Episode 270: Window Creep, Busting Old Habits, Low Dopamine, Protein Absorption, Whey Powders, Cheese Making, Branch Chain Amino Acids, mTor, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Jun 19

Welcome to Episode 270 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 Cynthia Thurlow, author of Intermittent Fasting Transformation: The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging.

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

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To submit your own questions, email questions@IFpodcast.com, or submit your questions here!! 


LMNT: For A Limited Time Go To drinklmnt.com/ifpodcast To Get A FREE Sample Pack With Any Purchase! Learn All About Electrolytes In Episode 237 - Our Interview With Robb Wolf!

BEAUTYCOUNTER: Keep Your Fast Clean Inside And Out With Safe Skincare! Shop With Us At melanieavalon.com/beautycounter or beautycounter.com/cynthiathurlow And Use The Code CLEANFORALL20 For 20% Off PLUS Something Magical Might Happen After Your First Order! Find Your Perfect Beautycounter Products With Melanie's Quiz: Melanieavalon.Com/Beautycounterquiz
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FEALS: Go To feals.com/ifpodcast To Become A Member And Get 50% Off Your First Order, With Free Shipping!

Listener Q&A: Christina - Struggle with Habits

Never Binge Again™: How Thousands of People Have Stopped Overeating and Binge Eating - and Stuck to the Diet of Their Choice! (Glenn Livingston, Ph.D.)

The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit (Amy Johnson, Ph.d.)

The Melanie Avalon biohacking Podcast Episode #23 - Dr. Amy Johnson

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (Charles Duhigg)

Play Audible sample Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (James Clear)

Listener Q&A: Angela - Intermittent Fasting

How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution

Reduced resting skeletal muscle protein synthesis is rescued by resistance exercise and protein ingestion following short-term energy deficit

AVALONX SERRAPEPTASE: Get On The Email List To Stay Up To Date With All The Special Offers And News About Melanie's New Supplements At avalonx.us/emaillist, And Use The Code Melanieavalon For 10% On Any Order At Avalonx.Us And MDlogichealth.Com!

Listener Q&A: Margaret - Protein Question

go to marigoldfoods.com and use the code CYNTHIA for an exclusive discount!

The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #123 - Dr. David Minkoff

Use the code Melanieavalon at melanieavalon.com/perfectamino for an exclusive discount!



Listener Q&A: Maggie - Are They Lying to Me?

Our content does not constitute an attempt to practice medicine, and does not establish a doctor-patient relationship. Please consult a qualified health care provider for medical advice and answers to personal health questions.


Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 270 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, biohacker and author of What When Wine: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine. And I'm here with my co-host, Cynthia Thurlow, nurse practitioner and author of Intermittent Fasting Transformation: The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging. For more on us, check out ifpodcast.com, melanieavalon.com, and cynthiathurlow.com. Please remember, the thoughts and opinions on this show do not constitute medical advice or treatment, and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. So, pour yourself a mug of black coffee, a cup 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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And one more thing before we jump in. Are you fasting clean inside and out? When it comes to weight loss, we focus a lot on what and when we eat. It makes sense because these foods affect our hormones and how our bodies store and burn fat. But do you know what is possibly one of the most influential factors in weight gain? It's not your food and it's not fasting. It's actually our skincare and makeup. As it turns out, Europe has banned over a thousand compounds found in conventional skincare and makeup in the US due to their toxicity. These include endocrine disrupters, which mess with your hormones, carcinogens linked to cancer, and obesogens, which literally can cause your body to store and gain weight. 

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Hi, everybody and welcome. This is Episode number 270 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I'm here with Cynthia Thurlow. How are you today, Cynthia?

Cynthia Thurlow: I'm doing well, my friend. How are you?

Melanie Avalon: I'm doing very well. Do you like the change to the hotter temperatures with the summer?

Cynthia Thurlow: I tend to be someone that likes-- I like the springtime and the fall and the part of the country I'm in, we go from being comfortable in the 60s and 70s, right into 95 degrees with 95% humidity. Although, I enjoy warmer weather, when we get to the sultry soppy summer here in Central Virginia, then I am like, “You know, I don't love this. The dogs don't like to walk as far.” My hair gets really frizzy. Again, these are first world problems, but I do like warmer weather. But if I could find the perfect climate where I didn't have as much humidity that would be perfect. How about you?

Melanie Avalon: Same here. Listeners know this well, but I am obsessed with the cold. I actually have discovered a new hack though for the summer. I'm doing it right now. I'm going to do it every single day as long as it's hot. Would you like to know what it is? 

Cynthia Thurlow: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: I got those cold packs for like muscle pain and I freeze them and then I strap them to my body and wear them all day. 

Cynthia Thurlow: That's amazing. 

Melanie Avalon: So, it's underneath my dress right now. There's something about, I don't know, I like my baseline state feeling cool. And it's hard to achieve that when it's hot outside.

Cynthia Thurlow: I sleep-- When we go to bed, my kids and my husband have now acclimated to the temperature of 64 degrees at bedtime. I love being cold inside. I actually enjoy it. Right now, I have my typical mom uniform of like Lululemon tights and a sports bra, and I've got a long sleeve shirt on. And, obviously we're recording two podcasts today. But for me, I can't stand being hot. During the day, I hate being hot in my environment. So, if I couldn't get comfortable in my environment that would be a distraction. But I think that we definitely share that. I'm definitely at the stage of life where I laugh and I always say, the only two circumstances that I'm going to share that I will get a hot flash number one is if I drink alcohol, which is why I don't drink alcohol and then number two is, if I'm in an ambient temperature that's too warm, I'll actually start to get hot flashes. 

