Episode 221: Vacation Eating, Fasting Insulin, Fluctuating Biomarkers, Pollen While Fasting, IF And Menstrual Cycles, Hormonal Changes, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Jul 11

Welcome to Episode 221 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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Listener Q&A: jen - Fasting insulin fluctuations?

The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #76 - Harpreet Rai (Oura Ring)

The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #74 - Benjamin Bikman, Ph.D.

Why We Get Sick: The Hidden Epidemic At The Root Of Most Chronic Disease―And How To Fight It (Benjamin Bikman, Ph.D.)

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The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #101 - Gary Taubes

Listener Q&A: Todd - Pollen while water fasting?

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Listener Q&A: Anisha - IF before your period

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Listener Q&A: Carolynn - Jiggly Menopausal Thighs

The Science Of Fat Cells: Losing Weight, Gaining Weight, Killing Fat Cells, Liposuction, Body Contouring, CoolSculpting®, ECM Remodeling, And More!


Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 221 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. If you want to burn fat, gain energy, and enhance your health by changing when you eat, not what you eat with no calorie counting, then this show is for you. I'm Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine. And I'm here with my cohost, Gin Stephens, author of Fast. Feast. Repeat.: The Comprehensive Guide to Delay, Don't Deny: Intermittent Fasting. For more on us, check out ifpodcast.com, melanieavalon.com, and ginstephens.com. Please remember, the thoughts and opinions on this podcast do not constitute medical advice or treatment. So, pour yourself a cup of black coffee, a mug of tea, or even a glass of wine, if it's that time, and get ready for The Intermittent Fasting Podcast.

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If you're thinking of making safe skincare a part of your future like we have, we definitely suggest becoming a Band of Beauty member. It's like the Amazon Prime for clean beauty. You get 10% back in product credit, free shipping on qualifying orders, and a welcome gift that is worth way more than the price of the yearlong membership. Totally, completely worth it. Also definitely join my clean beauty email list at melanieavalon.com/cleanbeauty. I give away a lot of free things on that list and join me on my Facebook group, Clean Beauty and Safe Skincare with Melanie Avalon. I do a weekly giveaway every single week for Beautycounter. People share their experience, and product reviews, and so much more. Again, the link to shop with us is melanieavalonocom/beautycounter. All right, now, enjoy the show.

Hi, everybody and welcome. This is episode number 221 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 great, and I have had a very exciting week.

Melanie Avalon: Really? How so?

Gin Stephens: Super exciting. Some amazing intermittent faster named Ashley posted a TikTok video about her 70-pound weight loss, I guess in the past week. I guess it was maybe Sunday, she posted it. It apparently went a little viral. People started buying Fast. Feast. Repeat. like crazy. It was number four of all books on Amazon on Monday. Four of all books on Amazon. That have never been that high.

Melanie Avalon: What's number one?

Gin Stephens: I think it's like fiction. I can't remember. This is of all books, every book in the world.

Melanie Avalon: Like in the world.

Gin Stephens: Yes. All the books that are selling-- Anyway, that was so exciting, and it stuck around in the top 10 for a little while, and then it was in the top 20, and today it was higher, but it's still been in the top 100 all week. That's amazing.

Melanie Avalon: Do you think it'll be back on the New York Times bestseller list for that week?

Gin Stephens: Oh, you know what? I've done some snooping on the New York Times bestseller list just like--

Melanie Avalon: It's complicated, right?

Gin Stephens: It is very complicated. But the category that my book is in is how-to and self-help whatever category. I looked at what was on it the last time it came out, it was June 20th-- Even though we're recording this prior to June 20th, it was the June 20th edition. On the June 20th edition, I looked at what was number one, number two, number three, and Fast. Feast. Repeat. was indeed ranking higher than those books for a few days. Will it translate into enough to make the list again? I don't know.

Melanie Avalon: That'd be so cool.

Gin Stephens: It would be so cool, because we are actually two days away. Today, we're recording on June 18th even though this episode comes out in July, but we're two days away from the one-year anniversary of Fast. Feast. Repeat. coming out. So, wouldn't it be fun?

Melanie Avalon: Wow, a year?

Gin Stephens: It's been a year.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that's crazy. I feel like it was just yesterday.

Gin Stephens: I know. It's been crazy. To think about book coming back onto the list a year out, it's not typical, unless it's been on there the whole time. Some books, for example, Atomic Habits. It's always there.

Melanie Avalon: Right. It is always there.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, it was there when I was there, and then, I went away, and it's still there.

Melanie Avalon: For listeners, our agent sends a New York Times bestseller email.

Gin Stephens: Oh, I don't get that one. I'm not on that list.

Melanie Avalon: You don't get it?

Gin Stephens: I've never gotten it.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, you’re not on that?

Gin Stephens: No.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, okay. Well, you could probably get added to it. It's just a list of The New York Times bestsellers every week. Atomic Habits, it's always Atomic Habits.

Gin Stephens: It's always there. That is true.

Melanie Avalon: How are there still people left in the world to buy this book? Because apparently, everybody has bought it. That’s a good book. I would love to have him on the show, on my other show. Congratulations, though. That's very cool.

Gin Stephens: Well, thank you. Thank you so much. Anyway, we shall see. Anyway, it's very exciting, and my fingers are crossed. We'll see. I don't know if I'll be back on the list or not, but I would love it, but time will tell.

Melanie Avalon: I will keep my fingers crossed. I will look for that email.

Gin Stephens: Awesome. [laughs] What's up with you?

Melanie Avalon: I was just reflecting. I have a very exciting week next week or this upcoming week.

Gin Stephens: What's going on?

Melanie Avalon: Monday, you know Feals? I love Feals.

