Welcome to Episode 241 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: lynn - Best window for health benefits
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Listener Q&A: Ashley - Minnesota Starvation experiment
Listener Q&A: rebecca - Eating red meat regularly
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Listener Q&A: Phoebe - Clean Beauty brands besides beautycounter
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Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 241 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.
Hi friends, I'm about to tell you how you can get free grass-fed, grass-finished New York strip steaks for a year. Yes, free steaks for a year. So, the holidays are upon us and I don't know about you, but when I think about holidays, I often think food and then the second thing I often think is, "Hmm, I wonder what will be the quality of all of the meat and seafood at all of the family gatherings." It can definitely seem intimidating and expensive to get high-quality meat that you can trust. Thankfully, there is an easy solution.
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And one more thing before we jump in. Are you fasting clean inside and out? Did you know that one of our largest exposures to toxic compounds, including endocrine disrupters, which mess with our hormones, obesogens which literally cause our body to store and gain weight, as well as carcinogens linked to cancer is actually through our skincare? Europe has banned thousands of these compounds for being toxic, and the US has only banned around 10. It's honestly shocking. When you're putting on your conventional skincare and makeup, you're likely putting toxic compounds directly into your body. These compounds can make you feel bad, can make it really hard to lose weight, can affect your hormones, your mood, your health. And ladies, if you're thinking of having kids, when you have a child, these compounds actually go directly through the placenta into the newborn. That means your skincare and makeup that you're putting on today actually affects the health of future generations. Did you know that conventional lipstick for example often tests high for lead, and the half-life of lead can be up to 30 years in your bones? That means when you put on your lipstick, 30 years later, half of that lead might still be in your body.
Thankfully, there's an easy, easy solution to this. There's a company called Beautycounter and they were founded on a mission to change this. Every single ingredient in their products is extensively tested to be safe for your skin. You can actually feel good about what you put on. And on top of that, their products actually work. That's because they're not “all natural.” They actually combined the best of both worlds, both synthetic and natural ingredients to create products that actually support the health of your skin and make your skin look amazing. They have skincare lines for all your skin types, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner that I love, antiaging and brightening peels and vitamin C serums, and incredible makeup. If you see my makeup on Instagram, that's all Beautycounter. You can shop with us at melanieavalon.com/beautycounter.
And 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 sort of 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. And again, the link to shop with us is melanieavalon.com/beautycounter. All right, now enjoy the show.
Melanie Avalon: Hi, everybody and welcome. This is episode number 241 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: Well, I am okay but so, so disappointed. As you know--
Melanie Avalon: Me too.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. The last time we recorded, we were going to be getting together in Atlanta. We've never met face to face still. But I had to not go to Atlanta because I got a little fever and I was like, "Well, team, should I still come to Atlanta if I have a fever?" They're like, "We can just record from your house." So, I'm recording from home instead of going to Atlanta and so we did not meet.
Melanie Avalon: I know. I'm so sad. Listeners, I found the place we were going to go.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, and I looked at the menu. It was going to be great. I will go to Atlanta, again. I know I will.
Melanie Avalon: Yes. I want to tell you, Gin, Gin sent me very beautiful flowers but it's funny. I sent her picture and she was like, "They're supposed to look like this." She sent another picture where they looked more full in the picture. They have since opened up. So, now, they look like the picture that you sent.
Gin Stephens: Were they already arranged or did you have to arrange them?
Melanie Avalon: I did.
Gin Stephens: See, it was supposed to be arranged. It did not work out. It was supposed to come already arranged from a florist.
Melanie Avalon: Well, really? Did it say that in the notes?
Gin Stephens: I mean that's what I ordered.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, okay. [laughs] Well, they were beautiful. Thank you. Lots of pink.
Gin Stephens: Well, I'm sorry, you had to self-arrange your flowers. That's new. When you do one of those, it goes to just a local florist and then I guess they decide what to do.
Melanie Avalon: Somebody else sent flowers from the same company in the same order in the same box and they weren't arranged either. Do you think those were supposed to be arranged?
Gin Stephens: Well, that's weird. I don't know. But I've used this company for a long time and they've always gone to people arranged before.
Melanie Avalon: Well, they were beautiful. Thank you.
Gin Stephens: But you know, with the whole pandemic, who knows? Maybe business models have changed. So, I'm glad they were pretty. Happy, happy birthday. Sorry that we didn't get to celebrate in person. But you know, thank goodness for modern technology where I can just record from home which is probably working out better anyway, because I didn't want to be in a hotel for all those days and in a recording studio.
Melanie Avalon: I think this happened last time. Remember last time you're going to come?
Gin Stephens: Well, last time, I couldn't come because the world shut down. I wasn't sick but all the recording studios shut down because it was March of 2020.
Melanie Avalon: Right.
Gin Stephens: They're like, "Sorry, no one can travel anywhere in the entire world ever because of COVID." It was just because they just shut down everything. I tried to find a place here locally, at a local radio station, they're like, "Nope, we're not letting anyone in because of COVID." So, I just recorded from home. But you know, we have it all worked out because I did it once before. If it ever happens again, I'll just plan to record from home because it really is nice just to be at home.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Nice.
Gin Stephens: I can do it. I can record professionally from home. So, it's really fun. I have a director, and there's an engineer, and we're all in there together, and the two ladies that are doing it with me are just delightful. We actually have a great time. As we're going through the book, they're like, "Okay, now, tell me more about that." [laughs] Lots of fun.
Melanie Avalon: How much more do you have to record?
Gin Stephens: Oh, my God, I'm never going to be finished. It feels like it's going to be forever.
