Welcome to Episode 233 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, hosted by Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine and Gin Stephens, author of Delay, Don't Deny: Living An Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle.
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Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 233 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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Hi everybody and welcome. This is episode number 233 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: Doing great. How about you? [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: I'm good. I have ZOE updates.
Gin Stephens: Very cool. I've also been just wearing the-- What is it?
Melanie Avalon: CGM?
Gin Stephens: Yeah, the CGM from, I was trying to think of the company--
Melanie Avalon: Levels.
Gin Stephens: Levels. Yeah, I couldn't think of Levels. I could think of a CGM, but I couldn't think of Levels. I've been wearing the CGM from Levels. Man, it's so interesting.
Melanie Avalon: What have you learned? What have you found?
Gin Stephens: Well, I can absolutely feel when my blood sugar goes down during the fast.
Melanie Avalon: Crashes.
Gin Stephens: Not crashes. I wouldn't call it crashing. It doesn't ever feel like it crashes but I can absolutely feel when my blood sugar gets down into the 70s. I wake up in the morning, I drink my coffee, my blood sugar sticks around in a certain range. And then around 1 to 2 o'clock, I have a wave of hunger. And that is exactly when my blood sugar goes down into the 70s.
Melanie Avalon: That's interesting.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. It's not hunger that's shaky hunger. It's really easy to ignore. Any intermittent faster are out there has felt that before, but I just ignore it. And then, for the entire rest of the time that I'm fasting, I stay very solidly in the 70s. It doesn't go up and down a lot after I get that shift. It's like I can feel the metabolic switch, and then my body is just well fueled, and my blood sugar stays very constant. It's fascinating.
When I did ZOE, I had longer windows, the muffin day and all of that. Also, I was using the little-- it was different versus the way Levels does with syncing with your phone. It wasn't as easy to really see the data when I did ZOE. But with Levels, it's just been fascinating. I can just go in the fasted state and stick right there in the 70s.
And then, it's also fascinating to see what I eat, and how my blood glucose responds. One night I opened with-- Well, it was higher carb, but low fat. I ended up just-- I didn’t mean to, it just happened to be the meal that I had that night, ended up being a very high carb, low fat, not a lot of protein. My blood sugar went crazy. It went up so high. I can't remember the exact number, but the spike was like oop. As long as I eat a mixed meal, fat, carbs, protein, it's steady. I have a biphasic response, which I read on Levels is a good thing. One little raise, then down, then up and down again. But fascinating. I've got to have sufficient protein and fat along with carbs to keep it steady. I knew that, but it's good to see it.
Melanie Avalon: Is this your first time wearing it with Levels, like a company that lets you see it all?
Gin Stephens: Yes.
Melanie Avalon: So, now you understand my obsession?
Gin Stephens: Well, and then I actually took it off [laughs] because I was like, “Alright, that's enough.” I took it off. I didn't need to see it for long.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, how long?
Gin Stephens: I don't know. Not that long, but it was enough. A week maybe, it was enough for me to really see. I'm so in tune with how I feel that none of it surprised me, but it was so interesting to see it.
Melanie Avalon: Another question. Do you see the intense morning spike?
Gin Stephens: I wouldn't call it intense. No.
Melanie Avalon: Just because I know we get a lot of questions from listeners about high morning blood sugar and when I wear mine, mine spike's to about 120.
Gin Stephens: Oh, yeah, mind doesn't do that. Oh gosh, no. I never get out of the 90s until after my windows open.
Melanie Avalon: Interesting.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I'm always in the-- overnight, it does different things. And that was one reason I took it off just from the sleeping and I also was getting a massage the next day. I was like, “A massage therapist is going to have to work around this,” because I got a massage when I was wearing it for ZOE and she couldn't really work on that arm very well. So, I took it off. I mean, it was not a big deal. I learned what I needed to learn, basically. But, yeah, my blood glucose stays around in the 90s all throughout the morning with my coffee. Down into the 80s some, up into the 90s. But it never went over 100, unless it was right after I'd just eaten.
Melanie Avalon: Mine goes up every morning, but then it goes down consistently. What's interesting is I'm the exact opposite of you. I feel hungry when I get those spikes, and then when it starts going down is when my hunger kind of goes down.
Gin Stephens: Well, I get the hunger, I think, right when it hits the down, and then the hunger wave is gone and it stays down. It's just fascinating to see. Again, I learned from ZOE that I don't have a great blood glucose response to too much blood glucose at one time, which I proved with that meal. The ZOE data, when I would get scores for the meals, the ones that gave me a good score were the ones that were a combination of carbs with sufficient fat.
Melanie Avalon: And my comment about that, I'm just so excited about all of this, just for listeners, I think an important takeaway, because they might hear that and think that for them, that's what would work best but we're all different. For me, I'm the best when I do high carb, low fat, but if I combine, then it does not do well on my CGM.
Gin Stephens: If you have high carb, low fat, your blood sugar is great?
Melanie Avalon: If I do high carb, low fat, it spikes after the meal which is anticipated normal.
