Episode 279: Organic Wines, Blood Ketones, Urine pH, Fasting Insulin, Continuous Glucose Monitors, Appetite Hormones, Lean Protein, ADF, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Aug 21

Welcome to Episode 279 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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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!

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The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #5 - Todd White

Episode 26: IF & Low Sugar/Alcohol/Toxin Wines For Health – Special Interview With Todd White Of Dry Farm Wines!

Listener Q&A: Doreen - My first inquiry

The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #70 - Kara Collier (Nutrisense)

Ep. 132 – Continuous Glucose Monitors: Why They’re Not Just for Diabetics Anymore with Kara Collier

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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 279 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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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. Basically, when we're using conventional skincare and makeup, we are giving these obesogenic compounds direct access to our bloodstream. And then in our bodies, studies have shown they do things like reduce our satiety hormones, increase our hunger hormones, make fat cells more likely to store fat, and more resistant to burning fat, and so much more. If you have stubborn fat, friends, your skincare and makeup maybe playing a role in that. Beyond weight gain and weight loss, these compounds have very detrimental effects on our health and they affect the health of our future generations. That's because ladies, when we have babies, a huge percent of those toxic compounds go through the placenta into the newborn. It is so, so shocking and the effects last for years. 

Conventional lipstick, for example, often tests high in lead and the half-life of lead is up to 30 years. That means when you put on some conventional lipstick, 30 years later, maybe half of that lead has left your bones. On top of that there is essentially no regulation of these products on the shelves. That's why it's up to us to choose brands that are changing this. The brand that is working the hardest to do this is Beautycounter. They were founded on a mission to change this. Every single ingredient is extensively tested to be safe for your skin, so you can truly feel good about what you put on. And friends, these products really, really work. They are incredible. They are counter time for antiaging, counter match for normal skin, counter control for acne and oily prone, and counter start for sensitive. I use their Overnight Resurfacing Peel and vitamin C serum every single night of my life. And their makeup is amazing. Check on my Instagram to see what it looks like. Tina Fey, even wore all Beautycounter makeup when she hosted The Golden Globes. So, yes, it is high-definition camera ready. They have so many other products, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner that I love, products for babies, and so much more. You can shop with us at beautycounter.com/melanieavalon or beautycounter.com/cynthiathurlow and use the coupon code, CLEANFORALL20 to get 20% off your first order. Also, make sure to get on my clean beauty email list. That's at melanieavalon.com/cleanbeauty. I give away a lot of free things on that list. So, definitely check it out. And you can join me in my Facebook group, Clean Beauty and Safe Skincare with Melanie Avalon. People share their experiences, ask questions, give product reviews, and I do a giveaway every single week in that group as well.

And lastly, if you're thinking of making Clean Beauty and Safe Skincare, a part of your future like we have, we definitely recommend becoming a Band of Beauty member. It's sort of like the Amazon Prime for clean beauty. You get 10% back in product credit, free shipping on qualifying orders, and a welcome gift that is worth way more than the price of the yearlong membership. It is totally completely worth it. So, again, to shop with us, go to beautycounter.com/melanieavalon or beautycounter.com/cynthiathurlow and use the coupon code, CLEANFORALL20 to get 20% off your first order. And we'll put all this information in the show notes. All right, now, back to the show.

Melanie Avalon: Hi, everybody and welcome. This is Episode number 279 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I'm here with Cynthia Thurlow.

Cynthia Thurlow: Hey, there. 

Melanie Avalon: And Cynthia, I have a fun topic that we can talk about briefly if you would like. You already know this, because I asked your advice about it yesterday. For listeners, yesterday, I went to a gender reveal party for one of my friends and it was an evening event. And I knew there was drinks and wine. I actually asked her ahead of time. I was asking Cynthia, I was like, “Is it okay, if I bring my own organic wine to this pregnancy related event, if there's already drinks?” You said that you thought that would be appropriate. So, I did. But I did not bring Dry Farm Wines and I regret that decision. My [laughs] Oura Ring this morning, it's crazy how much it knows when you're drinking wine you shouldn't be drinking and maybe too much of it and not sleeping well. But what's really interesting is, my sleep was great, just my readiness score is awful. I bring it up because I think I need these moments to remember why I only drink Dry Farm Wines and you recently interviewed Todd White.

Cynthia Thurlow: I did. First of all, it was really interesting to prep for that discussion. And then when I got off the phone, I'm sorry, I got off the recording, I was saying to my husband it has been very common for me over the last several years to just send team members, family members subscriptions to Dry Farm Wines and how easy that has been. And I said, “I didn't fully appreciate and realize the differences between conventional winemaking here in the United States versus natural practices.” Certainly, from this point going forward, I really understand and appreciate the chemical and exposure load that you get from conventional wine, which I was really-- 

Let me be very clear. I think I'm a pretty well-educated person about processed food industry and nutrient dense Whole Foods, but I hadn't really considered the net impact of conventional winemaking here in the United States. And so, that was a really enlightening podcast. I can imagine how you felt differently. I think, if I recall from our conversations last few days, you were planning on bringing an organic option or organic options with you. So, even with the organic wines, you still felt poorly. I wonder if it was the alcohol content.

Melanie Avalon: I was telling you this already. But basically, at home, I only drink Dry Farm Wines. And for listeners that are not familiar, they're not a wine producer. They're like an investigator and a distributor. They go all throughout Europe, only Europe, because Todd says that, “None of the US wines meet their standard.” And I think that's in part, because of just how saturated the US environment is in pesticides, even organic like plots of land. The wineries from there, they did a test. I don't know. Did he bring up the test that they did a while ago and they tested all these different wines in California, including organic ones and every single one tested for pesticides, which is just crazy. They find the wines that are low in sugar, so less than I think one gram, and then low alcohol, so 12.5% or less, and then they test them for heavy metals, pesticides, mold. I noticed such a difference drinking them. 

