdotally, many long-term IFers seem to hit a wall, and no amount of tweaking seems to make a difference. Me, but I'm not alone. Why do we seem to eventually stop losing weight and even put weight back on? I have read each book and I am aware of the troubleshooting and tweaking and the medical testing for other potential reasons.”

Gin Stephens: Yes. Anecdotally, many, many people hit walls and have issues. I want to say something though that's interesting. I've been in the intermittent fasting community for a long time. The first time that I've seen this happen the way it's happening now has been 2020. I think the stress of 2020, the pandemic-- we did not see a lot of long-term IFers hit a wall and have weight regain and have all these problems until really 2020. It's been different this year. What do you think about that, Melanie?

Melanie Avalon: That is such a fascinating answer. I wasn't anticipating that.

Gin Stephens: Well, I've been in the community for a long, long time and I have said before, people get to goal, they stay there. Then, all of a sudden, we've had more struggle in 2020 than we ever had before. Is it because more people really are struggling or because the community is so much larger that it seems like more people are struggling? Because let's imagine, I've got a group of let's say 300,000 in the regular Delay, Don’t Deny group, it's actually bigger than 300,000, it's more than 300,000. But let's say we have 300,000 intermittent fasters and a half of 1% are regaining weight, and they all start talking about it. It's going to feel like a giant amount of people, but it's really a tiny percentage. When you say many, many long-term IFers hit a wall and stop losing weight and put weight back on, I don't have numbers, but I’d really don't think it's many, many, many like you said there. I will say for me, I know that I-- I'm going to say, I haven't weighed myself on a traditional scale since, what was it, 2017 or something like that. I know that looking at photos of me in 2018, which is right after I retired from teaching, I have some photos, I think I hit my lowest, leanest weight in 2018. Then, I think I slowly put on a little bit of weight, not enough to get out of my honesty pants. I still fit in all my clothes. I was a little puffier, just a little. I also was going through menopause during that period of time, which is a hormonal change most women gain a good deal of weight, during menopause.

If I had been weighing every day, I don't know what my scale would have told me. Maybe I gained 10 pounds, I don't know, maybe I didn't. I think I did have a little bit of gain over that transition. What's interesting is now I'm on the other side of that, and I am actually back to what I felt was my leanest weight from 2018. Here we are now, 2021, I think my weight went up a little bit, and now it's back down a little bit. Again, I don't have the numbers, so I can't tell you exactly what it did. But my honesty pants are fitting me like they did in 2018. Chad's like, “Oh, look. Look how you're losing weight, stop doing that.” All of a sudden, he's saying that to me. But I really haven't done anything different, other than I have tweaked the amount of alcohol I'm drinking. Other than that, I think it's my body and my hormones, maybe 2020 and the stress, I don't know. Did I gained some weight and then lose it again? I think I did. What I didn't do is worry or stress or think that intermittent fasting had stopped working, or why did I gain weight? Why am I losing it again? I think that we have normal cycles in our lives, is where I'm going with this.

For me, I think that menopausal transition, I think I may have gained a little weight and then I lost it again, just based on clothes and photos. But again, I didn't grow out of my clothes ever or need bigger clothes. That didn't happen. I think they may have gotten a little tighter. If a person has hit a wall and no amount of tweaking seems to make a difference, something has changed. It might be your hormones, maybe you're going through menopause. It maybe you've had window creep, and you don't feel like you're eating more, but you really are, your window may be different. Maybe it's the stress of the pandemic, but not one of those things is minor. They're all big. I don't think that there's anything that says that we get diminishing returns of fasting. I certainly don't think that anything that happened for my weight over the past from 2018 when I think I was leaner, and then I wasn't as lean, and now I'm back to 2018 again, I don't think it was fasting that had anything to do with that. Does that make sense? Did I explain that well?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I was just thinking about how basically 2020 for many people, even if it was just one factor that could potentially affect weight loss, that would be huge. Say it was just a stressful situation, like stress. But it's not just stress, it's stress, it's the majority of people no longer going into their physical jobs. The physical activity, I imagine, for a lot of people dramatically probably shot down. Not going outside is quite as much for a lot of people. Vitamin D going down. The lack of social connection. There's so many things. Then dealing with a stress, a lot of people probably did turn to more comfort foods, or--

Gin Stephens: Oh, I was certainly doing more baking.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. A lot of, I feel, takeout escalated. It's basically the perfect storm of challenges to face with losing or maintaining weight, or not gaining weight. Yeah, I'm really, really glad that you brought that up. This is a new question from Sophie because I know we answer questions from 2017 but this is a very new one.