For me, there's a very therapeutic amount of cool that I need in my environment to stay in a position where I'm very homeostatic. So, I think we're totally in agreement. Although I would imagine your ambient air conditioner temperature’s probably lower than where mine is. 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. During the day, I keep it at 67, and at night 60. I was actually yesterday, though pondering this either/or question which I'm so glad I don't have to make this decision. But I was thinking and I'd be curious your answer, would you rather be very hot all the time, uncomfortably hot, but be able to fast or be cold all the time, but not be able to fast?

Cynthia Thurlow: I think neither sounds ideal because I can tell you when I'm really uncomfortably hot, even in the middle of summer, the difference between my appetite when I'm cooler versus too warm. When I'm hot, when we head into summertime, even if we go out to dinner and we do something, I don't want to eat a whole lot. I just don't feel comfortable. And then if it's the other extreme, I guess I might pick being cold because if I could still have several hours in between meals, I could probably acclimate better to that. But when I'm too hot, too ambient temperature, too warm, then I'm less likely to eat anything. 

Melanie Avalon: That's why I was thinking about it because I was reflecting on how and I'm really hot. Like the last thing I want to do is eat and how I'm so grateful for fasting during the summer. So, I was thinking about that. And I get flashbacks. have you been Gone with the Wind?

Cynthia Thurlow: I have. It's a very long movie, but it's lovely. 

Melanie Avalon: It is very long. I don't know if you remember it might be the opening scene, but I just know she's like wearing this massive dress and it just looks like the south and they're complaining about how hot it is. And she's about to go to the party and her mom's like, “You have to eat all this food before you go.” And I remember when I watched it, I was like, “Ugh. Why? Why would you want to be in the southern south plantation wearing all these clothing and eating your breakfast?”

Cynthia Thurlow: It's interesting. I was born in South Carolina and my father's side of the family. We still have family there. And my grandmother, who was born and raised her entire life in South Carolina. I remember asking her, “What was it like before the advent of air conditioning?” And she said-- I'm not exaggerating. So, she lived in Charleston, and she said, “We didn't move a whole lot, so that's why everyone had porches and that's why you'd sit outside.” But she said it was really, really miserable.

Melanie Avalon: Like not being able to escape the heat. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. Well, I mean, they talk about how the south really got settled after the advent of air conditioning because the southeast of the United States gets uncomfortably hot and humid.

Melanie Avalon: Wow. Well, I have one more super random fun fact. May I share it? 

Cynthia Thurlow: Sure. 

Melanie Avalon: This is so random. So, I apologize in advance, but it just blew my mind. And I think about it every time I experience it now and I just need to share it with listeners. As listeners know, I'm very obsessed with scallops. Have we talked about this before?

Cynthia Thurlow: I think you've shared that with me. It might have been personally. 

Melanie Avalon: Do you like scallops? 

Cynthia Thurlow: I do. My husband hates them. So, I don't eat them a lot but I do like them.

Melanie Avalon: That's fortunate though because they're so expensive. Have you ever bought a bag of frozen scallops though? 

Cynthia Thurlow: No. 

Melanie Avalon: Okay. Have you seen a bag of frozen scallops? Probably not.

Cynthia Thurlow: Not recently.

Melanie Avalon: So, for anybody who buys a bag of frozen scallops, there are sometimes bright. There's like a bright orange scallop. This happened to me the other night and I freaked out because I thought it was like bacteria or sick or something. So, I threw it in the trash. And then I thought about it more. And I was like, “You know what? Maybe there's something going on. Maybe that wasn't a bacteria,” so I researched it. Do you know what causes bright orange scallops?

Cynthia Thurlow: Is it like exposure to something while they're maturing?

Melanie Avalon: No. Here's a hint. It has to do with flamingos being pink. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Isn't it plankton that makes them pink?

Melanie Avalon: Astaxanthin, it's an antioxidant. So, if you see an orange scallop, it is a female scallop spawning. 

Cynthia Thurlow: No way. 

Melanie Avalon: Isn't that crazy?

Cynthia Thurlow: I didn't know they had genders. I was like, “Hmm,” they're a little more advanced than I thought they were, like, it's just the scallop. [laughs] They have genders I would not have known.

Melanie Avalon: I know. When I read that, this is going to sound crazy, but I just tossed in the trash and I was like on top of like, because I eat so many cucumbers. It was just on top of cucumber peel. So I pulled it back out because I was like, “Oh, this is really high in nutrients.” A little fun fact, I've been like dying to share that for like a month.

Cynthia Thurlow: I'm so honored that you decided and learned something new, Melanie. [laughs] I didn't know that scallops had gender. So, it just goes to show you clearly how little I understand about scallop physiology.

Melanie Avalon: Me, too. So, but what's interesting is none of the articles that I read when I looked that up, none of them mentioned the nutritional effect of that. But my first thought was, “Well, that's an antioxidant, so this is probably a more nutritious scallop.” 

Cynthia Thurlow: It's fascinating. 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. In any case, would you like to share anything or shall we jump in?

Cynthia Thurlow: No, no, I'm super excited. I will be on vacation for the first time in six months in a little over 10 days.

Melanie Avalon: That’s very exciting. 

Cynthia Thurlow: I'm very excited. My whole team is probably not excited but I'm very excited because I was like, “I am going to unplug.” 

Melanie Avalon: Where are you going again? I know this. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. So, we are flying to Prague and so we'll spend three days in Prague, and then we will be going to Germany and Slovakia and Austria and then we'll end up in Budapest. 

Melanie Avalon: Wow. 

Cynthia Thurlow: As much as I've been all over the world, I have not actually been to Eastern Europe, I'm embarrassed to admit, but my youngest has been learning German. And he has been begging, begging for two years to be able to go to Germany. And so I thought this would be a unique/fun way to see that part of Europe, and then decide for ourselves like where we wanted to go back to.

Melanie Avalon: Germany is the other country besides the US I have been to the most.

Cynthia Thurlow: Really? 

