Welcome to Episode 278 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.
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The End of Craving: Recovering the Lost Wisdom of Eating Well
Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef
The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor
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Listener Q&A: Violet - IF Timeline
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Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 278 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 cohost, 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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Melanie Avalon: Hi, everybody and welcome. This is Episode number 278 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I'm here with, Cynthia Thurlow.
Cynthia Thurlow: Hello, my friend.
Melanie Avalon: Well, first of all, happy, early birthday to you.
Cynthia Thurlow: Thank you. Yeah, it's been a good year. I feel I'm not one of those people who gets freaked out or weirded out about birthdays. In fact, I just look at it as, how much growth have I had in the past year? And I think it's been a pretty amazing year. So, I'm very grateful. But thank you.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's definitely a really nice milestone or it's a nice moment to reflect on how far you've come to quantify time.
Cynthia Thurlow: Exactly. There's been a lot of growth in a lot of different areas. I feel I'm in a good, healthy place.
Melanie Avalon: So, question for you that will apply to all of the listeners. Well, I guess, I need to know more about-- Okay, so, your everyday dietary choices that you follow, personally for you, do you do gluten free, dairy free? Do you have food rules?
Cynthia Thurlow: I do. I've been gluten free for 10 years and that put an autoimmune issue that I have into remission. And I've been dedicated dairy and almost 100% grain free. Occasionally, I may have a little bit of rice, but I'm dedicated to no gluten, no dairy, and almost 100% no grains. And I'm heavily meat focused. I would say the last three years, I've been much more diligent eating a lot less fish and chicken and really expanding my repertoire of meat and then a lot of vegetables. I like vegetables genuinely.
Melanie Avalon: And how do you exist within the Whole Foods versus processed foods paradigm?
Cynthia Thurlow: I would say, on occasion, I will have a cracker. I like Hu crackers. They're super expensive. So, it just reminds me that I really do portion out my portions. I'm a big aficionado of dark chocolate. So, clearly, that's processed. I think it's a lot of our perspectives on nutrition really need to be based on what are our goals, what fuels our body makes us feel good. And I think that's highly individual. I would say, obviously, my electrolytes are processed to an extent. Electrolytes are a large part of my world. I realize when I travel, I'm like, “Oh my gosh, my electrolytes.” I feel so much better with them. But normally, I tend to eat a less processed diet. I'm not perfect. I'm not like I’m living off the land, and I have my own cow, and I process it, and I only eat what I have in my yard. No, that's not the way I live my life. But I do endeavor to eat as minimal processed food as I can within a realistic framework. Because I can honestly tell you after spending a weekend in a very rural part of my state, I do realize that there are conveniences that are important for me, and my sanity and my family sanity, and I don't have a problem with them. If I'm buying something processed per se, I'm buying the cleanest version of that product possible within the context of what's important to me. Like, no seed oils, no high fructose corn syrup. I'm thinking more about my teenagers and it's getting more challenging as they get older to be able to navigate that realm and still ensure that they're having some fun foods.
Melanie Avalon: Well, first of all, I think that's a really healthy approach [laughs] that I would encourage for everybody. There're two paths I want to take right now. One is, because I want to talk about a book that I just finished that relates to all of this. But the reason I was asking you all of those questions, you might see this coming. When you have something celebratory like your birthday, is there some sort of food indulgence that you treat yourself to or how does that go?
Cynthia Thurlow: In our new city, everyone knows I have these mental food rules that are important to me. We've struggled to find a restaurant that meets all of those needs. The kids and my husband decided, “We're going to just make a really nice dinner.” We have steak and I love shishito peppers. I'm obsessed with them. And my husband will grill them for me. But my treat is not alcohol. My treat is for making a gluten free brownie and I'm going to savor and enjoy every single bite of said brownie. My kids just made, I think, they even put chocolate chips in it. And then there is a dairy free, junk free, it's like Cool Whip, but it's not Cool Whip. It doesn't have all the junky emulsifiers and whatever is in Cool Whip that I try to avoid. There's a product that's out there that's clean. It's made with coconut milk. And so, I'm going to put that on top of my brownie probably with some blueberries and I'm going to savor every single bite.
I generally avoid eating products that have flours in that [unintelligible [00:12:38] flour. And then because it really has a detrimental impact on my blood sugar, but I'm also going to take a walk after I eat my dinner. So, [laughs] that's usually where I will enjoy myself. I'll have a dessert for my birthday. I believe fervently that all of us, when we have a celebration, we should enjoy ourselves that we will build into our week, or day, or what have you ways to kind of buffer that indulgence.
Melanie Avalon: I'm so glad you said that, because that relates to the book topic. But first of all, do you know the name of that coconut milk, Cool Whip? Because listeners might want to buy it.
Cynthia Thurlow: It's called Cocowhip. It changed my life. It's better than Cool Whip, but to me, I don't eat ice cream. Okay, so, it has filtered water, coconut oil, tapioca syrup, cane sugar, pea protein. Okay. It's not the cleanest thing in the world, but it is certainly better than-- There's one that's even cleaner than this one that they have it my Whole Foods, but that's the brand.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, awesome. Yeah, I'm all about finding the things that work for individuals. Awesome. So, we'll put links to everything in the show notes.
Cynthia Thurlow: Sounds like a crazy person. I can't remember the name, but it makes me feel I'm having ice cream and I'm not and it's delicious. My kids think I'm a wackadoodle. They're like, “Just have the ice cream, mama.” I'm like, “No,” because dairy does not agree with me. It's just an unpleasant interaction with my digestive system.
Melanie Avalon: The book, I kept texting you about this book and I finally finished it last night. It is blowing my mind.
Cynthia Thurlow: Really?