Gin Stephens: I do know Feals. Yes. [laughs] What? No, never heard of them. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: Oh, my gosh, I love Feals. It's almost ridiculous how much Feals helps me personally, taking it every single night. For listeners, it's the CBD oil brand that we love. They do features on people who use Feals. They're going to do one on me, which is really exciting. They're paying for a photographer to come into my apartment on Monday and shoot me in my apartment.

Gin Stephens: Oh, my God, that's fun. That's really fun, because one company, I won't say which one it was, it’s one of our sponsors, but they also sponsored Intermittent Fasting Stories, are like, “Could you send us a picture using the product?” I had to just like, “Take my own picture.” I was like, “This looks ridiculous. Good luck with this.”

Melanie Avalon: Gin does not like taking pictures with the products.

Gin Stephens: I don't like taking selfies. I'm not good at it. Because I'm always hyperfocused on what my hand, how I'm clicking the-- I just am not a good selfie taker. I'm not even sorry. [laughs] It is what it is.

Melanie Avalon: I do them reluctantly. But yeah, this is exciting that it's going to be very official. That's Monday. Tuesday, I'm going to be on Abel James’ podcast, and he has Fat-Burning Man, and that podcast is, it's pretty legit. It's been around forever. He's so nice. I'm not even nervous about it, because I've had him on my show, and he's just the kindest human being.

Gin Stephens: You can tell by looking at his eyes. Do you know what I'm saying?

Melanie Avalon: Yes.

Gin Stephens: He's got really kind eyes. You can totally tell from people's eyes.

Melanie Avalon: Out of how many guests have I had, almost hundred, I think he's the kindest, and everybody who meets them, that's what they say, that he's just the nicest person. Then, on Wednesday, I'm actually doing my first IG live. I've never done an Instagram Live, and I'm doing it with InsideTracker and Cory Rodriguez.

Gin Stephens: Oh, that's fun.

Melanie Avalon: He has a lot of followers on Instagram. He must have a pretty big following. It's going to be really exciting. I think you did an IG Live, right? I think I saw that.

Gin Stephens: I've done a couple of them at requests of other people. People who were like, “Would you please--" They're not my favorite. I feel weird. One I did was an interview, which I didn't mind as much. But then, the one I most recently did, it was just me by myself. They were like, “No, you're just going to log into our account. Here's our password information, and then just go and we'll feed you questions.” I’m like, “What? What?” [laughs] I've realized I love talking to people. I can have a conversation. I can answer questions. But what I don't love is talking at a camera, just staring at it off the top of my head.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's awkward if it's just you.

Gin Stephens: It feels awkward to me. I’ve managed to do it, but it felt awkward. I always feel like I sound crazy. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: That's so funny.

Gin Stephens: One of the companies that I work with wanted me to make an Instagram video and send it to them that they could-- I’m like, “I just can't. I just can't do that.” [laughs] I'm going to have to do something different. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: That's so funny.

Gin Stephens: That's not what I'm doing. Sorry. I'll be 52 years old very soon. I'm going to do what feels good.

Melanie Avalon: Not your thing. Not your thing.

Gin Stephens: No, I'm not going to apologize. I just couldn't do what I can do. [laughs] I could do anything, but I don't want to do things that feel outside of authentic.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, one brand wanted me to do an Instagram takeover, where I’m supposed to-- similar to what you just said. I would log into their account, and then, I would post stories all day, but they wanted it to be my life all day, and I was like, “My life's not that exciting. I don't know what I would take the stories,” like podcasting at the cryo.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, that would be interesting, but it feels forced to me. I don't know. I don't want to live my life like that. Sorry. That's when people are like, “Could you follow me around and show me everything you eat all day long and take pictures?” People have asked me that a lot. People are always like, “Show me what you eat.” I'm like, “No.” “Show me everything. Everything you eat.” I'm like, “I’m not doing that.”

Melanie Avalon: No. [laughs] Then, I'm always like, “You don't want to know.” They're like, “Yes, we do.” It is not that exciting, friends. It's pounds and pounds of meat, and cucumbers, and fruit.

Gin Stephens: I'm not eating that. [laughs] Yesterday, I had a big old cheeseburger and some house-made potato chips at the beach bar. I'm at the beach.

Melanie Avalon: Sounds very beachy, cheeseburger in paradise.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, but that's it. I'm at the condo, today, and for some reason when I drive to the beach, I'm like, “Now, I must eat a cheeseburger at the beach bar.” I always do that day one when I get here. I don't know why.

Melanie Avalon: I love little traditions like that. They're so fun.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, and now I’m like, “Now, I've had it. Okey-dokes. [laughs] There was my burger.” Today, I'm going out to eat with somebody who's in the Delay, Don't Deny community that I've never met in person, and I'm really excited. I'm meeting her and her wife at a restaurant.

Melanie Avalon: Cool.

Gin Stephens: Yeah. I’ve found out she was here. We have a mutual Delay, Don't Deny friend. She's like, “Heads up. I was talking to Allison,” it's her name. “She's at Myrtle Beach. She said, “Doesn't Gin come to Myrtle Beach sometime? But I didn't tell her that you were at Myrtle Beach.” “Well, let me reach out. I sent her a message.” She's in the Delay, Don't Deny Social Network. I sent her a private message there, and I'm like, “Hey, I am at the beach, what are you doing?” We made plans to meet for dinner.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, that'd be fun.

Gin Stephens: I know. I'm really excited. You know me. I love people. I love meeting people, people in the community.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I don't think I've met anybody in person from the groups, or the shows, or anything, I don't think. No. Well, I’ve met people I know from the show. I haven't met somebody in the audience.

Gin Stephens: It all started with the first Delay, Don't Deny cruise, that we did in 2018. That was the first time I met people I didn't know, but what was so cool is that you really do know them. The people you think you like from the groups that you think you know, you really do. They are just as awesome as you think they are. People are very much who they seem like, I found.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I love that. Actually, one of my best friends, I think we met in one of your groups, maybe, originally, way back in the day.

Gin Stephens: What's her first name? Did she help you moderate?