Melanie Avalon: We have family there. My family's from there.

Cynthia Thurlow: My maternal grandmother, her family's from Germany. And the interesting thing about my grandparents’ fun fact is that my grandmother was German, and my grandfather was Italian and so having a romance in the midst of World War II was very controversial, if you will.

Melanie Avalon: Wow. My grandmother was German and came over on a boat to the US and met my grandfather here. She was like younger during World War II. Where are you going? What part of Germany?

Cynthia Thurlow: We're doing a Danube cruise. So, we've never done a cruise before. However, I've had friends like really rave about a river cruise because it's very small. It's really devoted to families that’s not just retirees that was my biggest thing. We don't want to be the only family going and then it's all retirees, no offense to retirees, of course. So we will be in Regensburg, which is, I think, the best-preserved baroque architecture in that part of Europe because it was untouched during World War II. So, we'll be there. And then we go down to Vilshofen to get on the boat, and then we sail from there. So, we're actually spending the most time in Prague, but I've been wanting to go to the Czech Republic for a long time.

Melanie Avalon: I can't wait to see pictures. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, I'm excited. I'm just hoping that my teenagers, here's an interesting fun fact. So, if you've been to Europe with kids, you probably know after a certain age, you have to get two rooms. So, we managed in Prague to have just like a family suite, which is great, we all get to be together. And then when we go on the ship, we have adjoining rooms, but my teenagers will be in one room, my husband and I will be in another. And trying to explain to them that when we all go to bed, there's no getting out to go check out the ship. And I'm not worried, my kids are actually pretty obedient about that, but they're both boys, they're both teenagers and they're like disgusted having to share a bed. They're like, “No way.” 

And I just looked at both of them and I was like, “I don't want to hear anyone complain because you were so fortunate that you get to go on this trip, that I'm not listening to any of this.” They're like, “Can I just sleep on the floor?” I'm like, “No, you're not sleeping on the floor.” Provided that the teenagers are like not grumpy and hormonal, we will have a great time.

Melanie Avalon: Have you seen the TV show White Lotus?

Cynthia Thurlow: I have not.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, I’ll just put a recommendation. It's my favorite TV show of recent time. I’m actually really curious if you like it or not, there's just a teenager in it that sleeps on the floor. So that's why I thought about it. 

Cynthia Thurlow: I'll have to check it out. Yeah, it's funny. Obviously, we have same gender children. So, I just looked at them and said, “You're just going to have to suck it up.” “No, I'm not giving up my bed, so that you can have a bed all to yourself.” I was like, “You should really be very grateful for the opportunity to be able to take this trip.” And normally they're great. They actually really enjoy traveling but I'm just crossing my fingers that the hormones will not be keeping them in a position where I will be frustrated. Usually, they're pretty good. 

Melanie Avalon: And they're 16?

Cynthia Thurlow: 16 and 14. I've enjoyed every stage is apparent, but I especially enjoyed this stage because they have definitive likes and things that we're interested in and we have a pretty active itinerary which is great because I have one kid who needs the mental stimulation of being busy. And we have to find the happy medium because three of us are introverts, and then said child who likes to be going 24/7 has to kind of slow down a little bit, which is good for him. But it's always an interesting balance with both of them.

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Shall we jump into some intermittent fasting-related things for today?

Cynthia Thurlow: Absolutely. This question is from Christina and the subject is “Struggle with habits.” “I have been doing IF since 2019. I had window creep that lasted approximately two years. And now I'm back to longer fasts. During the creep, I would fast maybe 12 to 15 hours. Now I'm pushing to get back to 19 to 20. How long does it take to actually not have the urge to swing by Starbucks in the morning? I seem to have been fighting that urge for the past month and a half since I started the longer fast again. I know IF makes me feel a million times better. My back stops hurting and my energy level goes up. Knowing that, why isn't it easier to do what makes me feel better? Looking forward to Cynthia's perspective on IF. Thanks, ladies.”

Melanie Avalon: All right, Christy. Well, thank you so much for your question. A lot of things going on here. First of all, your question about how long does it take to not have the urge to swing by Starbucks in the morning. So obviously, I say obviously, but that's something that I think obviously is going to vary by each individual. Some people can jump right in and be good and others it takes a really long time to deal with urges and old habits and things. I'd be super curious, actually, Cynthia, when you started fasting, do you have any urges that were hard to break? Like, was it hard transition for you? And did you just jump in right away or did you slowly transition to fasting?

Cynthia Thurlow: It's a good question, I would say that I pretty quickly got into a 16:8 pattern to start. I always feel like the last hour for me, if I'm really hungry can be a challenge. But I recognize that that's not necessarily the norm. When someone tells me that they're struggling with a longer fast, I started thinking about, “Where are you in your menstrual cycle? Are you still menstruating? How's your sleep and what's your stress management?” And the other piece is getting enough protein in your feeding window the day before? Because one of two things is happening. There's insufficient protein intake which helps the satiety in a lot of levels, this is my feeling or they're trying to fast in a time during their menstrual cycle if they are still menstruating, really they should be backing off. 

And I think that the average person when they try to push longer fasts around their cycle, they'll find that if they just lean into what their body needs them to do that more than likely, it won't feel like such an overwhelming task. Meaning, if it's the week before your menstrual cycle, maybe you need to be fasting 12 or 13 hours. And then when you start bleeding, you can open up that fasting window again. But those are my initial thoughts. But I definitely was one of those people that once I started fasting, I felt so good that it wasn't a challenge to fast for at least 16-18 hours. And that could be that I'm just odd or weird. But feeling good to me just made such a big difference that I didn't feel like it was actually all that hard for me. But I might just be unique.