Melanie Avalon: Yes. So much. I'm going to read his other two books. But listeners might be familiar because Gin would always mention this book called The Dorito Effect. It's not The Dorito Effect, but it's his newest book. The author is Mark, I think it's Schatzker. It's spelled interestingly. The book is called The End of Craving. Okay, there's so much in this book. I was just going to read it for the interview, but I just think it's so amazing that I'm going to read his other two books, The Dorito Effect. And he has a book called Steak. The subtitle is, One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef. Apparently, it's like a travel food thing, where he went all over and learned about the different raising practices of cows and the different steaks, and he talks a lot about steaks. So, I'm can’t read that. In The End of Craving, he talks about a lot of stuff. But basically, the main thesis is that, when we started fortifying foods and adding additives, and flavorings, and all these things, but all of that is what led to the obesity epidemic. And so, there's a lot of different topics that he discusses. But I'll just give like two of them, for example. With the fortification of foods, this is so crazy. He talks about the pellagra epidemic. Are you familiar with that that happened?
Cynthia Thurlow: Vaguely.
Melanie Avalon: I actually want to interview Bill Schindler, who wrote a book called Eat Like a Human. He talks about it, too. But basically, there was this mysterious disease called pellagra and it killed so many people. And they didn't know what caused it. People thought it was infectious and then they thought it was socioeconomic. They couldn't figure out what it was and it ended up being niacin deficiency. It was because we started eating a lot of corn. It's a long story behind that. But in any case, so, the US started fortifying foods in the 1940s. They started adding niacin, other B vitamins to flour. And so, that cured the pellagra epidemic in the US. Italy, they also cured the pellagra epidemic, but not by fortifying. They just made it so people started eating foods with B vitamins. He says that that is the reason that the US became obese and Italy didn't. It's because when we add these vitamins, it does a few things. It gives us the ability to turn the processed food into energy and fat. When they do studies on pigs on diets that might include processed feed, when they add the vitamins, the pigs get fat and it's linear. It's the more vitamins you add, the fatter they get. Basically, this idea that the added vitamins are making us fat, which is crazy.
Cynthia Thurlow: Sorry, no. So, synthetic vitamins, is he also accounting for what else is in the “chow” or the feed of these animals? I'm totally curious.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so that's the thing. There was rodent studies and pig studies. But if they were given feed that's processed without the vitamins, they would stay malnourished and actually die. And then once vitamins were added, they would live and also get fat. And the more vitamins you added, the fatter they got. If listeners are curious, whenever I'm prepping a book, I read the whole book. I take a lot of notes. If there are studies, I want to look at deeper, I look after having read the book. I haven't pulled up these individual studies. Just fact check them. But he says, with artificial sweeteners, this blew my mind, that they've done studies where basically, they'll have five drinks and they'll all be artificially sweetened. But then they'll have different levels of maltodextrin, which gives it the ability to add calories or not add calories. Basically, in this study, there were five drinks, they all tasted the exact same, but one had actually zero calories, one had 75 calories, one had 100 calories. It was different numbers of actual calories.
When the participants would drink the drinks, if they drank the drink that matched the calories, the way it tasted, it tasted like a certain amount of calories based on sweetness. They drank the drink that had the same amount of calories as what it tasted like, their metabolic response rate when they would check it afterwards would burn that amount of calories. But if the drink had more calories in it than it tasted like or less calories in it than it tasted like, the body wouldn't burn it at all. It would just shut off the metabolism. He says, it's because the body gets really confused by all of these signals. When it gets confused, it interprets it as uncertainty and it has a loss aversion type mindset. So, it goes into fat storage mode, which blows my mind.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, I'm sitting here, I'm just processing. One thing at this conference that I was at over the weekend, one of the doctors who's absolutely brilliant was saying that, “Medicine has lost its ability to be--" He was using the term of, “We've lost the ability to be humble. We've lost humility.” And so, I'm sitting here processing everything you're saying and I'm like, “Oh, I need to go read this.” Because I think it's so important to consider alternative perspectives. If you were to say to me, synthetic vitamins are driving all of these metabolic disorders or diseases that are contributing to it, I would never have made that connection. So, of course, now, I'm like, “Hmm, I need to go read about this.”
Melanie Avalon: I know. Or, the idea that you could have a drink-- You could add artificial sweeteners. Because what he talks about is, we have all these processed food products where they'll make it less calories. Not calorie free, but less calories by putting in some artificial sweeteners to lower the sugar load. He basically makes the case that, even though, it is less calories, all of the confusing signals, our body, basically, like I said, it enters a mode of uncertainty. So, it starts storing fat. It's crazy. He basically says that we need to eat whole foods where the nutrition matches what our brain is expecting.
Cynthia Thurlow: Interesting. Because I think it's so complicated, because our soil is so depleted. As an example, if we're saying, we're just going to eat arbitrarily organic fruits and vegetables as well, it's not going to have the same mineral content that it did for my grandparent’s generation. And so, I think it gets tough. I'm not suggesting we go and consume synthetic vitamins. But you just start to realize that a modern-day lifesaving, if you're eating pretty clean likely necessitates the utilization of additional supplementation, whether it's on our own or it's added to our foods. Preferably, on our own. So, we get to choose what goes in our bodies. But that opens up so much. You’re just really unpacking the processed food industry. On so many levels, we can take it from multiple different angles about how it's detrimental to our health and this is a new angle.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. No, exactly. And that's actually a key question I want to ask him is, because he doesn't talk that much about supplementing in a vitamin form versus when it's in the actual food. He really just talks about it being in the food, because he says, “Basically, there's so much to when we're actually eating and then what is in the food and what our brain thinks is in the food.” He writes it like a page turner to-- He basically in the first chapter talks about the pellagra epidemic. At the end-- today, he compares Italy to the US and compares how it seems a very similar dietary approach from the outside. They still have McDonald's and they still eat a lot of high calorie food. But for some reason, we have an obesity epidemic. It's like a cliffhanger. He doesn't really address it to way later in the book. That was a long intro. Basically, I really recommend, at least that book and I need to go back and read The Dorito Effect and Steak, as well.