Gin Stephens: One thing that seems to be implied in this question is that intermittent fasting is the only tool that we use whether our weight goes up or down. It's all related to intermittent fasting. Well, I did intermittent fasting and my weight didn't go down, so intermittent fasting doesn't work. But really, there's a lot of other things in your body going on at one time, the health of your gut microbiome, you mentioned sleep. Intermittent fasting is a tool in our health and weight loss toolbox. But it's not the only tool and it doesn't work in isolation.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, 100%. The second thing I was going to say was-- she doesn't even mention this question, like you just said it, it's just talking about fasting, but there's so much more, and food choices, I think is really huge. I've said this before, and I'll keep saying it. I honestly think-- and this would never happen, so I'm grateful for that. If I had to choose between fasting with food choices that don't suit my body compared to healthy food choices that support my body and not fasting, I would probably choose the food choices. I think it's really, really huge what we're actually putting into our bodies, so we don't really have any details about what Sophie's eating or her window. There's really not any details. It does seem to be sort of a resigned mindset idea about IF.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, because it seems to imply that you're going to hit a wall, you're going to stop losing weight, you're going to put weight back on. I guess if I had that feeling, especially if I was weighing every day, maybe I would have felt that way in 2020. Maybe I don't know what I weighed, I don't know. I could have been like, “Oh, my gosh, intermittent fasting has stopped working for me.” It didn't. It never did.

Melanie Avalon: I was actually listening to a really, really interesting interview on ritual with-- I don't know who it was, honestly. It was actually in his recap episode, so he was doing little pieces from interviews all throughout the year. I think the guy was a trainer who works with athletes, and he was talking about the effect on athletes during this time and them not being able to train. He was basically talking about the different mindsets. Some people especially were really into physical activity, and then couldn't do it because of the pandemic situation, that some people kind of choose to just not do it anymore and figure that they'll get back to it on the flip side, and then some people keep like a little bit going, so it's like they're at a baseline that's just a little bit removed from where they were. He was saying how much easier it is-- you don't have to be completely perfect and maintaining the exact same thing that you're maintaining. You might perceive, “Oh, I'm not maintaining, or I'm gaining weight.” It's quite possible that you kind of sounds like what happens with Gin, like a baseline that's not egregiously far from where you were, but it is a little bit far. That baseline will probably once the situation changes, the environment changes, you get back to it, it probably won't be that hard to get back to “where you were,” if that's what you're trying to achieve. If you have the mindset of, “Oh, I'm gaining and can't get back to what I was,” then that can be I think the mindsets huge, like that can probably make or break you as far as how you are interpreting if IF is working or not. When it always could, in theory work.

Gin Stephens: I do think that if I had been weighing myself every day, and saw my weight trending up on the scale, it might have panicked me and upset me. Maybe the fact that I threw my scale away, and I didn't have the scale kept me going because it didn't matter. I wasn't worried about it. I also trusted that everything would be fine.

Yeah, I remember us doing an interview, maybe at some point in 2020, for Intermittent Fasting Stories, and I remember saying on the podcast, I think I was leaner a couple years ago, but I wasn't worried about it. The menopausal transition usually comes with a good deal of weight gain for most women. I never had to buy bigger clothes, like I said, so maybe I was a little puffier. I was like, “Alright, everything's okay. I'm not gaining a lot of weight, but I'm a little puffier. No problem.” Now, it's really nice to know that that's changed. Also, interesting, over the holidays I've gotten a Shapa scale now that shows me the color. I've had periods of time where I was gray. Gray means gaining a little bit of weight. I've always been balanced out with periods of time where I go to blue, every time.

Melanie Avalon: I have a question about it, I stopped using mine. I need to start using it again. I finally stepped on it again, it was like, “You have to recalibrate.” I was like, “Man.” Does it always go sequential? Does it have to go from gray to neutral to blue, or does it ever go straight from gray to blue?

Gin Stephens: Well, it shows your trend of the past 10 days, so I feel like it would have to go sequentially just from that because your trend is only going to change a little bit. I guess if you picked up a 50-pound barbell and got on there, I don't know what it would do.

