Welcome to Episode 216 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 216 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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Hi everybody, and welcome. This is Episode 216 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I'm here with Gin Stephens.
Gin Stephens: Hi, everybody.
Melanie Avalon: How are you today, Gin?
Gin Stephens: I am doing great. It is summery. It is hot. I'm so happy.
Melanie Avalon: Mm-hmm.
Gin Stephens: So, therefore, I know you're sad.
Melanie Avalon: Wait, can I tell you a story related to that?
Gin Stephens: No.
Melanie Avalon: Okay.
Gin Stephens: I'm sorry. That was a joke. Yes, please. [laughs] Tell me the story, I would love to hear it.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, perfect. It's a little bit longer. It's my crazy epic weekend, last weekend, would you like to hear?
Gin Stephens: Does it involve cryotherapy?
Melanie Avalon: It involves-- I could insert that if I wanted, not entirely.
Gin Stephens: Well, I just felt like it did, since I mentioned being hot.
Melanie Avalon: It involves being hot.
Gin Stephens: Okay. Yes, I would love to hear about it.
Melanie Avalon: It just involves the epicness of a weekend. Okay. Are we ready? So, Friday, I interviewed Gary Taubes.
Gin Stephens: Oh, that's exciting. How was he?
Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness, it was--
Gin Stephens: Balmy, is that what are you going to say? Nothing. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: It was incredible. For listeners, who are not familiar with Gary Taubes, he wrote a lot. He wrote Good Calories, Bad Calories. He wrote The Case Against Sugar. He wrote one more in between and Why We Get Fat, I think.
Gin Stephens: Yes, that's it. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, and then most recently--
Gin Stephens: I read the first two. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Most recently, he wrote The Case for Keto. I mean, I've been following his work. I know I interview a lot of really amazing people on the show, but I get-- I don't know, when it's somebody that I've been following for that long, because I basically read Good Calories, Bad Calories when I first started getting obsessed with the low carb diet. I mean, I read that before, like Paleo Solution, I think that was the first thing I read.
Gin Stephens: Oh, can I clarify something when I said I read the first two, I don't mean The Case for Sugar. The two that you named the first two, were not his first two. His first two were Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why Do We Get Fat. I read his first two.
Melanie Avalon: I said those out of order.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. Melanie, like you said, that was the book that made me realize, “Oh, my gosh, there's more than just calories.”
Melanie Avalon: Which one? Good Calories, Bad Calories?
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I read it with my jaw on the floor. All the carbohydrate hypothesis, whatever, even if it's not all 100% exactly like he lays it out. It's still opened my mind to, “Wow, the body is more complicated.” Yeah, I'm fangirling right here with you.
Melanie Avalon: I know, and what's interesting about Gary is, he's not a like a scientist. He's a science journalist. His books are-- they're very historical, so they cover like the history of everything.
Gin Stephens: Well, like Michael Pollan.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, like that. I was nervous, because, A, like I said, I've been following him for so long. I even talk about Good Calories, Bad Calories in What When Wine I reference him. And then, B, I get really nervous. I think I've talked about this before interviewing journalists, because they are interviewers, so they know if I'm asking good questions. So, I'm like, “Oh, I have to show up, I have to have good questions.” It was so exciting because he literally stopped me multiple times. Like he would be talking, answering my question, and then he would stop and just be like, “You're asking really good questions.” I was like, “Oh, my goodness.”
Gin Stephens: I know that's what you wanted to hear, right?
Melanie Avalon: I know. I was so excited.
Gin Stephens: You're like, “I don't care. That's all I wanted.”
Melanie Avalon: I know, I was glowing, glowing. At the very end, he was like, normally I ask them if they want to come back on the show, but I didn't even ask that, and he was like, “I would love to come back on.” He gave me four amazing words. I think like intelligent, sometimes naïve, one other word, challenging questions. I was like, “Oh, my goodness.” At the end, when we stopped recording, he iterated that he really meant everything that he said.
Gin Stephens: By the way, I noticed you said iterated.
Melanie Avalon: I know, every time.
Gin Stephens: I was paying attention. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: I never say reiterate ever now. Listeners, iterate means the same thing as reiterate, to iterate.
Gin Stephens: That’s so funny.
Melanie Avalon: I was head over heels, but I got done with the interview, this was Friday afternoon. I noticed my air was not-- it wasn't cold air. So, I called maintenance and I did not have any expectations that they would come. When they hadn't come by 10 PM, I was like, you know me, I can't do heat. I went to Home Depot at 10 PM right before they closed, got a portable air conditioning unit to install. Came back, opened it, it was not the right thing inside of the box.
Gin Stephens: Oh my gosh, did someone had returned?
Melanie Avalon: I think so, and stolen.
Gin Stephens: They're supposed to check that.
Melanie Avalon: I know. But what's funny is, so it was a dehumidifier, but a different brand. But you're not expecting it to not be the right thing, so it took me so long to figure out it was not the right thing. I was like looking at the instructions. I was like, “This just doesn't match the picture.” [laughs] It's like, “I can't figure out how to install this.” Then, I went to Walmart at 11:00 PM, and got another unit installed it, just haphazardly threw it out the window because I knew it was for one night only. Okay, but wait, the story's not over. Are you ready? The next day, I was eagerly waiting for the maintenance people to call because this is the south, I can't do heat.
Gin Stephens: Well, I like heat, but I wouldn't like no air conditioning in the summer heat. Okay, so. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: And I had something that I was needed to be dressed up for, and calm and collected that night. I was like, “I'm going to be a mess. This is awful.” I was very trigger happy with anybody who-- if I had a missed call, I would call them back because I was hoping it was maintenance. So, I had a missed call and I called him back. And he was like, “Hello.” I was like, “I had a missed call from this number.” He was like, “Oh, it must have been an accident.” I was like, “Okay, sorry. I'm just waiting on a call from somebody.” He was like, “Well, who are you waiting on a call from?” I was like, “Well--” And he's like, “Oh, it doesn't matter. Probably not anything.” I was like, “Yeah,” so then I hung up. Then, I realized I accidentally called Gary Taubes.