Melanie Avalon: Well, I've done a lot of audiobooks on my own but for my book, I just recorded the intro and that took long enough.
Gin Stephens: It takes hours. It's really intense.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it really is.
Gin Stephens: I really don't enjoy it. I'm making the most of it. I'm enjoying the company, I'm enjoying the process as much as I can, but I can't wait for it to be over. All the words, I'm like, "Who wrote this book? Who put all this garbage in there?" They're like, "Oh, yeah, me. It was me. I wrote it." Like, "Why did I write it like that? I should have not used that word." [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: Well, I'm sure it will turn out fabulously.
Gin Stephens: Well, I hope so. So, how was your birthday?
Melanie Avalon: It was so good. I had a wonderful dinner at my favorite restaurant in Atlanta where I'd only actually been to the bar, I hadn't eaten there before. I went with the family, and it was just really, really amazing. Then, oh, can I tell the first thing that happened on my birthday?
Gin Stephens: Sure.
Melanie Avalon: It is so exciting and it's only going to be exciting for a segment of our audience. But, okay, Taylor Swift, as you know, for all of her albums, she releases a signed version on her store, and they sell out in minutes, like minutes, like you cannot get the signed version. It just so happens that when I woke up on my birthday-- I do this thing where I wake up and you're not supposed to do this, listeners, but the first thing I do when I wake up is I check my email, because I wake up very groggy and I find that if I check my email, then I'm like, "Oh, I'm awake." So, I find it to be very helpful.
So, I checked my email. The first email I saw was from the Taylor Swift store announcing the signed CDs. I was like, "Oh, my goodness, I'm sure these are all gone. There's no way." I clicked on it. They were there. The email had just come in, and I'd just woken up, and I checked it. So, I got three of them. Then five minutes later, they were gone. But it was like, "Happy Birthday."
Gin Stephens: Perfect birthday. First thing I do is check my email too. Who said you're not supposed to do that?
Melanie Avalon: They say start your day off--
Gin Stephens: Who is they?
Melanie Avalon: They say, oh, no. They're like starts you off in a state of cortisol rather than gratitude. But I think it just wakes me up.
Gin Stephens: I've already been like resting, and I feel good, and so then, I just look at them. It doesn't stress me out.
Melanie Avalon: I like checking my email.
Gin Stephens: I think it would stress me out more not to check it. I'd be like, "What am I missing? What am I missing?" Then, I'd be all stressed out. Instead, it gives me a feeling of accomplishment like, "I just did all that," and then I get up about of bed. So, actually, they are not the boss of me or you.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it gives me a sense, because I can't address all the emails, but I can see what all is there. So, I can have a sense of like, "Okay, this is the task for the day."
Gin Stephens: Yep, exactly. Yeah, it's the day started. I flagged things that I can't handle right at that moment. So, then I have flagged emails, then I go back to them later, but it puts that aside and then I can start my day.
Melanie Avalon: It might also matter-- I love in general my emails. It's all things I want to be talking about. It's like talking to guests. It's with brands. It's very fun. It's not like a drag for me. So, it's not like it's I very much look forward to emailing people. So, can I make one quick announcement?
Gin Stephens: Sure.
Melanie Avalon: By the time this airs, for sure, I think the preorder special will have gone live last week, I think, for my serrapeptase. So, that's very exciting. If it's still available, you can get it now probably or preorder it now. I'm pretty sure-- because I was talking with my partner, I'm pretty sure it's going to be shipping pretty soon after the preorders. So, we thought it was going to be maybe January, but the turnaround has been pretty fast, and I think today that we're recording, not that this is released, I think I'm going to get my bottle of it because--
Gin Stephens: I was going to ask if you had had any yet.
Melanie Avalon: Scott at the company, he got his yesterday and he was sending me pictures, and he tried it for himself-- and oh, this is really exciting. So, it has an enteric coating, because serrapeptase, if you don't have a protective coating on the capsule to keep it from breaking down in the stomach, it'll break down before it reaches the small intestine where it needs to reach in order to get into the bloodstream. So, he did some tests where he was putting our serrapeptase in vinegar and then putting other competing brands in vinegar to see if they broke down or not. All the other brands broke down within like half an hour and ours was still good at the two-hour mark, which means it's definitely surviving the stomach, and then it'll open in the small intestine. They've tested it for the potency and the effectiveness because apparently enzymes die pretty easily. They'll become inactive. But this one is all good and it's tested for mold and heavy metals, and it has an MCT filler, no additives. Oh, I'm so excited.
Gin Stephens: Very exciting.
Melanie Avalon: So, friends, you can get it. Long, long, long story short, it's an enzyme created by the Japanese silkworm. Now, it's created in a lab. That's why it's vegan. People were asking me how can it be vegan if it's created by a silkworm? It is grown in a lab. That is how. You take it in the fasted state it breaks down protein buildups in your body, problematic protein buildups. So, if you have allergies or inflammation, it can help that, it can break down fibroids, it can potentially reduce cholesterol, amyloid plaque which is involved in Alzheimer's. It's like a wonder supplement. So, you can probably order it now. The information for it is that melanieavalon.com/serrapeptase and the actual website to order is avalonx.com. And I'll put all that in the show notes.
Gin Stephens: So fun.
Melanie Avalon: Well, I know. All right. So, shall we jump into everything for today?