Cynthia Thurlow: No, that's really interesting. I feel I maybe during this three-hour drive to and from this rural part of my state I got through a book for a podcast guest I have on Thursday and I started reading another book by Jenna Kutcher, which is more of like a personal development book and I was like, “Gosh, I made such good use of that time.” I'm really proud of myself.
Melanie Avalon: Was it Morgan's book that you finished?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yes.
Melanie Avalon: I didn't know you're integrating her that soon.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. On Thursday.
Melanie Avalon: It's so funny for listeners. Cynthia and I are so in sync. This week, I was literally listening to Morgan Levine’s True Age. Is that what it's called? And then I flipped over to check my text and it was sent Cynthia via being like, “Have you read this” and it was a screenshot of--?
Cynthia Thurlow: Exactly. I was in the car. It depends. If it's a book, I think I may want to reference. I get the physical copy, a lot of other books I listen to and I enjoy that, too. But for me, I need that visual. I really need the visual.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, same.
Cynthia Thurlow: Makes me weird. But--
Melanie Avalon: Oh, it's not weird. I'm the same way.
Cynthia Thurlow: [laughs] We're very simpatico.
Melanie Avalon: Yes. Yes, yes.
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Melanie Avalon: Shall we answer some listener questions about fasting, the other side of food?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yes.
Melanie Avalon: All right. So, to start things off, we have a question from Violet and the subject is: “IF timeline.” And Violet says, “Hello, this is my 109th day of fasting. I was wondering if you can give me a rough timeline on when I might see more fat loss. I've definitely decreased in clothing size. I'm not as hungry, but since I've been at this a while, I was wondering when more fat loss can be expected. What is the average for an IF-er to see bigger results? Six months, a year? I know everyone is different, but I'd love to have something to look forward to and keep up my momentum. Thank you so much for your books and inspiration.”
Cynthia Thurlow: This is a great question, Violet. I always come at this as a clinician. So, I don't know your age or life stage. I'm not sure, if you're you no younger like in your 20s and 30s pr if you're a perimenopausal, menopausal. That will definitely impact that loss for a number of different factors. I think it's important even if we're fasting that we consider the quality of the food that we're eating. And by that, I mean, are we eating an anti-inflammatory diet, are we eating a less processed? I remember I said less that doesn't mean no processed food. I'm saying less processed food. What is your stress management like and that doesn't mean five minutes of meditation? Are you exercising? Because one of the most important things, I think when women are talking to me about fat loss, I think about strength training, I think about high intensity interval training, and I think about just being physically active during the day.
It was interesting at this conference I was at. One individual indicated, “If you exercise hard for an hour and then you spend the rest of the day sitting on your butt, you've just undone all the good of that exercise.” I think it's important to track your movement and you don't have to be vigilant about it. I know how much I walk every day, just during my day, or with my dogs, or cumulatively with exercise. I think that's important. Strength training, high intensity interval training really being active during the day, not being a couch potato, nutrition and then where you are age wise, but I also think about sleep. And my standard foundational approach to women with fat loss, and weight loss, and things like that is, if your sleep isn't high quality, high-quality sleep means you wake up rested, you really don't need an alarm clock, but you can easily get up and get out of bed. If you're not getting high-quality sleep, you're losing out on opportunities to support your body, not just hormonally, with leptin, ghrelin, these appetite regulatory hormones, blood sugar, insulin, but it also impacts your food choices that you're making.
I really take a foundational approach and those are the things that I would look at first. I would say most women-- intermittent fasting for a lot of people, it's not instantaneous gratification. I think it's more unusual that people get an instantaneous gratification. And so, I think it is all about staying with the mindset of, “This is a journey, not a race.” Unfortunately, the processed food industry, the weight loss industry, which is a trillion dollar a year industry has convinced us that weight loss should be effortless, fat loss should be effortless. You take a potion, a pill, or powder, and it happens effortlessly. I'm here to tell you as a clinician that is not sustainable. What I generally recommend is giving yourself a solid three to six months, celebrate the non-scale victories, your clothes feel looser, make sure you take measurements. I think that's very helpful. I'm not suggesting you get on the scale every day. But measure your waist, measure your hips. If you have another problem area that bothers you, then you can appropriately track it objectively. But I think that that's probably where I would start from. And in terms of really giving yourself grace, because I think we as women, we're so hard on ourselves. I have been that person and I speak with love when I say this that really giving your body time, because we get healthy to lose weight or lose fat.
It's not supposed to be instant gratification. In fact, that's a rare occurrence. I see more often than not with women, especially if you're still your peak fertile years or you're still getting a cycle every month. Your body is conditioned for reproduction even if you're choosing not to have a baby. When a woman is in perimenopause and menopause, your hormones start recalibrating themselves and it gets a little more challenging to lose fat. It does not mean it's impossible, but you have to be more diligent. So, those are the things I would definitely consider, Violet, and I'm sure Melanie, you have some insightful recommendations or suggestions as well.
Melanie Avalon: First, quick question. What was the theme of the conference that you spoke at?
Cynthia Thurlow: It was called “Momentum in the Mountains.”
Melanie Avalon: Was it just all different health topics or--? And what did you speak on?