Gin Stephens: How much does it spike?
Melanie Avalon: It really depends on the night, but before eating, it'll be in the 80s. And then a low spike, it might be like 120 or a high spike it might go to 140.
Gin Stephens: Okay, see, mine went to 172. That day, I had low fat by accident, and I didn't realize that till I went back and looked at the meal. It was rice and dates and carrots and kale. I didn't add anything to it. It didn't have any beans, it didn't have very much fat at all. My blood sugar went berserk. But even the next night, I had a blueberry biscuit. It was not the least but low carb or low fat and my blood sugar was beautiful. It's fascinating. Now with ZOE, I learned that I can't have too much fat, that backs up to, I don't clear fat quickly. So really, for me, I should not over consume. If I eat too much food, that was when my ZOE score would go down using their data. I would have a beautiful meal that would score in the 90s. And then, if I ate too much again too soon with too much fat, it would plummet my score.
Melanie Avalon: Well, you know what's interesting, I don't know if that would be the case if I did high carb low fat with starches. The times it has spiked, I had starches in it. The carbs I'm eating are all from fruit. But, yeah, it doesn't really go over 140 and then it goes down and then it stays down.
Gin Stephens: Mine were very starchy. But when I had very starchy carbs the other days with plenty of fat and also protein, I didn't have that huge spike.
Melanie Avalon: The thing I learned last night, I was actually thinking about it this morning looking at the CGM was, I usually drink a glass of wine every night, but if I drink more wine-- last night, I had a wine night with a friend on the phone and it was four hours. We drink a lot of wine over four hours. My blood sugar response is so much better if I have a big alcohol preload, and my theory is that it just completely depletes glycogen. That's my theory. There's been studies on wine and insulin sensitivity, so probably helps with that. But, yeah, probably my best blood sugar response is when I have more than a glass of wine before eating.
Gin Stephens: That's fascinating. It just shows we're so different. The next day, other than that one day where my blood sugar went crazy after the low fat, high carb meal, I would not say any of my meals were low carb at all like I said, and I had rice again, it wasn't like that's the only time I had rice. For me, it really seems to be that combination of the carbs, plus the fat, plus the protein keep me steady, and it makes sense when you think about how it flows, how it gets into your bloodstream, flows digestion.
Melanie Avalon: Gin, I haven't done the second day of muffins yet.
Gin Stephens: You're supposed to do on the next day.
Melanie Avalon: You don't have to. I've been chatting with the help people.
Gin Stephens: Okay. All right.
Melanie Avalon: I think it'll be more telling if I don't do them back-to-back. For listeners who are not familiar, ZOE is a program, scientific study.
Gin Stephens: It really is. It's a study, program, all of that.
Melanie Avalon: Because I've been making posts about it. I'm like, “What do I call it?” It's an experience, where you learn about yourself. In any case, it is created by Tim Spector. He's a professor of genetic epidemiology, but he's an expert in personalized medicine and the gut microbiome. And they also have doctors as well creating the program. Basically, what happens is you get these special created muffins that feature different calorie and macronutrient breakdowns, and you eat them and you do a certain amount of fasting after eating them. If you're in the study portion of it, which is optional, you're wearing a CGM, either way you do a finger prick blood test. And it evaluates how you process carbs and fat, and you also do a gut microbiome stool sample, which is really cool, but it's just so funny because-- and Gin already knows this, oh, my gosh, the muffin. So, people talk about the muffins how they don't taste very good. I was looking at the ingredients before taking it and I was like this is just going to light up every dopamine center in my brain. I just know it. And literally, it was like the most amazing thing I've ever tasted.
Gin Stephens: I've never heard anyone say that about the muffins, like ever, which is hilarious.
Melanie Avalon: I've been asking on my Facebook group, and there have been a few people like me, and it's all people who are really intense and don't eat processed foods ever. The birds were singing, I was like, “This feels like cocaine.” I mean, I don't know what cocaine feels like.
Gin Stephens: I was like, “This is disgusting.” I was so excited to have muffins, and these taste so bad. These are the most disappointing muffins. I guess that's the key that you have not had anything like that whereas I'm not interested in any of that because I want a good muffin.
Melanie Avalon: I did a poll on my Facebook group, and it was pretty clear. If you eat processed foods even just a little bit, then you're more likely to not like the muffins. If you don't eat processed foods, you're more likely to like the muffins. But then, the funny thing and this was so interesting, and I learned so much about it about myself and fasting, was you have to fast after the first set of muffins for four hours. Gin and I, we fast every single day. Those four hours were so difficult. Having fasting right after eating something that crashes your blood sugar is so hard.