Melanie Avalon: [crosstalk] -liposuction.

Gin Stephens: Do that experiment and see. Something like that might actually make you go to gray from blue.

Melanie Avalon: I wonder if you could go straight from gray to blue.

Gin Stephens: You would have to have a big mathematical difference. It would not be actual fat gain or loss. Just today, I was green yesterday, I was teal, I'd been blue for a little while, but before that, I had a little gray. It all seems to be evening out over time. Since I've been on the Shapa, that's helped me be even more calm about what my weight is doing and seeing it go up a little bit over the holidays, but then naturally come back down without any kind of stress about it. Or, I haven't had to really go crazy with trying to lose it. If I saw gray, gray, gray, gray, gray, gray, gray, gray, over time, and it kept being gray, I'd be like, “Alright, why is this happening?” Then, I would think about it, “What's different? What can I do?” There may be a time that I might have to change something, that would be okay, too. Using the data, making a change, seeing what you need to do, but using it as informing you instead of letting it stress you out, I don't know. The opposite could have been true. I could have found that maybe when I went through menopause, maybe I gained 50 pounds, that could have happened. It didn't, but it could have, but would that mean intermittent fasting had failed? No. It wouldn't have meant that then either, because intermittent fasting is always doing-- unless you take it to the extreme and you're fasting in an unhealthy way. If you're fasting in a healthy way, living an intermittent fasting lifestyle the way you and I talk about, I can't imagine intermittent fasting making your health worse.

Melanie Avalon: Exactly. I haven't talked about this a lot. The thing that sold me, like sold me on the role of hormones and factors, not necessarily related to what you're actually eating, is I maintained a very similar weight for a really, really long time. Then, one of my doctors suggested a super, super low-dose SSRI for my GI issues, so I trial-runned it and I gained a significant amount of weight in a very short amount of time with no change in diet. That is what really opened my eyes. I didn't continue taking it because I didn't really feel comfortable with it, personally. I just didn't really like how it made me feel. But I'm actually really happy that I had that experience because I don't think I really realized until then, just how powerful hormones are. Again, that's a medication, but the reason it's having that effect is because it's changing something in your hormones. It was really shocking.

So, when we get questions from people who feel like, whatever reason, they just can't lose the weight or something's just not working, it could very well be something hormonal, and it's not on your head, but also doesn't mean that there's not an answer to it either. I think especially with hormonal things, I was talking before about the importance of food, I think this is actually a really good example of where you might be doing fasting, you might be doing calorie restriction, but if it is a hormonal issue, food choices can have a huge, huge effect on that. So, if you're eating foods that are hormonally messing with you, that can be a barrier that you might not be able to break through unless you change the food choices.

Gin Stephens: Intermittent fasting doesn't solve every problem we have and it also doesn't create every problem we have. We hear it [unintelligible [00:42:03] Why is intermittent fasting not solving this problem that I've got? I thought it would. Well, maybe the cause of that is not something fasting addresses, fasting lowers your insulin, fasting does lots of things, but it doesn't change everything in your life. Sometimes, people will have a strange symptom. I've been fasting for two years, and all of a sudden, I have three cavities. Did fasting cause that? Well, we can't say because probably not. But what if you hadn't been fasting, do people still get cavities? Yes. It's impossible to untangle cause and effect.

For example, someone was asking me today. They're like, “Okay, you have a vibration plate, what benefits have you seen?” I'm like, “I can't really tell you because I don't know what would be happening had I not used it.”

Melanie Avalon: Ooh, can I talk about that really quick?

Gin Stephens: Yeah, because when I interviewed Terry Wahls, she talks about vibration plates in her book. Probably 30% of our interview was talking about, not vibration plates, but e-stim, electrical stimulation, where they stimulate your muscle to grow. It basically makes you build muscle in the session, because it makes your muscle vibrate so fast. I was asking her about this, but I think a lot of people do it cosmetically-- or not cosmetically, but you can get it through a lot of spas and stuff. I think the brands are called EmSculpt or CoolToning. The point of all this was that MS patients often lose-- their muscles atrophy because they can't use their muscles, and she was talking about this e-stim, how it builds muscle and the profound, profound metabolic effects it has on the body. The insulin resistance actually typically starts at the muscle. When we're losing our muscle, we're losing a lot of our sinks to take in extra glucose. I'm just thinking about what the pandemic and everything. I think a lot of people, especially getting other gym routines, and if they have more physical-type jobs, the changes in muscle could actually be a huge thing.