Melanie Avalon: Pam.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I knew that’s who it was. I knew it. Yep, she was in my groups, and then she came over to your group. I remember.

Melanie Avalon: We did the IF group together. We started it together.

Gin Stephens: I thought so. Yeah. I remembered that.

Melanie Avalon: I forget about that, because she doesn't really like actively do much with the groups now, and I talk to her all the time. But she lives in Canada. [laughs]

Gin Stephens: I love that. One of my very best friends is Sheri that I do the other podcast with, we met through the Delay, Don’t Deny groups. Before I even met her in person, we were planning the second Delay, Don’t Deny cruise, and I was like, “I know I've never met you, and this might be weird. But would you be my roommate on the second cruise?” [laughs] Because we were going in March, and I needed someone who was not a teacher, and who could get away. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I love that.

Gin Stephens: She works in healthcare. She's like, “Absolutely. I'll be your roommate.” Anyway, good times.

Melanie Avalon: Awesome.

Gin Stephens: Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: It's just a wonderful community.

Gin Stephens: It is a wonderful community. That is what I love. I'm a teacher at heart, I will always be. That's what teachers do. We set up community in our classrooms. I really think that's the key to being a successful classroom teacher, is making your classroom feel like a community. That's just what I do. Anyway, I'm excited. I'm going to be at the beach for two weeks total, which is a long time. I don't usually come this long, but my house is still going under construction in the backyard. I just needed to get away. So, here I am. [laughs] But I have a beach strategy for how I'm going to eat, and people are taking vacations, and I'm sure they're listening and wondering how they're going to manage. I'm going to just really do probably most days, a pretty tight one meal a day. When I come to vacation, usually, if I'm here for four days or something like that, I might have two meals a day and I relax. But 14 days, no. That's a whole different story. If I ate two meals a day for 14 days, I wouldn't feel good at all.

Melanie Avalon: I don't feel good after one day of not doing one meal a day.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, so it's going to be a tighter window. We're going to eat tonight at 6:30, and I'm just going to fast until then, and I'll have a big meal, and then tomorrow, my family's all coming. My dad, my stepmother, and my sister, her husband, my brother, his wife, my other brother, all their kids. [laughs] It's going to be a big, big to-do at the beach. But I'm going to enjoy one amazing meal a day.

Melanie Avalon: Perfect.

Gin Stephens: Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: I love it.

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Gin Stephens: Are you ready to get into our question?

Melanie Avalon: I think so.

Gin Stephens: All right, we have one from Jen, J-E-N, Jen, and the subject is, “Fasting insulin fluctuations?” Jen says, “Hi, ladies. I love the podcast and all that I've learned from it. I've heard you guys talk about the value of checking fasting insulin levels, and I'm looking to get that done soon. But first, I wanted to know if it fluctuates as much as fasting glucose levels since blood glucose and insulin are so closely intertwined. I'm not diabetic, but have worn CGMs, and as Melanie has pointed out, the amount of blood glucose levels can vary within a few minutes of each other even during the fasted state can be pretty remarkable. So, I'm wondering if the fasted insulin level I get could be significantly different depending when the blood sample is drawn. If only there were CIMs, Continuous Insulin Monitors.” Oh, my God. I would love that. I would go get one immediately.

Melanie Avalon: Really? Christmas. [laughs]

Gin Stephens: Yes. [laughs] I don't care how much it costs. Anyway, that would depend, because I'm frugal. [laughs] Sorry, I'm frugal. All right. “Related, I know HbA1c takes about three months to trend, but do you know how long it takes for fasted insulin levels to trend upwards or downwards? I notice with my CGM that if I have a high glucose day, it could take a couple of days for my overall glucose to trend back down even with IF. If I got my fasted insulin checked a day or two after some indulgence, would that show up, or does it take a longer pattern of a week or longer to reflect change? Trying to determine the ideal time to get tested. Thanks, ladies, and keep up the great content.”

Melanie Avalon: All right. Well, this is a great question from the other Jen, different Jen. I actually have been going down a rabbit hole recently. When I had on Harpreet, the CEO of Oura ring, on the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast, he introduced me to a girl who's a researcher. She researches specifically rhythms. Not so much circadian rhythms-- Oh, Gin, do you know the difference between circadian rhythm, and infradian rhythm, and ultradian rhythm?

Gin Stephens: That would be a negative. [laughs] I would just assume they're different rhythms of the body.

Melanie Avalon: Yes. Circadian rhythm is 24 hours, so your 24-hour cycle. Infradian is longer than 24 hours, so it's like menstrual cycles, things like that. Then, ultradian is less than 24-hour rhythms, so it's things like blood sugar and stuff like that. I've been reading all of her research studies that she's worked on and prepping for the show. It's fascinating, because in one of her articles, she talks about how-- I think it's 32:1 ratio of studies that have been done on circadian rhythms versus ultradian rhythms. Basically, they're just not really researching this very much, but she has one, for example, on cholesterol, and triglycerides, and HDL, and ultradian rhythms, and it changes drastically throughout the day, your cholesterol levels.

Gin Stephens: Your cholesterol does?

Melanie Avalon: The HDL doesn't really, but the triglycerides and the LDL do, which is really interesting.

Gin Stephens: Well, we know blood glucose does, and yet you go get one-minute test snapshot in time, and it's so many decisions are made based on that.

Melanie Avalon: That's something they talk about in a lot of our articles is-- think about it. A lot of people just do one annual checkup. They determine basically, the entirety of their metabolic health based on that one snapshot that if they had gone a different day, even just a different time during that day, it could have been drastically different. Even in the study that she did on the cholesterol, for example, and I know Jen’s question is about insulin, but I'm going to circle back to it.

Basically, what they did in that study was they had people at home using a finger prick system, and testing their cholesterol all throughout the day for weeks, I think. I'm not sure how long the whole thing lasted. But everybody, every participant at some point during the day, their levels went into risk categories when it wasn't at other parts of the day. Isn't that fascinating?