Gin Stephens: Oh, that's so funny.
Melanie Avalon: By accident.
Gin Stephens: But he had accidentally called you first?
Melanie Avalon: He had accidentally called me, I guess, but I called him back. Well, the thing is, I think he probably knew it was me when I called him. It was just very awkward. I was like, “This is my life.”
Gin Stephens: That's so funny. It must be air conditioner because Sheri who is my co-host for Life Lessons, she just had to have her air conditioner replaced.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah.
Gin Stephens: Well, when the seasons change, you're asking it to do something new that it hasn't been doing, that's when it often fails.
Melanie Avalon: They said the person before had put in too much Freon, so it actually made it overshoot and shortcircuited or something, I don't know.
Gin Stephens: That's interesting. I never heard of too much Freon.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, he seemed surprised, but that was the possibility. So, that's my epic story about--
Gin Stephens: Well, that's good. I'm glad that Gary was great.
Melanie Avalon: He was, and I sent him a copy of my book.
Gin Stephens: Oh, good. I mentioned him in Delay, Don't Deny.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, really.
Gin Stephens: His book is in my-- Good Calories, Bad Calories is in the back where I talk about things to read, just the whole idea that it's more than just calories. Really, that is mind blowing considering what we had been told. People still think it.
Melanie Avalon: I can't wait to air the episode. One of the good moments in our conversation was I asked him if my interpretation of his insulin theory was-- basically, it was this what he was saying, and he was like, “Yes, that's it, exactly.” It's that we get fat, not so much because we are gaining weight, but that we lose the ability to lose weight, like we lose the ability to burn fat, and so we necessarily gain weight.
Gin Stephens: I know one way he puts it, tell me if this is what he says, I think it is. This stuck in my head. We're not gaining weight, because we're overeating. We're overeating because we're gaining weight. It's like the draw to overeat happens first. I think I've heard him say that.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that's one of his main tenets, because one of the interesting things that we discussed was, because this is something I've been thinking about a lot. I don't know if I can properly articulate it, but basically-- okay, so if you're on a super high-carb, super low-fat diet, the insulin response can make it so that you might never be tapping into your fat stores. So, you basically lose the ability to burn the fat that you have, even if-- and this is a nuance that we've discussed on this podcast and something I talked about with Gary, it's that carbs themselves don't readily become fat. Say you're eating just carbs, it would be hard to gain fat from that, but you at the very least it would make it very, very hard to burn your existing fat. Compared to if you ate a low-carb, super high-fat diet, it actually would be relatively easy to store fat from what you're eating, but you would be burning your fat easily.
Gin Stephens: It all has to do with insulin, and whether your insulin is high versus low.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so like the ironic thing about those two situations is, in the high carb situation, it actually might be hard to gain weight, but you're probably not going to lose weight. As a consequence, you probably are going to slowly gain because it's unlikely that you would be at maintenance all the time. Compared to high fat, low carb, it actually might be relatively easy to store excess calories as fat but you're going to be easily tapping into your stores, so it's easier for you to lose weight. It's hard to articulate.
Gin Stephens: Well, again, it has to do with what your insulin is doing. If your insulin is high, high, high and Gary's main theory is it's only going to be high if you're overdoing carbs. His connection is, you're only going to have high insulin in a high-carb state. That's the problem for him. Why he tends to be low carb, or is low carb, he doesn't tend to be low carb, he is low carb.
Melanie Avalon: It was really, really epic. We ended the discussion-- we went to a major tangent on regenerative agriculture, because he talks about that a little bit in The Case for Keto, and I want that to be his next book so bad. He admitted he hasn't really researched it that much. He's not convinced on the sustainability of regenerative agriculture or anything like that. I'd be really excited if he actually would go down that rabbit hole.
Gin Stephens: Yep. So much to still learn.
Melanie Avalon: I know. So, yeah, sorry that was long, is there anything with you?
Gin Stephens: Doing our backyard remodel still. It's going on forever. [laughs] We're just the slowest remodelers ever since the pandemic began-- [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: I know, I feel like you're in perpetual remodel state.
Gin Stephens: We got the plans for this drawn in fall of 2020, that's when we had the architect come over. We've never been dragging our feet. It's just taken forever to do everything, but we're finally starting to have things progress. They're building on the back of the garden shed, we are doing the screen porch, about to have the concrete floor put in, the pool is about to-- I mean we're waiting, concrete is next and then so. We might have it done. We might be able to get in the pool before summer's over. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: I love looking at pictures of like houses and stuff, so send me pictures when it's done.
Gin Stephens: I will. I'm just really excited. I can't wait to get out on the screen porch. Anyway, what I've been doing is sitting in the front yard. Did I tell you this already?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I think, and read books.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I put out-- we got it two Adirondack chairs. We have this area in the front that's like got pine trees in it, and it's got pine straw, and so it's shady. I'm sitting in the front yard. It just that happens my neighbor across the street, they gutted their house. They just bought it, been a part of an estate, and it sat vacant for a while. We've never had anyone lived there, so they gutted it and they're redoing it. So, they're there all the time, and they're retired. They're similar age to me. They're there doing the work and I'm sitting in the front yard. I'm like out there visiting, in my front yard with neighbors’ people walk by and their dogs. I'm like getting to know the neighbors in a whole new way. I feel almost like a weirdo. They're like, “There's that lady sitting in her yard again.” [laughs] Because I was never in the yard and now I'm always in the front yard just sitting there reading or doing whatever. It's funny, but today she came sat with me. We're both sitting in the front yard together. I was like, “This is what a neighborhood supposed to be.”