I got really excited though, in the interview, because we were talking about it. I was just thinking about it and I said had they considered maybe using this for astronauts, because astronauts are in zero gravity and not using their muscles. Then she said her people or her team had actually proposed this to NASA.

Gin Stephens: Wow.

Melanie Avalon: I was like, “Yes,” but then she couldn't say what they said. Hopefully, it's a good thing. Sorry, that was a tangent. Oh yeah, the vibration plates that Gin and I have. To be clear, the vibration machines don't make you grow muscle, but it is a very, very baby level of that where it's vibrating your body, so it's involuntary muscle contractions that your body actually does rebound from, so it's working out and they've actually done studies on it.

Gin Stephens: The point I was making--

Melanie Avalon: It was a rabbit hole.

Gin Stephens: That's okay. No, your tangent was fabulous, is that I don't have an alternate reality where I didn't use it. I can't say what changes it made if I hadn't ever used it. I don't really know. Maybe it's done a ton of things for me and 100% of my weight maintenance is because I have a vibration plate? I doubt it. But maybe. I don't think so.

Melanie Avalon: Do you use it every day?

Gin Stephens: No, I don't use it every day. I use it a lot of days, but it's impossible to untangle cause and effect, is my point. Even everything, and we've talked about this before, even when they're doing like they're trying to do studies for things, there's so many different things that could be the underlying cause that you think it's one thing, but it really could have been something else, but we don't know because both of those things, you can't do one without the other happening.

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Gin Stephens: All right. Now, we have a question from Chris and the subject is “Heart Palpitations.” Chris says, “A 56-year-old male, doing IF for about a year, going great. Recently, I noticed that when I opened my window, 18:6 typically, with a turkey sandwich and some chocolate squares, my heart races. While I realize a racing heart isn't that bad, just wondering if you had any thoughts? I have experimented with no bread or chocolate, I seem to do better. Just weird that I didn't have that problem for a year, and here it is. Love the show. Thanks.”

Melanie Avalon: All right, Chris, thanks for your question. A lot of people do experience a racing heart after foods, and just from my experience and research, it's often a food sensitivity/reactivity problem. Because basically when you take in a food that your body perceives as a threat or something that you're sensitive to, it activates your sympathetic nervous system, your stress response, and that's why you get the racing heart rate. There's actually a method that people do where they test their food reactions by measuring their pulse. You can do it if you have done an elimination diet, where you've taken out foods that you are reacting to, and then you reintroduce them, and one of the ways to test if you are reacting to it is to measure your pulse before and after the food. It is most likely that you're reacting to something in the food. The reason that you didn't see it before and now it's just randomly popping up could be the fact that-- especially before we're doing IF or before we clean up our diet, the body can become more sensitive when we clean it out more. People perceive it as becoming more reactive when often the case is that it's just before you're perpetually inflamed or reacting. Then, once you “clean up” your-- cleanup, I don't like that word, but clean up your body through IF or food choices, it can become more clear that you're reacting to things, especially if you're doing fasting because, then you're in the fasted state, so you're not reacting to anything. Then when you take in food, it's a very obvious signal to the body.

Chris, what I would suggest would be playing around with the food choices to see what you do and do not react to. I made an app it's called Food Sense Guide. it compares over 300 foods for-- I always forget because I just updated it, 12 or 13 compounds and these are all things that people often react to, so gluten, FODMAPs, histamines, lectins, whether or not something is AIP, oxalate, there's so many things. Things that often get people racing heart is histamines, although turkey sandwich and chocolate squares, it's hard to know if there's anything high histamine in there. I would suggest looking at your food choices more maybe being open to trying a-- even if it's not an elimination diet, just looking at your food choices and seeing how you are reacting to things, then definitely get my app that might help you. That's at melanieavalon.com/foodsenseguide.

Gin Stephens: This is just another example of what I said a couple of minutes ago, in that intermittent fasting doesn't itself cause everything that we're experiencing. If you've been doing intermittent fasting for a year, and you're having something new occurring, it's unlikely that like, “Oh, fasting is now causing me to have heart palpitations.” No, it's something else. It's what you're eating and the way your body is responding to it.

