Episode 219: Exercise, Muscle Building, Protein Intake, Electrolytes, Hydration, PCOS, Fertility, Pregnancy, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Jun 27

Welcome to Episode 219 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, hosted by Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine and Gin Stephens, author of Delay, Don't Deny: Living An Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle

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

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The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #57 - Robb Wolf

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Listener Q&A: Ryan - IF All Or Nothing

Listener Q&A: Mikelle - Not working? (PCOS)

Intermittent Fasting Stories - Episode 34: Cecily Ganheart

Listener Q&A: Kati - Pregnancy

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Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 219 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 number 219 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 good. How are you?

Melanie Avalon: I'm good. For listeners, we're struggling. Gin and I forgot how we--

Gin Stephens: I think either you didn't say or maybe my sound cut out. Because I swear I don't think I heard you say it. I was waiting by sitting here. The likelihood that it's my sound going out is highly likely because my internet is still wacky.

Melanie Avalon: Okay, we struggled recording our intro that we recorded 219 times. [laughs] Good times.

Gin Stephens: It's like when you're so good at driving a car that you forget how to drive the car when you're trying to think about it, it's like, “I don't know how to drive the car. How do you start the car? I don't know.”

Melanie Avalon: Like you're driving and then you randomly for a second overanalyze the lanes or the turn signal or something, and you're like, “Wait.”

Gin Stephens: Yeah. I will be driving in my car, and Chad will say, “How do you turn on the whatever?” and I'm like, “I had no idea. I just turn it on.”


Gin Stephens: Anyway.

Melanie Avalon: It's so funny. We run so many programs and the part of our brain that just runs it on autopilot. When we think about it, it's a different part of our brain.

Gin Stephens: It's true. Just try to walk and think about every action your body's making. You just can't do it. Even walking across the room.

Melanie Avalon: Stressful.

Gin Stephens: It is. Anything new going on with you?

Melanie Avalon: Actually, yes. Well, more of just updates. I'm continuing to take care of my cucumbers. It's perfect timing, because I'm reading a book called Flowerevolution, it's about flowers, but it is blowing my mind about plants. You know how we were talking last time about the consciousness of plants?

Gin Stephens: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: Do you know they've done studies on plants where they put stress detectors on the plants, and then they do things and the plants know, the plants freak out?

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I am fascinated by that type of research. Even playing music for plants. Have you heard the studies about what they do to water? Scream at the water and then pour it in the plants, and the plants are, like, “Oh my God, what's happening?” Just because you screamed at the water. Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: I have to read the original study. She said they did one study where the guy had a plant, it was his plant, and then he went to another state. They did a surprise birthday party for him, and at the moment that they screamed surprise, and he got really scared, the plant spiked.

Gin Stephens: Wow, that's fascinating. It all does sound really crazy until you think about the fact that we are all just energy. Even my chemist husband, who's just Mr. Science mind, he's like, “Yep, that's true. We are all energy,” at our molecular level, and we're mostly space and we're energy. The way our energy is all connected, like quantum physics, it's just way so, so much. There's so much that we're still understanding.

Melanie Avalon: Something that made it seem very clear and not as woo-woo to me, was she compared it to the internet and text messages. We send messages every day through energy, like with text messages.

Gin Stephens: The only reason it's woo-woo is because we don't understand it.

Melanie Avalon: That's what she said. She says that we don't understand the plant language, like we don't understand that energy system. We don't think it's there, we think it's not real.

Gin Stephens: Well, it's like when they used to think thunder was God is mad at you. [laughs] They didn't understand scientifically why we were having thunder. When we can't understand it, we think, “Well, that can't be true,” or that has to have a magical source or whatever. Yeah, it is fascinating. It's why you just can't discount things even though it might sound, like you said, woo-woo.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, exactly. Second update. I am prepping for Valter Longo for the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast. Remember when we interviewed him, Gin?

Gin Stephens: Yes. Now, what if I had said, “No, I don't remember that.” [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: That would be--

Gin Stephens: Crazy? Yeah, no, I do remember.

Melanie Avalon: I'm rereading his book. Is it The Longevity Diet? Yes, The Longevity Diet. There's so many books with the word ‘longevity’ in them. It's interesting to me how much I forgot from that book. Just rereading it now, because I only read it a few years ago, but I feel like I'm reading it for the first time.

Gin Stephens: It was like four years ago, right? Or was it 2018? Was it 2018 that we had?

Melanie Avalon: Probably 2018.

Gin Stephens: Okay, that was three years ago.

Melanie Avalon: Do you want to play the guessing game for something from it?

Gin Stephens: Oh, Lordy. Yeah, go ahead.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. So, I just read this right before we got on the call. I was like, “Oh, this is the perfect guessing game question.” For listeners, Valter Longo is the-- I don't know if he's the director of, but he he's at the Gerontology Longevity Institute at USC, and he is a fasting researcher and he developed the fasting mimicking diet and his company is ProLon. So, he's all about fasting. Oh, and he's in everything. I feel like everything I watch now, I see him. He was in that Goop Lab show. I've been watching Zac Efron’s show on Netflix called something about the earth. It's a lot of biohacking health stuff, he was in that. I just keep seeing him everywhere.

In any case, what do you think, when they were studying fasting water fasts in mice? What was the four changes that they identified as the important, protective, antiaging, health-promoting factors of fasting that they tried to recreate with the fasting mimicking diet? Like they wanted to create a diet that would create these four factors? Isn't this a fun game?