Melanie Avalon: I love it. It reminds me of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
Gin Stephens: Well, because before I always sat in the back, we tend to sit in the backyard and the private spaces, but I can't go back there because it looks like the moon. I'm not kidding. [laughs] Anyway, it's going to be nice, but I'm going to make an effort to still sit in the front yard sometimes.
Melanie Avalon: I love it.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, and get to know the neighbors.
Melanie Avalon: Awesome.
Gin Stephens: All right, so shall we get started? We have some feedback.
Melanie Avalon: Sure.
Gin Stephens: This is from Ginny. The subject is “Fat rolls, not symmetrical.” She says, “Hi, ladies. You're fabulous, and I am definitely binge listening to all of your episodes and I'm a member of DDD Social Network and have read all the books.” That's awesome, Ginny. I'm so glad to hear it. She says, “I would love to have a local group or community, but my parents are fasting now and that is huge support. Listening to the episodes, I started at the most current and went backwards and I'm currently down to Episode 108.” That would be fun, Melanie, listening to us backwards.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, that’d stress me out.
Gin Stephens: I don't know. It's funny.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that's funny. Oh, wow.
Gin Stephens: “Someone left a question about fitting into jeans and one side of her body had a fat roll, the other did not. I definitely noticed this as well after about my second month fasting. I'm now a few months in and I have not noticed it as much, but it is still a bit different although very subtle. Just wanted you to know the other listener is not on her own. I love fasting and have lost 20 pounds since February 18th of 2021. I was a Weight Watcher lifetime member, I had maintained my weight for 15 years and suddenly when I turned 43, I gained 25 pounds and was unable to lose it. I am 54 and currently in the normal weight range about 135 and would like to still lose 10 pounds, but 130 was my goal when starting IF. I'm still a size 6 and know that my body probably could go down at least a size or two. I'm no longer super concerned about my weight. I recently went on vacation out of the country and felt more comfortable in a bathing suit than I have over the past several years. So, I would say I am a success already. Thanks again, Ginny.”
Melanie Avalon: Awesome. Well, I love that email from Ginny. I think that's such a beautiful place to reach that-- I think a lot of people experience that where you might have a goal weight, especially with fasting and things like that, when you start feeling more and more comfortable in your skin, the numbers seem less important. Then, on the flip side, there are people that do experience that, but the number is more important. It's almost like the number is more important than what they're experiencing in their body. It's just really interesting.
Gin Stephens: A lot of that is undoing the years of-- for example, Ginny was a Weight Watcher, going to Weight Watchers meetings, I would guess, or maybe not going to them. But anyone who did go to meetings like that, there's a weigh-in, and it's number on the scale, and that is it.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, man, that would be so stressful.
Gin Stephens: Yes. I think it makes us get this emotional connection to a number that is more important than anything else, because that's what's drilled into your head. Again, like calories in, calories out gets drilled into your head, you are your number on the scale gets drilled into your head , and so you just get stuck with that. It's really hard to break free of that. That's the thing in all the communities that I've seen, the people who struggle, and it is so much tied up to our diet history. That's why I had to stop weighing and seeing a number because even though I had body recomposition, and I was smaller, I've told the story a million times, I started to get hung up on the number. That was ridiculous. I didn't want to be smaller. I wanted to see a smaller number. I'm like, “Well, that's dumb.”
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, 100%. Ginny's experience with the uneven fat, that also speaks to the fact that almost the fact that calories aren't just calories, or weight loss isn't just weight loss. The fact that certain areas of our body might respond differently, just goes to show how much is not-- it's not just about the calories and what's in our mouth. Because I'm assuming the reason that we might have uneven fat loss would be completely based-- it must be like hormonal.
Gin Stephens: That is fascinating, that what if we all gained and lost irregularly? Wouldn't that be wacky? I don't mean just a little bit irregularly. What if you only gain weight in your right leg or something? It's a miracle that we stay fairly symmetrical at all, really. I don't know.
Melanie Avalon: That's something I wonder, and that was something Gary talks about in The Case for Keto, which was the amount of fat cells we have, which I had never pondered before. Is it in the billions? I think so. Then, the concept that-- and I don't know if I so much agree with his theory about it, but he was saying that the amount of weight gain, the amount of technical calories that will lead to that would be-- I should pull out my notes. He says that an obese person may have 70 billion fat cells, each contains 0.6 millionth a gram of fat, which is the correlation of 1/5 millionth calorie of fat.
He says that, if you look at it from a calorie perspective, so with weight gain, fat tissue would have to hold on to 20 excess calories per day. That's the equivalent of 1/3 the billionth of a calorie per day her fat cell. I don't know if it goes down like that. Basically, this concept of just fat cells and calories and where they go and how much goes in and how much comes out, there's got to be something so many factors beyond the amount of calories that we put in our mouth.
Gin Stephens: Which is why it still shocks me, whenever I still come across something, where they're like it's only calories in, calories out, we all know that. I'll hear someone say that, and I'm like, “I can't believe someone still thinks that.” I really can't believe they haven't seen any evidence presented to them that makes them understand that it is more complicated than that.
Melanie Avalon: Simplistically, it is more calories went into your fat cells than calories--
Gin Stephens: That's true.
Melanie Avalon: I mean, to say it, and we talked about this with Gary, actually. I think where the confusion comes in is technically it is more calories went into your fat cells than calories came out of your fat cells, but that is no way even remotely the same thing as calories into your mouth versus equals or is related to calories out. It's just not. They're very similar phrases, but they're entirely different meanings.