But what I did for this party was, I do have a collection of wines that are not Dry Farm Wines that are organic that I just have from over the years that I'm not going to drink by myself at my apartment, because I really just drink the Dry Farm Wines. So, I bring them to events like this. But now in retrospect, I'm like, “I should have just brought Dry Farm Wines.” Then again, I did have a lot.

Cynthia Thurlow: Well, maybe it was dose dependent. Meaning, perhaps, if you had had one glass of the organic wine, maybe you were fine. Maybe it was two glasses might have been just enough to disrupt your sleep quality.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, probably.

Cynthia Thurlow: That's my guess. I always say, “Maybe it's dosage dependent.” I say that to patients like, “Maybe it's the quantity and not so much per se that it was not Dry Farm Wines.” But the one thing that I think I was really surprised by when I spoke with Todd was the differences in alcohol content. Conventional wines can be greater than 15% alcohol versus six to 12.5 is-- Most of the Dry Farm Wines really run and they are, as you mentioned, lower sugar. And so, we know that that impacts us on pretty significant profound ways. So, but did you have fun? 

Melanie Avalon: Yes, I had so much fun. It was fabulous. And even that said, I'm still good. This is not my college days or anything. No, I did. I have not been to a gender reveal party before. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Neither have I. But that also says generationally where I am. My oldest will be 17 next week. And so, I'm just at a different-- When I was pregnant, people chose to either find out at 20 weeks what gender child they were having or not. And so, now, people can find out a whole lot earlier and it seems to be something that's very trendy and fun. And I think there's always opportunities to celebrate babies. It's such a fun exciting time.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I agree. It's funny. They wanted you to wear blue or pink based on what you thought it would be. I only wear black dresses. I wear a black dress, but then I wore sparkly shoes that were blue and pink.

Cynthia Thurlow: I like that. You're in a neutral zone. 

Melanie Avalon: Yep. [chuckles] So, yeah. But for listeners, to learn more about Dry Farm Wines, which I'm just so obsessed with, our link will get you a bottle for a penny. So, go to dryfarmwines/ifpodcast and that's where you can get that offer. And then, Cynthia when do you air that episode with Todd?

Cynthia Thurlow: Actually, next Saturday. So, it will be August 13th that episode will air.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. Awesome. So, that'll actually be aired by the time this comes out. We'll put a link to that episode. We'll also put a link to the episode that I did with Todd way back in the day. He was one of my first episodes on The Biohacking Podcast. Well, I'll also put an episode we've had him on the show. So, I'll put a link to that as well.

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, he's a great guy. It's interesting, because I'm married to a Todd. And my Todd really likes the red selections from Dry Farm Wines. And it's interesting. We recently placed an order and he always feels there's too much white wine in our house. I think because maybe our guests drink the red wine. This last order that we've received, he has been very happy with.

Melanie Avalon: Well, so, that's something because I know that you personally you don't drink at all, right?

Cynthia Thurlow: I don't. It's the only thing that really erodes my sleep. By this, for everyone who's listening, if you're not yet in the perimenopause range, it is the only thing that gives me hot flashes. So, I just don't drink for that reason because hot flashes, especially when you're trying to fall asleep are not fun. But yeah, that was a large decision why I stopped drinking much of anything. I didn't drink much to begin with. I've always been more of a very, very light drinker.

Melanie Avalon: With me having drank the Dry Farm Wines over the trajectory of there, because I probably started, I don't know, when they were founded.

Cynthia Thurlow: Seven years ago, I think, Todd was saying.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. I started drinking them in probably 2014 or 2015. I probably started drinking them right at the beginning, like 2015. They have not improved, but they have improved. You were talking about the red wine. In the beginning, most of the reds all were very, very light. They didn't have many more robust reds, because I think it's harder for them to find those that fit all their criteria. But they have evolved. That's a good word. They've evolved so much in the red wines that they source and some of their wines are just delicious.

Cynthia Thurlow: Awesome. You can drink them with a good conscience.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, yes. And now, I think I need these nights every now and then, like, last night to further appreciate why I only drink Dry Farm Wines normally. So, before we jump into questions, Cynthia, would you like to tell listeners one more time about the giveaway that you are doing?

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. So, this is the last week of the giveaway. And all we're asking you to do is, if you've purchased my book, Intermittent Fasting Transformation, please leave a review, screenshot the review, send it to questions@ifpodcast.com, and you will be eligible for an entry. You have to live in the continental United States and it's a grouping of some of my favorite products and designs for health, and a few other wonderful retailers that I work very closely with as a thank you. We'll pick one winner. This is the last week of the giveaway. So, please make sure you get your entries in and we will look forward to randomly selecting a winner.

Melanie Avalon: And I will just say, so, I know a lot of you guys have Cynthia's book, because we get feedback. I see it in the groups. But we haven't had that many entries and I'm just saying that to say you have a good chance of winning. So, if you have the book-- [crosstalk]

Cynthia Thurlow: The odds are in your favor. [laughs] 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I always like to emphasize this because I think giveaways where people think, “Oh, there's so many people entering. I have no chance of winning.” But a lot of people will think that and [laughs] you do have a good chance of winning. And it also just really helps support Cynthia's wonderful book and we'd be so appreciative. So, definitely, definitely do that.

Cynthia Thurlow: And I don't think until I wrote a book that I realized how important those reviews are. So, please know that each and every review, I appreciate on a level beyond I can properly articulate. There are so many people that have really benefited from the book. I'm speaking from a place of gratitude and I would love to be able to send these goodies to one select individual. So, definitely get those entries into us.