Gin Stephens: Yes. We have a question from Lynn and the subject is: "Best window for health benefits." Lynn says, "I am new to IF, and while I could see me lose a few pounds, I'm in good shape overall. No health issues to speak of, all blood work in normal range, and I work out with weights and cardio regularly. My goal, which leads to my question, is to gain optimal health from IF, not necessarily to lose weight. So, my question is what is or are the best fasting windows for optimal health gains whether that be gains in gut health, autophagy, insulin, etc.? What can I expect as a 53-year-old woman to gain from a 24-hour fast, 36-hour fast, 48-hour fast etc.? Is there a sweet spot of fasting that might be best for health gains? Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I love your podcasts. I listened to them all. No offense, Gin, but Melanie, I really enjoy your Biohacking Podcast." No offense taken Lynn. [laughs] I'm glad you love it. "For this podcast, I really enjoy it when you go on your tangents. I always learn something new. Wishing you both health and happiness. Lynn."
Melanie Avalon: All right, Lynn, thank you for your question. I'm glad she likes the tangents. This is a really great question and I feel like with diet where I don't think there's one right diet for everybody, and it's very individual, and you have to find what works for you, I think the same goes for fasting. Also for diet, [giggles] I think the idea with diet for long-term health, I think it's more about what you do for life, the thing that you can maintain and do that is healthy compared to a crash diet or a crash healthy phase, and then reverting back to a standard diet. So, with fasting, I think is a foundation, finding the daily fasting window that works for you in that you get in "ample fasting." So, probably a minimum of 16 hours fasting every day. Then, the window-- I think if you can fast longer than that every day, I think that's fine. But if you're doing a 24-hour fast and that leads to an unhealthy relationship with food where you feel like you overeat or you feel that it's not sustainable, then I would say fast less. For some people, that might be great. I think the first part to answer the question is just the daily fasting window that works well for you-- Of course, there would be an approach. Some people do better with something like ADF, where they're not fasting every day. So, that might be the "daily maintenance approach" that you do and that would be where you'd be alternating.
But then beyond that, like longer fasts, so 36-hour, fast, 48-hour fast, etc., I think those are concentrated endeavors that you might want to take occasionally to do some extra deep cleaning in a way. You can kind of think of fasting is your daily cleaning of the apartment or house, and then a longer fast might be like that time where you sit down to do a really deep clean. That said, I think you will get a fantastic epic health and never do a long fast. I don't think you have to do it to have incredible health benefits. But if it resonates with you and you want to do one, I also think that's fine. I don't want to be confusing to listeners. But I also don't have a problem with something like a fasting mimicking diet, which is Valter Longo's work. He has his version that you can buy or people do their own self constructed versions. You can google like D-I-Y-F-M-D. I'm not a doctor. I'm not endorsing that, but I'm saying that it's something you might want to do as well. That would be basically getting, according to his research, the effects of a long fasts or like a five day fast without completely water fasting for five days.
Gin Stephens: It just sounds so much harder to me than having to eat that little bit of food. I cannot imagine it being easier than just fasting.
Melanie Avalon: What's interesting is for me, a 48-hour fast, I think, it would be much easier for me, complete water fasting. Five days, I don't know if I could fast five days. Mostly with the sleep issue, I think if I did-- I haven't done FMD, but I wonder if I did it, where I had all of the stuff just at night, if I could do the five days.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, it just sounds like a really miserable low-calorie diet. It doesn't sound like fasting at all
Melanie Avalon: The benefits that you're getting, it's extremely low protein. So, you're really tapping into that autophagy. So, there's a lot of research on how it affects the immune system. Breaking down immune compounds-- I think most of his research is in rodents, but basically, breaking down immune compounds and as he says it can "reset" the immune system, and it might be like a level of autophagy that you wouldn't achieve otherwise.
Gin Stephens: So, you're saying that by eating those small amounts of food, you're having more autophagy than if you just completely fasted? That doesn't make any sense.
Melanie Avalon: No, no. Not more than if you just completely fasted.
Gin Stephens: Right. See, that's my whole point. That's what I don't get. I understand his research showing that there are benefits to his fasting mimicking diet, mimicking fasting, but I cannot wrap my head around it being easier than actual fasting or even better than actual fasting. That's the part I cannot make sense.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I think as far as easier, I think it'd be individual, some people would find it easier and some people wouldn't. As far as equivalent or better, I think it's possible depending on the individual, it might be equivalent. I think it's possible depending on an individual, for some, it might be better, for some, it might be worse. It's hard to know. Yeah, it's a lot of unknowns. Basically, it's something that people could try if they want.
Gin Stephens: I do want to also say that personally, I always recommend, if you're going to fast more than 72 hours, you should be under medical supervision, just because you don't want to DIY it and get in over your head.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. That's great point. I'll put a link in the show notes. I have interviewed recently actually Dr. Valter Longo on the show that Lynn mentioned on the Biohacking Podcast. So, I'll put a link to that. But I said a lot, Gin.
Gin Stephens: I think Lynn has such an interesting question. We really haven't seen a lot of this recently. Maybe because I left Facebook, I don't know. People in the community are less likely to-- I'm not sure. All the time in Facebook, I remember people would try to post this one graphic that was like, "Here's what happens when you fast." By the hour and it was like, "Here's what happens at x and y and art 24 and 36." Unfortunately, our body just isn't like that. We don't really have like, "Here's what happens at 24 on the dot and here's what happens at 36." It's going to be really highly individual, because it depends on your own metabolic flexibility, it depends on what you ate, so many factors. So, it's not like we can say, here is the amount of fasting that's right for you. We very often-- well, actually, every time, I think we emphasize that we can't really say that, because it just depends so much on personal factors like how big your appetite is.
