Episode 330: Pregnancy, Fertility, Red Light, Indoor Air Quality, Animal Fat, Cholesterol, Cortisol, Coffee, Leptin, Insulin, Fat Burning, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Aug 13

Welcome to Episode 330 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 Vanessa Spina, author of Keto Essentials: 150 Ketogenic Recipes to Revitalize, Heal, and Shed Weight.

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

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Listener Q&A: sunshine - Is just coffee, first thing in the morning, okay?

Listener Q&A: Sunny - I have the same question re: clean fast with coffee. Is it a stressor?

Coffee inhibits the reactivation of glucocorticoids by 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1: A glucocorticoid connection in the anti-diabetic action of coffee?

The acute effects of coffee consumption on blood glucose and it’s relationship with serum cortisol and insulin in females

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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 healthcare provider for medical advice and answers to personal health questions.


Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 330 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, author of What When Wine, and creator of the supplement line AvalonX. And I'm here with my cohost, Vanessa Spina, sports nutrition specialist, author of Keto Essentials, and creator of the Tone breath ketone analyzer and Tone Lux red light therapy panels. For more on us, check out ifpodcast.com, melanieavalon.com, and ketogenicgirl.com. Please remember, the thoughts and opinions on this show do not constitute medical advice or treatment. To be featured on the show, email us your questions to questions@ifpodcast.com. We would love to hear from you. 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.

Hi, everybody, and welcome. This is Episode number 330 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon, and I'm here with Vanessa Spina. 

Vanessa Spina: Hello, everybody. 

Melanie Avalon: How are you today, Vanessa? 

Vanessa Spina: I am doing awesome. How are you? 

Melanie Avalon: I am good. We were just saying it's been a while since we've talked. It's been quite a while because you were traveling and things came up, but here we are. So, we're excited.

Vanessa Spina: So excited to be back here with you. I've been looking forward to it, as always and yeah, I'm feeling good. I'm feeling energized and [laughs] ready to go.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. I have so many things to talk about. I have one random question for you, though. I listened to your beautiful episode announcing your pregnancy on your podcast, which was really special to listen to and hear your backstory and everything that you've gone through, and congratulations again. 

Vanessa Spina: Thank you. This is it.

Melanie Avalon: Wait, have we talked about it? 

Vanessa Spina: No, this is it like, officially sharing it on this podcast that yeah, I'm pregnant again, and super, super excited about it. And when this episode drops, we'll be at 21 weeks. And the day that this is coming out, we're doing it at 21 weeks. We have the big ultrasound, the anatomy scan, and yeah, it's been so exciting. And the baby's due date is December 25th, which is absolutely hilarious. He's going to hate his birthday. I mean, he or she is going to hate their birthday. [laughs] Yeah, we're just so over the moon, so excited. But thank you for the kind words about it, and I've been excited to share it on this podcast too.

Melanie Avalon: Okay, that was a complete fail. I totally forgot that we hadn't-- I would have done [laughs] that differently, but we've talked about it so much and I listened to your episode. Okay, friends, that was a big announcement. [laughs] It just happened. Oh, man. Because I was going to ask you the most random question about it, but first, I'm going to focus on the moment. Yes, I am so excited for you. I'm living vicariously through you because I think, like we've talked about, I don't really anticipate ever having children. I mean, I won't say never. 

Vanessa Spina: I used to say the same thing, girl. And here I am like, baby number two coming so yeah, you never know. 

Melanie Avalon: This is true. But in the meantime, [laughs] while I'm not anticipating it, I'm just living vicariously through you because I feel like we would approach it very similarly, like the pregnancy experience. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. Probably very similarly. [laughs] 

Melanie Avalon: I'm just so happy for you. 

Vanessa Spina: Thank you. 

Melanie Avalon: I'm still going to ask my really random question because I was listening to your episode. We can put a link to it in the show notes where you talk in detail about your whole experience thus far. What do you think causes food aversions in pregnancy, especially things like meat, because you think with meat that it's like the most nutrient dense thing. But you were talking about how in your first pregnancy you had meat aversions and you were hoping that you don't get them this time around.