Melanie Avalon: The way I started because I don't even know if we-- in all of our conversations if we've talked about our genesis stories, but I was going to do fasting as an experiment, the one meal a day approach because I read online, this blog post written by Rusty Moore. And this was like back before, I mean, Facebook was there, but groups weren't like a thing or anything like that. It was really just the days of like reading blog posts that had lots of comments on them. And there's just one post, I wonder if it's still up, it might be. And it was about eating one meal a day to lose weight. And I was like, “I'm just going to try this for a week.” And I jumped in. I thought it was going to be really hard. It just wasn't. 

What's interesting is I literally remember my first day doing it because I was working on my friend's film set, and I was in college at USC. And I just remember like drinking tea all day from the craft services table. But I just felt so good and that I just never stopped. 

Back to Christy's question. I love what she asked about why isn't it easier to do it makes me feel better, even though she knows that she feels better with IF, but like Cynthia was saying, there's a physical aspect to this. So, how are you actually approaching your fast and is it supported? Are you actually in a state where you shouldn't be hungry because of your dietary choices and the support that you're getting, or you should be hungry because of your menstrual cycle or not eating enough or things like that. But then there's the mental aspect to it. So, you're having the urge to go buy Starbucks, that is probably a very habit driven, dopamine driven thing that has arguably nothing to do with the actual fasting. It's something that is a habit for you.

And it would be so nice if we could talk ourselves into making the decisions that we know are best for us. But as people probably know that can be really hard to do and there are a lot of reasons for that. Our brains doesn't matter how much we know something is better for us in the long term. As a species, our bodies want to favor the immediate gains of any action because from an evolutionary perspective, it is certain. Basically, our bodies don't favor long-term health compared to short-term gains. We're always going to want to do the thing that will give us the most pleasure at that moment. When we have a habit that has taught us to get that dopamine hit and our body thinks it's something good for us, we want to just keep doing it. 

This is something where there're so many approaches to addressing this and changing habits. They all work for different people. So, you really have to just find what works for you. A resource that I do really like that I mentioned a lot on this show, and I'm really good friends with the author. And we've talked about this before how the title is a little bit misleading because it doesn't only apply to what the title says. It's more of a concept beyond that. But I really love, for example, Glenn Livingston's book Never Binge Again. His approach to all of this is identifying the voice in your head that is telling you to do the thing that you don't want to do. He calls it “the pig” in his book. There's a massive freedom and the ability to identify an urge that you're having for something, and realizing that you don't have to engage with it. And it sounds really simple to say, “Just don't do it.” Like who does that? You just don't do it. But when you have a reframe and realize that that is an option, like you can have these urges, and you can just not do it. You don't have to fight the urge. You don't have to debate with the urge. You can just not go to Starbucks. I know that sounds so simple, but that's why it’s, I think, important to read these books that talk about this in greater length. 

I also love Amy Johnson has a book called The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit. I really love her book as well. I've had her on the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast. So, I'll put a link to that in the show notes. She was actually so, so amazing. I had her on the show, and then I brought her back for her second book, which was called Just a Thought: A No-Willpower Approach to Overcome Self-Doubt and Make Peace with Your Mind. And I actually have an endorsement on that book, which was really an honor. But those are two good resources to check out. You could also check out Charles Duhigg. Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. But basically, there are a lot of resources here and I think the biggest reframe is that it doesn't have to go away. Like you're saying, like, “When is it going to go away?” It doesn't have to go away, you can always have these desires and urges, but you don't have to engage with them and I think that might be a freeing mindset to partake in.

Cynthia Thurlow: I think that you bring up some really good points. I love Glenn Livingston's work. And ironically, today, I was scrolling through Instagram, while I was giving myself a break from writing. And Dr. [unintelligible [00:31:04] had some information on low dopamine signs, and so that plan of pleasure seeking and obviously Starbucks coffee is pretty benign, in comparison to some of the things that people will do in an essence to get a dopamine hit. But I agree with you with the reframe, and really just understanding it's a lot of its human nature, and so much of its habit because we're used to doing X, our body's like, “Oh, I want to get that pleasure hit.” So, there're so many different ways I always love the book Atomic Habits because it's these little changes that we make in our personal lives have a lot of impact. 

When someone feels like they're really struggling, the question is, “What are you wanting in the morning that you're not giving yourself?” And it probably isn't the food, it maybe you're used to getting sugar in your coffee at that time or maybe you're used to, like, we know, dairy can be very addictive, maybe you're looking for that hit in your brain in response to exposure to certain foods. I think there's a lot of different ways to look at this. And I would imagine there are a lot of listeners that are struggling with their own little things in their personal lives as well. I love chocolate and I don't allow myself to have chocolate every day. When I start getting that like urge or that desire, it's like, “Okay, what am I really looking for? Am I looking for a little bit of serotonin? What are other ways I can work on that without having to indulge in the chocolate.”

Melanie Avalon: I'm so glad you brought that up. And, yeah, because replacing it can be key because you are probably going to have an urge for something at that moment. If you have something that you replace it with that can be super, super helpful. I wonder, Christy, do you like normal black coffee without all of the other things, can that be something? Or could there be something else that you do during that time that you do instead is like a rule? And Atomic Habits, I haven't read it in forever. But it must be helping a lot of people because it has been on the New York Times bestseller list, like number one or number two for how many weeks?

Cynthia Thurlow: Forever. Actually, my publisher is his publisher. Every week when I get a list of the New York Times bestsellers, I always think, “Good for him.” But I think the reason why that book is so resonated with people is that it's not encouraging to take these extraordinary leaps. It's really making things small, digestible, so you can have these small wins, you can continue making small subtle changes that have a large impact. I actually read it every year, and I almost always-- in my groups I almost always encourage people to read it because I think, it's so insightful. And I feel like every time I read that book, I get something else out of it. I now have a physical copy and a copy on Audible, depending on my mood whenever I go to read it. It's like, “Do I want to listen to it or do I want to read it?” 

Melanie Avalon: Have you had him on the show? 