Like you said at the beginning, Melanie, whether you fast for 23 hours or 16 hours, it really just is going to depend on you. So, we can't give you a here's what a 53-year-old woman would gain from this particular fast or that particular fast. It's really all about being your own study of one and responding to how you feel over time in day to day. Some days, you're going to find that you feel great fasting longer, and other days, you're hungrier. I think for optimal health gains, your best fasting windows are the ones that feel good day after day. For me, that really looks like a flexible approach.
I started off back in the day, Dr. Herring's Fast-5, which was a five hour daily eating window, and I was fairly rigid with that when I was first starting out. But over time, it had become very intuitive and learn to listen to my body. That's really I think where the optimal health comes in, in the listening to your body. One day I'm really busy and have a short window and the next day I'm like, "Man, I'm extra hungry. I need an eight-hour window today." That is really I think where the best health comes in. Learning to listen to your body, being responsive, knowing when you need a longer window and fasting longer when it feels right. I was just sick last week and I wasn't as hungry when I wasn't feeling great. So, I didn't eat very much. Then, when I got my appetite back, I ate more food. So, it's just a matter of again really being responsive to your body.
Melanie Avalon: Exactly. We are on the same page.
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Melanie Avalon: Now, we have a question from Ashley. The subject is: "Minnesota starvation experiment." And Ashley says, "Hello, Gin." So, this was directed at Gin. She says, "I absolutely love Fast. Feast. Repeat and I wish I had read it 10 years ago. I'm curious regarding why the subjects in the Minnesota starvation "failed," so to speak, and that they became obsessed with food and could not maintain a healthy weight loss? Is it simply a matter of extended eating window? I'm not fully convinced that the reason is based on the fact that their foods had high glycemic index. There are many, many people in this world with diets that are similar in nutritional makeup. Yet, they aren't all necessarily obsessive with food, nor do most of them have weight problems. I would greatly appreciate your insight."
Gin Stephens: Yep. Thank you for asking, Ashley. Yeah, at no point, did anyone, me, or any of the things that I've read have any comments about their failure being related to the high glycemic index. You can go ahead and put that out of your mind. I've never read an interpretation of their failure as having anything to do with the glycemic index. I'm not even sure if the glycemic index had been created at that point, honestly. The reason that they "failed" had to do with their bodies perceived that they were starving. They were eating very low amounts of food. They were doing a typical low-calorie diet, where they were eating a little bit here and there. They were eating small amounts of calories over the day. So, they never really were tapping into their fat stores like you would during the fast. So, they were not fasting. Obviously, they were eating but they were eating a very low-calorie diet. So, their bodies slowed things down, their metabolisms got slower, they started to have problems with their hunger hormones going out of whack.
You may want to read that section again in Fast. Feast. Repeat, this is the teacher in me, because if you read it, again, I think, it's pretty clearly explained. So, whatever chapter that said, I guess, it's in the introduction. But basically, it's the classic what we've all been through and also the Biggest Loser study showed the same thing. When we do a really low-calorie diet, our bodies fight back. How is fasting different? Fasting is different, because we are metabolically flexible once we adapt to the clean fast, we are fasting. Our insulin is low, we tap into our fat stores, we're actually well fueled during the fast because we're tapped into our fat stores. So, our bodies don't see that we need to slow down. All I know is anybody who's done a low-calorie traditional diet, and struggled, struggled, struggled, knows what I'm talking about. When you fast clean, it is like night and day difference. I could never maintain a low-calorie diet long term. I always failed and struggled. But I've been doing intermittent fasting with no problems since 2014. It's just a completely different way of fueling your body. Did that make sense, Melanie?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I have some thoughts about it. I'm super curious. I interviewed Gary Taubes and his newest book is called The Case for Keto. But he talks about how people are on protein-sparing modified fasts, which are severely restricted diets, much more so than the Minnesota starvation experiment, which was-- I was just looking at it, 1,560. Yeah, 1,560 calories per day. Like a PSMF, protein-sparing modified fast. Sometimes, that's like 500 calories per day. I remember he said, what was interesting and one of the studies on it was that, when people follow PSMF, they didn't experience hunger. So, if they had that diet, but then if they added to it just a little bit of carbs, then they would be like ravenously hungry, which is really fascinating. Basically, being in a certain state due to the dietary choices and the calorie restriction was likely putting them in a state of ketosis, so they weren't hungry because they were living off of their body fat stores. But then, when you add in these carbs that mess with the mechanisms, then all of a sudden, they get hungry.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. So, they were eating just enough to keep them out of ketosis, so they were lethargic, and draggy, and-- yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Few things I wonder like, because she was mentioning the high glycemic. So, they were eating-- I mean they're basically just eating carbs. They're eating potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, bread, and macaroni. I'm super curious if they've been eating keto, like if they've been eating 1,560 calories of keto, would they have been starving? I would posit that maybe they wouldn't have been. It sounds like they are basically on-- basically, if you wanted to create a diet, a calorie restricted diet to I think, make somebody starving, you would want to give them calorie restricted, but like you just said, Gin, not so severely calorie restricted that they're inevitably going to enter ketosis because there's just such severe restriction. So, it's enough to keep them pretty much in the fed state and then all from carbs to boot. So, they're basically just living from carb to carb.
Gin Stephens: And so, they were lethargic, and draggy, and never felt good. Yeah.
Gin Stephens: That's the setup. This has not occurred, because I know you and I have discussed this before in the show, but this hadn't occurred to me before, Gin, until just now. I bet also, this was 1945. So, the obesity epidemic was not what it is today. I imagine these people coming into the experiment, even if they did the same experiment today with the same "baseline" state of people, I imagine these people probably had lower body fat to begin with. So, that could have played a role too.