Gin Stephens: Well, no, it's going to be hard. All right, number one, would be calorie restriction.

Melanie Avalon: Okay, wait, no.

Gin Stephens: I don’t understand the question.

Melanie Avalon: When they tested the blood, what four blood markers?

Gin Stephens: Okay, okay, okay. I'm going to say blood glucose went down.

Melanie Avalon: Yes. One. Oh, this is so fun.

Gin Stephens: [laughs] Insulin went down.

Melanie Avalon: I thought that would have been one of them.

Gin Stephens: But did they not test it?

Melanie Avalon: He didn't list it as the four.

Gin Stephens: Okay, in their blood. Did ketones go up?

Melanie Avalon: Yes. Two.

Gin Stephens: Okay. I don't know, do mice have cholesterol? Do they measure cholesterol?

Melanie Avalon: I don't know. It's not one of the ones.

Gin Stephens: Okay. All right. So, I got two of them. Let's see.

Melanie Avalon: I think you can get the third. I don't think you'll get the fourth.

Gin Stephens: Something they're measuring in the blood of mice. Okay, blood glucose down, ketones up. I don't know, cortisol?

Melanie Avalon: No. I can give you a hint. It relates to growth.

Gin Stephens: Oh, human growth hormone went up?

Melanie Avalon: No.

Gin Stephens: Okay, well, then I don't know. You're just going to have to tell me.

Melanie Avalon: You're close, lower IGF-1. Then, the fourth one that I didn't think you would get, higher IGFBP-1.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I was not going to get that.

Melanie Avalon: Which is a growth factor inhibitor.

Gin Stephens: I still didn't get it. [laughs] Even though you said it, I couldn't tell you that, no.

Melanie Avalon: Basically, I just found that was really interesting. They found what the water fast that there was lower IGF-1, that's a growth factor promoter. Lower glucose, so lower blood sugar. Higher ketones, and then higher growth factor, IGFBP-1, and that's a growth factor inhibitor. When they created ProLon, or the fasting mimicking diet, they wanted to create a diet that would create those four factors. Pretty cool.

Gin Stephens: Very cool.

Melanie Avalon: Anything new with you?

Gin Stephens: No, not really. I'm in a fabulous, nothing new kind of a time. It feels good. I have been so stressed out the whole from the beginning of the year till when I turned my book in, and also the new Delay, Don't Deny Social Network. So, it has been like just bam, bam, bam. I don't even know where the year went so far, we're already in June. I've got a big family beach trip coming up and it just feels-- Of course, I've got a lot of editing coming up these different weeks when they're going to send me the copy edits and whatever. But right now, I'm in a nice little lull. I'm reading, I think I talked about this before. I bought a hummingbird feeder for my front yard yesterday. The lady said there probably aren't going to be any hummingbirds for a while, that it's still early or something, I don't know. They are in their little nests. Can you imagine how cute a little hummingbird nest is? Oh my gosh, I know. I would just die if I could see a hummingbird nest. That'd be so cute. Anyway, I was joking with some friends yesterday. I was like, “Does this mean I'm legit old and retired because I'm putting my hummingbird feeder in my yard [laughs] and I'm going to stare at it?”

Melanie Avalon: I spent like an hour before this pruning my cucumbers.

Gin Stephens: Okay, well, and that is not a euphemism, people. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: Wait, what? A euphemism?

Gin Stephens: A euphemism. It's when you say one thing, but it means something else.

Melanie Avalon: For pruning my cucumbers?

Gin Stephens: Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, spicy?

Gin Stephens: Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. [laughs] Ah.

Gin Stephens: I don't even know what that would be. But it just sounded a little bit like one of those double meaning kinds of phrases.

Melanie Avalon: No, these are very real, cucumbers.

Gin Stephens: I do want to say the little baby birds that we had in the nest around Mother's Day, they're gone. They've moved out of the nest.

Melanie Avalon: Where did they go?

Gin Stephens: I guess they flew away. Where do birds go? [laughs] But we actually thought for a brief period of time that they were going to die because Ellie had a bird in the dining room, and we thought it was mama bird. It seemed injured, but we put it out, and Chad's like, “That bird is going to die. If that was mama bird, the babies are going to die.” Then, we were like really sad for a while. I don't know, that bird might not have been injured. If it was a mama bird, she came back and fed them. So, the babies didn't die. The last time Chad looked in there at the nest, they were big babies, they're getting so big. Anyway, the circle of life. This is what I'm doing. It's pretty much birds. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: Birds and the bees, I'm contemplating-- I don't know, I wish I could get a pet bee to pollinate my flowers.

Gin Stephens: I think you need a whole ecosystem. That sounds like too much. What's next? [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: I was seriously contemplating this. I was like, “Could I have a pet bee?”

Gin Stephens: I don't think so. I don't think it's got everything it needs to thrive.

Melanie Avalon: Oh right, because then I have to feed the bee.

Gin Stephens: Well.

Melanie Avalon: Wait, the bee eats the flower?

Gin Stephens: No, it doesn't. It's the nectar and then it does something with it. It's getting the nectar out of there, then takes the nectar back to its hive.

Melanie Avalon: Okay.

Gin Stephens: I could be wrong. I don't think it's like eats the nectar. Eats the nectar, then spits it up in the hive, I'm not sure.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, I do remember that.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, like all coming back to me. It's like bee spit. Honey is bee spit. Right?