Gin Stephens: That was the hardest part for me, too, the time in between, muffin meal one and it was muffin meal two. We had muffins again, yeah, that was the hardest of all, because I'm not used to being hungry in my eating window. Once I open my eating window, if I'm hungry, I eat something. I would never open my eating window if it was something weird, and then fight through terrible hunger for four hours.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. It gave me so much empathy, because I think I forget-- because we get so many questions about people who are really nervous about starting fasting, and they think they're going to be miserably hungry, and it's just nice to remember, oh, this is the baseline that they're probably coming from. They're used to eating and then it being really, really hard to fast. If they're thinking fasting is like that, fasting would be really miserable. It definitely took me back to my pre-fasting days and made me so grateful that I am not living like that, from blood sugar swing to blood sugar swing. And then, you're supposed to do a second day but I was like, “I can't do these two days in a row.” They said I could do it a different day, and I do think that'll be more telling because it'll give me more time to really be at baseline. I'll be coming from my true self with my blood sugar response, I think. But interviewing Tim was amazing.
Gin Stephens: You see why I love him so much.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. He was so intelligent and kind and very nuanced. I asked him a lot of questions because a lot of our audience is low carb or keto. We've been getting some feedback that sometimes people don't tolerate fat so well. So, the impression that might be given from the app is that they need to go low fat, which makes sense. But I've been thinking that maybe if they don't process fats, well, ironically, that low carb might be a better approach, which would ironically be high fat. I was able to talk to him about all of that. He agreed, and he said that basically right now the way it's set up-- he said ideally he wants to have another arm of it that is tailored towards keto people, because I also asked about the false-- I don't know if we have false positive or false negative. People who are doing a low carb diet, when they do the muffins, they might have a temporary insulin resistance that is created from having been low carb, which is temporary, but I think that could skew the results. He was saying that they've been thinking about that and do they need to tell people who are doing low carb to do a few days before of higher carbs? Or should they have an arm of it that's low carb? It was a really, really nice discussion, and I walked away from it--
Before, I was a little bit-- I don't know if I was skeptical, but I was curious about things I've been hearing from my audience but now I feel pretty good. I'm really encouraging listeners to do it because he says they really need to get a lot of people to do it so that they can continue to learn and then in the future, maybe expand it to do things like that.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. That's why I'm such a fan of him. Just when you read his books, which you've read them, when you read his books, you realize, “Okay, this guy's impressive.” And then you see the work they're doing with the PREDICT studies, and you're like, “Okay, this is amazing,” and it's new, and then they're changing. What you're going through is a little different than when I did it whenever that was last year. They're constantly evolving, which science is supposed to do, that's what scientists do. But you said that you felt it was steering people towards low fat, mine absolutely did not steer me towards low fat. I got higher scores when I combined carbs and fat, but it was just if I kept eating more fat, then the score would go down. It was when I overdid the fat. If I had, I don't know, let's just say a piece of whole grain toast, my score would be low. But if I put an egg on top and some avocado, my score would go up, and it would be higher. You haven't gotten to that point yet.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I'm just going off of what people have said in my group and I haven't received any information yet. So, I can't really speak. I don't know what it looks like the scores.
Gin Stephens: It absolutely did not steer me to low fat. But it did, because my scores would go up as I would add fat, but then there would come a point that it was too much fat and the score would go down.
Melanie Avalon: I'm really curious to see what mine is. And also, oh my gosh, the blood finger prick.
Gin Stephens: That was intense.
Melanie Avalon: I prick my finger all the time, because I check my blood glucose with a glucometer often. So, I was thinking the lancet was-- I was thinking it was like the one I normally use, which is like a really, really tiny prick.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I told you it was different.
Melanie Avalon: You had said it was hard for you, and I'd asked in my group and people had said it was difficult. I was like, “Well, I better just really jab this thing into my finger.” And I didn't realize it's a different lancet that is made to get a lot of blood out. I mean, blood was spewing everywhere. I was like, “What if I faint?” [laughs] For a second, I literally was like, “What if it just keeps bleeding?”
Gin Stephens: So, you really went for it?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. So, it was not a problem filling that card.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I was like squeezing, squeezing, squeezing, trying to get it all out. But I did, but it was not flowing.
Melanie Avalon: I was doing it at 2 AM. [laughs] So, yeah, it's been a really cool experience. The feedback has been mixed, for sure, in my group, but a lot of people have said that it's been interestingly game changing for them to lose weight.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I've heard that too. I interviewed someone for Intermittent Fasting Stories, who shares her story. I don't know when her episode comes out, Christie Osborne, but it was game changing for her. It's just a matter of, not everyone likes what they find out. I've also heard that people were mad about what they found out. I'm like, “Well you can't be mad that you don't like what you learn.” I don't like to know that my body doesn't clear glucose quickly or fat quickly. I'm not thrilled, but it's not their fault. They just shared that with me, or whatever is in my gut microbiome, knowledge is power and once you know, then you're equipped to deal with it.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Day two of muffins, I'm doing Tuesday.
Gin Stephens: Well, enjoy.
Melanie Avalon: Thank you.
Gin Stephens: I don’t know if y'all can hear somebody out is outside doing like a weed eat or blower, so if you hear something that sounds like equipment, that's what it is.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, I can't hear it.