Gin Stephens: Well, it makes me mad [laughs] frankly. You know why?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, there's a lot of reasons.

Gin Stephens: Well, that one snapshot period of time, and then, people are like, “Oop, you’ve got high cholesterol. Here are some meds,” when really that might have just been a peak of your day.

Melanie Avalon: They didn't really flesh out the significance. I find it really fascinating that HDL didn't really change, but LDL and trigs did. I'm really excited to hear her perspective on that. The point of all of that is that I am just really, really shocked about how much things change, and because we obviously have seen this with blood sugar with the CGMs, and for Jen’s question about insulin. I was really hoping that-- her name is Azure, which is such a beautiful name, Azure. I was hoping that one of her studies talked about insulin, but I didn't see it anywhere-- Oh, really quickly. What she's proposing and her work, and it's a reason that she's working with Oura is they're trying to see if you can measure other body stats like body temperature, and respiration, and stuff like that, and make better conclusions about your body state, rather than a single blood test. Particularly, she actually talks about the role of temperature and how it relates to diabetes. They're hoping that in the future that it might be possible to monitor blood sugar, and your diabetes status, and your need for insulin without actually taking your blood sugar, because they would be able to look at all of these other factors that are related.

Gin Stephens: So, they're trying to find a correlation with something else that the Oura ring measures.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Other rhythms, basically, other rhythms that would relate to the blood sugar in the insulin needs, which is very, very cool. The other reason I'm bringing her on is, she does a lot of work on the rhythms of the menstrual cycles and female fertility, and it's really exciting. That's part of the answer, is that it likely is changing, but I went one step further. I actually asked Dr. Benjamin Bikman this question, and for our listeners, he wrote the book, Why We Get Sick: The Hidden Epidemic at the Root of Most Chronic Disease and How to Fight It. Gin, you read that book, right?

Gin Stephens: Nope, I haven't read that one.

Melanie Avalon: We just talked about it a lot.

Gin Stephens: You've talked about it. I haven't read it yet.

Melanie Avalon: It's all about insulin. He thinks insulin resistance is the root of most diseases. I had him on the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast, I will put a link to it. But I asked him this question, and he said on Instagram, love Instagram. He said, “Insulin ebbs and flows even during fasting conditions. I'm unsure of the precise range, but it could easily fluctuate,” this is a lot, 5 plus. How is it measured? Why do you say it? The UU?

Gin Stephens: Well, I don't know what that-- I can't say that, but 5, whatever it is, it is off the scale.

Melanie Avalon: Per milliliter?

Gin Stephens: I don't know. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: Even up to 10, which is considerable.

Gin Stephens: That is considerable.

Melanie Avalon: It could be changing substantially, and it's further concerning-- because it's hard enough to get a blood sugar test. You can do it yourself with a finger prick, or you can wear a CGM, or you can go to the doctor, but that alone people, often find a barrier to it, because they don't like pricking themselves, or they don't want to wear CGM, or CGMs are a little bit costly, or they don't want to go the doctor. The insulin test, you can really only get right now at the doctor, and it's hard to find a doctor that will prescribe it, because they often don't know that it exists, or they think it's not relevant. The point of all this is that I think checking your fasting insulin is super important, but there's definitely a barrier there. Were you going to say something?

Gin Stephens: You can order or get an order for a fasting insulin test. I can't remember the name of the website but my cohost on Life Lessons, Sheri was talking about it she did it. There's something like Walk-in Lab or something. I don't know. I can't remember the name of it, but there's some company that lets you pay them a very-- I think it's $25, and they will give you an order for a fasted insulin test.

Melanie Avalon: Do any lab tests now do it?

Gin Stephens: Maybe.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, well, maybe Gin, maybe we can look up and put in the show notes.

Gin Stephens: A company that'll do it.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. For listeners, the show notes will be at ifpodcast.com/episode221. That's super amazing and a super great resource, but even with that, to Jen's question, it's hard to know exactly where you are in the grand scheme of things compared to that one single snapshot in time. That's why I think a CGM, for example, and again, that's blood sugar, not insulin, for a CGM, but I think that's why it's so valuable for so many people, because it gives you a broad picture where you'd get a much better sense of, in general, how your blood sugar is, how you're responding to food, and it's not this one moment in time that may or may not be an accurate depiction of what you're experiencing.

Gin Stephens: Absolutely.

Melanie Avalon: I'll put a link in the show notes. I have discount codes. Well, so for nutrition CGM, if you go to melanieavalon.com/nutrisensecgm and use the coupon code, MELANIEAVALON, that will get you 15% off. Or, if you want Levels, they're at some ridiculous number of a waitlist but if you use my link, you skip the waitlist. That's melanieavalon.com/levelscgm. But as far as Jen's second question about, how long would it take for insulin to trend upwards or downwards, because she was saying that she noticed that it can take her a few days to recover her blood sugar levels after a high blood sugar day, or a high glucose day.

I'm trying to remember where I heard this, and it's not good to just quote something and not remember the source, but somewhere along the line, I was reading something, and it was saying-- this was, I think, on a ketogenic diet, how dramatic-- It might have been in Dr. Bikman’s book. I could revisit that. It was relatively fast how shocking of a change you could see in insulin trends. I don't remember it was three days or a week, but it was definitely somewhere in that sphere. Do you have thoughts, Gin?

Gin Stephens: Well, I do. We know that our blood glucose goes up, our body releases insulin to deal with that. That's what our bodies are supposed to do. Of course, when you have insulin resistance, it gets all out of whack, and your body releases more and more and more insulin over time, because you’re insulin resistant, and that's when your levels go up, up, up, up, up over time. Think of that curve just curving up the more demand you have.