Hi, friends. So, I often get asked what is my favorite bio hack or what do I use every single day? Something I use every single day of my life is red and near infrared therapy and I'm about to tell you how to get a discount on my favorite brand for that. For years now, I've been using Joovv light therapy devices to achieve all of the benefits of red light and near infrared therapy. Red light is a type of light naturally found in the rising and setting Sun. I use it to help sync my circadian rhythm and also to combat the overwhelming abundance of stimulating blue light that we are exposed to every single day. So, yes, my apartment looks like the red-light district at night. But I cannot express enough how crucial it is for helping me wind down, support my mood, sleep well. It is just so so amazing. Red light can also help with your skin health, give you a healthy glow. Near infrared has so many benefits, including targeted pain relief and muscle recovery. The reason red and near infrared light can seemingly be magic and fix so many things is because they actually affect how your cells, mitochondria generate energy. When your cells are properly generating energy, well, everything just basically works better. 

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Melanie Avalon: Shall we jump into some questions for today? 

Cynthia Thurlow: Absolutely. 

Melanie Avalon: Okay. To start things off, this is a long question, but she has a fun story and then she has a lot of questions that we could just do rapid fire. This comes from Doreen and she wrote this to us back when Gin was on the show. So, she says, “Hi, Melanie, hi, Gin. Let me start off by saying, I absolutely love the podcast. I feel like you ladies have become my friends. You make me smile and laugh. You're smart. You're funny. Initially, I was listening in no specific order, but then I decided to listen every Monday to the new episodes and backtrack when I'm walking. Like many of your listeners, I have many questions that sometimes get answered before I need to submit them. I have several drafts with questions, but I can't prioritize which questions are the most important. Finally, after listening to Episode 159 with Dr. Anna Cabeca, I've been motivated to get some questions answered.” Really quick question for you, Cynthia. You are personal friends with Anna Cabeca, right?

Cynthia Thurlow: I am. She's wonderful.

Melanie Avalon: I think she's actually been on this show twice and on my Biohacking Podcast, maybe twice. Done a lot of interviews with her. I really like her work. Doreen says, “I am 54 years old, a certified personal trainer and yoga certified. I teach mainly hot yoga. It's very tough with a mask. I was heavy as a teenager at 5’2”, 184 pounds. My family celebrates everything with food. I'm Italian. At 16 with mom's help, I joined Weight Watchers and reached my goal in 1981. I'm still an active lifetime member and still track and weigh every few months. Diet and exercise and healthy eating, I've managed to stay within a six-to-eight-pound window with the exception of having my two children and some health issues. 

In 2015, I was diagnosed with cancer. I caught it early Stage 1. I did have some weight gain that crept up and I don't weigh myself now because of the way my clothing had stopped fitting. My first thought during the pandemic was panic. I'm going to gain weight without hot yoga. So, I took to the pavement, I started walking. During walks when my friends got back to work, I would binge listen to podcasts and I didn't gain the weight. Based on listening alone, I began adding IF into my routine and I feel fantastic. It's also helped with health issues, IBS, and GERD, et cetera. Melanie, I tried to get your book and Barnes & Noble had no copies. I was very excited to crack the book on our road trip from Long Island to Vermont. One of our favorite stops is for a place called the Creamery, which is a cute little country store. It's a constant on our trips to Vermont. I promise there's a reason for this story. 

I'm a shopaholic. So, while my husband and friends were getting the ice cream, I was power shopping around the store. I looked up and could not believe my eyes to my surprise staring me in the face was a copy of What When Wine with Melanie's beautiful face on the cover. I screamed. I was so excited. And of course, I bought it. It was divine intervention and favor. In Ludlow Vermont, they're carrying Melanie's books.” Okay, I just have to stop. This blows my mind. [laughs] I can't believe my book was in this random country store in Vermont. That is so random to me. Do you think these stores just order books and resell them, I guess?

Cynthia Thurlow: Well, I suspect maybe the owner or someone who's connected with the owner probably is a fan. 

Melanie Avalon: Wow. That would be so exciting to me, if I was in some random little country store and saw my book. I would not know what to do.

Cynthia Thurlow: You've made it, you know? You've saturated the rural country market.

Melanie Avalon: I know, I know. So, Doreen, thank you for sharing that story. That really made my day. Okay, so, now, she has rapid fire a lot of questions. Here we go. Number one, “With regard to ketones, pH levels in urine and all measures to determine clean fasting and eating. During the podcast with Dr. Cabeca, she discussed how important it is to test your urine for pH levels regarding ketones. I believed you said one could be burning ketones, even though you don't turn the strip's purple. There's also a question about blood sugar. I remember a discussion of different types of testing for blood sugar and blood fasting sugar. What's the difference? It would be very helpful, if you can clarify the importance of measuring pH levels in urine, ketone burning, and blood sugar, and which tests for IF purposes would be best, and where to get these kits and tests, and will they cost a fortune?” Okay, so, ketones, pH testing, blood sugar testing, would you like to talk a little bit about this, Cynthia?

Cynthia Thurlow: if you've been fasting and you're not new to fasting, then I would not anticipate that you would have urinary ketones present. It's much more accurate to actually test blood. But for the purposes of your constellation of questions, I would say that as a woman that it sounds you're in perimenopause/menopause that it'd be most valuable for you to know a fasting insulin and a fasting blood sugar. And a fasting insulin, you can get drawn with regular lab work. A Keto-Mojo is a good meter to use if you want to track your blood ketones. 

And then lastly, a fasting blood sugar with a glucometer or if you want to have a continuous glucose monitor, typically where I stay, I think it's important to know what your blood sugar is when you are in an unfed state. I think it's equally important to know what your blood sugar is in response to stress, nutrition, meals, exercise, etc. There's a lot of different variables to look at. I did a really great podcast. I know that Kara Collier has been on my podcast and also, Melanie's Biohacking Podcast at least once or twice. And that's a really fantastic resource and we will link that in the show notes.

Melanie Avalon: Do you put much weight into measuring the pH levels?