Melanie Avalon: Another fact I learned from the book about bees and flowers. They used to think bees were attracted to the flower’s color and scent.

Gin Stephens: Isn't it something with like ultraviolet light, like a runway?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's like the energy. It's not the flowers-- or it's not the color.

Gin Stephens: If you look at the flower differently, it's a different wavelength. It's not the visible light spectrum that we see. It's a different wavelength you could see. If you go to the airport and on the runway, like go here, arrows. It's kind of like that to the bee. It's like a landing strip, the way it looks to the bee. I think so. For some reason, that's in my head. It's all that elementary school knowledge. [laughs] Maybe I saw it on Magic School Bus or something.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness. I asked my Facebook group for ideas about turning my podcast into a TV show, and one person said, it should be like the adult version of Magic School Bus. I got so excited. That would be so incredible. They were like, “And David Sinclair can be the narrator.” Oh, my goodness. Very cool.

Gin Stephens: I loved that TV show when I was a teacher, but see, you were a kid, I was a teacher. I could have been your fourth-grade teacher.

Melanie Avalon: Oh.

Gin Stephens: It's true.

Melanie Avalon: Could you have? Yes.

Gin Stephens: Yes. I was teaching fourth grade in 1990.

Melanie Avalon: You could not have been my fourth-grade teacher. Oh, wait. Well, you were teaching it after then, too?

Gin Stephens: Yes. And after then. Yes. I could only not have been your teacher if you were in fourth grade prior to 1990.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, I see what you're saying. Okay. Wow.

Gin Stephens: I know. That's how old I am. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: That would have been so crazy.

Gin Stephens: I know.

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Shall we jump into everything for today?

Gin Stephens: Yes. We have a question from Ryan and the subject is “IF, all or nothing.” Ryan says, “Thanks for the comprehensive and fun pod. I've been IFing for eight months and know it has influenced my eating for life. I'm a 35-year-old male who started IF for the health benefits and lifestyle compatibility. I'm finding myself fit as I was a decade ago with my exercise during these IF months oriented around cardio, and mid to low intensity bodyweight workouts. Recently, however, I've increased the intensity of my bodyweight workouts in a push for the summer body I always wanted, but never once had. Removing breakfast and lunch in lieu of a nighttime window has increased my work performance which is great, and I exercise after work in the fasted state before opening my window until bedtime. I've also finally learned to respect the need for adequate sleep, which prompts the first part of my issue.

My window, typically three to four hours, seems no longer large enough to accommodate the calorie intake I need without uncomfortably stuffing myself. I usually spend one or both weekend days eating normally and have started switching my Wednesdays back to non-IF as well. But my body tells me I'm still not getting enough calories in, which wasn't a problem until this recent exercise change. One obvious solution would be to give up my insistence that all workouts occur in the fasted state and to eat lunch or a smaller meal in the early afternoon.

Enter the second part of my issue. I've learned a lunch will throw me for a mental loop for the rest of the workday. Even if it's a low-carb salad with lean protein and healthy fats, for example, avocados, nuts, and seeds, I feel mentally foggy and have notable loss of cognitive function and alertness. I knew this was a problem when my boss asked me on multiple occasions, if I was okay, which itself is a sign that I was not. And this was an issue before the recent increase in exercise intensity, so I know ratcheting back the exercise won't solve it.

Have you experienced this or counseled others who've dealt with it? I can't be trapped by IF, such that deviating from my usual eating schedule puts me somewhat out of commission on work matters. Successful days are either entirely non-IF or fully IF with my usually intense, but short nighttime window. I'd really appreciate your thoughts. Many thanks, Ryan.”

Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness, Gin. I have to tell you something, and I can tell listeners as well. I'm so upset. For listeners, I just went to turn off the pumps on the hydroponic plant things and I realized I hadn't turned the pump on one of them. I hadn't turned the pump back on from my last podcast interview. So, the pump hasn't been running for a few days.

Gin Stephens: It'll be okay. Plants are hardy. Think about in the real world, they have to be able to withstand droughts, they have to be able to withstand monsoons, they are resilient. It will be okay.

Melanie Avalon: I was sitting there today. I was staring at it, and I was like, “I just feel like it's not getting the nutrients it needs.” That's probably why.

Gin Stephens: It is fine. It will be okay.

Melanie Avalon: Thank you for talking me off the ledge.

Gin Stephens: Just think about how in nature, plants can do all sorts of crazy things. They're hardy.

Melanie Avalon: Okay, so it's okay. Okay. I'm glad that that happened.

Gin Stephens: Your plant was fasting.

Melanie Avalon: Yes. [laughs] But they're in a growth mode right now, remind me at the end to turn the pump back on. Ryan, this is a really great question, and I thought about it a lot, and I have so many thoughts. Okay, to start, hope I can articulate all of this well, the first thing I have is a question. He talks about how he upped his workout to get the summer body that he always wanted, but never had. He doesn't tell us what his weight or what his stats were before. So, it's important to know-- I'm guessing this is the final push, that stubborn last part, especially since it's for the summer body. The reason I think that's important is, I'm wondering, when he says that he feels he's not getting the amount of fuel-- Does he say fuel or calorie intake?

Gin Stephens: He says calorie intake. Remember, we talked about this last time. The fuel comes from what you're taking in, but also from your body.