Gin Stephens: Good. It's the weekend and neighbors are doing their yard work. Or it could be Chad, I don't know. Someone's out there doing yard work.
Melanie Avalon: It sounds good.
Gin Stephens: Okay, good.
Melanie Avalon: And then one last thing, just a quick announcement for listeners. Well, I'm going to be interviewing Robb Wolf on this show. I am so excited. You guys know I'm such a Robb Wolf fan girl. So, this will be my third time interviewing him, which is very nice. He is the force behind The Paleo Solution, which is the reason that I started the paleo diet. He also wrote Wired to Eat, which appropriately enough is about people's individual blood sugar response to carbs. That's the main thing it's about. And then he wrote Sacred Cow about regenerative agriculture. And he's also one of the creators of LMNT electrolytes, which we talked about all the time on the show, which our listeners love. By the way, you can get a free sample pack at drinklmnt.com. That's LMNT dotcom slash ifpodcast.
He's going to come on the show, and I'm trying to decide if I'm going to make it just me interviewing him. But I think I'd like to include listener questions. So, if you have any questions about electrolytes while fasting, now is the time, email those. Also, if you want to ask him anything else, feel free to email as well.
Gin Stephens: Do it quickly because you only have like a week before-- and I'm actually not going to be on that interview. I've got something going on that day. And also, it's so much easier to interview with one person instead of two people trying to interfere. So, Melanie's going to handle that one without me, but get the questions in.
Melanie Avalon: Yes. Email them right now. Anything fasting, electrolytes, regenerative agriculture, or if you just want to ask Robb something.
Gin Stephens: Hi, everybody. I want to take a minute to tell you about Prep Dish and what they have going on for you this summer. Summer is my favorite season, and I'm sure that you've heard me say that before. But one thing about summer is that we are busy. That's why I'm so excited to tell you about the free Bonus Menu Prep Dish is offering this month, and it's only good through the end of June. If you're a regular listener, I'm sure you're familiar with their new Super Fast Menus. If you thought prepping five healthy dinners in just an hour was the best it could get somehow, they're upping their game. Just for the month of June, Prep Dish is offering all new subscribers a free bonus menu. It's not just your average meal plan though. It's designed to let you prep five healthy dinners in just 30 minutes. It seriously doesn't get any easier than that.
Don't worry, just because the meals come together quickly, that doesn't mean you'll be missing out on flavor. The Bonus Menu includes things like California burgers with berry salad, shrimp tostadas, and a slow cooker Italian pork. When you subscribe, you'll have access to the gluten-free, paleo, keto and the Super Fast menu, in addition to the Bonus Menu. If you're still not convinced, remember that you get a two-week free trial if you go to prepdish.com/ifpodcast so you can try the meals out yourself before you commit. Again, that's prepdish.com/ifpodcast for two weeks free, and for the month of June anyone who signs up gets the fastest meal plan ever bonus. Now, back to the show.
Melanie Avalon: Shall we go to some of our listener questions?
Gin Stephens: Absolutely.
Melanie Avalon: The first thing is actually some listener feedback, and it comes from another Melanie. Oh, my goodness. The subject is “Fasted blood donation,” and Melanie says, “Hey, ladies, I am a regular podcast listener to all of your shows. Thank you for all of your very useful information and easy to apply tips and tricks. I was just listening to Episode 229, and the question came up about blood donating fasted. I'm an RN and a hematology-oncology clinic. We give lots of patients lots of blood. Thank you to all of those wanting to and able to donate blood. Since COVID, there has been a sharp decrease in the blood supply and every unit helps.
I've been an intermittent faster for four years and I've been donating blood for many years. I've never had any issues with donating, so I donate fasted. I do drink a large amount of water throughout the day to keep from getting dehydrated, and therefore preventing low blood pressure. I also make sure to eat a very good meal when my regularly scheduled window opens. All that being said, that is what works for me. I would not recommend a new intermittent faster donate fasted or a new donor to donate fasted. I hope this helps and maybe it will encourage others to donate blood even if it means they open their windows a little early. Happy fasting, Melanie."
Gin Stephens: Awesome. It's always good to hear straight from the expert.
Melanie Avalon: I really liked what Melanie said. We didn't really touch on this last time about how appreciated it is for people to donate blood. But it sounds like if you're new to donating blood, probably don't do it fasted the first time, maybe do it at least once not fasted. I would just faint either way. Shall we go into our questions?
Gin Stephens: Yes.
Melanie Avalon: All right. We have a question from Jess. The subject is, “Where's my period?” Jess says, “Hello, ladies. I recently discovered your podcast and binged three episodes in one go on a long walk. I love it. Thank you for all you do. I started IF at the end of last year and followed a 16:8 rhythm for about six months. I would eat breakfast at 10:00, lunch around midday and dinner at 6:00. This worked really well for me. I lost weight, felt healthy, had so much more free time in the evenings and never felt hungry. About a month ago, I decided to try extending my fast to 18 hours and now eat two meals a day at around midday and between 6:00 to 7:00 PM. I've continued to see results and feel good. A little hungry in the run up to lunch, but I'm getting used to it.