Cynthia Thurlow: Well, they asked me-- This is usually what happens. I was the only female that spoke and so, they wanted to have a female slanted. This is like the story of my life. They wanted me to have a female slanted conversation. And so, I talked about perimenopause and menopause, and then I slid into metabolic health, which is always my natural progression. But I was able to really dig in deep and a lot of women came up to me and said, “Gosh, I wish I had known that information 20 years ago.” So, that's what I spoke about. But I had a cardiovascular surgeon, who spoke before me, who was talking about metabolic health from his perspective. He wrote a book called Stay off My Operating Table and he means it. [laughs] And then I had a doctor after me, who was talking about childhood obesity. And then Vinnie Tortorich, who's absolutely hilarious. For any listeners that don't follow him, he has a podcast called Fitness Confidential. He's one of my favorite people. He's just a no muss, no fuss kind of guy, was talking a lot about what goes on in the food system. And so, it was nice variations on themes throughout the discussion. But yeah, it was great. It was a lot of fun.
Melanie Avalon: Very cool. Yes. So, for Violet’s question, [chuckles] I always feel I'm not the best person to have data on this since I don't actively work with people who are trying IF all the time. I really just have my experience and then I have the vague sort of people writing in or people in the audience saying like, “I started intermittent fasting and I’m finally losing weight.” But for my experience, because it's been so long ago that I first did it. I was thinking about this. Looking back, I don't remember quantifying the speed of the weight loss when I started fasting. But I remember there was a huge feeling of a paradigm shift in my body, which was that prior to IF, I always felt with dieting that I was actively trying to lose weight and looking at the pounds and felt like, “I would lose and gain” and it just always felt like a challenge and a struggle. And with fasting, something clicked and then I finally felt, “This is very not scientific.” I'm talking about my feelings. But I finally felt during the day when I was fasting that I was literally burning fat which I was. And so, basically, it felt I went from a trajectory of yo-yoing or struggling to “oh, okay, every single day I am burning fat.” It felt I was making slow and steady for progress movement.
And on top of that, so, I know she's asking like what is normal and she's looking forward to keeping up her momentum. In general, there's a lot of magic and Cynthia touched on this, like, the importance of what you're eating and everything, but there is definitely a lot of magic in the foods that you are eating. I think a lot of people will be on a standard American diet, not fasting. Eating all throughout the day, and they can start fasting, and maintain that standard American diet, and lose weight, which is great. But on top of that, if you are also looking at the food choices, there's just a lot of magic that can happen there. I feel like a broken record, because I say this all the time. But on the macro side of things, so, for some people, doing low carb is really, really magical, so that might expedite the weight loss. If you are existing in that low carb world, not necessarily embracing the idea that low carb, for example, has to be super, super high fat. Because you could be doing low carb, high fat and there might be a lot of potential to lose more weight, if you titrate down the fat a little bit while still staying moderate to high protein, of course.
And then on the flipside, some people do really well, actually, with a higher carb, low fat approach. And that can be something that can really catalyze weight loss. I think really it's all about finding what works for you, but there's definitely magic that can happen if you tinker the food choices on top of just the fasting. Of course, I love everything that Cynthia said about lifestyle choices and sleep and all of that and that's huge. But yeah, I feel it's very individual, which always feels like a cop out answer. But people's bodies are different and they respond differently to change. So, I don't know that you have to even focus on what's normal or average and rather just focus on what is or is not working for you personally. So, you don't have to compare yourself to other people.
Cynthia Thurlow: No, and I think that's important, especially we, as women do a really not so stellar job of we're chronically comparing ourselves to others. Even when I'm teaching IF:45, which is my signature program for fasting for women, the one thing I always tell them is put your blinders on and focus on you. Because we tend to-- we see that there's someone else in the group or someone else, we know that effortlessly loses weight or maybe that's our perception. And yet, we don't know what's going on underneath the hood, if you will. And so, I always say that people come to intermittent fasting, because they want to lose fat or they want to lose weight, and then they end up staying for all the other benefits. And giving it time and I think I've shared, if not on IF Podcast, certainly, on my own that when I started fasting, I didn't lose weight right away. And obviously, I was in my 40s when I started doing it, it took longer.
But for me, the single most important thing I did that allowed me to lose that last bit of perimenopausal weight was an elimination diet. Getting dairy out of my diet was abso-- Even though, I eat dairy so sporadically was a game changer for me. And so, I always say to people, “Sometimes the foods you love may not love you back.” So, really getting diligent about-- Maybe you do a whole 30 for a month, maybe just see how your body responds to reducing inflammation in the body. I would get creative and be open-minded to trying different things to see what will be most effective and efficacious.
Melanie Avalon: Perfect. I love that. That reminds to me because I was looking at her last sentence, “Thank you so much for your books and inspiration.” Cynthia, we forgot again. Do you want to talk about the giveaway?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yes. So, I have not been good about mentioning this in our episodes, but we are ready to draw a winner. And the winner, all you have to do is purchase my book, Intermittent Fasting Transformation and submit a review. So, if you bought it on Amazon, submit the review, screenshot it, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will submit your review and your book purchase. And if you bought the book when it first came out, you can still do that. Just screenshot it and send it to us. But we're super anxious to send some really great goodies that some very generous companies shared with me during the book launch and I really would love to be able to provide an opportunity for some of the IF Podcast listeners to get some fun things. But we will poll one person. Let me just be make sure that's very clear. So, just send that to email@example.com.
Melanie Avalon: Yes. And so, to recap, everybody, I think can benefit from Cynthia's book. It is so amazing and it's such a valuable resource. So, all of the stuff that we talk about on here with fasting and hormones in women's specifically, and protein intake, and how to do this, and sleep and lifestyle, it's all in there. It can definitely benefit listeners from getting her books. If you already have it, definitely, super easy. Just go write a review on wherever you bought it and send us that screenshot. If you haven't bought it, now it’s a great time to get it and write that review. Yeah, so, we'll pick a winner and send out lots of goodies.