Cynthia Thurlow: I have not. I kind of thought he was like a unicorn. He's probably gotten to a point where he's so saturated with interviews. I've always said, “Well, if I have an opportunity, I think it'd be in a really amazing interview.” But I think sometimes when people's books are so successful, I would imagine they might get tired of talking about it. Maybe, maybe not.

Melanie Avalon: I was thinking that as well. We should put it out to the universe, that we interview him. All right. Well, hopefully that was helpful, Christy, and definitely write us back how this goes for you and if you find something that really works for you. Okay, so now we have two questions, both about protein. I'm going to read both of them. While I might read them both together, we'll see how it goes. The first one comes from Angela, the subject is “Intermittent Fasting” and Angela says, “Dear Cynthia,” oh, she addressed this to you. “Dear Cynthia, I am a qualified nutritional therapist, a fitness instructor as well as a functional medicine practitioner and I fast daily. I am postmenopausal and I like to fast 16 to 20 hours. My question is this, as it is so important to eat enough protein, how can one eat enough in a four-hour window, if it is true that you can only absorb 30 grams of protein in one sitting?” So actually, maybe we can start with this and I am so excited to talk about this.

Cynthia Thurlow: Yes. Well, this is one of my favorite topics. So, this is very timely. It's actually a misnomer that your body can only absorb 30 grams per sitting. In conversations that I've had with Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, who I know you just interviewed, it's really over a 24-hour period of time. So, don't let that be a concern. However, and this is definitely one of those things that I get concerned about. We know that women's needs for protein actually increase in menopause. As you're getting older, we actually require a bit more protein. My concern is always if someone has a very small, narrow feeding window, especially if it's a woman, especially if it's a middle-aged woman, the question is always can you get enough protein in during your feeding window.

After many, many conversations with Gabrielle, who is also a friend of mine, 100 grams is about my threshold for recommendations. So, if you're not there, you need to start getting there. And I really fervently believe that we need to have variety in our fasting windows. And this may be a departure from other messages that have been shared on the podcast, and I respect people's opinions, but our bodies like variety, that's why we don't eat the same food every day, we don't do the same type of exercise every day. And so, I am a fan of us kind of shaking up our windows, and maybe for Angela, there would be value in maybe having a slightly wider eating window to allow her to get a bit more protein in, but I'm less concerned about people eating a certain amount of protein right round exercise, and more concerned that they're getting sufficient amounts of protein overall over a 24-hour period of time.

Melanie Avalon: I thought that was great. Thank you to, Cynthia, also just recently interviewed Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, and I can't wait to air it because it's going to be so, so helpful for our listeners. Yeah, she actually texted me right before we started recording. So, I'm going to tell her when we get off that, that we just talked about her at length on the show.

Cynthia Thurlow: I jokingly tell her that I quote her daily, like she's always in my head. And I don't know if I've shared this on the podcast. But when I first met Gabrielle, we spoke on a panel, together with Terry Wahls, and another individual, I'm embarrassed I can't remember her name, but she was lovely as well. And the first thing Gabrielle said to me other than “Hello, nice to meet you,” was, “I bet you're not eating enough protein.” And so, she has really made it her mission to make sure people understand how critically important it is. And I'm sure your interview with her is going to be phenomenal. I'm like waiting for her book to come out, so that I can interview her again. I'm just waiting.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I love what she's doing. She talked about in our interview, what you were just talking about with-- this idea about the cap on the absorption. And just to provide some more information about that for listeners, because I know people hear that all the time. And just so people can-- if they are presented with that they can know what is actually going on. So, I found this incredible study, it's called How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle building implications for daily protein distribution? I'll put a link to it in the show notes. And the show notes, by the way, are at ifpodcast.com/episode270. But it actually talks about where this idea started about the 30 grams. It's a few things. 

One, the 30 grams, it was based on studies where they would give fast-acting protein supplements, I think whey protein maybe. Basically, hit with a massive bolus all at once, which is not the equivalent of a meal of protein, which takes a long time to digest and absorb. You're going to have a much slower absorption if you're having protein in whole food form. Actually, when I interviewed Gabrielle, that's what she was saying, because I was telling her how I eat so much protein all at once. And she was saying, “Well, you'll digest it slower, so it'll be just a slower trip into your system.” But our body doesn't stop absorbing protein. Your body does not stop absorbing food. If that was the case, we could just, I don't know, then there wouldn't be any implications to eating more than 30 grams of protein, like, what happens, does it just magically disappear? No, it does get absorbed. There might be some limits and things like the maximum amount of mTOR stimulation that you can get at one time. There might be a cap as to the amount of muscle growth that you could get from any one given meal, but that doesn't change the ability to use that muscle or-- to use that protein if that makes sense. 

Actually, another interesting thing that I found speaking to with Cynthia was just talking about with the need for protein to support your body, this is not answering that specifically. But when I was going down the rabbit hole tangent researching this, I found a really interesting study called Reduced resting skeletal muscle protein synthesis is rescued by resistant exercise and protein ingestion following short-term energy deficit. So, I'm not advocating calorie restriction right now, that would actually be the antithesis of what we're talking about probably with the protein and the muscle support. Basically, what the study found was that if you're on a calorie restricted diet, you have less muscle protein synthesis potential. So, that's the ability to create muscle from protein. But the people in the study, if they did resistance training, so like muscle building, even in a calorie deficit, and then ate their meal, it was a wash out. Basically, it made it so that they had the same muscle protein synthesis rates as if they weren't on an energy deficit. 

The reason I bring that up and this is actually something that Gabrielle talks about in my episode as well, was there’re other ways, if your concern is supporting muscle, in addition to having ample protein, doing muscle resistance also supports the use of that protein to form muscle. So, that might be something, that's like another factor that you might want to keep in mind when you're trying to support your muscle health, especially with Angela being in menopause, and wanting to make sure that she really supports her muscles, so that was a little bit of a tangent.