Cynthia Thurlow: No, I don't. I really don't. I think that there are a lot of metrics that we can measure. It doesn't necessarily mean that the information is all that valuable. Because if you're eating a nutrient dense Whole Foods diet, and you're not drinking excessively, and you're not eating a lot of processed carbohydrates, then ideally, and I have encountered a few functional medicine practices that will have their patients do urinary pH strips, but I think it gets expensive. And I've come to find that most of us like you and I, if you were to measure our urinary pH, it's probably more alkaline based on the types of foods that we eat. 

With that being said, when people are trying to budget for different types of home testing or monitoring, I think the most valuable one of all is really looking at fasting blood sugar or looking at a continuous glucose monitor. If someone is new to a lower carb ketogenic lifestyle, and they have not been in ketosis, and they're obese and overweight, then testing at least initially with urinary strips for ketones can be valuable. But if you have been in ketosis and you've been fasting for a long period of time, they're not going to show up in your urine. They are going to show up in your blood. I don't know if you have anything that you'd like to add to that. 

I think the big thing for me as a clinician is, there're a lot of metrics that we can measure. It doesn't mean we should measure everyone. We should decide based on our budget and our interests what is the greatest priority? I'm getting ready to bring the Keto-Mojo individuals on the podcast to talk more about testing ketones, because I get a lot of questions about it. But it really needs to be taken in the context of what are your risk factors, are you insulin sensitive, what are you trying to measure, what are the metrics you really want to look at and going from there?

Melanie Avalon: Are you interviewing Dorian? 

Cynthia Thurlow: I am, but not until February. Because right now, I'm booking into March. Yeah, which is I took time off around the book launch and now, we're back into eager beaver stage where we're booked out like six months.

Melanie Avalon: I was having flashbacks, because I connected with him right when they launched, I think as well and had him on this show. I think we had him on the show. He's British, right? Flashback to his-- He has the best accent. 

Cynthia Thurlow: And then his wife, I guess, is Emma?

Melanie Avalon: Is she British, as well?

Cynthia Thurlow: No, she's American, but they're really cute. They're cute little couple.

Melanie Avalon: Aww. Yeah, I'll just echo everything that you said just to really bring it into people's heads. With the ketone urine strips like Cynthia said, if you've been fasting for a while, if you've been even ketogenic for a while, you might not see that on your urine. I think they're most useful for somebody going from a standard American diet, not fasting to either ketogenic diet or fasting, because it shows when you start, just in general creating those ketones and the excess are spilling into the urine. But then the body becomes more efficient and you don't see that as much necessarily. So, there's real a time window when I would use those. 

And then for the blood sugar testing, yes, we are major, major fans of continuous glucose monitors. Those will really give you, because you'd asked me about the difference between the fasted blood sugar and then just the blood sugar. It's always blood sugar, but it's either fasted or postprandial, which means after a meal. And the only difference is just based on if you ate or not. And so, the levels might be different based on that. And so, continuous glucose monitor is so helpful or can be, because it shows you constantly how your blood sugar is reacting to fasting or eating short of that with just like a finger prick type situation. And this is what Cynthia said, as well. So, I think we're very aligned, 

I think if you had to choose-- once you try a continuous glucose monitor, you will realize just how much potentially your blood sugar can change even minute to minute. And I say that because you might do a finger prick and get a number that if you had tested 15 minutes earlier would be pretty different. It's much more clear picture with a continuous glucose monitor. If you don't like pricking yourself or you don't want to be pricking yourself all the time and you had to pick one time to prick yourself, I would probably go the Marty Kendall route, which is right before eating to see if you actually are in a lower blood sugar state ready for that meal. Because his data driven fasting is all about how people will open their eating window when they actually have high blood sugar. They think they need fuel, but they actually don't. It's very interesting. The link for that is nutrisense.io/ifpodcast and the coupon code, IFPODCAST will actually get you $30 off any subscription to a CGM program. So, definitely check that out. That can be a really helpful resource. 

Her next question, she says, “I'm in between ADF and one meal a day depending on what's happening in my life. Sometimes, I will do four straight days of 18:6, but then eat regularly on the weekend. I thought this protocol was good. Is it there a gray area and discussion about this topic? Do you agree that every day shouldn’t be a short eating window? Please clarify. I find myself contradicting my thoughts and I feel worried about opening my window too early.” I'm actually very curious your thoughts on this, Cynthia, because Gin would talk about this a lot, which was, in particular in regards to ADF, which is something that I personally have never done ADF. But she would often talk about the importance of if you're doing ADF not having a shorter eating window and not under eating on your fasting day. So, I'm really curious your thoughts on that and also on just if somebody was doing one meal a day, every day type situation?

Cynthia Thurlow: Well, I think listeners are probably not surprised to hear that I don't like ADF or OMAD as a sustained strategy for women or men for that matter, because there's just no way you're going to be able to get enough protein in one meal or this alternate day fasting. And there's a lot of what I believe to be emerging, both anecdotal and also research to suggest, unless someone's really stubbornly obese and is really trying to break through plateaus, most of us that are close to our ideal body weight, you start looking at the law of diminishing returns. And so, you just can't build enough muscle protein synthesis. I've spoken to Gabrielle Lyon about this extensively. I've spoken to Ted Naiman. And for listeners, those are both physicians in that space about how to stoke appropriate muscle-protein synthesis. 

I do like people varying their fasting and feeding windows. I think variety is very important, not just in our fasting windows, but also in the foods we choose to eat. I like a lot of variety. Same thing with exercise. However, especially when someone is trying to figure out what works best for them, it requires a degree of experimentation. What gives you plenty of energy, what supports sleep habits, what is allowing you to break through a plateau, do you need to be honest with yourself about the fact that you're not eating a particularly nutrient dense diet, and then you're attempting to do these prolonged fast to work through challenges that you're experiencing? And I'm starting to believe and starting to speak about this more that I am starting to see many women in particular that are doing this over-fasting, overtraining, over-restriction in an effort to lose weight. And we will obviously unpack more of this as the podcast goes on and I'll certainly be talking about it on my own podcast.