Gin Stephens: They started out leaner just because that's how people were back in the 40s.
Melanie Avalon: I really think they could set it up the same way and they would make it look like the same way, because it would be a not an underweight BMI. But I think people were just leaner then. So, even a not underweight BMI, it probably was just a basically different cohort.
Gin Stephens: Different variables.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah.
Gin Stephens: The key thing is that they were not allowed to eat until they were satisfied. Because at the end of what Ashley said, she's like, "There are many, many people in the world with diets that are similar in nutritional makeup, and yet they aren't necessarily obsessive with food." The key is that people who follow a diet where they're allowed to eat until they're satisfied, that's a very different case. These are artificially constructed from eating, like they were kept from eating the amount of food that their bodies wanted, and also their physical activity was increased as well. So, it was like the perfect storm of eat less, move more while never allowing them to-- if they'd actually fasted, how would it have been different? So, of course, we can't go back because that's not the test that they did. That's not the experiment.
Melanie Avalon: Yep, this is interesting. Actually, yesterday, I was interviewed-- This is always so surreal to me, Gin. There's this guy named Bill Tancer. He's a New York Times bestselling author, and he actually has a CGM company, and he'd reached out to me because he wanted to work with me on some stuff. He invited me onto his podcast. It was so fun because it's so like weird to me because he had read my book. He actually read my book like all of it, and with asking me specific questions about it. It's very surreal to me still to like, "Oh, a New York Times bestselling author reads my book and wants to ask me questions about it specifically?" So, it was really fun. But the reason I'm bringing it up was, one of the things he asked me about from the book was, I discussed in the book, so, it was the 2015 personalized nutrition by prediction of glycemic responses, and this is something that I know Gin and I discussed this study on the show before, but I reread it because he had mentioned that he wanted to talk about it. I was like, "Oh, I better reread it."
It's the one where they put people on CGM, it was 800 people, and they measured their responses to a total of 46,898 meals. They didn't just look at the CGM, the blood sugar response, they also looked at the gut microbiome, they looked at their blood markers, their activity levels, a lot of other factors, and this was the one where they found that-- and I'm bringing it up because she was mentioning-- We're talking about the glycemic index. Basically, it dismantled the idea of the glycemic index, because people had completely different responses to all different foods. So, while there was a trend, so when you put all the foods on a chart and see in general which ones create a higher glycemic response, it does match up with a glycemic index. There's still massive variability.
Gin Stephens: Do you know how they came up with the glycemic index? They tested 10 people from, the food and averaged it. That is like, it's ridiculous. It is ri-diculous. Yeah, the glycemic index is just-- it would be like if we gave everyone a height index and said, "All right, you are 5'5" because that's the average height for a woman, 5'5". So, you're 5'5". You'd be like, "But I'm not 5'5", I'm 5'2." They're like, "I'm sorry, but we averaged the height together. You are 5'5"." That is how they did the glycemic index. Everyone's 5'5".
Melanie Avalon: That's really funny. Yeah, and so they did find that within the individual, people react similarly. So, if you have a piece of bread on one day and then piece of bread on another day, you're probably going to react the same, but another person might react completely differently to bread. Actually, I think there was some comment in the study about how every single food, I think, had almost the entire span of responses. So, I mean, that's--
Gin Stephens: It really is astonishing. For example, ice cream was one of the foods they talked about. They said that some people reacted really poorly to ice cream, some reacted really well. You're like, "Well, that sounds nuts." I am someone who reacts really well to ice cream and I can eat ice cream and feel great. I can open my window with ice cream. Ice cream does not give me a weird, whatever. Cake, different. Totally different. But it's fascinating. I can eat bread, no problem. But cookies? No. So, it really is just different.
Melanie Avalon: And it likely involves-- like they say in this study, it's so many factors, not just the food.
Gin Stephens: Yep. Potatoes, they are great for my body. I can eat a potato and feel perfect. But not everybody can.
Melanie Avalon: That's just something to keep in mind.
Gin Stephens: All right, we have a question from Rebecca. The subject is: "Eating red meat regularly." "Hi, Gin and Melanie. First, I just want to quickly say that I cannot thank you both enough for completely changing my life. I've been IFing for two years, and it has improved my life in so many ways. Not only did I lose 67 pounds, but I've also seen major improvements in my mental health, my relationship with food, and my body, and the chronic pain I have from a previous injury. So, I just want you to know that you ladies are truly helping people and making a difference in so many lives by putting this important information out in the world. You two are amazing and I will be forever grateful." Oh, thank you, Rebecca. 67 pounds that is amazing.
"All right. Okay, on to my question. As you know, there is a pretty widespread stigma against red meat. Most people or doctors think it is detrimental to your health and should not be eating frequently. They say, it will cause cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc. So, of course, these scary thoughts are always in the back of my mind. I now exclusively get all my meat from ButcherBox. Thank you for the rec, by the way. So, I know the meat I am consuming is high quality. Over the past year, my beef consumption has significantly increased to the point that it has become a staple in my diet. I eat mainly whole foods and try to focus on fruits, vegetables, and meats but I don't restrict any particular food or food group. However, I find myself no longer gravitating towards chicken or fish, never really was a fan of pork, which means that pretty much all of the meat I consume is now ButcherBox beef. I'm definitely eating at least a few servings of red meat five to six days of the week.