Melanie Avalon: All right, so his body says that he's not getting enough calories in. I'm curious what he's experiencing, feeling like he's not getting enough calories. Is it hunger? Is that lack of energy? Does he feel he's not building adequate muscle? What is it? The reason I'm emphasizing that is that if this is the final push, I feel it's a situation where it might be normal to experience hunger. Does that make sense? If it's the final push to do something that's a little bit resistant, I don't know if doing so can be done without feeling any sort of--

Gin Stephens: A little hungry.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I would evaluate first, as far as maybe, are you getting enough calories in? Maybe you are for the goal that you're achieving? I don't know, because I don't know exactly where he's at. But that's my first part. I also want to do a disclaimer and a clarification, obviously, we're not doctors. But two, I do think when it comes to this, as far as the body having hormonal issues and things like that, that it's less common in men. Men can more healthfully do what Ryan is doing than women without having to worry quite as much about creating a lot of hormonal damage. And the reason I say that is if it is a natural state of hunger that he actually needs to be in to get the “body” he wants, it might all be okay.

All of that said, the continuation of my thoughts. First of all, I completely relate with when you're doing fasting, and then it's hard to go back to daytime eating and experiencing the brain fog or the loss of cognitive function like he says, and I'm really jealous. I feel some people do fasting, like a one meal a day type thing, and then they are able to eat on days that they want and they don't experience that, and I'm really jealous, but that's not me. I completely understand and identify with that. My suggestion would be, what do you want to preserve with everything? It looks like you really want to preserve the fasted state in the workday, it looks like that's the thing that's really important to keep.

Gin Stephens: The mental clarity. I would keep that obviously-- and then sure, we are going to have to adjust other factors if you do decide that you really do need more calories. Well, I like what he's doing where he said he was doing one or two days of the weekend not fasting, so just do both days of the weekend not fasting is like a thing. Then, he talks about potentially fueling the workout, or not doing the workout in the fasted state. Again, if you decide that you can still get the body composition changes that you want, while not working out in the fasted state some days, then I think that's completely fine. This might sound crazy, but this might be a thing where you might want to do a bulletproof decaf coffee and don't really qualify it either way about it being part of the fast. You might be able to do something with the workouts to get in more calories throughout the day and fuel the workouts without breaking the cognitive state and getting the lethargy. This might actually be a situation where something like MCT oil before some of the workouts might actually work for you.

I'm also wondering, it sounds like you cram everything into your window, your dinner window. I'm guessing there's not really much room to lengthen that at all. Otherwise, I'm assuming you would have done that. But if there is a way you could do that, even if it's just changing around how you're prepping your dinner, maybe there's a way that you can eat your dinner sooner after your workout and have a longer window. Also, if you wanted to add just calories to your window and make them more easily absorbable without feeling like you're completely stuffing yourself, that actually might be something where I brought up the MCT oil, you might be able to add that to your food, to your dinner, and that actually might, A, get you even faster to your goals because I personally experienced and there's this girl on Instagram who's been talking about it a lot. She has a big following, but they're experimenting with adding MCT oil to the meals and actually losing more weight. So, that might be a way to actually add in a lot of calories, but also move you closer to your goal.

The very last thing is, it's a little bit ironic because I'm saying focus on protein and nutrient density. The reason I think it's ironic is because if you're not doing this already, which I feel he probably is, based on what he said, the type of things that he eats. True, if you eat more protein, it's actually going to make it harder to eat more, and I know he's thinking that it needs to eat more, but it's the nutrients, especially with the bodybuilding state and the fat loss state that you want to be eating and need to be eating. So, it might be possible that you don't actually need to eat more calories, but you just need to focus on the protein and the nutrients. So, playing around with what you're eating, it might not be a calorie thing, it might be a macronutrient-nutrient thing. Those are my thoughts. I thought about it a lot.

Gin Stephens: Yeah. It's all just a matter of tweak it till it's easy, Ryan, and finding what feels good to you. You'll really only know it when you feel it and you find it. It sounds like you were feeling great before you increased the intensity of your workouts. That made you feel hungrier, like you weren't getting enough to eat. And then, having the longer window, including lunch, takes away that mental clarity that you were enjoying so much. That totally makes sense, but think about what we always were told by our grandparents, you exercise, you're working up a good appetite. Your body is telling you, you need more fuel, if that's indeed what your body is telling you. It sounds logical to me. Figuring out a way-- and this is where you've just got to tweak it. Like I said, figure out a way to-- I would not suggest having the lunch because clearly that's not feeling right, that would not be the tweak I would make, but playing around with maybe having something in the late afternoon, a little something, and then having your workout.

You hinted earlier that you would consider maybe not working out in the fasted state, so to try that. Just see how that goes. You said, the only way you're having success is to be either all or nothing, non-IF or fully IF. Then, you said you have an intense but short nighttime window. I also want you to consider that as you get to your goal, you're probably going to need more fuel, just in light of the fact that you're not going to be burning as much body fat. Like I found when I got to my goal size, I did need a little more food than I was to lose weight. You need to eat more in maintenance than you did to lose the weight, that's just how our bodies are hungrier because we're maintaining and we're not getting as much fuel from our short fat, if that makes sense. I think I just talked in circles. But hopefully, I made sense with it. Depending on how much fat you're still burning, and how much working out you're doing, think about lengthening that window, but not so long as to impact your workday and make you sluggish. You've got to figure out how you can do that. I wonder if you could work out early before work, then you'd really be ready to go for work and then have an afternoon snack before the end of work.