But in the context of this question, I don't like ADF and OMAD for a sustained strategy for women. It’s just impossible to get your protein in. And I'm very protein centric and I admit that. But when I look at the research and when I-- I'm a 51 year old woman. I just realized that I had a birthday last week. I have to remind myself, I mean, you're older. It requires a bit of effort to get sufficient amounts of protein into my diet. It is work that I'm happy to do. But I think in the context of answering this question that that's my prevailing thought process. How about you Melanie? 

Melanie Avalon:I keep rereading her question because I'm actually a little bit unclear now what she's actually doing. Because she says, she's in between ADF and one meal a day, but then she says, sometimes, she does four straight days of 18:6.

Cynthia Thurlow: I think she's doing a lot of variety. 

Melanie Avalon: 18:6, for example, would you consider that like a one meal a day, a six-hour eating window? I guess, it depends what they're actually eating during it. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Correct. I think a lot of people are just eating one big meal and maybe they're not hungry at the end of their six-hour feeding window. And that's the concern that I have. The more I talk to other metabolic health experts, the more I start thinking that we have to be less rigid and we need to really lean in like-- I've been experimenting this whole summer with having a wider feeding window. And, especially, because I've been lifting more, I've been more hungry, I've been breaking my fast earlier, I'm finding that I'm getting better results. And each one of us has different goals and different aspirations. But I think a certain degree of experimentation is important to not be so rigid with-- If something has been working, try something and try something new. We have a wider feeding window. And by wider, it's not my feeding window was 12 hours. It might be an eight-hour, a nine-hour or a 10-hour, so that I can have more meals with my family.

Melanie Avalon: Okay, yeah, I love that. I feel we always say that it's individual and you have to find what works for you, which feels like a cop out answer. But it's so, so true, because people are just so different. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Bio individuality rules. 

Melanie Avalon: Yes. Because me, for example, I do a shorter eating window. Yeah, I was thinking about this with you're talking about how you're struggling to get in enough protein and so many people say that to us. We get so many questions about that. And it's just interesting to me, because it's so easy for me. [laughs] I just eat so much protein.

Cynthia Thurlow: But I think my appetite was different at 30 than it is at 51, because I've tried to reflect on that like, “How much more food did I eat when I was younger?” There was definitely a point in my early 40s that I felt my appetite change significantly. A lot of my patients, and clients, and friends, we'll talk about this openly. We're like, “Oh, yeah, we don't eat nearly as much food.” I think that is a biologic drive. If you talk to someone who's 70, they don't have the appetite they had at 20. It's because ideally, we should not be in an anabolic growth phase at that stage of our lives. Whereas, I have teenage boys and they're very much in this anabolic building stage and they're healthy, they're lean, they're muscular. It's a very different phase of life. And so, I think so much of it's dependent on where we are in time and space. It is a concerted effort. 

For me, to hit my protein macros every day and it's not that I don't like to eat. Protein will fill me up and then I'm full and I'm like, “Okay, now, four or five hours later, I ate another protein bolus.” And that's how I navigate. I eat a lot of eggs. Someone asked me the other day, “How do you get that much protein?” I was like, “I eat a lot of eggs.” Because I can eat a good amount of eggs and I don't feel nearly as full as I would if I ate a piece of steak. But I always like to shake things up.

Melanie Avalon: I'm super curious. When you did have a higher appetite, when you were in your 20s and 30s, did you ever do an approach like me where-- Literally, the foundation of my meals is lean protein., I don't really add-- It's hard to describe, but I basically just eat tons and tons of chicken, fish, scallops. That's the volume of my meat. That's the base of it. Did you ever do that approach or was it always in the context of adding some fats, some oils? I'm just wondering how much that affects how much you actually eat.

Cynthia Thurlow: Well, you have to remember that when I was 30, I was in a hospital working all day long. And I became a parent when I was 34, a second child at 36. And so, I would never have been able to manage the kind of eating schedule that I have now around those responsibilities, because you're lucky if you can eat at all [laughs] when you're working in a hospital and you're rounding on patients. I think that definitely would play a role in it. Personally, I don't do well with fatty meats. I never have. I don't like duck. I tend to lean into lean cuts of meat. I've always been that way. I have a child that's the same way. I think it's just some genetic-- It's this desire, like, we acknowledge. It's not that my body has trouble breaking down fats, because I eat healthy fats, but I don't eat a lot of healthy fats. I can definitely mitigate a carbohydrate load, if I'm exercising. Today, I lifted. And so, I'll probably have some fruit this afternoon after my dinner. 

But with that being said, I would not have been able to eat the way I do now, if I was still working in a hospital and had little kids. I acknowledge that my N of 1, what works for me now is largely because I'm an entrepreneur and I can break my fast whenever I want to. Generally speaking, I don't have to worry that little people are going to stick their fingers in a light socket when I'm trying to eat. Whereas now they largely-- I always say, they're free roaming mini adults right now. They're very self-sufficient for the most part. So, it's hard for me to answer that question because I just don't know. Even when I was in the beginning stages of perimenopause and I noticed that I had that drop off in my appetite, I really think and I haven't been able to get 100% good answer on this, because I've asked a lot of people. I think it's a combination of the muscle changes that impact insulin sensitivity in late 30s, early 40s. That [unintelligible [00:41:28] even though I was always lifting and eating properly, etc. 