Gin Stephens: Well, one of them implies that it is 100% in your control, and you could count them and manipulate it. The other understands that no matter how much you count and try to manipulate, you can't, because you're body's doing what it's doing. Those are the two, understanding that you really cannot micromanage your body that way, no matter how hard you try, is a little freeing, but also scary because it lets you realize that number one, it's not your fault, but number two, you can't just easily fix it by counting.
Melanie Avalon: Basically, to re-summarize what I was saying earlier, at least with Gary's hypothesis, if the type of calories you're eating are high carb, then that makes it easy for calories to go in if you have any sort of fat with that, but very, very hard for calories to come out. Compared to high fat, low carb in which calories can easily go in and out, depending.
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All right. Shall we move on to our questions?
Gin Stephens: Yes.
Melanie Avalon: All right. To start things off, this is a easy, breezy, simple question, but I realized, I don't know if we've actually, like, I don't know if anybody's actually asked this and we answered it. Kyla, the subject is “Clean versus dirty fast.” Kyla says, “Hi, Melanie and Gin. I have just started I have three weeks ago, and I'm surprised by the energy I have. I'm a nurse and I work 13-hour shifts, and I'm pleased with how I feel less exhausted already. Could you please discuss clean versus dirty fasting? I read these terms several times now and am unclear what they mean. Thank you for doing the podcast. I really enjoyed listening.”
Gin Stephens: Yep. That's a great question from Kyla. I want to be clear for me, this is just my own point of view. I feel you're either fasting clean or you're not really fasting. I don't think that dirty fasting really should be a thing. I don't think we should say, “Oh, I'm just dirty fasting.” At some point, you're just not actually fasting. I think you're either fasting clean or not really fasting. Anyway, I don't like the word ‘dirty fast’ at all. I don't like dirty in general. Like, eating dirty, fasting dirty, it sounds bad or wrong to me. That's just my own personal word feeling. Anyway, let's talk about what the clean fast is.
I talk about this in great detail in Fast. Feast. Repeat. so much detail that I have two whole chapters about it. If you want to read the whole ins and outs of the idea of clean fasting, find those two chapters in Fast. Feast. Repeat. Fun fact for anyone who doesn't know it, we actually coined the term ‘clean fast’ in the Delay, Don't Deny Intermittent Fasting support group, I believe it was in 2017, right around there, we started using the terminology ‘clean fast,’ and it's stuck. It really makes me proud to see that that's now kind of being used all over the place. The fact that we originated, it makes me proud.
Melanie Avalon: I have a quick question. Could you search through and find the first time that it was ever?
Gin Stephens: I think I did that one time.
Melanie Avalon: I don't know if you can rank it by date.
Gin Stephens: You could. Now there's been so many more posts, I don't really know, but it was after I wrote Delay, Don't Deny. We were not using the terminology clean fast when I wrote Delay, Don't Deny. I mean it's not in there. I didn't say clean fasting, because we hadn't started using it yet. But it was some point after that, it just stuck as a way of explaining, it just felt right. Like, you want your fast to be clean, like an actual fast. The three fasting goals really explain what a clean fast is all about. We have three goals for the clean fast. Number one, we want to lower our insulin levels, and that's what we were just talking about when Melanie was talking about Gary Taubes. Low insulin is what we want during the fast. We don't want to take in anything that makes your brain think that sweetener food, sugar, or glucose is on the way. That's why we avoid anything that tastes like food, or is sweet, because that sets off the cephalic phase insulin response and your body releases insulin. How much insulin, I think that's going to depend from person to person, so many factors. If we know we don't want our insulin to be up, we want to actively keep it down. So, avoid anything that sweet, fruity flavored, we don't put fruit in our water. Anything that tastes like food, avoid.
Fasting goal two is we want to tap into stored fat for fuel. We avoid taking in sources of energy, so we're not going to put MCT oil in our coffee, because if you do, your body is going to use that for fuel. It's an energy source. You want your body to tap into your stored fat, so don't put anything in your coffee at all. No fat, no cream, no creamer. You don't want to take in exogenous ketones either.
Our third fasting goal is, we'd like to experience increased autophagy. We know that if you take in protein that leads to autophagy, not being increased, it decreases autophagy. That's why we avoid things like bone broth. Think about all those things. Bone broth, cream, fat in our coffee, that's all food. And food is not fasting. That's why I always say the “dirty fast” isn't really fasting. You wouldn't eat a cheeseburger and say, “Oh, I just had a really dirty fast. It was extra dirty.” There's a line that you cross when it isn't fasting.
A lot of people throw around numbers. I don't know where they came up with these ideas. Like, if you have fewer than 50 calories, you're not breaking the fast. Well, what if I ate one bite of pizza? What if I had one Jellybean every 10 minutes? Am I fasting? No. [laughs] The safest bet is to not even have any of that. You know that you're fasting if you're fasting. You don't have to worry.
Melanie Avalon: What about non-caloric artificial sweeteners?
Gin Stephens: Well, that goes to fasting goal one that I talked about. You don't want anything that tastes sweet, because that causes your body to think that glucose is coming in, because our bodies don't understand zero-calorie diet soda, because in nature when our bodies have evolved to handle fruit or sugar, anything that tasted sweet had a glucose hit coming along with it. Our brain senses that sweetness coming in and says, “Ooh, got to get ready for a glucose hit. Our blood glucose is going to go up, we need some insulin.” We pump out some insulin to deal with that, but because it's a zero-calorie sweetener, the glucose doesn't come in because you're not really having any, and so that causes a lot of metabolic confusion, and the insulin goes up.
How much does it go up? That's a great question. A lot of it depends on your metabolic health. I have a blog post on ginstephens.com. It's like insulin response, why doesn’t everyone agree? Because sometimes people are like, “No, that's ridiculous. Your body does not do that.” You can find obviously studies that say that that is what happens. Although you can find studies that show that is not what happens. There's also some studies that I talk about in that blog post that says that people who are obese or overweight have a larger insulin response than other people.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that's actually something that Gary talks about a lot in The Case for Keto, is people's individualized insulin responses, both to food and both to stimuli in the fasted state.