This month, my period arrived on time, but it was extremely light and then gone the next day. I haven't changed anything else in my routine. My diet is the same, usual amount of exercise and sleep. I have suffered with PCOS for around six years. But since coming off the pill two years and two months ago, I've actually still had a regular cycle, my period is always between four and seven days. I've told myself to chill because it's only one month and I might be back to normal next month. But I am worried because I'm hoping to start a family next year and don't want to be causing any unseen damage. After a bit of googling, I've seen a few articles linking disrupted menstruation with IF, and wondered if you had any insights. The two might not be linked at all, it's just that the extension of my fast is the only change I've made recently. I consider my diet to be healthy, I would label it as low carb, high fat and mostly organic. Hope you can help, and thanks again for your wonderful work. I don't use Facebook. So, I'm unable to join your groups. However, I'm now a very happy subscriber of the podcast and look forward to going back through the library of episodes. Jess.”
Gin Stephens: Jess, thank you for asking that question. You're right. You can find a lot of stuff when you're googling that talks about disrupting menstruation with women. I think it's really key to keep in mind that we know that over-restrictive dieting in general affects women's cycles. Are there women who do intermittent fasting in an overly restricted way? Yes. Would that be likely to lead to menstrual disruptions? Yes. It doesn't sound like you are doing an overly restrictive approach however, because 18 hours is really not extensive. Now, if you had just gone to 23:1 and you eating a one-hour window, that might be a too much restriction. But it sounds like you're eating two meals a day in an 18-hour fast with a 6-hour eating window, I would not think that you're overly restrictive. You haven't missed a period, so I wouldn't be too worried right now. If you start missing periods, then I would go see your doctors, get your hormones checked out, see what's going on with that because it's hard for us to know. I mean, maybe you're eating two really tiny meals. I don't know, for me a meal is substantial. I know it is for Melanie as well.
There's a great article, but it's a blog post that I want you to look for. If you google "women and fasting, does fasting affect your cycle," it's on The Fasting Method website. It talks about the experiences that they've had with women, and it's actually was written by Megan Ramos, although for some reason at the top, it says by Jason Fung, but this is clearly written by Megan Ramos. That says like, “Many of the women I've worked with, I was scared to fast at first without knowing how it affected my fertility.” It's clearly Megan Ramos wrote it even though it says Jason Fung at the top. Look for women and fasting, does fasting affect your cycle, and read that and see what Megan Ramos says about it, because they've worked with a lot of women in their practice. Spoiler alert, they find that often, at first, they'll see disruptions and then they'll find that women's cycles are actually more regular than they had been before. Again though, you're a study of one, so you'll only know by seeing what happens for you. It could be a coincidence. Going from 16 to 18 is not a big change. I would be really shocked that you've gone to over-restriction just with the two-hour increase in your fast. What do you think, Melanie?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I thought that was great. For listeners, we will put a link in the show notes to that article to make it easy to find, and the show notes are at ifpodcast.com/episode233. Yeah, I agree. I was going to say, it's hard to know, if it's just adjusting and changing, or if it's a sign that it actually is going away. I would give it a few more months and see what happens. And if it does go away-- I mean, it sounds like you were really happy with your earlier approach because she said she was on a 16:8, worked really well, she lost weight, she felt healthy, she had free time, she never felt hungry. If it does turn out to be a thing where your period goes away, I see nothing wrong with going back to what you were doing, which sounded like it was working really well. If you're worried about not getting quite as many benefits because of those extra two hours, I really wouldn't sweat it. I would do the pattern that is really working for you. So, yeah, I like what Gin said.
Gin Stephens: It's too soon to really know. You didn't skip your period like you said, it was just really light. Since Jess says she wants to start a family, I assume she's nowhere near the perimenopausal phase, because that's when everything starts to go wacky no matter what you're doing. [laughs] But I don't think that would be applying to Jess, but anybody who's in their 40s and beyond, get ready. [laughs] It's a bumpy ride.
Melanie Avalon: Goodness.
Gin Stephens: You'll see, yep.
Melanie Avalon: Feel free to let us know, Jess.
Gin Stephens: Oh, definitely. I would love to have a follow-up on that.
Melanie Avalon: Me too.
Gin Stephens: All right, so we have an email from Kim and the subject is “Lethargic after breaking fast.” Kim says, “Hi, Melanie, and Gin. Thank you so much for this podcast. You are both truly inspiring. I've lost 74 pounds after doing IVF for about a year.” And I just want to stop and say, amazing, Kim. That's fabulous.
Melanie Avalon: How many pounds, like, every-- 365?
Gin Stephens: I mean, a pound a week is “average.” So, 52 would be more typical. 74 is amazing.