Is this really bad for my health? Should I start to force myself to eat different types of protein even though, it's not really what I want or crave? I've tried googling whether this is okay and pretty much everything that comes up says no. But the articles are almost always referring to conventionally farmed or processed red meat. I know there are tons of studies that show eating lots of red meat and processed meat can cause a variety of health issues. But what about grass-fed, grass-finished beef? Are there the same increased health risks from eating that too? I feel good doing what I'm doing but I would change it if it meant that I was harming my body. What do you think about this topic? I'd love to hear your thoughts because I really value your input. Sending positive vibes your way. Rebecca."
Melanie Avalon: All right, Rebecca. Well, this was a fantastic question and I'm so happy that you're enjoying ButcherBox and I promise I did not plan this. ButcherBox is actually a sponsor on this episode and I just checked the offer they have right now is for grass-fed, grass-finished steaks for free. So, that's perfect. If you want those, if you want to join Rebecca, listen to the ad in this episode for ButcherBox. The link is butcherbox.com/ifpodcast and that will give you the offer right now is free New York strip steaks for a year, which they've never actually done that before. So, that's huge and those are grass fed, grass finished, but again, details are in the ad that runs on this show. So, for your question, I have so many thoughts. I think about this so much.
Gin Stephens: I knew that you would.
Melanie Avalon: First of all, I will just put it out there. I do think it is very important when you are contemplating a topic, especially related to health, to take in all different perspectives on the topic. It's very easy to get into an echo chamber. That said, I think one of the issues that can make this convoluted and confusing for people is that the two sides to approach on this, if we want to look at warring sides, it would be the pro-meat and then it would be the anti-meat. One of the issues is I think there is especially in a lot of the vegan literature or vegan voices, there's a morality clause that comes in where I think sometimes things get lost in the practical science, the health implications that I think often lead to more of a bias. So, I think that's really important to keep in mind when you are reading all the different perspectives because I do think you should read all the different perspectives.
All of that said, the best source of information I have found that I do not believe is biased that I think has been so helpful is Robb Wolf's book Sacred Cow. I'll put a link to it in the show notes. We recently had Robb on this show, but that was an episode all on electrolytes. I'll put a link to it anyways, but we didn't talk about this. But I've had him on the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast twice. Actually, his second episode with me aired yesterday. But my first episode I did with him was all about this. So, I'll put a link to that as well. What I really liked about his book and what I learned in it is, he talks about the health benefits and the huge importance of the role of meat in our diets for health. I do think some people can thrive on a vegan diet. I think it's a very small percentage of people. It's the people who have the gut microbiome that can really handle that and can really create all the nutrition that they need. Most people's gut microbiomes aren't up to par for that and I don't know that dietary choices alone given your state can convert you to a microbiome that would long term subsist on that. So, basically, I do think nutrition wise that there's a huge important role for meat in most people's diets.
When it comes down to the actual type of meat, red meat versus fish versus chicken, Robb actually talks about this in his book the environmental impacts. I know she wasn't really asked me about the environmental impacts but he does talk about the environmental impacts of these different animals and dismantles some of the myths surrounding that about what is actually more sustainable. I do a lot of research on the different meats and how they affect our body. I do think, though, Rebecca, what your intuition about gravitating to what you are craving or what speaks to you is probably really telling, and I think, especially if you're not following-- because I think when we follow a processed diet or standard American diet, it can be harder to discern what our bodies actually need. But when you follow a more whole foods based diet that it can be easier to really hear your body signals about which protein source your body needs at that time.
I think, especially with red meat, it's something where people might need more of it at sometimes rather than other times. Especially women, they might be craving it because of the iron content and women often can become anemic. I mean men can too, but it's more common with women. If you're feeling good on the red meat and you're not craving chicken or fish, I wouldn't stress about it. I wouldn't try to convince yourself into eating not red meat, and chicken, and fish because you think that's what you "should" be eating. Especially, if you're eating this grass fed, grass finished, sustainably raised from ButcherBox that one of the things about ButcherBox is so amazing is they work really hard to support the sustainability and the health of the farmers, of the farming system, of our planet. It's just really, really wonderful what they're doing.
All of that said, to make things a little bit more complicated, I personally believe there is an incredible benefit nutrition wise to grass fed, grass finished over conventional beef. That said, Robb Wolf makes the case in Sacred Cow that there's not much difference at all, that the nutrition is actually pretty similar and that there's not a huge difference there. I do wonder a lot about the role of toxins in conventional agriculture. I think that might be playing a big role.
Gin Stephens: 100%, I agree with you.
Melanie Avalon: I'm really hesitant about that aspect of it. He doesn't seem to think it's that big of a deal in the book, but I think it probably is. So, my takeaway is that the best of the best is obviously the grass-fed, grass-finished beef. I think it's giving you nutrition and I would not succumb to the pressure to think that you don't have to eat it or that you need to eat white meat instead.
Gin Stephens: That's so interesting that he says that because I just read the part of the book for Clean(ish) where I talk about grass-fed, grass-finished beef and why it matters. I just read it yesterday, I think. Cows are not supposed to have grain. Their bodies are not designed to digest it, it makes them unhealthy. Then, they have to have all that medicine, because they're now sick from eating the grain. There's no part of that that is good, except that the beef tastes great. It's like fattier, but it's huge. I can't understand how he looked into all that and came to the conclusion that it didn't matter.
Melanie Avalon: I don't think it was so much that it 100% didn't matter but it was like in the grand scheme of things just from a pure nutrition standpoint that there wasn't that much of a difference and I'd have to reread.
Gin Stephens: Well, it does have a better-- I think, a more favorable omega profile?