And then I do think that there's some loss of estradiol signaling in the gut that may also impact that as well. Again, I haven't gotten great research to be able to back that up. But in talking to other researchers and clinicians, that's been the working hypothesis of why that starts to happen. But we also know that physiologically, we don't need as much food as we get older, whether some people that bothers them or not. I think Mark Sisson, who I know you just interviewed on the podcast as well, he kept saying, “Heck, I don't eat nearly as much food as I used to and I do just fine with--" As a guy, he's like, “I do just fine having one really big meal a day.” He's like, “I'm happy.” So, so many factors.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it’s so interesting. It's interesting that you and I are both really similar with that lean meat thing. I still do, basically, lean meats most nights, but probably once a week, I just crave salmon and I'll just do a bolus of really fatty salmon. And I've found that that works for me right now. It's really interesting just how the body changes over time and how your cravings change. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Absolutely. One thing I've noticed and this applies to our audience and listeners, too, is that I can tell where my estrogen levels are by how much cravings I have. I generally don't crave. I crave healthy food, but I don't have cravings that wake me up at night or I don't think about chocolate constantly or something sweet. But estrogen is this cravings modifier, if there's any way to explain it that when our estrogen levels are optimized, it helps with insulin sensitivity, it helps with those cravings, it helps buffer. 

And so, a colleague of mine and I were talking about how we can tell when women are in this perimenopause/menopause state. And a lot of people, they're never full. They might have just eat a meal, but they still don't feel full. And a lot of that can be this diminishing levels of estrogen. And so, really being proactive about getting your levels tested, knowing where they are, and if appropriate, getting some support and that could come in the form of supplements, that could come in the form of hormonal replacement therapy depending on the individual.

Melanie Avalon: Gotcha. So helpful. I so love having you on this show and having your knowledge about all of this. It makes me so excited. I'm like, “Oh, so much good information for people.” Okay, her next question. She says, “I've been doing well with IF. I learned midway through that Splenda and my black coffee and apple cider vinegar with seltzer was a no-no or so called “dirty fast.” I still found success before I learned this, but now, I have saved those things for when I open my window. The days when I did this and I don't open my window for 18 to 20 hours, can this dirty fast still be beneficial? What I mean is, I'll wake up, I'll open my window with coffee and half in half, I'll get sidetracked. I'm a touch ADD. And then several hours later, I've done 18:6, not on purpose. So, do you think my body does not repair like it would without the cream?” This is a good question.

Cynthia Thurlow: I think it's important to keep in the context of dairy as insulinemic. And if you are at your goal weight or whatever metrics you're tracking, you're happy with where your progress has been made, I wouldn't stress and worry if one day out of the week you have a little bit of half and half or cream in your coffee. However, and I'm laughing because I was just at an event this past weekend with Vinnie Tortorich and some other metabolic health people and getting clarification, because some half and half in your coffee for one person might be a teaspoon and for another person, it might be half coffee, half, half and half and that was the joke that Vinnie was telling at this event was that get clarification.

If you're having a teaspoon or a tablespoon, that's probably not going to derail your overall fasting regimen. But if you're derailing your weight loss efforts, because you're consuming a lot of fat, like, what Melanie and I were just talking about, fatty meats. Just fat in general. Fat is calorically very dense. It's great, but too much of any one thing is not beneficial. I think it really depends on what your goals are, but I don't want anyone that's listening to stress that if one day of the week, they decide to have a teaspoon of cream in their coffee that somehow that makes them a bad faster or a dirty faster. It's always in the context of what are your goals, what are you shooting for? If you're weight loss resistant, that's probably not the best choice I would rather that you just use-- 

You can change the flavor profile of black coffee with things like cinnamon, which can boost insulin sensitivity. You can use high-quality salt like Redmond's. And we'll include a link to Redmond’s. I love Redmond’s. They are such great salt. But it can really change the flavor profile, if you're struggling with how bitter coffee can be. But also remember, bitter means that there's a high polyphenol content in the tea or the coffee that you're drinking and you don't want to diminish the net impact of the benefits of those bitter compounds.

Melanie Avalon: That makes me want to go on a really quick tangent. Actually, two thoughts. One about the cinnamon. I'm interviewing on Monday, Ari Whitten. You said you are interviewing him, right? 

Cynthia Thurlow: I think in February. 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I haven't read his first book about red light therapy. But his new book is called Eat for Energy and he just goes into all the topics about diet and sleep and it's very supplement focused. So, what type of compounds and supplements can benefit that? It was interesting. His chapter on blood sugar, he goes really hard pushing the cinnamon. I didn’t really considered cinnamon that-- I knew it had those effects on blood sugar, but he really makes the case for having it with every meal, which was pretty interesting. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Like how much in terms of quantity?

Melanie Avalon: He recommends a teaspoon added to meals.

Cynthia Thurlow: Okay, so, it's not a lot. Obviously, when I was doing research for the book, it was something that really stood out as something that could be certainly efficacious. And so, I've recommended people sprinkle some in their coffee, but a teaspoon is a good amount.

Melanie Avalon: And it was interesting, because I do remember you talking about it in the book. And then I was just very, I guess, surprised about the link to which he talked about it. He talked about it and vinegar, which she talks about taking. Oh, since you said it, people are going to really be wondering. [laughs] You don't think or do you think how does cinnamon affect the fast in coffee?

Cynthia Thurlow: Well, it changes the flavor profile, but it's supposed to help improve insulin sensitivity. I don't recall from the research that I looked at so long ago now. It seems it was million years ago. What was the therapeutic amount? I would have to go back and do some digging. But it's certainly not something that is going to break a clean fast. I think that's the distinction our listeners are probably focused on. But it's oftentimes the hook that I get people interested in using black coffee is use Redmond salt or try cinnamon, and almost everyone is able to ease that transition. It just helps curb that bitterness of the plain coffee.

Melanie Avalon: I keep mentioning Mark Schatzker’s book, The End of Craving and I finally just finished both. I was so proud of myself, I read both his other two books in three days. Steak and The Dorito Effect. His books are just amazing. And now, I really want to re interview a carnivore figure like Paul Saladino, or Shawn Baker, or something. Because he doesn't talk about in the context of the carnivore movement or anything. But he makes a really good case for-- Because you're talking about polyphenols and the bitterness and how that might relate. He talks about how basically kids don't often like these bitter vegetables and stuff. And the carnivore movement, people will use that as an example of why we shouldn't be eating plants because they're saying like, “Intuitively, our bodies know not to eat it.” And then we conditioned ourselves to eat it.