Melanie Avalon: Wow.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. Kim goes on to say, “I am currently listening to Episode 84. So, I apologize if this question has been asked before. On occasion, I have noticed that if I break my fast a couple of hours early, I get completely lethargic like I desperately have to take a nap. I usually break my fast around 6:30 PM and close my window by 9:30 PM. However, I notice that if I broke my fast a couple of hours earlier, I get so tired. I, for the most part, eat whole foods and balance my meals with protein, vegetables, healthy fats and carbohydrates.” Me too, Kim, that sounds a lot like how I eat. “My question is what are some reasons as to why you would get so lethargic after breaking your fast. What are some ways to fix this? Thank you so much for what you do.”
Melanie Avalon: All right, Kim, great question. We have answered things like this before, but what 233 episodes, I thought we haven't answered this in a while. Obviously, there could be a lot of potential things going on, but two things are coming to mind for me personally. One of the reasons I personally love having an evening eating window is it does make me tired. During the day, I'm awake, I'm alert, I'm active, and then when I eat, that's my wine downtime, and the actual eating process tends to be a parasympathetic state, it's called rest and digest for a reason. So, it can be completely normal to get tired after eating. I think a reason that you might find yourself getting tired earlier, when you break fast earlier, when maybe in the past before fasting you didn't experience that would be because it's possible that you have conditioned your body with intermittent fasting, because you do have an evening window. Now, the signaling that your body is used to, is when you eat, that's you're wind down, go to bed, get ready for bed time. So, it's like an association that your body has made. Now when you eat earlier, it gets that started. Whereas in the past before you had this evening eating window, your body was actually used to eating earlier and so it was used to not getting “tired.” They're called-- how do you say it, zeitgebers?
Gin Stephens: Oh, I don't know. I don't know that word.
Melanie Avalon: Zeitgebers, I think. It's a German word. It means cues to your-- it's like using your environment that signal things to your biology. The definition is a rhythmically occurring natural phenomenon, which acts as a cue in the regulation of the body's circadian rhythms. Food and eating are very, very powerful zeitgebers. Light is another one. Basically, what has happened, I think, is that you have made food into a zeitgeber that tells your body to wind down. And so, now when you eat earlier, that happens. Another potential option or explanation behind this, is I've actually been diving really deep into Dr. Michael Breus’s work. He wrote The Power of When. And he's the one who came up with the chronotypes, like the dolphin, the lion, the wolf, and the bear, because I'm going to be interviewing him which is very exciting.
Gin Stephens: Very cool.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I'm so excited. And he has a new book coming out called Energize! which actually talks about the chronotypes for sleep combined with your metabolism type, if you're a fast, medium, or slow metabolism, that's a pretty cool book. He talks about how different chronotypes get tired naturally with their circadian rhythm during different times of the day. If you are a bear chronotype, which is the most common chronotype, it's actually very normal to need an afternoon nap. What I think might happen-- and I don't know, Kim, if you're a bear, but I think what might happen for people who are bears, for example, they would be used to needing a nap during the middle of the afternoon and then normal eating pattern that would probably be after they ate, that's just me theorizing. But if they switch to an intermittent fasting pattern where they're eating later, now they're going to be stimulated during the day, and they're going to be alert, and they're going to probably not get as tired during that time when they naturally would have a dip because they're not having the meal or the snack that is encouraging that. So, it could be that you actually naturally were getting tired during that time. But now you only realize it when you have something that really powerfully stimulates it, like eating. But if you're curious, you can take his chronotype quiz on his website. We can put a link to it in the show notes and you can figure out what chronotype you are.
Something I love about it is, I'm a dolphin, which is the resident insomniac, and dolphins are never supposed to take naps, which is what I've always said. If I take a nap, I just feel like I'll never sleep again. And he says so many times, he's like, “Dolphins do not take naps, not allowed to take naps.” I love that.
As far as suggestions for how to fix it. I actually don't really have a suggestion. My biggest suggestion would be when you have that earlier meal, are you having a huge meal? Are you normally having a huge meal between 6:30 and 9:30, which you probably are, if you're only eating for three hours every day. So, if you have to eat earlier, you might be able to mitigate that by not having that earlier meal is huge. Different foods might make you feel a certain way. Like for me, like protein makes me feel tired. It's more to digest. If I were to have a lighter meal, like if I were to have a lighter salad early in the day, I probably would not get super tired compared to if I ate my normal meal of pounds of meat, I would probably get tired. Yeah, that was a lot of thoughts. Gin, what are your thoughts?
Gin Stephens: I just had to look back in my email to remember what I was. I'm a lion. Is that what we decided that I was?
Melanie Avalon: You are 100% a lion.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I'm so much a lion.
Melanie Avalon: You're such a lion.
Gin Stephens: [laughs] Yeah, I'm a lion. I thought that was interesting. That was interesting thought to think that might be related to her chronotype. So, yeah, because it doesn't seem like she's just tired at 6:30 when she eats as if she eats earlier. Fascinating. Yeah, I think you said it all, honestly. As you mentioned, I'm never as alert after opening my window as I was before. But the fact that she doesn't feel it is pronounced when she opens at 6:30 if she does when she opens it earlier, is the part that's interesting.