Vanessa Spina: Yes. It's so funny because I've talked to so many friends about this, especially people who are in the paleo space, who are in the keto or carnivore space. Why do you think that is? Because it obviously makes life a little trickier if you're mostly a meat eater and suddenly you are having meat aversions. I had aversions to steak, which is the most common one of all my friends and other moms who are similarly inclined lifestyle and diet wise. This time I haven't had it so far. And the predominant theory is that because of potential pathogens in like, for example, steak that is not fully cooked, because the risk is high from that it's almost safer to just avoid it. I think that it's probably a good theory. I also think it could have to do with other things like what your iron status is, because this time I was slightly anemic in the first trimester.

I actually have to check on how that's going, but I sort of ramped up my consumption of beef, especially because it has so much bioavailable heme iron in it and I wanted to kind of compensate for that a little bit. And I haven't had any meat aversions. So, I'm wondering because my theory was that maybe it has something to do with how many nutrients you need from that certain protein. And maybe if last time I was eating so much beef already going into the pregnancy that maybe I hit some kind of limit where my body was like, "Okay, we have enough of these nutrients, so we're going to have you crave chicken." Because that's what I was craving, [chuckles] it was chicken. So, I was making chicken fajitas like every night. But this time so far, I haven't had it at all. And for me, last time it started in the second trimester, so I may still be proven wrong, but I think this time because I was slightly anemic that my body needs the iron. And this time I'm not having any aversions. Like, we just had steak for dinner like an hour ago. So definitely not having any aversions. But when you have the aversions, it's really intense because a lot of people you can't smell it, you can't be around it. It's a pretty powerful instinct. There're some really interesting theories about it.

Melanie Avalon: Okay, wow. I have some follow-up thoughts and questions. Okay, so one that was going to be my two theories was the pathogens. My caveat about the pathogens is I find it interesting that we would have evolved enough for our bodies to know that we eat red meat more likely raw, but we typically cook other meats. Like, it's interesting that it would-- if that's the reasoning, it's interesting that our body would distinguish, "Oh, red meat is what we typically eat raw." But maybe and then two, I was going to say the iron, but I was thinking maybe it was because of avoiding nutrient overload, like iron and then the tangent from iron that you are going to like and you might be familiar with this. You probably are. So yesterday, actually two stories here. One, I interviewed a guest yesterday and have you ever lost an episode or like, have you ever recorded and you weren't recording? 

Vanessa Spina: It's like the most brutal, painful thing ever. [laughs] Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: It's so awful. Like, we recorded like 30 minutes, and then his mic messed up. So, we started again and we recorded another, like, 40 minutes. I realized that second 40 minutes, I never hit start. Like, I never hit record. We were like, "We're just going to put a pin in this." [laughs] We're going to come back later. Because it's so defeating. It's like-- 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah, you can't do it the third time. 

Melanie Avalon: Like, I can't. But in any case, it was an episode on red light therapy and specifically, like, laser implementation because LEDs as well, but also the laser modality. This man is so knowledgeable. His name is Forrest Smith. He has a company called Kineon. 

Vanessa Spina: Oh, I got to interview him. 

Melanie Avalon: He has a modular device that you actually strap to your body. So, it's for targeted treatment of my knee issues and it's really great. And he's honestly, I think he's the most knowledgeable person I've ever talked to about red light, which is saying a lot. Speaking of iron and hemoglobin, did you know that red light interacts with the photoreceptors on our hemoglobin? 

Vanessa Spina: No, I didn't. 

Melanie Avalon: Oh. So let me tell you. [laughs] So apparently there're photoreceptors on our hemoglobin. The receptors on hemoglobin attach to both oxygen and nitrous oxide. And when red light interacts with these photoreceptors, it makes it drop the nitrous oxide, which goes into the bloodstream, then that has systemic health benefits. And then the hemoglobin can take in more oxygen. So, it increases the oxygen carrying potential of your hemoglobin. So, it's like a double whammy.

Vanessa Spina: That's amazing because a lot of the benefits from red light therapy are attributed to the nitric oxide. So that's a really interesting sort of, like, other side to it that I didn't realize that was happening. I'm going to be diving deep into that, probably late into the night.