Cynthia Thurlow: I think that's all really important. And I think the point that I want middle-aged women to understand is that sarcopenia is not a question of if, but when. One of the ways that we can ward off or lessen the impact of sarcopenia is eating enough high-quality protein and lifting weights. I think a lot of women don't understand and I would say men as well is that actually insulin resistance starts in our muscles. And so, it is critically important. I cannot tell you how much harder it is at 50 to maintain muscle mass than it was even 10 years ago. And that doesn't mean it's impossible, it just means I have to make a greater effort. And that's why I hope people really understand why it's so important. I know that we're giving some context to this, but when Gabrielle says muscles, the organ of longevity, it has a lot to do with the fact that a lot of the reason why we're dealing with an obesity epidemic is because people are so insulin resistant, they're also, as she refers to it under muscled. And so, I just think that this is a point that I hope I can continue to bring up over and over again to help remind people why it's so important. 

Even if maybe, you're getting in 50 grams of protein a day and you slowly work it up to 100, that's going to help, and lifting weights, even if it's bodyweight exercise will help. But it's really important for us when our sex hormones are fluctuating so significantly, that it makes it a whole lot harder to build or maintain muscle. So, I don't know how old Angela is. Sometimes it's helpful when I have that context. But I just wanted to make sure I reiterated that one point.

Melanie Avalon: I actually recently listened to an interview. Peter Attia did a guest interview. I don't remember who that guest was. But it was a deep, deep dive into this concept of insulin resistance starting at the muscle. But it was so incredible that he then did an AMA where they just basically deconstructed or walked listeners again through that episode because it was so complex that they wanted to just talk about it again. I'll put a link to that in the show notes, but if you want to learn more about the nitty gritty mechanics of how insulin resistance starts at the muscle, it's fascinating because they're basically a lot of potential ways that could happen. And they've figured out where the actual, like transport mechanism for that happening is happening. But, yes, so just a link for the show notes.

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, the brilliant Peter Attia. I think I have everyone I know listening to his podcast, including my cousin who's a physician and is very impressed. [laughs]

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Okay, so we have another protein question. This is from Margaret and the subject is “Protein Questions.” So maybe it's questions. Margaret says, “Hey, y'all, thank you so much for your podcasts and books. My name is Margaret and I have been intermittent fasting for a little over two months now. And I've noticed a great improvement in my energy levels and gut health. I've only lost two to four pounds of scale weight, but I am down an inch and a half on my waist, an inch on my butt and both thighs. Yay. As we are getting into the springtime and I'm trying on my shorts, they all seem a little bit loose. I still have about 20 pounds I want to lose to get to my goal weight, but I can see how this lifestyle can just make me feel better regardless of the scale weight. I'm a very active person. I'm a physical therapist in hospital and I'm up on my feet walking all day for 11-to-12-hour shifts. 

On top of that, I do HIIT workouts usually four times a week and take my dogs on many miles of walks each week. When I do the workouts, I notice I can't quite make as long of a fast and can get very tired, because of this, I've been playing with my macros. Thanks, Melanie. And trying to up my carbs and really up my protein. I've been making protein shakes with fruits and eating protein bars. Adding all of this protein has really helped me to feel better and make my fast last a little longer. And my body isn't so achy, I don't naturally eat a lot of meat. I'm not a vegetarian, but upping too much meat just doesn't feel right on my stomach. I've always felt this way, but I've also found out recently I am type A blood type. Go figure."

And just as a side note, in the blood type world, they say that-- I think the A type is like the agrarian. It's something that they advocate to have less protein, which is why she's saying “Go figure.” But that's a whole tangent about blood type. Okay, she says, “I've just started to slowly cut out some of the ultra-processed foods that are in my diet, trying not to do too much at once, but slowly transitioning into better food choices. My question is, do you know of any protein powders, shakes or bars that are considered more clean than others? I don't want to cut these out of my diet because I feel so much better incorporating them into my eating window, but they seem ultra-processed because where in nature can you find protein powder? Should they just be the ish part of my diet? Or, are there any brands y'all can recommend? Thank you so much for everything you do. I look forward to hearing more podcasts in the future.” All right.

Cynthia Thurlow: Awesome. Well, Margaret, congratulations on slowly kind of changing your food frequency and making all these other lifestyle changes. It sounds like you're making really great progress. A couple things I would say that from my perspective, if you're slowly transitioning to a less processed diet, there's really no shame if you're choosing to utilize some protein powders, I tend to be very picky. And I really like Marigold way and we can actually include a discount code for you for that, but it's New Zealand way that's ultra-filtered and its really high quality, has very few ingredients. And their chocolate malt is amazing. That's actually the protein powder my husband and my boys use here at our own house. If you don't tolerate whey, obviously, whey is a really nice option.

In terms of plant-based protein powders, I'm not really a fan of most of them. But Truvani, which is the one that Food Babe has created is fairly clean, it does have pea protein. I always like to be very clear that my greatest concern with a lot of the plant-based proteins are contaminants. And I'm not sure how she sources pea protein that's utilized in her products, but it is a fairly clean product. In terms of bars, I usually recommend Marigold if someone tolerates whey they have really high-quality bars, they actually have to be kept in the refrigerator. I would say the cleanest bars I've seen that are plant based are Wawr, it's W-A-W-R. And it is a plant-based bar, but it's actually palatable, but you do have to keep it refrigerated. So that's kind of a bummer that both of those require refrigeration, but you can put it in a pocket and take it with you. 