Melanie Avalon: That's something I've been saying historically, and I say it in my book, and I believe it. His thoughts on it are that it's not that big of a difference. If you're looking at it for omegas, it's not a huge difference, it's not a huge source comparatively to something like the fish side of things.
Gin Stephens: I guess, the real issue really, really is that because the cows are sick, because they're not fed in a way that their bodies are meant to be eating, they're eating the grains, their stomach is not designed to process those grains, so they have to have all the medication, the antibiotics, and then that residue is in the meat.
Melanie Avalon: That's what I'm very concerned about. Yeah.
Gin Stephens: I mean it's huge. That is a huge factor. Do we want to get antibiotic residues from our meat? No.
Melanie Avalon: I personally think, it's huge.
Gin Stephens: I do, too. I've really come across to this thinking. I didn't used to think it mattered as much till I really looked into it. The more I looked into it, the more I realized it mattered.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I asked him about this. I'm going to have to revisit the transcript and see what his response was to that specifically. That's why I just really, really love something like ButcherBox, for example because they're really addressing this issue. Also, I think, a lot of the demonization of meat is about things like saturated fat and stuff like that. I just want to put out there because I'm haunted by the saturated fat question, actually. I do think a huge part of the studies and the literature on saturated fat and its health benefits are two things. One, it's looking at saturated fat as an isolated mechanism of action rather than in the context of an entire diet. So, how does saturated fatty acids on a cell affect insulin sensitivity or how does fatty acid levels in the bloodstream affect things, and then saying that's automatically the same, it's like the saturated fat that you eat, there's also the whole history of why saturated fat became demonized for heart disease and things like that, and it goes back to Ancel Keys, and there's a lot of controversy around his research, and was there cherry picking?
I think there's a lot of debate. I do think there are probably issues for a lot of people with saturated fat, especially too much saturated fat, especially today's-- Oh, that was it. I think saturated fat in the context of a processed diet, or a high carb diet, or a modern diet is a problem. But in a holistic, whole foods based diet, I think it's much less of a problem, if it even is a problem. So, I said a lot, Gin.
Gin Stephens: You did say a lot. I was just going to say, Rebecca, trust yourself. I have also gravitated really away from chicken because I just realized I don't love it, or crave it, or really want it. But beef, when I want to eat beef, I really am-- Now, I'm craving it right now. I'm pretty sure there's going to be beef in my day today. [laughs] And after, I'm like, "Ooh, I just really need some beef." So, listen to your body. You're getting in tune with your body, and how you feel when you eat certain foods, and I think your body is boss.
Melanie Avalon: A lot of this goes back to a study that was sensationalized in the media about the WHO's carcinogenic classification of various meats, and red meat, and processed meat. If you look at actually what was found in the study and the risk factors, it was grossly misinterpreted by the media. Because the headlines were things like, "Red meat is the same as smoking every day" or something like that.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I remember those.
Gin Stephens: It's just that's not what it found at all. Processed meat was a problem, red meat was like-- I have to look at it again. It was a higher level than the other meats but when you looked at the actual meaning of interpreting the stats in the data, it was not at all what it was made out to be. So, that is something to keep in mind. I think pretty sure Robb talks about that in Sacred Cow, pretty sure Gary talks about it in Case for Keto. I'll put links to all of that but that was a lot.
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Gin Stephens: All right, we have a question from Phoebe. The subject is "Clean beauty brands" and she says, "Hi, both. I have been listening to your podcast since March of 2020 at the beginning of lockdown. I feel I have learnt so much over the past year and a half." I love the word 'learnt.' It's very British.
Melanie Avalon: Do we say learnt?
Gin Stephens: We say learned. Learned. They say learnt. She said, "I have a question on clean beauty. Having heard both of your rave reviews about Beautycounter, I am desperate to use their products. However, I am based in London, England, and they don't have any stockists here, nor do they ship internationally. I know you've said that Europe has stricter rules on banning chemicals but a lot of the brands I have seen on sale in Whole Foods and similar health stores have compounds in them that are ranked poorly in the EWG Healthy Living app. Could you please recommend any comparable internationally available brands for beauty products and makeup? Thank you in advance for all you do. I look forward to your podcasts every week. Kind regards. Phoebe."
Melanie Avalon: All right, Phoebe. This is a great question. So, I will put a resource out for you. You can join my Clean Beauty and Safe Skincare Facebook group. That will be a great place to talk about this because we have a lot of members now. I think we have almost 2,000 members. People share a lot of reviews, and thoughts, and there are a lot of international people. So, that'd be a great place to discuss it there. Because I'm not personally familiar with any brands that are up to Beautycounter standard. It sounds like this is what you're doing already. You're looking things up on the EWG but that would be the resource to use for sure. So, for listeners, the EWG, they basically look at all of the ingredients and products and they rank them for toxicity so you can see how potentially toxic are your products on the shelves.
The thing that is so amazing about Beautycounter, for example is, you can look at the toxicity. So, that's one thing. But then beyond that, there are things like heavy metals, for example, and that's huge, huge, huge to me, and that's not going to be something that's going to be on the EWG. Like lipstick, for example, there's this one study that they did, I think it was in the-- I don't know how long ago it was. It was a few years ago, but they looked at so many makeup brands. It was like hundred something and every single one had lead in it, and most of them had really high levels, and that's something that you're not even going to see on the EWG. So, an amazing thing about Beautycounter they test everything six times for heavy metals. So, that's huge. I don't know if there are any international brands that do that as well but your best bet, I guess would be continuing to look on the EWG and trying to find things that are that are rated green. I'm sorry though that Beatycounter is not available internationally. I'm hoping someday that they will. Right now, it's just the US and Canada. I feel like it was not very helpful. But yeah, my resources are to keep looking on the EWG, and to join my Facebook group, and ask there.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I think that's great. Yeah, the EWG Healthy Living app is a great resource but I don't know about clean beauty brands in Europe either or England.