Gin Stephens: Exactly. Even though we have studies that show insulin response after these stimuli, does that mean every single person alive has that exact same insulin response? No, but we know that is a potential, and if you're trying to lose weight, you don't want to have that potentially happening. We're all different. I think my husband has a very small insulin response to anything ever, because he's always been so lean, always. When we had our fasted insulin tested, his was lower than mine. Yeah, low insulin, hard to store fat.
If you know that low insulin is connected to so many health benefits, I don't know why you'd risk it. Maybe you're a lucky person that doesn't release much insulin in response to a diet soda, but what if you're not? [laughs] Hyperinsulinemia, having chronic high levels of insulin does more than just cause you to gain weight. Chad's aunt had early-onset Alzheimer's, and she was always really, really, really lean. But she always was drinking a regular Coke and having a candy bar. I'm sure she kept her insulin up all the time. They're calling Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes now.
Melanie Avalon: I actually interviewed-- what's today? Yesterday or two days ago. I was so excited, I interviewed the codirectors of the Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Institute at Loma Linda, they're the authors of The Alzheimer's Solution.
Gin Stephens: Oh, yeah, I've seen that on Amazon.
Melanie Avalon: It was really exciting because they are very, very vegan. It's always really nice to bring on different viewpoints, because so many of my guests are very, very steeped in the low carb and keto world. So, it was nice to engage with them.
Gin Stephens: What did they say? Can you give us a little spoiler? Did they talk about insulin at all?
Melanie Avalon: We didn't talk about insulin, I don't think-- so they have what they believe are the four pathways to Alzheimer's. I learned so much about Alzheimer's. It's a very fascinating condition, because it's sort of like aging, there's not one identified root cause, because we know that beta amyloid formation and tau, “the problem,” but the question is what is causing that?
Gin Stephens: Did they talk about the glymphatic system and lack of sleep?
Melanie Avalon: They do in the book, we didn't on the show. The interesting thing about the beta amyloid and tau is that you can have that and not have Alzheimer's. It's not directly-- doesn't necessarily cause it. They think that there are four main pathways that lead to Alzheimer's. Number one is inflammation. Number two is oxidation. I'm going out of order because I'll say it. Number four is lipid dysregulation. Number three is glucose dysregulation/insulin resistance. Something fascinating, did you know that the enzyme that is responsible for degrading insulin. So, insulin degrading enzyme is also responsible for degrading tau protein, I think?
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I think I read this and that if you have too much insulin in your brain, it keeps the other from getting degraded.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. That's the theory of why the Alzheimer's would be called the type 3 diabetes because your insulin too high in your brain, causing the action of the other to not happen.
Melanie Avalon: It's partly that. It's also, I think, one of the main theories behind type 3 diabetes is that if insulin resistance occurs in the brain, then the brain cells literally are not getting fuel because they're insulin resistant. Oh, we did talk about that. It's coming back to me more. They made a very strong case that hands down the preferred sort, and we talked about this at length on the show. When it comes out, listeners, definitely check it out. They believe very firmly that glucose is the ideal and preferred source of fuel for the brain. A lot of people say that ketogenic diets are good for Alzheimer’s and that ketones are a better fuel source, especially for people with Alzheimer's, but they think that really glucose is what the brain should be using and that we don't have enough long-term studies on low carb or ketogenic diets to make a case for ketones.
Gin Stephens: That is a really good point. Just because the brain does function well ketones, doesn't mean it's the preferred source for the brain.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so that's what they believe very strongly. What was really nice is they were so open to-- because we talked about it a lot. They were so open to engaging in that dialogue. They knew that my audience tends to be low carb. I was really, really, really grateful for how the conversation unfurled. The thing we talked about with the low carb and keto diets was basically they think that-- so like I said, lipid dysregulation is their fourth thing. They think that high cholesterol and lipid dysregulation that high-fat diets are primarily the cause of that and the way to address that is a whole foods-- high carb, but from like starches and whole foods. So, they're very anti sugar, they have a whole section on sugar and how bad it is. I think they even say in the book that it's like the worst thing for Alzheimer's.
Gin Stephens: Well, you know that Chad's aunt, she was high sugar all the time. Never had a weight problem, skinny as a rail. But sugar, sugar, sugar, and then early-onset Alzheimer's.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it was a really good conversation. This is something I believe, and I think I've talked about a lot on this show, and I said it to them. My concerns with the low-carb diet and the keto diet for a lot of people, I think it's really, really amazing if you do it right and if you're strict about it as far as like being on a super high-fat diet. But I think people get very casual with it sometimes, so their carbs aren't quite low enough, or they flip in and out. So, they're in this state where they're often having a really high fat diet, and they might not be in the metabolic state to support having the health benefits from that. I think it can be potentially dangerous for a lot of people to experiment with a ketogenic diet if they're not doing it correctly.
Gin Stephens: Well, it goes back to what Marty Kendall says, energy toxicity. Too much energy in the blood from any source is not a good thing.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. To clarify, I think that the safe approach to it is to not do a super high-fat ketogenic diet, which is more Marty Kendall’s approach and more my approach.
Gin Stephens: It's starting to become more-- in the community, I think the keto community is starting to be like, “Oh, okay. Yeah, maybe we don't need to pound the fat.”
Melanie Avalon: If you go low carb, but you don't crazy ramp up the fat, then I think it's a lot easier to get all the health benefits of low carb without the potential issues of going super high fat. I'm glad it's becoming more of a nuanced conversation.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, because really, for so long, the number one thing people would say is, “Well, just eat more fat, add more fat.” No, no. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: The thing that they said was they were like-- and again, this is coming from them so it's hard to know exactly, but from what I've seen briefly, they were saying that the majority of the literature really does show that high lipids correlate to Alzheimer’s and all of these issues, because I know a lot of people in the keto world will have extremely high lipids and make the argument that there's no health problems there because of the ketogenic stay in the context of it, but it can potentially be an issue for people.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, and only time will tell, like you said, we don't have the long-term data.