I think a lot of it depends on how metabolically healthy you are. I have a hunch here. This is not me. This is not [laughs] hard science. My guess would be that if you're metabolically healthy, it's going to go up and down within a smaller range in a lower level versus if your insulin resistant, it's probably going to go up and down within a higher range. But I don't think it's going to go from way, way high to just boom, down low. I don't think it's going to vary that much. I don't think it varies quite as much as blood glucose, just based on what we know about insulin resistance. Do you think that sounds plausible, Melanie?

Melanie Avalon: Do you mean the difference between how much blood sugar fluctuates?

Gin Stephens: Well, I think that blood sugar fluctuations have so much to do with what you're eating obviously, we know that, what's going in, Also, how much insulin you're putting out, that's going to affect your blood glucose, obviously.

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

Gin Stephens: But what I'm saying is, if you're insulin resistant, I think you always hang out at a higher level of insulin all the time.

Melanie Avalon: That's similar to, we talked about this before, Gary Taubes, his thesis. He thinks everybody has a baseline level of insulin, he calls it the insulin threshold, that below or above it determines how your cells are storing or releasing energy, that’s a little bit different nuance. It's a similar concept in that there's a threshold or a baseline, and people are all different.

Gin Stephens: We know that with hyperinsulinemia, that's overall high levels of insulin. That's a thing. That's a good diagnosis. I don't know that people are getting that diagnosis, but it's a real medical thing, hyperinsulinemia, high levels of circulating insulin all the time. I think that those people aren't zooming down too low and then back up to high. I think they pretty much hang out in the high all the time. I don't know that we have a lot of repeated insulin tests though, a lot of data, like we do with blood glucose, because blood glucose is so much easier to monitor. I know we have a lot of that data. I don't know how much insulin data, that would be interesting to know. But I do have one little tip for anyone getting a fasting insulin test, don't drink black coffee before you go. Because black coffee can cause your liver to dump out glycogen. Anything that makes your liver dump out glycogen is going to make your blood glucose go up, and that could make your body releasing insulin to go along with that increased blood glucose. You want to just stick to water only the time before you get your fasted blood work done.

Melanie Avalon: I'll put a link in the show notes though to Dr. Benjamin Bikman's book, because I'm just looking through it now briefly, and the entire book is about insulin. Because I read it a while ago, if any listener who wants to read it again and let us know if he answers the question about how many days it takes to go down, that'd be really cool.

Gin Stephens: I would have a guess though for her that if your blood glucose has trended up, for example, she talks about it, it takes a day or two after her indulgence for her blood glucose to trend down, I would expect her insulin would follow that curve, wouldn't you?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I would definitely think that they're correlated.

Gin Stephens: In a healthy body, they're supposed to be correlated. Even in an unhealthy body, they have correlations, obviously, but I would think that if your blood glucose is trending up, your insulin would be trending up as well. That's how it's supposed to work.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, actually, Gin, I’ve just realized this episode comes out July 12th. The episode that just came out on my show, the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast last Friday the 9th, was Gary Taubes. That's exciting. I'm so excited to release that episode. I will put it in the show notes. Did we get all her questions?

Gin Stephens: I think we did.

Melanie Avalon: Cool. Alrighty. Now, we have a question from Todd and the subject is “Pollen while water fasting.” Todd says, “Have you come across any info in regard to taking pollen while water fasting or any type of fasting? I would love to continue to take pollen to relieve allergy responses that my body has to grass and other things in the air, but I also want the best results while fasting, and I do not want insulin to become activated. I take it orally and I will include a picture. I did two days of fasting with a 16-hour window. Today, I am fasting continuously. I used to mix the pollen with oatmeal in the morning, but I decided to go without it while fasting to see how it went. I go on a three and a half to five mile walk in the morning and have noticed my itchy eyes are returning. I also take a prescription for allergies. If I went without the meds and without the pollen, I fear I would be miserable and breathing would be affected. Thanks for any advice on this matter.” Then, he has a picture of the pollen which-- He doesn't show us the label. It's very physical looking.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, like big old giant hunks of pollen. Not gentle little pollen that you can't even see, this is a chunk of pollen.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it looks like rocks or gravel. Looks like gravel.

Melanie Avalon: They're little granules of pollen that look maybe big old crystals of salt, but yellow.

Melanie Avalon: Yes, that's a good description.

Gin Stephens: We could just describe things. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: That’s our talent. [laughs]

Gin Stephens: I love doing this podcast. Can I just say this is so much fun?

Melanie Avalon: Me too. Listeners, and then I went to the website to look up the actual product and they don't show the ingredient list, but they say that it is 100% raw, natural, and local bee pollen. Do you know what they say on the website? Can I read this to you, Gin?

Gin Stephens: Yes, I would be mad if you didn't.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. They say the only complete food in all of the world with the addition of roughage and water-- I don't even know why you would need roughage, I'm saying. But they say the human body can survive on honey and bee pollen alone. This is because it is the only food which contains all known 96 nutrients including vitamins A to K, including the full complex of Bs, 28 minerals, 14 fatty acids, eight essential amino acids. Oh, several hormone-like compounds, and 22 essential elements, folate, blah, blah, blah. You would have to eat so much bee pollen though to get that-- But this answer to--

Gin Stephens: [laughs] I'm imagining. Now, I literally for a minute was like, “How would that look?” Then, I'm like, “Someone's going to try that.” Someone's going to be like, “I bet you'd lose a lot of weight eating that bee pollen.”

Melanie Avalon: They say it's an antibacterial. Listeners, don't try. I know. Please listeners, do not try this. But that actually answers the question for me. I'm glad I read that because clearly, it's very high in protein, relatively speaking.