Melanie Avalon: Although interestingly, it could seem like IF is causing things when really, it's because IF is the flashlight. It’s like if you were in a dark room, and somebody gave you a flashlight, and say the room is full of things you don't like, if the room was dark, you wouldn't know they're in there. Then, if somebody gave you a flashlight, all of a sudden, you might see all these things that you don't like, did the flashlight cause them? No, it just let you see them.

Gin Stephens: I've heard that same analogy for cholesterol, for example, like high cholesterol. High cholesterol is a sign that there's another problem. Within that analogy, they talk about firefighters showing up at a fire. The cholesterol is the firefighters showing up at the fire. It would be the same kind of a thing, like blaming the cholesterol is just like if we blame the firefighters for starting the fire. They just show up. “Those firefighters, every time there's a fire there they are. Let's get rid of firefighters.”

Melanie Avalon: Or, umbrellas causing rain.

Gin Stephens: Right. Exactly. I think with the cholesterol is the inflammation in our blood vessels, which often can be from-- people debate if it's sugar, or if it's polyunsaturated fats, or whatever it is, the cholesterol is in response to the inflammation. It's not the cause of it. Arterial plaque.

All right. To wrap this up, we have two quick questions about things that break the fast. We have one from Madeline. The subject is “Tea.” She says “I have a tea from Traditional Medicinals that is organic ginger, there are no calories. The only ingredient is organic ginger rhizome. I’m being so careful to adhere to a clean fast. This is okay or not. Thanks so much for your help. I get so cold in the afternoons and coffee is bothering my stomach.” Oh, that's why she needs it tea, sorry. I was thinking that that was like a non-sequitur, but okay. “Thanks for any help you can give me.” Then, we also have a question from Susan. The subject is “Flavored Seltzer.” She says, “I have a question about flavored seltzer. I have black coffee in the morning during fasting, so why can't I have lemon-flavored, no-sweetener, seltzer water. I mean, coffee and tea have a flavor. Why is the flavor of seltzer different? In other words, why does the subtle flavor of lemon or lime seltzer keep you from a clean fast while the strong flavor of coffee doesn't? Susie.” Alright, teas and seltzers.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, that's a great question. I actually go into great detail on this in Fast. Feast. Repeat. in the Clean Fast section. People are often, like Susan’s question, are like, “Aha, you said avoid flavor, but coffee and tea have a flavor, we got you.” No. [laughs] It's different. The flavor of coffee and tea, that's a bitter flavor profile. A bitter flavor profile is not associated with an insulin response. Our bodies do not taste bitter flavors and think, “Oh, glucose is coming in, I need to release insulin.” That's why the coffee and the tea are okay, because of the bitter flavor profile. What we do want to avoid is anything that tastes like food. Would we say that ginger is a food? Yep, it has a flavor associated with food, and the same with lemon and the same with lime. It's a different type of flavor to your brain. It's a food flavor. We avoid food flavors during the fast. The bitter flavor profile of coffee and tea, they're not associated as a food flavor by your brain.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. One of the things that would make me a little bit nervous about ginger in particular is there's a lot of research on ginger. It helps with bloating a lot because it actually speeds up gut motility and can help with digestion. I feel like that most likely is sending a lot of digestion food signals. I just know that one of the things that I read was that it speeds up gut motility when you're eating, so I would be cautious about it. I would suggest possibly opening your eating window with organic ginger rhizome tea. That could be a really great way to do it. Yeah.

Gin Stephens: Also, I have the perfect beverage for you, if you don't want to have something that breaks your fast, but you need something hot. Melanie, I bet you know what I'm going to say.

Melanie Avalon: Hot water.

Gin Stephens: Yep. Em-tea. Hot water and a mug. I'm having some right now.

Melanie Avalon: Nothing I want more than hot water in a mug.

Gin Stephens: It's fabulous, Melanie.

Melanie Avalon: Nothing I want more than a cold shower. Fabulous.

Gin Stephens: There's so many things I want more than a cold shower. All the things. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: We could do hot cold therapy. We could alternate hot water, drinking hot water and then getting in the cold shower and then we could drink the hot water in the cold shower.

Gin Stephens: Oh, no, no, no. Not doing that.

Melanie Avalon: Yes, yes. Oh, my goodness.