Melanie Avalon: That's one of the amazing things though that I really love about having an evening meal is, I can use it as that zeitgeber, if I'm saying it right. Basically, it makes me tired every night, even if I would otherwise be a little bit more wired that night. It's a consistent signal, especially if you struggle with insomnia or something like that. Having a consistent eating rhythm is really powerful for regulating your sleep rhythm. So, I can pretty much get my body to shut down every night with my one meal a day. And like I said, being a resident insomniac dolphin, that's really important to me.
Gin Stephens: I also wonder if it has to do with, that she's eating earlier in her fast, and maybe she hasn't fully switched over to-- I don't know, it could have something to do with her blood glucose and ketosis and the fact that she's not as fasted.
Melanie Avalon: It could be a lot of things.
Gin Stephens: Or maybe if she opens earlier, it's a different a thing. If I open earlier, like way earlier than normal, it's usually because there's a special event and I'm eating at a restaurant, and it's something that I don't usually eat and more heavy food. So, that could also be a factor.
Melanie Avalon: I think the biggest question would be before intermittent fasting, if you ate earlier, would you get tired? If you did, then actually nothing has changed. If you didn't, I think it's because food has become a signal for your body to sleep. Yeah, and/or you're eating now a bigger meal earlier, whereas before you weren't because you were eating throughout the day. So, yes. But yeah, if you eat light, that might fix it.
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Shall we go on to our next question?
Gin Stephens: Yes, let's go on.
Melanie Avalon: We have a question from Meghan. The subject is “Question for a friend who is at a healthy weight but has high cholesterol and is prediabetic.” Meghan says, “Hi, I'm Melanie and Gin. Thank you so much for all of the work you put into your podcast. First, I will tell you briefly what brought me here. I gave up wheat last month when I started getting heartburn or reflux every time I had bread or pasta. I then learned about intermittent fasting and started doing that as well. I have quite a bit of weight to lose. I started at 236 pounds, and I want to be around 135. In the past month, I have done clean fast with plain tea and water only. I eat healthy food during my eating window between two to five hours depending on my appetite each day. I have lost 16 pounds so far, yay.
My question today is for a friend. We got together yesterday. She's very slim, but she told me her doctor told her she has very high cholesterol and she is prediabetic. Her A1c is 6.2. Do you know of any journal articles that specifically address the effects of intermittent fasting for someone who is already a healthy weight, but has these health concerns? Since I just started listening to your podcast, I am only on episode 24. I definitely have a way to go to get caught up. Thank you so much for all you do. Megan.”
Gin Stephens: That is a great question. First of all, I want to say, Megan, hooray, I'm so excited for you. You're doing great. You've only been doing intermittent fasting for about a month and you're down 16 pounds. That is a-mazing.
Your friend, if her A1c is 6.2, high cholesterol, prediabetic, you're right, yeah, there's some things she can do to bring down that A1c, work on her overall health. And I do think that intermittent fasting would be a great choice for her. The very best article for anybody who wants to do intermittent fasting for health purposes and not for weight loss, is from the New England Journal of Medicine. The title of it is Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging and Disease. And Mark Mattson is one of the authors. It's the one that came out on December 26th of 2019, and really changed a conversation from everyone saying, “Yeah, intermittent fasting for weight loss,” to, “Oh, intermittent fasting for health benefits.” That article really goes through the research and talks about all the things that intermittent fasting can help with. Being prediabetic, that would be one of the things on the list. So, I would recommend that.
You have to register for a New England Journal of Medicine free account to access it, but they're not going to spam you with stuff. You have to put in your email address and register, but it's worth it. You can download the article in PDF form and have a copy to read. So, I would highly recommend anybody who is interested in intermittent fasting for health benefits, if you want to see what all the different health benefits are, they did a great job putting it all together for this article because it's a review article that has all the different publications, all the different things that intermittent fasting can do for you. All in there, categorized, all the research is there. You can go down the rabbit hole of finding all of it. That's what I would do.
Melanie Avalon: I thought that was a great suggestion. A framework to consider about everything, one, is that I think we often assume that you have to be overweight to have health conditions, or maybe more likely, on the flip side, that if you're thin, that you won't have certain health conditions.
Gin Stephens: Can I pop in with a personal story real quick?
Melanie Avalon: Mm-hmm.
Gin Stephens: They often consider Alzheimer's to be type 3 diabetes, high levels of insulin in the brain. Chad's aunt had early-onset Alzheimer's, and she was very, very thin, but she always ate, had Coke and candy bars, and I'm certain her blood sugar was nuts. And she had early-onset Alzheimer's and was thin. She probably could have benefited from some fasting.