When he makes the argument that the body is learning to eat it. It wasn't so much intuition that we shouldn't have eaten it. It was that our body had to learn and adapt in order to get the health benefits from it. I just thought that was a really nicely reframed on that concept with plant toxins.

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, and I think the one thing that I fervently believe having gone through a healthcare hiccup is that there was a time posthospitalization that the only thing my body tolerated was meat. But then I got to a point where I started to crave vegetables. I think as your gut heals, you become more tolerant to those plant-based compounds. I truly, truly believe that the average person should be able to eat a variety of macronutrients and not just protein. That's my feeling. I went through nine months of just eating meat. Anytime I tried to reintroduce a vegetable, it was a disaster. No exaggeration. But I think as my gut has healed. And it ebbs and flows. I don't think it's ever going to be perfect. I find myself craving certain things. It'd be interesting to see. I know that Paul is perhaps a bit more outspoken than Shawn. And I've met Shawn in person now. So, I feel I can comfortably say that. But it would be interesting to see what their take would be.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I'm just curious. When you were doing the meat only, were you still eating leaner cuts or did you eat fattier cuts?

Cynthia Thurlow: It's funny. I've never and it drives my husband crazy, because I'm sure for everyone listening, all of our meat prices have gone up exponentially. And my husband was grumbling about how the two ribeyes he bought were a third of the price is the filet that he bought for my birthday or whatever piece of fish I'm having. There is a cost difference, but I just feel so much better. I just don't do well with very fatty meats. And just you'll never see me using or eating duck fat fries, or using lard or tallow. Not that there's anything wrong with using those products. I just don't do well. It'll feel like I have a rock in my stomach and it's really unpleasant. I just tend and always have-- always done much better. Throughout my lifetime, it's not something that's just new to this stage of my life, but I've always craved leaner meat. 

Now, we're getting into minutiae. But for me, cartilaginous, very textured meat was just never something that appealed to me and I have a child that's the same way. There's team lean meat. There are two of us. And team fatty meat, they are or two on the other side. And generally speaking, when we buy a cow share it works out beautifully, because [laughs] there are 50% of the house likes leaner cuts and 50% is more flexible. So, it all works out. How about you? Did you always know that you were this way or was it just an evolution as you got more mature?

Melanie Avalon: When I first started doing keto back in the day, I ate fattier meats then and I ate a lot of coconut oil. [laughs] But in the context of a low-carb diet, I was much better with it. When I switched to high carb, I couldn't do the fattier meats and the high carb. It’s like I felt the fat in my system and is very like-- it’s like a feeling. But basically, the next day I just felt more sluggish. I felt I wasn't clearing the fat as much. I just feel better on lean meats. I find when it comes to craving, the thing I crave is the protein. I just crave that lean protein. So, I like fattier meats.

If I were to sit down to have a meal of a ribeye, it would be delicious, but I wouldn't feel as good from it. I don't think and that's why I was curious about when you're doing only meat. If I was doing only meat, I would be very curious. I might be better with fattier meats then, but I haven't done that in a while.

Cynthia Thurlow: No. They sent me home from the hospital telling me to eat a standard American diet. Essentially, a devoid of fiber, highly processed. And my gastroenterologist and surgeon were like, “You know exactly what to do.” And so, I recall it had to be stewed meat or braised meat. It had to be really, really cooked meat. I remember even reintroducing shellfish was a problem. It was a long journey. But I could eat a cooked burger like a champ and I probably ate burgers every day. It was one thing that my body really had a strong desire for, but it had to be a plain burger, nothing on it. Salt and pepper. That was about it.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I have one more thought. Oh, so, reading his book, Steak, where he basically travels all over the world. I learned so much and tried steak in all these different countries, and tried to figure out what makes a good steak. And after reading that book, I was craving a steak. I have quite a few steaks in my freezer from ButcherBox. I will say, “Oh my goodness.” Have you had the ButcherBox filets?

Cynthia Thurlow: Mm-mm.

Melanie Avalon: They're really, really good. I love carpaccio. I pulled it out and I was like, “I wonder if I can make my own carpaccio from this?” I sliced it rare and it was so tender, it was so delicious. So, plug for ButcherBox. They have really good steaks. And our link for them is butcherbox.com/ifpodcast. I'm not sure what the offer is right now, but they usually have really good offers going. I'm excited to interview him, but I think his takeaway was that the thing that most affects flavor, it's funny how just how different the different ideas are in different countries about what makes a good steak. The USDA prime concept is just about the marbling. It's nothing about the flavor. I don't know, I think it's very misleading as far as what makes a good steak. 

And then, wait, there was one other fact. Oh, this blew my mind. The criteria for Angus steak is so arbitrary that you would think it would be from the Angus breed, but it's not. They do it based on-- The criteria is like, “Is the cow black?” Because most Angus cows are black. And then all these other criteria, but none of it is actually is it an Angus steak. So, there's all of these crazy nuances in the steak world that just blew my mind. I was like, “Oh, wow, can't trust a label.”

Cynthia Thurlow: No, I think that goes for anything here in the United States, [laughs] unfortunately.

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Melanie Avalon: So, her next question. She says, “Due to my health history, I get bloodwork frequently. My glucose is often, high 109. I don't understand. It is frustrating, because I don't eat processed foods much at all. Could alcohol affect this? Before you answer that, if I'm being honest, I'm drinking more now than ever during COVID-19, but I mostly clear liquor, tequila, and vodka, and yes, wine several days a week. If my sugar is up, can I still be successful at IF? This is very confusing to me?”