Gin Stephens: Yeah. That's a great question though, Susie. I love that you said, “Hey, it's a flavor. You said no flavor.” No, we avoid food flavors, so just think about that. Is this a food flavor? Is this a food or a food flavor? Spices, herbs, things like that.

Melanie Avalon: Lemon and lime are very-- they're fruity, even though they're sour. Yeah. All right. We have time for one more question. This comes from Lisa. Also, a carryover from our Ask Me Anything episode. She says, “Two questions, Gin. What brand of jeans do you like/buy? I often hear you saying you're wearing your size zero jeans as you record the podcast.” She says, “Melanie, if I had everything you mentioned in the podcast, I would have nowhere to store it all. Food deliveries, light machines, blocking glasses, mood rings, breathing necklaces, specialty makeup, pills and herbs, vibration plates, arms and leg weights. I listen a lot and I'm sure I've missed quite a few. If you could recommend just one you can't live without, what would it be? Thank you so much for this podcast. I love hearing you two discuss your lives and your knowledge. Sometimes, it's so over my head, my mind wanders out. But when one of you finishes your thoughts and passes the baton to the other, both of you always sound like you listen through the whole explanation. Surprises me every time. I often expect to hear, ‘I'm sorry, I got sidetracked.’ I just retired from 31 years teaching school in California. Now, with the pandemic, I spent hours in my sewing room. I'm always excited when you release a new podcast. I've been listening to all three. Thanks, again.” All right. I loved this from Lisa. Gin, what brand of jeans do you like/buy?

Gin Stephens: I shop at the Loft. They're the best jeans for my body. Their clothes just fit me. Yep. As I talked about, I never outgrew them, but jeans do have some stretch these days. So, my size zero jeans fit me a little maybe tighter, and now they're loose again. My Loft jeans. I love to shop at the Loft. This is not a Loft commercial. But hey, Loft, I would be glad to have one. I just really love the Loft.

Melanie Avalon: Awesome. I think I've only been to the Loft like twice maybe.

Gin Stephens: Yeah. I really liked their clothes when I was a teacher. I was able to find things there that worked well for the classroom. Now that I'm not a teacher, their shorts fit me great. That's just where I do really well with clothes.

Melanie Avalon: Love it. Then if I had to pick one thing-- This is hard, so I hadn't considered-- because at first, I was thinking like biohacking type stuff. I wasn't considering Beautycounter, like especially makeup, but it's a tie between that because my skincare makeup is so, so important to me and removing toxins from it, and then having makeup that actually works and looks amazing. So, it's a tie between Beautycounter which you can shop with us at melanieavalon.com/beautycounter, and something special will happen if you use that link. Then, it's just so hard. I'm torn between my Joovv red lights and then the blue light blocking glasses, which kind of go together. I think I'm going to have to say Joovv, just because it has so many uses and running the red light has such a major effect on my mood. Then, you can use it as well for-- I use it more for ambient lighting and mood, but the main reason people usually get it is for fatigue, muscle soreness, skin, so targeted treatments for your body. So, probably that. But then, blue light blocking glasses are really important too. There're so many things. [sighs] Probably the Joovv and the Beautycounter though.

Our link for Joovv is, joovv.com/ifpodcast, I think there's a discount at that link if you use the code, IFPODCAST. I wanted to comment about the listening to the other person. One of the things I love about this show is, it's like the one hour where I just don't think about other things. I just really love sitting here and listening to Gin’s answers.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, we have fun with it. We enjoy it.

Melanie Avalon: Just like being in the moment and disconnecting from the rest of social media for a second. Yeah, it's a fun time.

Gin Stephens: It really is.

Melanie Avalon: For listeners, if you'd like to submit your own questions to the podcast, you can directly email questions@ifpodcast.com, or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. You can follow us on Instagram. Gin, have you been posting on Instagram?

Gin Stephens: I have. Yeah. I mean, it's not exciting. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: I posted today another video of putting on a continuous glucose monitor, of course set to a Taylor Swift song. If listeners would like to see what that looks like, you can follow us on Instagram. I'm MelanieAvalon, Gin is GinStephens. Oh, and you can get all this stuff that we like at ifpodcast.com/stuffwelike, and the show notes, I don't think I even said this, are at ifpodcast.com/Episode203. There will be a full transcript there, so definitely check that out. All right. Anything from you, Gin, before we go?

Gin Stephens: Nope. I think that's it. Another good show.

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

Gin Stephens: 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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