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Cynthia Thurlow: Do you want to jump into our next question?
Melanie Avalon: Sure.
Cynthia Thurlow: This is from Liv. And so, the subject is: “a one-to-two-hour window, constipation, when everything balances out.” “Hi, I adore your podcasts and love to skip around depending on the day and what I need regarding tips, IF education and motivation. I'm a 30-year-old female and I have been athletic and health food based my entire life. Growing up on a fruit orchard with health-conscious parents was very helpful in my building blocks were plant-based and Whole Foods eating. I worked in a Whole Foods store through high school and college, and I've always been drawn to naturopathic and holistic medicine. That said, I avoid junk, processed foods, and excess of dairy or meat. However, like most people, I keep a balance and do eat desserts every now and then. I drink wine regularly. I used to kill myself at the gym to knock out my stubborn 10 pounds of extra fat. That seems to be so cozy around my midsection and hips. I could run five to seven miles a day and nothing was as successful for me as intermittent fasting. I've been on and off this way of life for five years and never stuck to it for maintenance as I should have. I am now back on, I'm assuming two weeks eating with in a one-to-two-hour window and feeling amazing.
Weight is falling off again and I'm sticking to my tennis game and more leisurely physical fitness. Huge plus in this heat in Ohio. My question is, one, I have not heard discussed too much on your podcast or maybe I'm missing the episode. Pooping.” You know, as a nurse I love these questions. “Yes, can we all admit, we poop and discuss IF and pooping?” Absolutely. “I am someone, who likes to poop every day and when I don't, I get irritable. Does my window reflect too small of an eating window to produce a daily bowel movement? Is constipation a temporary thing? As women, I feel we are more subjected to this physiologically. How long does it take to regulate? Can you please describe your experiences and/or share your research on this topic? I think ketosis and fasting can really change things for people here and I feel it is valuable to discuss in order for me to feel a little more normal. Also, I've read that most people are carrying around a minimum of 10 pounds of bile. Yay, yuck. I have to guess that if IF helps this, because sometimes, and sorry, this is nasty. Sometimes, what comes out in these first few weeks back to fasting feels that type of stored sludge for lack of a better term backing me up. No shame in the pooping game. Love you both, Liv.” That warms my nurse practitioner heart. I love to talk about poop.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, that I'm so excited. Then we both do. So, this is great. And actually, it's funny, because she said that she hadn't heard it discussed on the podcast before. We've had a lot of episodes on it. Just maybe not recently. And so, this is a little resource for listeners. If you go to our website, ifpodcast.com, there is a search bar there. Because we have transcripts on every single episode, if you search for keywords, it will find the episodes. So, you could search for poop, but more likely, if you search for constipation that'll probably bring up a ton of episodes. But it's nice to revisit it now and it's nice to visit it with Cynthia. [chuckles] I get excited because there're so many topics we've talked about so much on the show, but I get to discuss it all anew, because I haven't heard your perspective specifically. So, it's very exciting for me. Yes, but so my thoughts on all of this, whoo, I have a lot.
First of all, so, I do struggle with, I know, this is a way that Cynthia and I are different. I do struggle with constipation. And Liv, when you say that you're irritable if you don't have a daily bowel movement, irritable is an understatement for me. I have to keep things moving and I really have to stay regular. And I've found the system that works for me to do that and I stick to it. But I've learned a lot over the years. And interestingly, I've first started struggling with this issue. It's hard to know, because a lot was going down. I had a living situation from 2012 to 2014, where I was in an apartment that had black mold and there was carbon monoxide leaking every night and that's when I first got hypothyroidism. And so, it's hard to know what was what. At that time, that's the first time I took the antibiotic. Some people might be familiar with for SIBO called rifaximin. That's when I started having issues with regularity and digestive issues was after taking that antibiotic. I don't want to scare people away from it because for some people it's a game changer for SIBO, which is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. But for me, it had some negative side effects.
To go through some of your questions, she's asking, if, because she's eating less in a shorter window, is that affecting the bowel movements or not? It's really interesting, because and I know that Liv is in the plant-based sphere. If you look at what people are saying and in general, people will say, “Add lots of fiber, add lots of bulk to encourage bowel movements.” And for some people, that really works. For others, it doesn't. For others, it causes the exact opposite problem, it causes bloating, and things just get backed up. If things aren't moving and then you're just adding more fiber to the fuel, then it just gets worse and worse. And especially, people with digestive issues who are creating methane, if you have methane-producing bacteria, they eat the food and they produce methane. And methane actually works as a neurotransmitter in the GI tract that stops motility. So, it becomes a vicious cycle where you might be adding more fiber to try to move things along and it's just making things back up even more. That's I know what I experienced for a while.
I went through a period where I was like, “I'm going to find the right fiber that will keep things moving that just made everything really worse.” What ended up working for me was a low FODMAP diet. That works really, really well for me. But that said or and [chuckles] it's interesting, because so, people in the carnivore sphere and the low-carb sphere, but really the carnivore sphere, they'll go on a zero-fiber diet. A lot of them will say that they have the perfect bowel movements. Before that, they were constipated and then once they caught up with the fiber, everything was great. And they often reference, they'll say-- Studies will show that people on a no fiber diet that it resolves constipation. Everybody quotes the study. There's only been one study, but it's a pretty telling study, but it's very small. It was only in a few people, but they basically found that-- I think all people had existing GI issues and they went on a zero-fiber diet and in every single person, it resolved their constipation which is really interesting. I just wish there are more studies looking at this. But back to the question, I feel I'm circling all-around of, is more food required for bowel movements? Based on everything that I just said is very individual, I think. Some people do not require that bulk and they will have just dandy bowel movements. Some people do benefit from having a certain amount of bulk or a certain amount of fiber and things like that. We have heard from a lot of listeners that they start fasting and they struggle with constipation. It may or may not be temporary. So, it may resolve, it may not. If it's not resolving, there are a lot of things that you can try.