Cynthia Thurlow: Well, clearly, it sounds like you're in perimenopause. You're going to be prone to less insulin sensitivity. If you're fasting blood sugar's 109, that's high. I would be asking for a fasting insulin. I would want to know an A1c, I want to look at inflammatory markers, like, a high-sensitivity CRP, and you would be an ideal person to have a glucometer or continuous glucose monitor without question.

A lot of things impact blood sugar, sleep quality, stress management, overexercising, inflammatory foods, gut health, toxins. I would say at a bare minimum you need a deeper dive. But a blood sugar of 109, if it's been that level multiple times, it's a wakeup call that you're setting yourself up to develop some degree of insulin resistance. It's time to have an honest conversation. If you're still eating gluten, and grains, and dairy, and alcohol, and processed sugars, all of those things can exacerbate insulin resistance. So, it's really a wakeup call.

Melanie Avalon: I agree. And just speaking to the alcohol piece specifically, typically drinking alcohol in the fasted state will actually lower your blood sugar. But if you're having alcohol with your meal, it also might lower the blood sugar effect, but it's very individual. For some people, it might have the opposite effect because the body's processing the alcohol. And so, the glucose from your meal is staying elevated in your bloodstream. Again, it's a thing where you're going to have to monitor with a continuous glucose monitor to see how it's affecting you specifically, but agreed with Cynthia that it's concerning. So, definitely something to look further into.

Not to put a Band-Aid on it with a supplement, but something like berberine might also be helpful supplement to integrate into your protocol. She also says, “She thought she was in perimenopause, but then she had a full-blown cycle” and she just wanted to point that out. I think she was saying this, because I cut down this question a little bit. But Gin had an experience, I think where perimenopause and the definition of it and then having thinking you're done, and then you're not, and so, she was referring to that. Do you see that a lot with your patients, by the way, Cynthia, people who think they're at a certain point with perimenopause or menopause and then have a surprise?

Cynthia Thurlow: No, not all that often, because so, let me backtrack. Over the past two years without getting controversial, if anyone received a vaccine for a virus that we have been in a pandemic over, I'll just put it that way. I've seen a lot of women in menopause that have started menstruating, again. I've seen women that are peak cycling years that have gone on to have months, and months, and months of irregular shorter, longer cycles. So, certainly, if you fall underneath those parameters, that may be directly related to the vaccine. Let me just put that out there. 

Number two, generally, if you've gone 12 months without a menstrual cycle, you are menopausal. If you suddenly start bleeding after that 12 months that absolutely warrants seeing your GYN or your internist to make sure there's no other reason to explain why that would happen. If someone is not yet in menopause, and they have 18 months without a menstrual cycle, and then they get one that's obviously different. This is a question that is best directed to your healthcare professional. But again, if you're 51 years of age or older, that's the average age in the United States for menopause. And you have not had a period for 12 months or longer and you suddenly get a period, you need to let your GYN know that requires follow up with them. And it could turn out to be completely benign, however, you need to make sure it's not related to another issue.

Melanie Avalon: She has one last question. She said, “She's not been able to drink diet soda or regular soda since chemotherapy, which is a blessing in disguise. And she also can't consume anything with artificial lemon or lime. They all give her a horrible aftertaste. But she can have cherry or orange Tootsie Rolls, which is strange.” She says, “She knows we're not doctors, but do we have thoughts on why.” I will just say, I don't know, but I will say, after reading, I mentioned it already. But in particular, The Dorito Effect and learning the mind blowingness about all of these artificial flavors, and how they're created, and what they are, and what they do, and how they signal to our bodies. It doesn't surprise me that going through something like chemotherapy, I don't know what happened, but it has some effect and how your body is interpreting these flavors. So, that's not surprising to me.

Cynthia Thurlow: Very common for patients that have gone through chemotherapy to develop. Sometimes, it can be transient, short-term, but also long-term taste preferences. And I think it would be highly dependent on the type of chemotherapy that you received. Whatever chemo toxic agent you received, some of them may have more lingering long-term effects than others. That would be my first guess. But certainly, something to discuss with your oncology team. If this is someone else that's listening that's experiencing this, I have someone on my team who very openly talks about being aggressive cancer thriver. That's how she refers to herself. And I fervently agree with that that she definitely had a period of time transiently, where she had some taste preferences, or things that tasted metallic or cottony in her mouth that ever resolved. But I think it's largely dependent on the type of cancer you're being treated for and the type of chemo toxic drug that you received.

Melanie Avalon: Thank you. That was so helpful. I did not know that. [laughs] And also, Doreen, sending you lots of love with that whole situation with your cancer and we're happy that you caught it early. And it sounds like the chemotherapy is going well. So, very happy for you with that. She says, “I want to thank you, ladies. I feel blessed beyond words to have been able to include you in my daily life. Love and light.” Oh, she goes by D. So, thank you D for your question, which apparently was our episode. 

Cynthia Thurlow: It was a long question, but our next episode, we're going to get a couple for sure fit in. 

Melanie Avalon: Yes. The show notes for today's episode will be at ifpodcast.com/episode279. Those show notes will have a full transcript. So, definitely check that out. 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. You can follow us on Instagram. We are @ifpodcast, I am @melanieavalon, Cynthia is @cynthia_thurlow_. And again, a reminder to enter the giveaway for some goodies from Cynthia. If you have her book, Intermittent Fasting Transformation or if you don't, if you get it, which you should, just leave a review on whatever platform you bought it on. It's super easy to do and just send a screenshot of that to questions@ifpodcast.com to enter to win and this is US continental residents only. Yes, I think that is all the things. Anything from you, Cynthia, before we go?

Cynthia Thurlow: No, thank you. Keep those great questions coming. Obviously, today was an unusually long question, but we will definitely get to several on the next episode we record. 

Melanie Avalon: Awesome. Well, 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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