Gin Stephens: When you said the word ‘food’ that answered the question but reading that helped a lot. I would sadly, Todd, not have that during the fast. But you're having a 16-hour fast with an 8-hour eating window, I would think you could fit your pollen into that 8-hour eating window, like open your window with it, and then have it maybe at the end of your window. You would only be going 16 hours without it. Definitely take your medication during the fast, that's fine. Keep your medication whenever you need to take it. If you need to wake up in the morning, take your medication, and then keep fasting, and then open your window after 16 hours with the bee pollen, that's what I would do.

Melanie Avalon: That's what I was going to say, 100%. I'm not very schooled in using pollen to address allergies. But if it is something where you're just taking it once a day, no reason that you can't just open your window with it. Wow, I've learned so much. We can put a link in the show notes to this bee pollen. One he sent us is called Eagle Creek is the brand. That is so interesting. I wonder what it tastes like?

Gin Stephens: I don't know. If he was putting it in oatmeal, maybe it's delicious.

Melanie Avalon: I don't know.

Gin Stephens: Maybe you don't taste it at all.

Melanie Avalon: Does it help you with the allergies because if it's local than it has the pollen from all of the things you might be allergic to.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, you would think so. That's why local honey is supposed to be good. I don't really know, I'm not an expert on bee pollen.

Melanie Avalon: I just feel like I would react to it, it sounds-- I don't know, even if it was psychosomatic. The idea of putting pollen straight in my body.

Gin Stephens: It might be miraculous. Maybe we should all be having it.

Melanie Avalon: I'll find some here in Atlanta.

Gin Stephens: There probably is in Atlanta.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, okay. I'm going to do it. Hope I don't get anaphylactic shock.

Gin Stephens: Oh, please don’t. [laughs] That was the last episode of The Intermittent Fasting podcast.

Melanie Avalon: I could take some in the ice bath that I make, and then they find me frozen with anaphylactic shock, like that's how I went out. [laughs] Moving on.

Gin Stephens: All right, we have a question from Anisha, and the subject is “IF Before Your Period.” She says, “Hi, Gin and Melanie. I really love your podcast. It's been keeping me company during long lockdown walks. I'm from the UK and have been doing IF in different varieties for a few years. I've played around with one meal a day, 20:4 etc. Since two weeks ago, I am now trying 5:2 and loving it. I started off eating 500 calories on down days, and then moved to two 36-hour fasts per week, as I found it was easy to just not eat at all.

However, this week on my second fast for the week, I'm struggling. I'm pretty sure it's due to the fact that I am now due in less than a week and getting PMS symptoms, cravings, low mood, mood swings. I have read online that you shouldn't fast the week before your period as it causes too much stress to the body. I'm wondering if you have any research about this. Should I maybe go back to eating 500 calories the week before my period if I do persevere? I feel I probably can. Am I causing my body too much stress? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Melanie Avalon: All right. This was a great question from, how did you say it, Gin, Anisha?

Gin Stephens: I did.

Melanie Avalon: Yes. We've been talking about this. I feel a lot on recent episodes. We've always been getting questions like this. But Gin, do you feel like we've been getting even more and more questions about this all the time?

Gin Stephens: Yes. Yes, because more and more people are starting to say the women shouldn't fast thing. It's like picking up steam. It's like the mantra, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and eat six small meals to boost your metabolism, and women shouldn't fast. I put all that together in the same advice camp. I really do.

Melanie Avalon: The figures where it's been popularized, we talked about before, Alisa Vitti in her book, In the FLO and Woman Code. She has popularized this a lot. What's interesting is, Dave Asprey’s book, I feel people read that and felt like he said, women shouldn't fast, but he didn't say that at all in that book, which I found really interesting. He literally said at one point something to the effect of I don't think women shouldn't fast. Actually, right now, the book I'm reading, because I'm going to bring her on the show, is Stephanie Estima. Have you heard of her?

Gin Stephens: I have not.

Melanie Avalon: She wrote a book called The Betty Body. I really, really like it. She talks about this a lot. She has not as an intense of an approach to Alisa Vitti. What's going on here, I think, is if you look at the phases of the menstrual cycle, which I am learning so much about and it's so exciting. But basically, we have the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase, luteal, and then our menstrual cycle. In the luteal phase, which is the three-fourths of the way through, it's the latter half of your cycle before your period, our metabolic rate does increase. People often think that they have cravings for stuff right before their period, and it has something to do with needing carbs or something like that. A large part of it though is just that actually our metabolism actually does increase.

Gin Stephens: Can I pop something in here?

Melanie Avalon: Mm-hmm.

Gin Stephens: Our body temperature goes up as well. Those two things are very tightly correlated. Anybody who's taking your temperature, I did that for fertility when I was trying to get pregnant. I took my body temperature, and it's fascinating to see as your cycle goes on, your temperature goes up, and that is when your metabolism is also going up.

Melanie Avalon: I think that's the main thing that-- I was talking about Azure earlier, the researcher. The main thing that she's working with Oura on is them adjusting the Oura ring to track fertility and female cycles with body temperature.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I think I've talked about this before, but my cohost on Life Lessons-- This is the third time I've mentioned her, Sheri. She has an Oura ring. She had ablation done a while back, so she doesn't actually have her period that she sees, but she knows she's still cycling, because of her temperature. She can tell from her Oura ring.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, wow. That's really cool.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, She told that story on the Life Lessons podcast. I'm not telling stories out of school here, but she can actually see her hormones fluctuating by her body temperature.

Melanie Avalon: It's very much linked. I think partly from this has come this idea that we need to be eating more right before our period. In Alisa Vitti book, she said, it was the equivalent of around 300 calories per day. I haven't looked at the studies beyond that to see if that's consistent across the board. In any case, I have so many thoughts about this. As far as it causing too much stress. I think, one, I want to say that a lot of people, especially, my Facebook group, because people have been talking about this. A lot of people do report that they have adjusted their eating and their fasting for their cycle, and that they have benefited from it greatly. It's not like they stopped fasting before their cycle, it's just that they're more-- maybe they have a longer window, or they're just not as intense as they might be other times. I think it's so, so easy, or it's so often that people are eating restrictively while doing fasting, and they're attributing that restriction to fasting, so they're using fasting as a synonym for restriction when fasting does not have to be restrictive.