What really, really works for me is magnesium. It is my favorite thing. I'm super excited because I did recently launch my magnesium supplement. So, that's Magnesium 8 by AvalonX. You can get it at avalonx.us and the coupon code, MELANIEAVALON will get you 10% off. I think getting your magnesium levels, because most people are likely deficient that's for a lot of reasons. We talked about this-- We did a whole episode on this. You can check out Episode 276, if you'd like to learn more about magnesium deficiency. But I think getting your magnesium levels up in general can be good for motility. Specifically, high dose magnesium to keep things moving. So, I take my AvalonX Magnesium 8 and then I also use Natural Calm, which is a magnesium drink form. I use that every night and that really, really helps for me to keep things moving. Some people will use high dose vitamin C that will work as well or may work as well. I'm all over the place with this. But I did recently listen to a fascinating episode all on the gut and the connection between the nervous system and motility in the gut. It's actually Peter Attia’s-- At the time of this, his most recent episode and it's with a GI doc.
Cynthia Thurlow: I'm halfway through it. I'm like, “Dang, it's a two-hour episode. It is excellent.” But it's almost harkening me back to my days at Hopkins, when we would get lectures from med school faculty. It is very detailed. It nerds me out and I love it and Melanie loves it. It's very detailed. If you're part of Peter Attia’s membership, which Melanie are both part of you get all the behind the scenes, little nuances, but that's an excellent podcast. I'm going to come at this as a clinician. When I think about poop, obviously, nurses and nurse practitioners, we talk a lot about poop. It's completely our zone of genius, because doctors generally don't like to talk about it. I think about a lot of things. Could it be that you are not eating a large enough bolus of food that is telling your GI tract, there's actually a mechanism in the gut that signals the innervation in the small and large intestine and move things forward as you eat? I think a great deal about something as simple as what's your hydration status like, are you moving every day? Exercise will actually help with peristalsis. I also think a great deal about the parasympathetic nervous system. So, we have the autonomic nervous system and this is a branch.
Sympathetic nervous system is when you're being chased by a rabid animal and parasympathetic is rest and repose. We actually have to be in the parasympathetic to poop. I cannot tell you how many patients and women I've spoken to over the years, who think if they're super stressed, they can force themselves to poop in five minutes. That's not how it works. When you've got a two-year-old banging on the door in the bathroom and you have five minutes to go out the door, that is not the time. You actually have to set aside this time to go. I've had lots of women, who've had success with a Squatty Potty. They just need to reposition things.
Melanie Avalon: Squatty Potty is the best.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, Squatty Potty, I would say bitter foods, arugula, bitter greens, things that will help with viscous bile. Anyone’s thinking or talking about constipation, already thinking about viscous. The bile in the gallbladder is viscous and thick and in there it's having a hard time emulsifying and breaking down fat. The bitter foods, things that will be helpful for bile are artichokes, shaved beets, carrots, all very supportive and nurturing. One of the tricks that I learned how to use, like, when people are having pretty benign constipation, one tablespoon of fresh ground flaxseeds combined with one tablespoon of fresh ground chia seeds. And that together is magic. You can throw it in a smoothie, you can throw it on top of a salad, very, very effective. And then I always say, you can also use things like aloe vera juice. Even a quarter cup, it doesn't taste great. But if it's a frustration and definitely sounds like this young woman. Liv definitely gets frustrated when she's not able to go and I completely understand that.
Other things that I think about are, you mentioned, a lot of people will recommend fiber. I think this is highly person dependent. I can tell you that three years ago, when I spent 13 days in the hospital and was in gigantic GI distress mode, I didn't have a solid stool for a year. And you believe fiber made my body very inflamed and very miserable. I went back to eating just meat for nine months and that helped me get over that. So, that's very dependent on the individual. With that being said, there is value in consuming, maybe you haven't-- Have an apple every day. You will be getting in some fiber or maybe you're having salads. That's one thing I generally recommend is make sure you're getting some uncooked vegetables and fruits into your diet, because that may be beneficial, but again, highly dependent on who you are. I also think about prebiotic rich foods. It's interesting. I just interviewed Vincent Pedre on my podcast and we were talking about the research around prebiotic rich foods, even fermented vegetables like a tablespoon of fermented cabbage, or okra, or whatever fermented vegetable you like can be very beneficial to nourish the right bacteria in the gut microbiome. So, that's where I come from. But a lot of its--
There is a great deal to it that's psychological. I would experiment, as Melanie said, there are supplements that can be helpful. I think about Triphala, that is an ayurvedic option that can be very beneficial. Magnesium and Melanie's magnesium is a nice choice. There's a product by Designs for Health called TriMag, I try every supplement out that I recommend to clients and patients. That destroyed me. Because I have a very vibrant digestive system, I go effortlessly and easily. I only share as to give you context and I actually gave it to my mother who struggles with constipation and she loves it. It's just a powder that she takes before bedtime. But there are lots of options and I do like magnesium. Vitamin C can be tricky. I say this from personal experience, because I sometimes will add vitamin C to my liquids if I'm under a lot of stress. There's a very fine line with vitamin C. You'll know if you've had too much, because you will get loose stools. But it's not always predictable. So, I would be careful with vitamin C, although it can be very, very helpful. But hopefully, those are the things that will be helpful for you.