The other thing that I think about is, it's really important to be hitting those protein macros, because that really helps the satiety. When someone says they still want a lot of carbs, they want a lot of fruit, they're trying to lose weight. Depending on what life stage you're in, you may need to reduce the carbohydrate consumption, really keeping it fairly reasonable. I would say at least under 100 grams a day of total carbs, you may need even less to continue to lose weight. And I think it's also important. I'm not at all vilifying carbohydrates at all. But I do think it's important for people to understand that you want to get your carbs from whole foods sources. So, if you're having a starchy carb like sweet potato or squash, we tolerate grains, which I find most, a lot of women do not and it has a lot to do with the way these food sources are exposed to, whether it's glyphosate or other types of pesticides and how that can impact gut health and low-glycemic fruits. 

So, if you're going to have fruit, have berries have low glycemic apples, a tart apple, not a Honeycrisp, although they are delicious as well. But being very mindful of your portions of carbohydrates and really pushing the protein, so if you don't feel well eating red meat, maybe try some poultry, maybe try some fish, you definitely want to be getting in different types of protein. And I do appreciate as someone that worked in hospital for many years, that it can be challenging sometimes to have to eat meals on the go as you're rounding on patients. That's probably where I'd start from. 

The other thing that I think is important, and I don't have a problem with HIIT, but I when women are telling me they're doing HIIT, three to four days a week, five days a week, you really would probably get more bang for your buck if you will, if you did some strength training and that would also facilitate weight loss. It would also facilitate more insulin sensitivity, even taking a walk after a meal will help with insulin sensitivity. So, hoping those are some practical advice, but Marigold whey is my go-to recommendation. They have bars and they have protein powder. They also have a product you can put in your coffee. That's actually something my swimmer uses when he's getting ready to do a race, but how about you, Melanie, what are some of the recommendations you make for protein powders? Do you have a favorite?

Melanie Avalon: For straight up protein powder, like not whey, just actual just protein powder. I had Dr. David Minkoff on the show on the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast. The link for that episode, which was really fascinating because we dive deep into protein as well is that melanieavalon.com/perfectprotein, his supplement is called PerfectAmino. And from what I can find, it's the cleanest, it's literally just-- according to him the perfect amino acid ratio that you need and there's no additives, no fillers. So, you can get that at melanieavalon.com/perfectamino and the coupon code MELANIEAVALON will get you a discount. For the wheys, I went through a period where-- this happened when I went through my cottage cheese making period. Have you made cottage cheese before?

Cynthia Thurlow: No, I don't eat dairy and I've never been a fan. It just makes me want to vomit, sorry. [laughs] My husband loves it, but it makes me-- just the look—just, ugh, can't do it. 

Melanie Avalon: Cottage cheese specifically or all dairy? 

Cynthia Thurlow: Well, I haven't eaten dairy for four years, but I've never been a cottage cheese fan. There's something about the way it looks that just doesn’t-- My husband loves it, but when he buys it, I'm like, “You can't eat that around me.” It's like the only thing I feel that way about, like, when I look at it just it's like a visceral response. I feel so sorry saying that to you.

Melanie Avalon: It's one of the foods that it's polarizing like that. I love cottage cheese. And I hadn't had dairy, I mean, in probably almost a decade. But then recently, I decided I wanted to try integrating some fat free cottage cheese, because I tend to eat low fat, high carb in my eating window, high protein. So, I wanted to have fat-free cottage cheese, and you can't find fat-free cottage cheese without fillers and additives. So, I started making my own. And then I realized how cool of a science experiment it is. And I started learning about, I don't know, I got really interested in the concept of like, whey versus casein and just different things that you could do with milk. At one moment, I was like, “I'm going to make cheddar cheese,” and then I researched how you do that, oh, my goodness, if you look up the cheese making process, it is the most complicated thing. It's like, “Get the milk and then get it to this exact temperature and then let it sit for-- I'm making this up, but let it sit for like seven minutes. And then it was so specific, it sounds like potions class in Harry Potter. And you have to use different starters and rennet enzymes. I'm on a tangent. 

The point of this is when I was doing that, that's when I started researching whey protein more. I found two sources that I really liked. So, they're on Amazon. One is a whole form. So, it's called [unintelligible [00:56:39] My Whey, grass-fed organic raw whey protein, cold pressed. I'll put a link to that in the show notes. And then I found an isolate version that I really liked, which was grass fed whey protein powder isolate by Opportuniteas. And they also have flavors for those as well. But that was just from looking on Amazon for probably hours at all the ingredients and trying to find what looked the best for all of the processes involved in it. So, I'll put links to that in the show notes.

Cynthia Thurlow: Have you ever tried the PerfectAminos?

Melanie Avalon: I have not. I know a lot of listeners have seen really amazing experiences with it. Have you tried them?

Cynthia Thurlow: I have, I didn't like the powder, because it was very-- I don't know how to describe the taste. It just wasn't something-- I couldn't mask it. And I didn't like it, and the pills were actually really large. Teri Cochrane, when I worked with her actually wanted me-- this three years ago when I lost so much weight, and she was like, “We just can't get enough protein into you.” And so I bought them. I was trying to explain to her, so to consume eight pills, and they're not like soft, they're actually hard. I'm not normally someone that's so sensitive to these things, but I didn't like the taste of the powder. So that was a no and I think I passed it off to a colleague. And then the PerfectAminos that were in pill form, maybe things have changed now. But they were so large to have to consume, like 8 to 10 at a setting was just not a viable option. I was like, “I'm just going to have to continue to boost my protein intake with each one of my meals and make it up that way.” And that was much easier for me. Maybe things have changed now.

Melanie Avalon: It's funny, so when I interviewed him, and I really appreciated that he told me this. When we stopped interviewing because when you listen to this interview, you're going to be like, “Oh, I need to be on this protein powder.” Like that is the takeaway that you're going to have. And I actually think for most people, like we often talk about upping your protein is key, but I eat so much protein, so much protein. When we stopped recording off air, I asked him, I was like, “So how much would you recommend that I take of this PerfectAmino?” And he was like, “You don't need it.” He was like, “Don't take it, you're doing good.” I haven't had the experience with it. But if you're on my Facebook group, a lot of listeners have reported back having good experiences. And they have a fake Facebook group with-- it's like a whole culture of people that use it. But it sounds like for some people it might not work based on the taste. I don't know what it tastes like. So, I can't speak to it.