Melanie Avalon: I thought about that, but then I thought he probably would just be hungry and would have the cognitive issues of eating.

Gin Stephens: Well, it depends. I don't know, working out in the fasted state, it might just really pop up his alertness, make him feel better and more alert, because he's deep in the fat burning state and then have a longer window on the back end.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I guess it would depend if it makes him super hungry right after.

Gin Stephens: Exactly. It would depend on that. I find that when I'm really, really active in the fast, that I'm not as hungry for a while after working out-- during the fasted workout. It all changes up when just in-- maybe the next day, I might be hungrier though. I really do believe that if your body is sending you, “I'm hungry” signals, there's a reason.

Melanie Avalon: I mean, the reason might be that it's this final push and that's why it might be something that you have to just accept. It's hard to know where he's at and what he's trying to do. Like I said, I'm much more comfortable talking about this when it's a man than a female. Not because it's a gender bias, because it's just literally our bodies are different.

One other thing I thought of, so I'm actually interviewing tomorrow, John Jaquish. I don't know how you say his last name. I think I might have mentioned it. Did I mention him to you, Gin? He makes the X3 Resistant Band system.

Gin Stephens: Yes, you mentioned him to me.

Melanie Avalon: I'm really excited because I learned so much in that book. It was a situation where-- because I don't actively seek out exercise science books or information, I probably should. So, it's really nice when it just lands in my lap, they reached out to me to bring him on the show. He's been on Dave Asprey and a lot of other shows and other podcasters that I listen to have been mentioning his bands. His book goes into the exercise science of muscle building, I learned so much. It's so interesting when something that you're steeped in normally-- like tomorrow when we record, I just still don't feel like I have the knowledge that I would like to engage in an intellectual dialogue about it, but that's fine, I'm going to learn.

The point of all this was he talks about usability of proteins. I was trying to look up charts online, because I think people often say that whey protein is super usable, and that's why they use it. I feel he said in the book that it wasn't, which is confusing, but something that also might help Ryan is experimenting with the type of protein that he's eating. For example, like egg whites are typically known to have the highest bioavailability and then fish. Fish is more easily digestible sometimes than other meats, so you might be able to eat more of it, and also get more protein that you need. Then, meat is farther down the line. I was trying to figure out exactly where chicken lies, but that might be something to look up. You could google protein bioavailability.

Gin Stephens: Can I tell you something cool that I just thought of while you were talking? We have new neighbors across the street, and they have gutted the house across the street from the 60s, and they are totally rebuilding it. They're there are a lot, and now that I'm sitting in the front yard, since we're redoing our backyard, I have a lot of time to talk to them, because they are in the front and you're waiting for the workers that are working on the house if they can lock up. Well, the husband of the couple, he is a retired exercise physiology researcher. Fascinating stuff. He was telling me all these stories about-- he worked with top level tennis players and the impact of heat and sweat. He wouldn't tell me what tennis player it was, but it’s somebody we would know. The amount of sweat output he was having, and so he helped him with electrolyte supplementation based on that. He and I had a great discussion about electrolyte supplementation, and who needed it and who didn't. It was really fascinating. This is just in the wild with my neighbor.

Melanie Avalon: No, that's amazing. Exercise science is so fascinating.

Gin Stephens: It really is. Basically, a lot of us don't need it, [laughs] the electrolyte supplementation. But some people do, obviously this high-level tennis player who was working out like crazy and sweating like buckets, he had the highest sweat output, like I said, this exercise researcher had ever seen, is going to need supplementation.

Melanie Avalon: I think a lot of people who are not eating the standard American diet needs electrolytes more, because our processed food is so high in sodium and when people switch to a whole foods diet, they lose a lot of electrolytes.

Gin Stephens: Well, he and I didn't get into that. But we also talked about children and how much heat they can take, which was interesting to me as an elementary teacher. He actually was instrumental in the writing the American Academy of Pediatrics advice for what kids can do in the heat before they need to hydrate and stuff like that. Basically, healthy kids are very resilient. There's no one size fits all, that was the best thing that I took away from the whole conversation, which is everything we say all the time. There is no one size fits all recommendation for anything. He, as a science researcher, found that in everything he was doing as well. He talked about how difficult it was, because the American Academy of Pediatrics wanted a one size fits all recommendation. He's like, “If you're going to do that, I refuse to be a part of it. I'm not doing that.”

Melanie Avalon: One of the things that John says all throughout the book is how he thinks exercise science is-- it has a lot of tenets in it that it sort of wanted to cling to and that it was hard to evolve appropriately.

Gin Stephens: Well, that's all science. I think that's true because when you come up believing something and you're trained in it, just like the cholesterol paradigm, for example. With doctors, that's just one example. When you're trained in something and it's what you believe, it's hard to shift as we learn new things. That's true for all of us.

Melanie Avalon: Actually, one of the stories that Valter Longo tells in his book is, how I guess, in 1994, because there's all these debating theories about aging and longevity and what causes aging. I guess, he formed the idea that we have programs for aging. Cells are programmed to die at a certain time, and maybe you can manipulate those programs based on diet and fasting and things like that. He says a story about how I guess he had a debate in 1994 about the cause of aging, and he put forth his thesis. He said at the end, the audience voted, and the audience was all scientists and lots of people like that, and they voted who they thought was correct, and he lost. With the follow-up polls, he had actually convinced over half of the people of his idea, but people don't like-- I guess in science, it's hard to not accept the current idea, even if they think that something else makes more sense.