I would say and I think listeners know this about me. I don't like women to have a one-to-two-hour feeding window. I do think you genuinely need a wider feeding window. And ironically, maybe, Melania. and I can talk about this on the next episode. But I was watching some research that Ben Bikman was providing on his brilliant IG account. He was talking about the role of mTOR signaling and how if women are doing too much fasting. That was the context of what he was talking about that that can impact fertility in nonbeneficial ways. And obviously, I don't want to get off on a tangent, but I just wanted to interject. I like women to eat within a larger feeding window. I know, Melanie eats a large bolus of food over several hours and I just think it's very hard for women to get in enough protein in a very, very short window, unless you're a unicorn. And there may be a few unicorn listeners. But from my perspective, I'm always very protective of the protein piece. But constipation, I totally get it. It can be very, very frustrating. I do find that for most women that struggle with this, it can be not just a physiologic component, it can also be an emotional component really getting into that parasympathetic, really setting aside time in the morning, or the evening, or whenever your body likes to have a bowel movement. Just setting that time aside, so that you can actually have that and then integrating nutritional options and supplements that can help support your body.
Melanie Avalon: I'm so glad you said all that made me think of-- I took some notes because that made me think of quite a few different things. First of all, on the magnesium piece, I forgot one of the ones that really helps me. And I actually want to develop my own version of this as a standalone separate magnesium in the future. But I think it's called Mag-07 and it's just magnesium oxide and that is a very poorly absorbed form of magnesium.
Cynthia Thurlow: 11% is what you absorb.
Melanie Avalon: It has a very osmotic effect in the intestines and that works really well for me. And so, I plan to make my own version, especially, because I don't like some of the fillers in it. But yes, so that version specifically, I've played around with it. I don't know how you say it, the Triphala. I know a lot of people, it's game changes for them. It didn't really work for me. The herb that did work and I know this is a little bit controversial, because it is a stimulant herb. It potentially has the possibility of reliancy on it, but cascara can work for a lot of people, especially, if you're in a rut.
Cynthia Thurlow: I also think about Smooth Move tea.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, yeah, I'm having flashbacks to my really constipated days. [laughs]
Cynthia Thurlow: My kids would kill me, if I told share this with listeners, but it's okay. We're all women and people, who are supportive, right? I think about how I had a kiddo, who really struggled with constipation. And so, we had this whole formula of what we would use. Every once awhile, he needs Smooth Move tea, which I recommend you brew half of what is in there and save the other half for another time. But that can be very effective. Senna, but those are things you don't want to be taking regularly because it can make your bowel lazy.
Melanie Avalon: Yes. And there's definitely a difference, at least in my personal experience. The urgency related to the osmotic effect of magnesium or potentially vitamin C, for example, it can have an urgency feeling loose stools like Cynthia was saying. But then the stimulant version, so like senna, the Smooth Move tea, cascara, that can be more, at least for me of like a crampy, really unpleasant urgency that, it's urgency to the next level urgency.
Cynthia Thurlow: It's a signal that you got to go.
Melanie Avalon: Yes. Because it's basically, the osmotic version is working, because it's pulling in all of this water. It's signaling to the intestine with that bulk to push things forward. But with the stimulant versions they are actually-- I don't know the details of it, but it's actually communicating with the intestines to move.
Cynthia Thurlow: It's like a whip.
Melanie Avalon: Yes. Yeah, that's a good example. [laughs] Then I'm glad you mentioned the bile again, because I wanted to answer. She was saying 10 pounds of bile. I think she's confusing bile with fecal matter, because I just googled it and according to a 2010 study on the gallbladder, the liver produces about 27 to 34 fluid ounces of bile every day.
Cynthia Thurlow: Mm-hmm. It's small amount. I mean the gallbladder is small.
Melanie Avalon: It's not 10 pounds of bile. And then even on top of that, I have wondered about that and I think it varies drastically between individuals for two main factors. One, the actual amount of bulk in your stool based on what you're eating and your gut bacteria. And then number two, the transit time. Some people have faster transit time, some people have slower. There's a lot of permutations of different factors that could affect how much stool you actually have in you. Question for you, Cynthia. I know I've asked you this before. When you did the nine months of the meat only, did you have regular bowel movements on that?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, but it was-- Sorry, TMI, it was still literally just liquid all the time. And no one was worried about it, I just kept saying, “When am I going to have a formed stool?” There's something called Bristol's Stool chart and this is something we can include in the show notes. That's a good way to describe your poop. You can see visually, people that are absorbing too much water versus not enough. If you're absorbing too much water that's diarrhea. If you're absorbing not enough, you'll have pebbles and it can be hard. You can develop hemorrhoids internally or externally. And then there's the perfect poop, which is number four. And so, it gives people an idea of what's your normal and then you can actually have a communication with your healthcare professional, if you ever need to.
The other thing that I was thinking about is, just this whole mindset and methodology about being comfortable talking about things that are very normal. But yet, as a society, we get uncomfortable talking about bodily functions. And so, I'm glad that we're having this discussion, so that more women-- Wherever our listeners are, I think we're predominantly women. I know we have many male listeners as well. I think that whomever is listening that they understand, you're more than welcome to ask these kinds of questions because it's so common. I mean, everyone poops. In fact, I used to have a book for my boys that was like, Everyone Poops and it was all these different types of animals and how different their poop was. Of course, as a healthcare provider that was the greatest book ever. I think I got it at the San Diego Zoo. But the point of why I'm sharing this is to encourage people, don't feel uncomfortable sharing this kind of information. There's probably 20 other people listening who had the same question.