Melanie Avalon: Their names, it was Dr. Dean and Dr. Ayesha Sherzai. I think that's how you say it, and they wrote The Alzheimer Solution. Now what I want to do is, I really want to get Dale Bredesen who wrote the Alzheimer's-- what’s the other one? He's the low-carb guy who wrote the big Alzheimer's book.
Gin Stephens: No wonder everyone is confused.
Melanie Avalon: I know. What is his book? Because there's Alzheimer’s Solution, and then there's the Alzheimer-- wait, let me just look it up real quick.
Gin Stephens: I don't know.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so there's The Alzheimer Solution by the Sherzais, and then there's The End of Alzheimer's by Dr. Dale Bredesen. He approaches it from a low carb perspective. I've read that book, so I want to bring him on. I'm not trying to confuse people, I'm trying to give as much information as possible, so that people can make their own decisions.
Gin Stephens: Well, and I really think that probably if you go down to the root of almost every one of these approaches, it's like eat real food underlying it. It's the ultra-processed food, that's the problem. If we just got rid of ultra-processed food, maybe we could have our fat and our carbs together, and just be healthy. Don't eat all the time. Do intermittent fasting. Eat real food.
Melanie Avalon: Like Dr. Lustig’s book.
Gin Stephens: It's real food.
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All right, are we ready to go on to the next question? This is from April. April says, “Hello, my name is April and I'm newish to IF. I've been doing it off and on for about two months now. I have a question I'd love some input on. I've been listening to your IF stories for a while, I've listened to most of the episodes. I started fasting 16:8, opening my window at 11, closing at 7. I really wanted to have dinner with my family, so I figured that was the best window for me. I hate black coffee, so I was having coffee with just stevia and water or bubble water. Fasting was okay, but kind of miserable, wasn't really enjoying my coffee without almond milk and was watching the clock till I could eat. Once I would eat, I would crash.
Anyway, I learned about clean fasting, so I cut stevia and would only have plain water and plain coffee during my fast. Still hated fasting. It was a misery. I would still randomly crash after eating, and I would notice that when dinnertime rolled around, I wasn't even hungry because I would basically binge once my window was open.” Now, this is just me side note, since she's only been doing it off and on for about two months, I wonder if she gave herself time to adjust to the clean fast, because if you switch to clean fasting after not fasting clean, it might be amazing from the minute you start, but now you might not be. I would consider that day one and give yourself that 28 days to adjust. Unless she gave herself 28 days to adjust, I'm just throwing out there that that might be why it was still miserable, because the adjustment period can really be miserable. [laughs]
Anyway, all right. She said, “So, I had a thought, why not do a morning window and open it with my coffee the way I like it, so I switched. Window opens at 6:30 to 7 AM and closes eight hours later, huge change, fasting was suddenly easy and the scale began to move. Now, I'm excited to fast. My question is, it seems that most skip breakfast.” Then, she said she listened to a podcast episode that recommended skipping breakfast, but she says, “Why do I feel awful when I skip breakfast, but perfect when I have a morning window? Is there the same benefit either way, with a morning or evening window? By the way, I accidently tested it again today because I had a longer window yesterday. I waited till 11 for breakfast today and crashed, feel horrible. Thank you. By the way, stats. I'm not overweight, 138-ish at 5’6”. My goal is 130, and I'm fasting not just for weight loss, but that is a goal as well. Thanks for any insight you have. By the way, I know you're probably say just do what window works for you.” Yes, that is what I was going to say. “IF is flexible, but the questioning me wants to know why I seem to be the opposite of most IFers. April.”
Melanie Avalon: All right, April. This is a wonderful question. Now, okay, I wish we had saved this for next week because I think I'll have a lot more insight on it next week. I guess I can tease the information that I think I'm about to learn. Remember, Gin, when you were talking about The Power of When, the chronotypes, like the lion, dolphin, bear?
Gin Stephens: Yes. Yep.
Melanie Avalon: Dr. Breus.
Gin Stephens: Oh, are you interviewing him?
Melanie Avalon: Yes.
Gin Stephens: Oh, yay.
Melanie Avalon: I'm so excited. We have a random mutual friend. He's not connected to this industry at all, but I was just catching up with him on the phone, and he was like, “Yeah, I'm friends with him. I'll introduce you.” I'm really excited. I was really familiar with his book, but I haven't actually read it. So, I'm reading it right now. It hadn't really occurred to me thinking about it from that perspective, but I think that explains a lot why some people respond better to early versus late eating windows.
Gin Stephens: We have different chronotypes.
Melanie Avalon: Yes, so I'm still reading it right now, but what I've learned thus far is the dolphin, which the dolphin is me, which, by the way, the dolphin is the insomniac type, all by itself. I thought I was the wolf, like the one that stays up really late. Anyway, but I'm going all over the place, I apologize. His chronotype takes into account not just circadian rhythm like sleep cycle, but also your personality, and basically everything. And they all go together, they're all connected. I haven't learned about the bear. I don't know if the bear eats breakfast. The wolf definitely doesn't like breakfast, neither does the dolphin. I don't think the bear does. But the lion is the one that gets up early and eats and fuels for the day, and then goes.
Gin Stephens: See, I'm a lion, and I don't do that.
Melanie Avalon: Have you taken the quiz?
Gin Stephens: I took his quiz. Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: It said you were a lion, not a bear?
Gin Stephens: Yeah, it said I was a lion, because I wake up super early.