Gin Stephens: It's true. Confirmation bias is real, and the inability to change your paradigm is hard. It's hard for people to do when you've believed something for so long. But we all have that in us, and we have to fight against it.

Melanie Avalon: Also, the power of groupthink, so not wanting to go against all the studies they do, where they have people-- like people enter rooms, and they don't know that it's a setup, and everybody will do something weird, but because everybody else is doing it, they'll start doing it, or they won't. This happened to me in real life the other day, and I saw it happening. I was like, “I know this is what this is,” but I still did it. Outside of my apartment, there's the street and there's parallel parking on both sides. You know how parking in streets around communities or neighborhoods can be casual. People might park the wrong way with the parallel parking because it's not the outside world. The road right outside of my apartment, there's parallel parking, and everybody on one side was parked the wrong way. They were all parked opposite the flow of traffic with the parallel parking. There was one open space, and there's like six spots. I was like, “Do I park the way I know I'm supposed to park? Or do I park the wrong way like every other single car?” So, I parked the wrong way. I was like, “This is what this is.”

Gin Stephens: That'd be hard for me as a rule follower.

Melanie Avalon: Would you park the right way?

Gin Stephens: It might depend on what was convenient. Was it more convenient for you to park the “right” way? Or, was it more convenient for you to park like everybody else, based on the way your car was pointed?

Melanie Avalon: Oh, at the time?

Gin Stephens: Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: That's a good question. I don't remember. I definitely sat there. I was like, “Hmm.”

Gin Stephens: That would be a factor. Yeah, that actually might have been a factor now that I think about it but I definitely had the debate. I was like, “This is what this is. This is me wanting to go with the group.”

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All right, shall we go on to our next question?

Gin Stephens: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: We have two questions sort of related. The first one is from Michelle. The subject is “Not working/PCOS.” Michelle says, “Hey, ladies, love your podcast, I have been intermittent fasting for about a month now. I'm doing a 20:4, sometimes 19:5 window, eating from 3:00 to 7:00 PM, and I feel really good while fasting. However, I am gaining weight, not losing. I do treat myself to ice cream somewhat frequently. Other than that, I eat mostly meat, veggies, fruits, and rice. I also exercise for 30 minutes about three to four times a week, usually jogging or weightlifting. I have PCOS, which I know can make weight loss harder, but I can't help but feel discouraged. I'm not planning to stop doing IF because I really like it. But any advice on what I should change or do differently? How long does it take to start losing?

Lastly, my husband and I are trying to start a family. With PCOS, it's a bit harder but we are working with a great OB-GYN and are hopeful. I listened to your IF stories podcast with the OB-GYN, and I've heard you guys mentioned great things about IF for people with PCOS. My mom keeps sending me articles that say not to do IF when trying to become pregnant because it messes with your cycle. Should I be worried about that? Thanks for all you do.”

Then, a continuation of that after we answer that, we can also address Katie's question about pregnancy. And she says, “Hi, ladies. Love your podcast. I'm currently testing out intermittent fasting. After many hours of research, I see that IF may not be suitable for those trying to get pregnant, or those who are pregnant. Could you shed some light on this? I am trying to conceive, but don't want to do anything to harm myself or the baby. Thank you.”

Gin Stephens: Of course, the number one best advice is have these conversations with your OB-GYN and don't take what we're saying as advice of what you should do. Even the doctor, I'm getting ready to mention Dr. Cecily Ganheart, she says the same thing. I am not your doctor, she'll say-- I've seen on Instagram say it, “Even though I am a doctor, I'm not your doctor, I'm not giving you medical advice.” That would be her talking, not me, because I'm not a doctor. I'm definitely not giving you medical advice. Even a doctor will not give you medical advice at random. So, just keep that in mind.

I want to first go to what Katie said do not do intermittent fasting while you're pregnant. 100%. For everybody who has not yet listened to the episode that Michelle was talking about, it's Episode 34 of Intermittent Fasting Stories, Dr. Cecily Ganheart. If you go to just any Google, whatever, and type in Intermittent Fasting Stories, Cecily Ganheart, G-A-N-H-E-A-R-T, or probably you could type in Intermittent Fasting Stories Episode 34, it'll take you to her episode, and she's an OB-GYN, who is an intermittent faster herself, but she also works with a lot of patients who have PCOS and fertility issues. Her strategy that she uses with those patients is intermittent fasting coupled with dietary changes. So, not to be flippant, I would listen to her before I would listen to your mom. Sorry, mom. I think Dr. Ganheart knows based on what's working with patients. You could find all sorts of articles that say literally anything, including the earth is flat. So, I would not go based on articles anyone is sending you from the internet, unless they're written by-- if there’s any medical journals, that would be different.

With PCOS, Michelle, let's address that, first of all. PCOS is linked to high insulin levels. The reason intermittent fasting works so well is because it lowers your insulin levels naturally, because you're fasting clean, and insulin goes down during the fast. But that is also why Dr. Ganheart with her PCOS patients works on what they're eating as well because when you describe what you're eating, mostly meat, veggies, fruits, and rice, she tends to employ a low-carb approach with her PCOS patients because that's also great at lowering insulin and that’s what you targeted, you're trying to do. She finds with her patients that when you lower insulin levels, fertility increases, and that is what you're hoping to find. You're hoping for increased fertility, so lowering insulin should be what you're focused on. On the flip side, there's the whole mastering diabetes mindset of actually eating low fat, high carb, also to lower your insulin levels. You just really have to decide. I think both are good at it, but you can't be there in the middle. Melanie and I've talked about that many times. In the middle is where it's murkier. If your goal is lowering insulin levels, you need to really commit to one or the other, if it's for this purpose of fertility with PCOS.