Melanie Avalon: I've actually been thinking about that a lot recently not with the poop subject, but I released my episode week before last with Dr. Laurie Mintz who wrote Becoming Cliterate, which is about orgasm equality.
Cynthia Thurlow: I need to listen to that.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, it's so good. And her work is so good. But it's made me realize how far I've come with all of that, because speaking to what you were talking about how we have these certain topics that are off limits to talk about, so sexual health and sexual awareness and all of that was something I did not talk about. If I heard a podcast or talking about it, I was like, “Oh, how scandalous?” I released that episode now and didn't even think twice about it. But what's funny is I've been getting so much feedback from listeners thanking me for talking about something that people are uncomfortable talking about. And every time I get that, well, it's helpful, because it makes me feel better about talking about these types of things, but also, it reminds me just how much subjects are taboo.
Cynthia Thurlow: Well, even talking about aging, Melanie, I was talking about this in the context of my lecture and I was saying how embarrassed I was when I hit the wall of perimenopause and did then do a TEDx about it and then to be talking about it all the time. I've come to realize, even as a healthcare professional, my faculty members arguably went to one of the best medical institutions in the country. And no one talked to us about this time. It's like, women go off to pasture. And so, those topics that were uncomfortable to talk about, we need to be talking about. Whether it's talking about our sexual health, or talking about aging, or pooping, we need to have opportunities to explore these topics and do it, so there's less stigmatization. I think maybe my children's generation might grow up differently than certainly my generation did.
But even now, I still feel what I hear for most women and obviously at middle age a lot of women just don't want to have sex. And so, that's the new thing that people bring up in conversation and then it runs like, “Yeah, we don't want to talk about that. [laughs] We don't want to talk about that.” That's a whole separate-- You should be having that conversation with your best girlfriend, not amongst mix company. My hope and certainly our hope and our intent is that we can have these conversations, so that people have a safe place to be able to get input and feedback on.
Melanie Avalon: I haven't aired it yet. Did you connect with Dr. Sherry Ross?
Cynthia Thurlow: I did but I think she's going to end up being like a 2023 guest because she can only record on Fridays or after 5 o'clock and 9. I was like, “That doesn't work for my schedule.” [laughs] But I will. We're connected with her, but thank you for that.
Melanie Avalon: She wrote a book called She-ology. She's a celebrity gynecologist. I'll be airing that in the next few months. But one of the biggest epiphanies I had even with that was growing up in the south, girls, we didn't go to gynecologist. And I think it was because they thought by going to a gynecologist who would encourage having sex. And just stepping back, I'm like, “This is such a problem.” There's a lot happening with the vagina that has nothing to do with sex that needs to be looked at by a healthcare practitioner.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, and that's on every level. That's one thing that my conversations with women and so, I have a program called Holistic Blueprint, where we do the DUTCH, and we do the GI map, and we do a lot of testing, we have a lot of conversations. And when women are speaking with me privately, that's when they'll start the conversations. And so, a very common conversation for women to be having is the changes that occur in middle age within the vagina and the vulva or vagina/vulva. And some of them are so stigmatized like, “Oh, I'm not supposed to talk about this.” I'm like, “Well, what's the other option? Suffer in silence? We don't want that either.” So, I'm excited to hear your conversation with her.
Melanie Avalon: Exactly. Awesome. We're on the same page as per usual. So, basically, listeners, the take away is, ask us all the questions.
Cynthia Thurlow: Please do. Poop is a subject. I could talk about till the cows come home. And this is one of the few things where Melanie and I are very divergent on. It's easy for me, not as easy for Melanie. But it also gives us different perspectives. It really makes me reflect on how common women believe or just people in general, like, my patients. All my patients used to think it was normal that they would poop twice a week. I'm like, “Listen, that is not normal. [laughs] It's not good.” Making sure that if it's a chronic issue or if it's something that's new and concerning, make sure you see your healthcare professional. That is one thing I just want to dovetail in there and say, “If it's new, and it's persistent, and you're having other changes, make sure you have a conversation with your healthcare professional.” But definitely these nutritional changes and stress management supplements that might be an easy fix. But if those things aren't working, you're still having symptoms, you definitely want to follow up with your local healthcare professional.
Melanie Avalon: And actually, just one last point to that point. I totally forgot the thing that really switched the lever on, because I was in a period where I was trying everything. I was having so many flashbacks during this conversation, because it was all during a time where I was just trying all the things and nothing was working. It wasn't until I saw a practitioner and got put on thyroid medication for my hypothyroidism that that really was a game changer in the motility department. So, yes, yes, yes.
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 this 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 will be at ifpodcast.com/episode278. They'll have a full transcript and links to everything that we talked about. Definitely check that out. Reminder to enter the giveaway to win all of the amazing goodies from Cynthia. Again, for that, if you already bought a copy of her book or if you do buy a copy of her book now, either way, just leave a review on whatever platform you bought the book from. Send a screenshot of your review to email@example.com and we will enter you into the drawing. And yes, you can follow us on Instagram. We are @ifpodcast. I am @melanieavalon. Cynthia is @cynthia_thurlow_. I think that is all the things. So, anything from you, Cynthia, before we go?
Cynthia Thurlow: No, keep the great questions coming. I think we've been very humbly and beautifully overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and we look forward to diving into questions next week.
Melanie Avalon: Likewise, and happy early birthday, again.
Cynthia Thurlow: Thank you.
Melanie Avalon: 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.
[Transcript provided by SpeechDocs Podcast Transcription]
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
Cynthia's Intermittent Fasting Transformation: The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging
More on Melanie: MelanieAvalon.com
More on Cynthia: cynthiathurlow.com
Theme Music Composed By Leland Cox: LelandCox.com
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