Melanie Avalon: True. Well, so much for that idea.
Gin Stephens: Who knows? We're all more complicated than just four types. Right?
Melanie Avalon: It seems that there is something intrinsic to our rhythms, like we have metabolic rhythms. I think some people's rhythms, like genetically, they just are breakfast people.
Gin Stephens: Yep, I have a good friend. She's one of the moderators in the Delay, Don’t Deny community, and she has a morning window, she feels better having a morning window. She just does it. I believe that that is the best window time for her. And I know it is not the best time for me, which is why I get so frustrated. I know, we've said this before, Melanie, when we hear the whole, everyone would be better if they had a morning window. There's that theory being tossed around based on an insulin response and glucose response and your metabolic whatever, whatever, and your circadian rhythm, they're calling it circadian fasting, I think, and that everyone should have their eating window at this certain time of the day. We're just not like that.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, 100%. He thinks we developed these rhythms, because as we evolved as a species, it had to do with different parts of the tribe needing to be awake at different times, so that the community was always safe. A tribe in the wilderness, everybody can't be asleep all at the same time.
Gin Stephens: So, it's a benefit for us to all have different rhythms.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, because if everybody was asleep, all at the same time, the community would be unprotected. We naturally evolved to have people who were up early, like protecting, then people throughout the day, and then people at night, and then the dolphins that are just like waking up to everything.
Gin Stephens: Oh, maybe I'm a dolphin.
Melanie Avalon: You're not a dolphin, I don't think.
Gin Stephens: Oh, okay. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: Do you have insomnia?
Gin Stephens: Well, more now, after menopause. I didn't used to.
Melanie Avalon: Well, so you can take the quiz. What's really funny though, is when you take it, so the very first thing at the beginning, identifies the dolphins. So, if you get dolphin, then you don't get to take the rest of the quiz because it categorizes you as dolphin.
Gin Stephens: Maybe I should take it again.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, you should take and let me know. I'm dying to know. I took it and it was like dolphin. I was like, “But I really want to see if maybe I'm a wolf,” because I thought I was a wolf. So, then I took it again. I was like, “Okay, maybe I can answer these a different way.” Then I kept doing it. I literally had to take four times and every time it's like dolphin, dolphin, dolphin. Then, finally I was able to change my answers enough that it let me take the rest of the quiz.
Gin Stephens: I mean, I totally want to go to sleep at 9, 9:30 at night every night.
Melanie Avalon: You're not a dolphin.
Gin Stephens: Okay. I can't help it, and I cannot sleep late. I cannot.
Melanie Avalon: You're not a dolphin. [laughs] No, you're not. The dolphins are super groggy in the morning, takes a long time to get their energy out the day, and then randomly like, “9:00, whoa.”
Gin Stephens: I'm definitely not that. No, I'm not that. [laughs] I'm not a dolphin.
Melanie Avalon: He didn't make this connection, but I just read this and I'm making the connection in my head. He said the dolphins are the only chronotype where all of their rhythms, like their blood pressure, their body temperature, all of that is inversed, so that all goes up at night. Maybe that explains why I want all my food. I eat really well, like really late, so I'm excited to keep reading it. There's personality too.
Gin Stephens: I would say about April, it totally could be the morning window is when her body is primed to eat and that's the better time to eat. That totally could be it. I'm still not completely sure that she's adjusted to fasting. I just don't know, she's only about two months in, she's been doing it off and on for two months. She may not be fat adapted. April, if you're not fat adapted, you really can't judge how you feel yet because you're not there. That's the thing. It depends on when you started the clean fast, and whether you're fat adapted yet. If you've been doing it for a while and you are fat adapted and you 100% feel better when you eat in the morning, then that is definitely a clue that that's your good window time. Your body really does tell you.
Melanie Avalon: Even when I wasn't fat adapted, I was never a morning eater. I was never hungry at breakfast.
Gin Stephens: Well, I ate breakfast because I enjoy the recreation of eating, and I enjoy eating breakfast and they told you to eat breakfast, but I did realize earlier on that I was hungrier when I did eat breakfast than if I waited.
Melanie Avalon: Me too.
Gin Stephens: I didn't know that was true, for me, but that didn't stop me from eating. [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: That’s the way I was.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. I loved having breakfast eat out. It was not a good breakfast either, I was having like drive-thru breakfast. Oh, Lordy.
Melanie Avalon: It could be that she's not fat adapted, but I feel maybe intrinsically, she's just a breakfast eater.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, it could be either of those. I can't say it's one or the other. It absolutely might be that she's a morning person, but it might not be it might just be not fat adapted yet. I just really would be hesitant for anybody to judge what intermittent fasting is going to be prior to when you're adapted because your body's lying to you turn into [laughs] adaptation phase.
Melanie Avalon: Good point. We have time for one last question, and this is from Jan. Jan says, “I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggles with this. For the most part, I am comfortable doing 16:8 fast regularly. However, when I am at work and come 11, 12, 1 PM, I just want to eat. It's more like an inner clock. I am not really hungry, but I feel like I have to eat. I'm not sure how to move beyond that point. Any suggestions? I enjoy your podcasts and the guests you have on. Thank you.”
Gin Stephens: All right, well, thank you, Jan. Here's the thing, if what you're doing is working, and you're eating at 11, 12, 1, and it feels right, and you're happy and you're getting the results you want, then you don't need to move beyond that point. You're fasting and if you're doing 16:8, and you feel good with 16:8, you're comfortable doing 16:8, it's working for you, then it's okay. We sometimes get into our heads that you should want to fast more necessarily, or you want to push your window up just to be doing it, but if what you're doing feels right, then it's okay. It's okay to open your window at noon. Even if you're not like super-duper hungry. Maybe this is your body's sweet spot, maybe if you waited till 4, you would binge. I don't know. If however, you're not getting the results you want, if you feel like, “Every day, I'm opening at 11, 12, 1, and I'm not even hungry and I don't even need to eat and I'm not getting the results I want,” that's when you need to have like a conversation with yourself and say, “Okay, am I going to choose to eat because I want to eat? Or, am I going to choose to not eat and then see if I can meet my goals by delaying my eating window?” You've just got to decide which you want to do, which might be easier said than done. I get it.