Back to Katie's question as well, who didn't say anything about being PCOS, should she do intermittent fasting while she's trying to get pregnant? Well, that depends. As long as you're not using intermittent fasting in an overly restrictive way, it's likely to not be a problem. Just like Melanie talked about a few minutes ago, when we were reading Ryan's question, women's hormones are more delicate in a state of over-restriction. You don't want to over-restrict while you're trying to get pregnant. But intermittent fasting is not necessarily overly restrictive. That's the whole-- I mean, I also wouldn't do the hCG diet, when I'm trying to get pregnant. I wouldn't do a very low-calorie diet when I was trying to get pregnant. You need to nourish your body well, but you can do that in the intermittent fasting paradigm, but you just have to be mindful of how you're nourishing your body.

Back to Michelle who said that she's been doing intermittent fasting for about a month and not losing weight and actually gaining weight, that's not abnormal. I talk about that in Fast. Feast. Repeat., that's why I want you to take that whole first month, as just the 28-Day FAST Start, you're nailing the clean fast, you're not even looking at the scale. Then after that you can start-- you're tweaking it for weight loss, if that's your goal. The foods are going to be even more important, if you're trying to think about getting pregnant. If your goal is fertility right now, maybe weight loss should not be your goal. Put that on the back burner and focus on nourishing your body and an eating window that feels good to you, getting insulin down. I think that's your best bet. Also, ready to quit the intermittent fasting as soon as you find out that you're pregnant. Back when I had the Facebook groups, we heard all the time from people who had trouble with fertility, started intermittent fasting, bam, then they were pregnant. Did I get to everything that she said?

Melanie Avalon: Yes. Well, I guess just to clarify, when you actually are pregnant--

Gin Stephens: Stop.

Melanie Avalon: Yes. That was a really fabulous answer.

Gin Stephens: Dr. Ganheart says that. She loves intermittent fasting, but she does not want you to do it when you are pregnant. Do it as part of healing the PCOS, then take a break until the baby is weaned, not just through the pregnancy, but all the way through the breastfeeding time too. Do you know why my number one reason for not recommending breastfeeding and intermittent fasting, Melanie, is not just about your milk flow and your supply, like some people think.

Melanie Avalon: Is it because toxins?

Gin Stephens: Yeah. We're in a different world now. Actually, I was having this conversation we were having with one of the moderators in the Delay, Don't Deny moderators, I'm not there anymore. I mean, it was a really good conversation. It wasn't like a bad conversation, or anybody was in trouble, or we were mad. No. It was just we were having a conversation behind the scenes about breastfeeding. One of the moderators said, “I can't think that it would actually be really a problem because women always were breastfeeding their babies in times of famine, and then they were able to.” I'm like, “Well, a lot of things are different now. First of all, not just because your baby is going to be fine. We want your baby to be optimal, not just fine.” That's one thing, but just having a milk supply is not the only thing because now we live in such a toxic world. This was reiterated when I was researching for Clean(ish). How many toxins are actually passed through breast milk to the babies? It's because we're just like in this whole chemical soup now. Even if you're trying really hard not to be, you are you, you can't help it. So, you've got toxins stored in your fat, even if you live a pretty clean life.

When you're breastfeeding, if you're losing fat, then you're going to be releasing those toxins from your fat stores. So, it's almost like you really don't want to be losing weight at all while you're pregnant or breastfeeding, because of the toxins. This is different. This is not like thousand years ago, when people were still able to grow a healthy baby even with all the crazy famines and whatever they were going through. We've got a different environment than they had.

Melanie Avalon: I was going to bring that up. Also, one of the biggest detox moments that a woman experiences is actually when she's pregnant, because the toxins actually go through the placenta, into the baby. That's why it's so, so important that those are the toxins are coming from processed food, our environment, and then that's why we always talk about our skincare and makeup because that is one of our largest sources of exposure. If you're using conventional skincare and makeup, you are literally putting on probably compounds straight into your body. These are endocrine disruptors, and there's been thousands of compounds that Europe has banned, they actually regulate it there. The US has banned around a dozen. You can pull it up on their website on the FDA. They list like 12 things.

Gin Stephens: It's true. When I was researching for Clean(ish), it really just made it so much more important than it ever had before. The understanding of why this is so important. I have a whole chart in Clean(ish) about all the things they found in the cord blood of the baby’s and in the breast milk. It's shocking. I don't want to scare people into being afraid to live because we have to live, but there's a lot going on.

Melanie Avalon: Well, that's why I love Beautycounter.

Gin Stephens: Me too.

Melanie Avalon: By the way, for women, because Beautycounter makes skincare that you need, they make sunscreen, they make shampoo and conditioner, which I love. They make makeup, their makeup’s amazing. Tina Fey actually wore it at the Golden Globes this past year. But they also make-- I don't think most people realize this, they have a line for kids. They have like a baby wash and diaper balm and all of that stuff.

Gin Stephens: And for men, they have a men’s line.