One girl posted in the Facebook group, and I thought this was such a good example. She's wonderful, and she posts in the group all the time. She was commenting on a post, and she was saying how she had been restrictive IF keto and then she went more lenient and tried to adjust for her cycle, and it was like a game changer. I think that's an example of changing from being restrictive in general to not being restrictive compared to changing from fasting to not fasting. Does that make sense?

Gin Stephens: 100%. Because that I really think is the key. We say that women shouldn't fast, but what women shouldn't do is over-restrict. We've got to take away the idea that fasting is necessarily over-restriction. One of my friends, she's a moderator in the Facebook community still. She shared yesterday in the moderator group, a screenshot of her diet she did back before she did fasting, and it was her diet journal where she was recording her calories, and what she was eating. She was eating 1200 calories a day, and just looking at the food, it was coffee and a protein bar. That was breakfast, Lunch was a latte and a bagel. It was so restrictive. Dinner was like a chicken breast and whatever.

That is the kind of restriction that is going to make your body think something terrible is going on. So, why are we not telling women not to do that, but we'd never not? I never heard anybody say, “Hey, women don't do low calorie diets. They're bad for you.” But for some reason, she now is leaner than she was when she was doing that crazy restrictive diet, eating all throughout the day, breakfast, lunch, dinner, trying to stick to 1200 to 1300 calories a day. She's leaner now. She's not counting calories. She's eating till she's satisfied. She feels better.

You tell me, which is the one that is going to be worst for your body? The one where you feel awful, and you're restricting all day long? Or, the one where you are feeling great, and you're fasting, and then you eat to satiety every night? Our bodies are not dumb. That's why you have that increased urge to eat before your period if you need more food, your body's like, “Hey, eat some more food,” and you do. Then, you go on about it. You shouldn't stress about the fact that you have to eat more before your cycle, that's not wrong. You're listening to your body. Our bodies really don't want us to over-restrict. But when we tried to do this over restrictive diets, we felt awful, and our bodies fought back. Do what feels good to you. I want us to stop trying to find that externally from other people telling you what you shouldn't eat and when. Even all these people who are like do intermittent fasting, XYZ, well, I don't know, how do you feel?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, even with all of the cycle stuff and taking that into account, because I'm all about data, and learning about your body, and knowing what's happening but I think there's a balance that can be achieved in knowing that, and feeling empowered by that without feeling you have to adjust the entirety of your life around it. I think it should be more intuitive than planned.

Gin Stephens: 100% yes. Yes. Because honestly, throughout history, people just ate and lived. That was it. Now, we're making it so complicated. Listen to your body. If you feel great, that's a good sign. If you don't feel great, that's a bad sign, honestly. That's how simple I want you to make it.

Melanie Avalon: Just really quick one last thing about her question. She says, should I go back to eating-- because she was doing ADF. Oh, she was eating 500 calories on her down days. So, how do you feel about her doing ADF before her period?

Gin Stephens: If she feels like she doesn't feel good, it sounds like she feels like she needs to eat more, her body is saying eat more. I wouldn't try to muscle through ADF if my body was telling me to eat more that day, and it felt bad. I would just eat. Now, I wouldn't just say no, I'm not fasting, but I would have an eating window that felt right to me.

Melanie Avalon: I think that's great.

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Melanie Avalon: Shall we go on to our next question?

Gin Stephens: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: All right. We have a question from Carolyn. The subject is “Jiggly menopausal thighs.” Carolyn says, “Hi ladies, I know this is a ‘superficial question.’ I get it that subcutaneous fat is not as dangerous as liver or visceral fat, but I must come clean and confess that it really peeves me that although my postmenopausal body is in pretty great shape, and I feel mostly amazing, my thighs may never see short shorts or skirts again. I'm using red light therapy, have tried cupping, two treatments so far. Get regular exercise and have an almost completely clean diet. I fast 20-ish hours daily with the occasional earlier window and a few ADFs thrown in recently. I know I should count my blessings that at 53, things are quite fine, and I shouldn't concern myself with this issue. But I'd really love to have my firm thighs back. Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

I thought for sure Gin’s new book was going to have the play on words ‘fastinating’ in the title somehow. Ha-ha. If anyone out there wants to steal the title, it's up for grabs. Love you ladies so much. PS: I do use some Beautycounter products and I'm going to bite the bullet, and go all in very, very soon.” Then with lots of XOs. Awesome. All right, can I say something really quickly by the way?

Gin Stephens: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: I don't think it's a superficial question. I don't think it's wrong if their body looks a certain way, if that makes you feel more confident in your skin. I don't think that's superficial. People can feel glowing and happy from an outfit that makes them feel really good, so is that superficial? I don't know. I just ponder this a lot. That's all I have to say about that. My soapbox.

Gin Stephens: Yeah, I agree. Then, I'm going to have some bad news. I’ve got some bad news for Carolyn, and some bad news for Gin Stephens. I went through menopause. October of 2020 was where I officially hit the one-year mark. Right on average, 51 is the age women usually go through menopause, get to the other side, that's exactly when I did it. I hate being so average, Melanie. I like to be above average, anyway. [laughs] I was average on menopause. Anyhow, my skin has changed a lot over the past year, and I'm just going to say, I totally get it, Carolyn, because I'm looking down at my legs, and I'm like, “Why does my leg look like my grandmother's leg instead of my leg?” It has to do with the hormonal changes that we go through as we get older, which does affect our skin elasticity. I don't think there is any magic potion or supplement that is going to give you back your premenopausal self. I'm sorry, I really don't. I think that we just have to accept that we are aging, and we can either embrace that we're aging or we can be really frustrated. I've decided to embrace it.