Melanie Avalon: It is true though about the higher standard. It also just speaks to the sad state of the US with all this because Europe has banned thousands of compounds in conventional skincare and makeup because they can be endocrine disruptors, meaning they mess with your hormones or obesogens, which actually literally cause your body to store and gain weight, and even carcinogens which are linked to cancer, and the US has only been at around a dozen, which is just really shocking. Then on top of that, there's essentially no regulations. So, even if there were products on the shelves that were found to be actually toxic, and this has happened. It happened, I don't remember when, but there was this whole thing where there were these products at Claire's that were found to be tainted with I think-- it was asbestos tainted with something, and nothing was done about it. There's really no regulation. It's really shocking. But yes, Europe does have stricter standards. So, that is nice because that will be a little bit on your side.
Gin Stephens: Yep, and all this is also in Clean(ish) which is available for preorder. So, [laughs] if you haven't preordered it yet, go ahead and preorder it wherever books are sold. But yeah, I talk all about clean beauty and why it's so important, and about grass-fed, grass-finished beef, and all the things. So, I can't wait for you to get a copy of the book, Melanie.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, I know. Do I get one soon?
Gin Stephens: Yeah. We've got to get you on the list. We've got to get you-- Yep, yep. We got to get you a copy. I would like you to get a better copy. Right now, they're sending out the early reader copies and it's the ones with the typos and stuff.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, okay.
Gin Stephens: Can you wait till actual the real book comes out or do you want an early reader copy? I could get you an early reader copy now. Not till February, right?
Melanie Avalon: I think so.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, you've got time.
Melanie Avalon: Can I get it by January?
Gin Stephens: Or, January 4th is when it comes out.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, okay. Perfect.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. Yay, anyway, all this is in there and why it matters, and how you can develop your own definition of Clean(ish) so that you change up what feels right to you.
Melanie Avalon: Exactly. I feel like we've come so far. We're on similar wavelengths about all the things.
Gin Stephens: Well, it's true. The more you learn about it, the better you feel. The more changes you make, you realize it matters.
Melanie Avalon: The more I study hormones, I've been interviewing a lot of hormone doctors recently, those are just signals affecting everything in our body, and the factors that affect them, it's our environment and our lifestyle. I mean it's our food, obviously, and you can help them with fasting but when you're exposing your body to compounds every day that are messing with your hormones, I just think the effects are just so not appreciated.
Gin Stephens: The part that was so striking to me is how different the world is now than it was 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, because basically, our body burdens are just so much greater. We didn't have all this decades ago. So, we're starting off with a worse-- babies are born with all these chemicals and their cord blood.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Ladies, if you're going to have children someday, when you give birth, a huge part of your toxic burden goes into the baby. I was actually listening to an interview this week, and they were talking about how one of the problems with these compounds is that the problem is actually that they're not so toxic that they outright cause cancer right away. If they did, they wouldn't be there. But they're not so toxic that they kill yourself right away, but it's that slow, accumulating damage.
Gin Stephens: Right. They bioaccumulate and they also work together in ways that are unexpected and not even understood because they don't study these chemicals together. They studied a little bit in isolation, like if you just had this, and "Oh, it's fine." But that's not the real world, that's not your body. It ends up being a toxic soup.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so cancer-causing compounds, there are not things that are so toxic that they just kill a cell because if that was the case you wouldn't get the cancer. Because in a way, they would get rid of themselves, because they would just kill whatever they're killing and be gone, but the fact that our cells can still survive in their presence, it's like a slow draining, it forces ourselves to adapt. That's what when I interviewed Dr. Jason Fung. He was saying, that's what makes carcinogens carcinogens is that they damage the cells just enough that the cells have to go rogue and form their own metabolism, their own state. They get very selfish in a way. So, in order to survive in the face of these carcinogens, they have to just basically defy living in a happy relationship with the rest of your body cells, and that's basically what cancer is. That was such a mind-blowing moment for me.
Gin Stephens: Wow. Yeah. But anyway, we put less in. So, clean beauty, you're putting less in, you are lowering your toxic load, and that is why it matters. You don't have to freak out because you're going to go through life and get exposed to things, but you can control a lot of things and just taking control of what you can and letting go of what you can't.
Melanie Avalon: Yes, I love that. Yep. All right. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. A few things for listeners before we go. You can follow me on Instagram, have a blue check?
Gin Stephens: I do not.
Melanie Avalon: But you will probably soon, I'm assuming.
Gin Stephens: I don’t know. I'm not even trying.
Melanie Avalon: Well, in any case, we're both on Instagram. I'm @melanieavalon, Gin is @ginstephens. If you'd like to submit your own questions for the show, you can directly email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. The show notes for today's show, super helpful because we mentioned so many things, those will be at ifpodcast.com/episode241. Yeah, you can get all the stuff that we like and ifpodcast.com/stuffwelike. All right, I think that is all of the things.
Gin Stephens: Absolutely.
Melanie Avalon: Anything from you, Gin, before we go?
Gin Stephens: No, I think that was it.
Melanie Avalon: All right. Well, this has been wonderful and I will talk to you next week.
Gin Stephens: All right. Bye-bye.
Melanie Avalon: Bye.
Melanie Avalon: 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.
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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