Melanie Avalon: By the time this comes out, this will have aired, but for Father's Day, my dad is getting a lot of Beautycounter. He's getting Beautycounter and Dry Farm Wines. I emailed Dry Farm Wines and asked if they could make me a-- because normally those wines are on the lighter side, like body wise, but he likes heavy cabs[?]. I asked if they can make me a box of like the heaviest cabs that they have. Fun fact, if you like Dry Farm Wines, you can email them and they will make you a special box for whatever you want. So, I did that for him. Then I did it for a friend who specifically likes wines from the Loire Valley. I was like, “Can you make me a box of wines from the Loire Valley?” So, fun times. Links, if you want any of that, a bottle for a penny of Dry Farm Wines, is at dryfarmwines.com/ifpodcast, and then you can shop with us at Beautycounter at melanieavalon.com/beautycounter.

Gin Stephens: Awesome. Did you have anything you wanted to add?

Melanie Avalon: Her mom was talking about IF messing with your cycles. Gin talks about this. Yes, if IF is too restrictive, then it can create hormonal problems. The emphasis, and it's a slight change in words, is that her mom is cautioning her not to do IF because it messes with your cycle. The way to approach it would be, isn't messing with your cycle. If your cycles not changing, I don't think IF is sneakily changing your cycle behind the scenes, but it still appears normal, like you will know. [laughs]

Gin Stephens: Also, on the flip side of that, people often have cycle changes as their bodies are adjusting to IF and then things regulate. Just because you have a couple of months that are wonky, doesn't mean, “Uh-oh, I better quit.”

Melanie Avalon: Exactly.

Gin Stephens: It doesn't happen-- it's not that fast. If it does cause hormonal problems that's going to happen later, as you're going. If things start getting worse and worse and worse and worse, bad sign. But if things are weird for a while, then they improve, that's normal.

Melanie Avalon: Then, the last thing I wanted to touch on was, I think a lot of the fear surrounding fasting and fertility-- Well, Gin talked about this already that people equate fasting with over-restriction, which it can be. It can easily be, but it's not a synonym for it. The other thing though, and I've talked about this on prior episodes as well, but the majority of studies in fertility for females that are used to create this idea of it being an issue are in rodents. I just can't say this enough. So, rodents are reproducing on a much faster timeline. They have a shorter lifespan, they've a much shorter lifespan. I think it's like two years max. They're reproducing much more frequently, so they're much more sensitive to factors that would throw that off.

Gin Stephens: Stressors.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, they do “time-restricted eating” in a rat, where they're fasting for a day. That's days and days, if not weeks in a human a fasting. Those two factors together, the fact that the fasting studies in rats are the equivalent of very long, extended fasts, and they're more sensitive to fertility issues with fasting anyways, if you see a rodent study that says fasting creates hormonal problems and fertility, I don't think you can make those connections to humans at all. I actually just finished reading an entire book about female fertility and the female cycle and all of that. It was very, very informative. I learned so much. I didn't know about the different phases of the cycle, like the follicular and the luteal, and ovulatory. I didn't know how hormones changed, and I learned so much. I'm probably going to do an episode with that author about that book. But the author does talk about fasting and its effects on fertility and makes the case that fasting is very detrimental for fertility. If there were an author to make this case-- if there were studies that really showed this, I think the author would have found those studies and put them in, but there really weren't any studies listed that to me, seem to make that case.

There was a rodent study, there were some studies that showed hormonal changes, but overall, it was more nuanced and complex than fasting is bad for your hormones or something like that. The reason I say that is I think a lot of people have this idea that fasting is a negative thing for fertility, but when you actually sit down and look at the literature, I don't see it anywhere. I'm looking for it. I see in the rodent studies, but I don't think they're applicable, and then on the flip side, I think we have so much-- just like Gin was talking about with-- what was the doctor?

Gin Stephens: Dr. Cecily Ganheart. She actively uses it as a strategy to help her patients that are having trouble with fertility.

Melanie Avalon: Right, exactly. I think the issue is just that fasting, and I said it already, but it can-- Oh, especially for a lot of women very easily become too restrictive, but it doesn't have to, and it can actually be really incredible and really healing and really supportive of fertility. So, it just depends on how you are doing the fasting.

Gin Stephens: And any diet could be a problem for women with fertility if they're overdoing the restriction.

Melanie Avalon: Mm-hmm. Exactly. Maybe we can do it next week. We actually had another question that's sort of related to this. But in any case, yeah, this has been absolutely wonderful. If you would like to submit your own questions for the podcast, you can directly email questions@ifpodcast.com or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. Just fun fact, those are the ways to submit questions. People keep DMing me on Instagram, trying to submit questions and I'm like, “If you want it on the show, it's got to go through the email.” Speaking of, you can follow us on Instagram. We are @ifpodcast, I am @melanieavalon, Gin is @ginstephens. The show notes for today's episode, which will have a full transcript as well as links to everything that we talked about, those will be at ifpodcast.com/episode219. Lastly, you can get all of the stuff that we like at ifpodcast.com/stuffwelike. All right, well, anything from you, Gin, before we go?

Gin Stephens: No, I think that's it.

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

Gin Stephens: All right. Bye-bye.

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


Check out the Stuff We Like page for links to any of the books/supplements/products etc. mentioned on the podcast that we like!

More on Gin: GinStephens.com

Theme Music Composed By Leland Cox: LelandCox.com

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