That doesn't mean I'm not going to continue to do intermittent fasting, and if I wanted to try something to try to firm something up, I certainly could, but I'm not going to expect my skin to go back to how it was premenopause. Because I think I’m going to be disappointed if I try. I can't exercise my skin back to how it was. It wasn't the fasting and the weight loss, because I haven't changed my size over the past year through menopause. But my skin elasticity is different.

Think about your grandmother. I think about my grandmama, Calhoun, and I always thought she was just beautiful. She had just very, very ivory skin, and it was very soft and gentle. I don't want to use the word ‘saggy,’ because that sounds terrible, but that's the negative form of it, would be saggy, but it just was soft and beautiful. But I see my cheeks losing their shape a little bit and looking a lot more like my grandmama. We've just got to recognize that we feel amazing-- I feel amazing. I'm at the beach, and I'm going to put on my bathing suit, and my thighs don't look as good as they did a year ago, even though my waist size is actually down. So, I haven't gained weight but my skin looks different. I don't know, Melanie. What do you have to say about that?

Melanie Avalon: I think I have some good news for you.

Gin Stephens: Okay. I would like to hear the good news.

Melanie Avalon: And for Carolyn.

Gin Stephens: Okay. I'm not sure there's anything we can do. I know that everybody's trying to sell us something we can do, but what do you think?

Melanie Avalon: Well, I think you nailed it with the changes that happen hormonally and how it's a natural thing, and it's harder to come back, especially if you're doing all the things. I will say, as far as completely clean diet, it's hard to know what that is exactly, and macros can sometimes affect things. But I do think this is more something to be addressed if you actually want to address, because there are a lot of things out there right now that promise to address this. Carolyn said that she tried cupping and red light therapy, for example. I actually did a lot of research on this. I did a blog post, and I haven't updated it yet with the thing that I actually think does work the best, so I need to do that. But the blog post is melanieavalon.com/fatcells, and I go all into the science of fat cells, and collagen, and how these different treatments that they now proclaim to get rid of cellulite and target fat from the outside in with these treatments whether or not they work. I actually feel out of all the things, because there are a lot of things, I think that the Cryoslimming, and Cryotoning treatment works pretty well for this.

Gin Stephens: Do you know what I'm talking about? Is that going to increase skin elasticity? See, that's the thing.

Melanie Avalon: That's what it's for basically. There's also something called venous treatments, which is also supposed to do that. The Cryoslim is for targeted fat burning and tightening up. The Cryotone is just the tightening. Either of those are potential, but I've seen before and afters, and I've met people who have done it, and it's very effective. It is a bit cost prohibitive, and the reason I'm saying this is because Gin really nailed it with how hard it is to address, because of the hormonal situation, because of how you are. On the one hand, it's like, “Oh, that seems too good to be true,” because it requires no effort. It's not doing the hard work. It's not diet and exercise. But that actually might be why you need something like that, because diet and exercise might not tackle it.

Gin Stephens: No, it's not. Your skin is literally different than it was before. The pictures you've seen are of postmenopausal women having done it? Because I promise you, if you're looking at before and afters, the people that are have not been through the transition, it's totally a different thing. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: They are.

Gin Stephens: All right, well, I want Carolyn to try it, and report back, and then I will go try, because you know I'm not the quickest to go do something. [laughs] Now, my thing is, I'm embracing it.

Melanie Avalon: Which I think is totally great too.

Gin Stephens: But it's like things are melting. [laughs] It's like my body is melting. What's happening?

Melanie Avalon: Well, yeah, because you're losing that collagen production. These treatments, what they do is they stimulate that collagen production directly.

Gin Stephens: Well, that makes sense. You would need to do that in order to see a difference.

Melanie Avalon: They're using temperature, and I don't know exactly what the energy part of it is, but it's something, and it's targeted to-- It's basically giving the cells in that area, because it's targeted treatment, the signal to create collagen.

Gin Stephens: Do you have to go get boosters and do it frequently?

Melanie Avalon: The Cryoslim and the Cryotone, yeah, you do it once every two weeks for five or six sessions, or until you've addressed it completely.

Gin Stephens: But then, it's probably going to-- If it's just increasing collagen, that's not going to be permanent.

Melanie Avalon: The Cryoslim also kills fat cells. The reason is it’s for two weeks is because it takes two weeks for the-- They want the body to eliminate the dead fat cells through the lymph system, similar to CoolToning.

Gin Stephens: Or CoolSculpting.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, similar to CoolSculpting. I just really like this Cryoslim way, way better than the CoolSculpting from what I've seen. The Cryoslim is doing the fat cells, and it's using the targeted stuff for the collagen production, and then like I said, the Cryotone is just the collagen. But as far as the permanentness, I think it is maintainable. I think so.

Gin Stephens: Well, I'm a skeptic. I'm going to admit, because to me, I don't know how the loss of collagen would be reversed and then permanent. That's my question. I understand if it's changing your fat cells, that's a whole different thing.

Melanie Avalon: Well, you'll have to. I would love for you to try.

Gin Stephens: I'm a skeptic. [laughs] Okay, listeners, if you do this, and you are like a provider, you can do it for me for free, and if it works, I will tell everyone forever, and you never have to pay me another thing. I will for free tell everyone forever. [laughs] But I'm not willing to go out and try it because, I'm not going to pay a lot of money for something that I'm a skeptic about. But I'm optimistic. I would do it. I would try it.

Melanie Avalon: If given the opportunity.

Gin Stephens: If given the opportunity, yeah. Anyway.

Melanie Avalon: All right. I need to update that blog post though, because right now it doesn't include Cryoslim. It just talks about CoolSculpting, but yes.

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 questions at ifpodcast.com or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. The show notes will be at ifpodcast.com/episode221. You can follow us on Instagram @ifpodcast, @melanieavalon, and @ginstephens. 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. The music was composed by Leland Cox. See you next week.


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