Cynthia Thurlow: I definitely get to my 100-110 grams a day, so for that reason I feel it was a good trial. And I think there are probably people out there who really struggle to hit their protein macros every day. But I think it goes back to what I always say, like, we really genuinely want to try to get it from a whole food source ideally, but I get it. When I'm traveling, sometimes I'll take you know protein powder, I'll take bars or I'll carry jerky, that's usually my “protein bar of choice.” And I don't mean to sound at all negative. It's just that was my experience. And I'm sure there are lots of people. It's like anything sometimes, you'll recommend a product and it works really well for you and it doesn't for someone else, and I think that really gets chalked up to bio-individuality. 

Melanie Avalon: Oh, definitely. And I'm just thinking about it more one last comment. The earlier question about getting enough protein within a four-hour window. So, like I said, I eat so much protein, I'm literally almost eating protein nonstop for a large portion of that window. So that's just to clarify for listeners that if you are trying to get a lot of protein in a short window, you're going to be eating a lot for an extended period of time. So, I just wanted to clarify that.

Cynthia Thurlow: Next question is from Maggie. “Are they lying to me?” “What a power duo, the sad second, I found out Gin was leaving the show, I immediately thought I wish Cynthia could step in. Imagine my happiness when the announcement was made. Thank you both and Gin, for your dedication to health, wellness and living an optimal life. You've changed my life. I've been intermittent fasting for two years now. I used to do OMAD before I started heavy weightlifting and then switched to a six-hour window to prioritize protein and optimize muscle protein synthesis. I'm 48 years old and I tried to fit at least 140 grams of good quality animal protein in a day. Sometimes I have to do my best and settle for a protein shake to get me there.”

“My question surrounds BCAAs. I've stayed away from taking pre or post workout supplements because I work out in the morning while fasted and do not want to break my fast. I recently came across a company that claimed or produced them in pill form that do not break a fast. This, of course intrigued me. I would love to optimize my hard work and see accelerated gains, but not at the cost of breaking my fast. I recently read in Cynthia's book that BCAAs will indeed break a fast. I wonder if this new claim is bogus or not. There doesn't appear to be any fillers, added sugar or carbohydrates, just amino acids. What do you think?”

Melanie Avalon: All right, Maggie, thank you for your question. So, this is a good question to end with, because it ties into everything that we were just talking about. I don't know what brand she's talking about. It could be the PerfectAmino actually because I do know that they make this claim. So, I went deep into the literature researching BCAAs and the fasted state. And I definitely could not find any scientific literature that would support amino acids not breaking the fasted state. So amino acids are basically the signal, like out of all of, I guess carbs, too, but you could make the argument out of all the different macros that were exposed to amino acids are a signal for growth, which is the antithesis of the catabolic fasted state. So, I do know companies make this claim, but everything I could find shows that BCAAs stimulate mTOR, that they stimulate that basically like the fed state. And even in really, really small amounts, the most potent of all of them to do this is leucine, which is often very common in these BCAA supplementation options. 

So, yeah, all of that said, depending on your goals, and again my goals are not intense muscle gains and all of that even though I'm very much about supporting muscle, but if my goals were weightlifting, and body composition when it comes to muscle size, and really really optimizing the formation of your muscle, I might find an approach where I am having a longer window and maybe integrating these BCAAs and doing it. There might be an approach that can really maximize your goal while having a longer eating window while still using these. Basically, I wouldn't sacrifice your goals just for the concept of having a longer fast, I'm talking all over the place. And I'm not articulating this well. There might be something that you want to do, but I would not assume that it does not break a fast.

Cynthia Thurlow: I have to agree with you. And especially because with this book just coming out and all the research that I did, it was very evident that there was nothing to support that amino acids do not break fast. So, if you really feel compelled to take these, I would save them for your feeding window, maybe use it to break your fast with but with the understanding from everything that I read in the literature, and I went down massive rabbit holes on this, in particular, because there are still a lot of, I'm sure well-meaning fit pros out there that suggest otherwise, but I remind people that that mTOR signaling is activated by the consumption of protein and amino acids.

Melanie Avalon: Yes. And I tried to find something but there are a lot of studies on this. And it basically just shows what we both just said. All right, well, this has been absolutely wonderful. So, a few things for listeners before we go. If you would like to submit your own questions for the show, you can directly email questions@ifpodcast.com or you can go to ifpodcast.com and you can submit questions there. The show notes will have all of the links for everything that we talked about today. Those are at ifpodcast.com/episode270. And you can follow us on Instagram. We are @ifpodcast, I am @melanieavalon. Cynthia is, and I've got it out, @cynthia_thurlow_. And, yes, I think that is all the things. Anything from you, Cynthia, before we go?

Cynthia Thurlow: No, I think these are really great questions. I feel really fortunate that we're continuously every week getting lots and lots of questions, so definitely keep them coming.

Melanie Avalon: I agree. I've been thinking about as well, like really, really great questions coming in. All right. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful and I will talk to you next week. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Sounds good. 

Melanie Avalon: Bye. Thank you so much for listening to The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. Please remember, everything we discussed on this show does not constitute medical advice, and no patient-doctor relationship is formed. If you enjoyed the show, please consider writing your review on iTunes. We couldn't do this without our amazing team, administration by Sharon Merriman, editing by Podcast Doctors, show notes and artwork by Brianna Joyner, Transcripts by SpeechDocs, and original theme composed by Leland Cox, and recomposed by Steve Saunders. See you next week.


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