As I just said a couple minutes ago when we were talking about breakfast. Eating is a lot more than just taking in nutrients. It's recreational, it's something that we enjoy, it's pleasurable. It's a break from what we were doing, you take a break to eat and it feels like a nice rest. I don't know if I'm explaining myself well. It's a routine, it feels nice. So, you just have to decide, “Is what I'm doing right now working for me?” And if so, it's okay to eat at that point if that's when I want to eat. But if what I'm doing is not working for me, how can I flip that switch and tell myself, “You know what, you just want to eat, you don't need to eat, find something else to do, get busy. Maybe have a special beverage, have your San Pellegrino mineral water that you have every day at that time to make it your special instead of like you have to eat, now you're going to have your special San Pellegrino. I don't know, what do you think, Melanie?
Melanie Avalon: That was really great. I hadn't really thought about this way before, but when it comes to food, and then perception of hunger, perception of appetite, all these things, people experience things all over the spectrum. A lot of people who write to us, it's the opposite of Jan's what she's experiencing as a potential issue. A lot of people feel they're ravenously hungry, when they're not supposed to be eating, but then some people like Jan, it's when they're “decided to eat” but they're not hungry. The nice thing about fasting is, in a way, you don't even have to worry about all of that because what you can do is you-- and this ties into what you just said, Gin, as far as if it's working or not. You can pick your window, commit to it, try it out, trial run it, regardless of feeling hungry or not feeling hungry. Just trying out that window and then seeing if that window is working, rather than having to focus and fixate on your relationship with food and if you're hungry, or if you're not hungry. It's just picking the window and just resting on the confidence of trying out this window, and then seeing if it works. Does that make sense? It's a different place to focus. You don't have to overanalyze so much the hunger or the lack of hunger, because you're trying out the window. I think it's exactly what you said, Gin. If she's doing this window, and but she's happy with her energy and her body composition and everything, then maybe it's completely fine that she's eating the way she's eating. I like what you said.
Gin Stephens: Well, good. Yeah, it just depends. It might not be a problem. Sometimes, we identify things as problems, because we think they are based on what somebody said, for example. We've all heard, “Never eat if you're not really hungry.” Well, we all “fail” when it comes to that. We all eat when we're not truly hungry.
Melanie Avalon: Hunger is a spectrum. One person's hunger may not even register as another person's hunger. It's so subjective.
Gin Stephens: One of the saddest sayings, I don't remember exactly how it's said. One of the saddest mindsets to me of all is the one that you see where it's like, “Food is not entertainment, it is just to fuel your body.” I'm like that is depressing, because a food is supposed to be a pleasure. That would be like saying, “Activities with your spouse are only designed to procreate, and you're not allowed to enjoy it.” You know what I'm saying? It's one of those puritanical mindsets of, “Well, enjoying it is a sin, so stop enjoying it.” You can enjoy all the physical pleasures, and that includes food. I got a little racy, sorry.
Melanie Avalon: No, I was thinking, “I feel like this is like the most-- Ooh.” [laughs] What am I going to say? Hmm.
Gin Stephens: [laughs] I see, I was an elementary teacher, I can't be too racy. I can't say certain things because I was trying not to say anything like that, anyway.
Melanie Avalon: No, you said that really well. That would go over kids’ heads, I think, I don't know. The one slight caveat I would add is, I think some people-- if there are people who struggle with what they perceive as food addiction, sometimes they feel very free and embracing a food as fuel rather than pleasure standpoint. If that's working for you to view food that way, I don't want to discourage people from doing that. In general, I agree that food is meant to be enjoyed.
Gin Stephens: It's meant to be enjoyed. Yeah, but you can even enjoy-- That mindset makes it sound the only thing you enjoy is garbage food. But you can enjoy a brussels sprout. You can enjoy a healthy food, you can enjoy a tomato. I made some beans yesterday in my pressure cooker. Oh my gosh, they were so good. That was pleasure, eating these beans. It wasn't like I was eating chocolate cake. Assuming that pleasurable food has to equate “bad food.”
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, exactly. I thought that was a really great note to end on.
Gin Stephens: Awesome. Yeah, me too.
Melanie Avalon: All right. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. A few things for listeners before we go. If you would 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. The show notes for today's episode will be at ifpodcast.com/episode216, you can get all the stuff that we like at ifpodcast.com/stuffwelike. And you can follow us on Instagram. I am @melanieavalon, Gin is @ginstephens, on Instagram, we're @ifpodcast. Can’t remember that. All right. Anything else from you, Gin, before we go?
Gin Stephens: Nope, that's it.
Melanie Avalon: Right. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful, and I will talk to you next week.
Gin Stephens: All right, 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.
STUFF WE LIKE
Check out the Stuff We Like page for links to any of the books/supplements/products etc. mentioned on the podcast that we like!
Melanie's What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine
Gin's Delay, Don't Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle
Feast Without Fear: Food and the Delay, Don't Deny Lifestyle
Fast. Feast. Repeat.: The Clean Fast Protocol for Health, Longevity, and Weight Loss--Including the 21-Day FAST Start Guide
Clean(ish): Eat (Mostly) Clean, Live (Mainly) Clean, and Unlock Your Body's Natural Ability to Self-Clean
More on Melanie: MelanieAvalon.com
More on Gin: GinStephens.com
Theme Music Composed By Leland Cox: LelandCox.com
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