Melanie Avalon: I agree. To that point, weight often correlates to health issues, but it doesn't necessarily, and actually, like the Asian population, for example, they tend to be thinner, but they're more prone metabolically to having issues with things like diabetes and blood sugar regulation. A reasoning for it that can happen is that basically, it has to do with energy toxicity and based on your genes, your fat cells may be predisposed to either when they become full, split in half and create a new fat cell. Basically, it becomes really easy to gain weight, because you keep creating new fat cells, and then you keep getting bigger and bigger. While that looks like a problem because you're gaining weight, it's actually protecting you because those fat cells are creating a bank for all of that excess energy coming in. It pushes off until a little bit later getting the diabetic issues, compared to people whose fat cells are not accustomed to doing that genetically, so they don't split and form new fat cells.
What happens in that case is people don't gain the weight that you would expect from excess energy consumption. Instead, it creates a buildup of fuel in the bloodstream, because you don't have fat cells to take in that excess energy, and so stuff is just building up in the bloodstream. The blood sugar is taking too long in the bloodstream, creating diabetes, glycating your red blood cells, which is what your A1C is looking at. Ironically, you can be very slim and actually more predisposed to having blood sugar regulation issues. Yeah, that's something to consider.
I'm also going to link in the show notes to a study called Clinical Management of Intermittent Fasting in Patients with Diabetes. It basically just talks about how intermittent fasting is a viable method for people to manage diabetes, and that's not dependent on them being overweight to start. One of the things to consider is that even if the studies are in overweight patients, I know people can make the argument that if there's a study on overweight patients with intermittent fasting, and they see health benefits, people will make the argument that, “Oh, the health benefits were just because they lost weight, not from the fasting specifically.” I think there's enough literature, like the one that Gin just mentioned, but just in general, in patients who are not overweight seeing health benefits. So, I would not be concerned about that you have to be overweight to experience the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
This could be something great for your friend, I think, especially since, yes, prediabetic, A1c 6.2 and very high cholesterol, this could be something to definitely, definitely try. I will just make a note about the cholesterol is that when people-- Well, you know what? This is something I actually wonder. Gin, I’d be curious about your thoughts on this. A lot of people who are overweight and do intermittent fasting often see a transient increase in cholesterol due to the weight loss, but if it's a situation where she doesn't actually need to lose weight from the intermittent fasting, I wonder if there's a potential of seeing that boost in cholesterol or if it might just address it from the beginning. Does that make sense?
Gin Stephens: It does. Even though someone doesn't “need" to lose weight, they still might lose some. When Chad started intermittent fasting for the health benefits, he did lose some weight. He did not need to, but he got slimmer than he already was. And then he stopped, he didn't just keep losing weight until he wasted away to nothingness. [laughs] He lost some weight and then stabilized at a weight that was lower than he had been but he's still healthy, so he lost some fat.
Melanie Avalon: That's a great point. My initial response was she might see a boost in cholesterol, but I feel that happens the-- I don't know, but I feel that happens to most when people lose a lot of weight in the beginning.
Gin Stephens: Well, yeah, because as you're losing the fat, it ends up in your bloodstream, and so that shows up on your cholesterol test. That's why it's transient as part of the weight loss process. But it's hard to know. Just depends on what your body is doing. It wouldn't be only happening in people who were overweight. It could be someone who doesn't need to lose weight, but they're also releasing some fat.
Melanie Avalon: Exactly. Great question. We will put links like I said to everything in the show notes at ifpodcast.com/episode233. Yeah, I don't think we have time for any more questions. If you'd like to submit your own questions for the show, you can directly email email@example.com or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. You can also follow us on Instagram. I'm @melanieavalon, Gin is @ginstephens. A plug again to send us questions for Robb Wolf. Oh, and I just have to keep plugging, listeners, if you'd like to get my new Serrapeptase supplement, you can get on my email list for that at melanieavalon.com/serrapeptase. Yeah, I think that is all of the things. Anything else, Gin, from you before we go?
Gin Stephens: No, I think that's it. I can't wait to hear about your second muffin experience to see if it's just as delicious, the second. I'm still laughing at that, that you love the muffin.
Melanie Avalon: I'm both dreading and dreaming about it.
Gin Stephens: I shared it with the moderators that also have gone through so, I'm like, “Oh my God, Melanie loved them off.” And they're like, “What?” [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: The most amazing thing. Another reason, I think it's going to be perfect to do it this week, is I have to get a colonoscopy this week. It's like a built-in just clean out the system after the muffin craziness.
Gin Stephens: Keep us posted.
Melanie Avalon: I will. All right, well, 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.
STUFF WE LIKE
Check out the Stuff We Like page for links to any of the books/supplements/products etc. mentioned on the podcast that we like!
Melanie's What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine
Gin's Delay, Don't Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle
Feast Without Fear: Food and the Delay, Don't Deny Lifestyle
Fast. Feast. Repeat.: The Clean Fast Protocol for Health, Longevity, and Weight Loss--Including the 21-Day FAST Start Guide
Clean(ish): Eat (Mostly) Clean, Live (Mainly) Clean, and Unlock Your Body's Natural Ability to Self-Clean
More on Melanie: MelanieAvalon.com
More on Gin: GinStephens.com
Theme Music Composed By Leland Cox: LelandCox.com
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