Melanie Avalon: I know. It was so exciting. He was, like, blowing my mind in so many ways. He also talked about a study where they studied athletes with ACL injuries. And those athletes, if you have an intense injury like that, you're more likely to have cardiovascular tissue inflammation later in life. And it's because, literally, the inflammation from the injury travels to the cardiac tissue.

Vanessa Spina: Oh, wow. That's crazy. The body just is so incredibly miraculous and amazing. It just never ceases to amaze me. All the new things we're learning too about it.

Melanie Avalon: It's just crazy. And he was talking about that because he was saying, if you have an acute injury, how important it is to treat it with red light to help mitigate things like that. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah, the red light is amazing. The whole reason why I really got into red light and wanted to create my own panels was because of my fertility journey and I wanted to really optimize our chances of conceiving. And I was going through all of these studies on red light that especially Japan and Denmark have been doing because they've been facing really low fertility rates. So, they've been sponsoring a lot of research on it. And the one in Japan is interesting, it had really good results, but the one in Denmark was actually incredible. And they had all these women who had been completely resistant to getting pregnant, and they did these red light therapy sessions with a laser, speaking of lasers, with something, a device called the GigaLaser. And they had such high rates of pregnancy, caring to full term and one woman was 50. 

And when I was reading it, it just gave me so much encouragement because I had a loss as I mentioned on the episode. And it's not that I suddenly thought like, "Oh, well, now I'm not fertile, but I was starting to feel like maybe I need some extra help or boost." And so, I used the frequency, the wavelengths of light from that study to create the Sapphire panel. So, it has four wavelengths in it. And the Sapphire, which I use and have been using every day, I use it specifically on my abdomen because a fascinating thing about our ovaries is it's, as you well know, like, one of the areas we have the most density of mitochondria along with the heart and brain. And so, in the Danish study, they used the GigaLaser over the abdomen and they hit them with, like the number of joules was like 20,000 or something. It was like a crazy number with this laser. And all these women who were resistant to getting pregnant, got pregnant, had full-term pregnancies, and it was just like, so exciting. 

I was like, this makes me want to create a panel that is specifically for this for myself. [laughs] I do think it probably boosted my fertility because the biggest thing as women get older is egg quality declines, and it's actually because of the mitochondria. And there's a number of things that can happen in addition to the mitochondria, just like losing steam or getting damaged over time. There's also a loss of CoQ10, which is one of the electron acceptors in the electron transport chain. So, I started doing the red light to support the mitochondria there in that area, and then also taking CoQ10. And yeah, it made me really passionate. So much so that I was like, [laughs] "I have to create my own line of red light therapy panels." But it's just like my personal story. But I also know that a lot of women deal with issues conceiving, and it's such an emotional, difficult thing for people that if I could create something that would help boost that in any way, it would just make me so happy. 

Melanie Avalon: That's amazing. So, the wavelength is different than the normal wavelengths that people use.

Vanessa Spina: Every kind of red light therapy panel has different wavelengths in it depending on the device. And the standard wavelengths that you see in a lot of red light therapy panels is 660 and 850 nanometer. So, 661 is red, and the other is the infrared, which is the 850 nanometers. So, I added the 630 and 830 nanometer, which were the wavelengths used in that Danish study. So, I wanted to custom create because a lot of red light therapy panels will just have those two frequencies because they have been supported in the research. But those, specifically the 630 and 830 were used in that Danish study. So, I wanted to customize it to have those four. So, you don't always have four or you don't have them in that specific range. It kind of depends on the device. 

Melanie Avalon: That is so cool. You know what I'm thinking we should do, [laughs] since I'm launching my EMF blocking product line and there're so many studies on EMFs and fertility, we should do like a fertility bundle [laughs] and it'll be like, buy the EMF blocking products.

Vanessa Spina: That would be amazing because I stopped using my AirPods at the same time about a year ago. And it was also because I didn't want that to interfere with my mitochondria, my fertility either. So, it's a really good combination. 

Melanie Avalon: It's crazy. We should brainstorm some sort of promo. How can people get the Sapphire?

Vanessa Spina: If you go to ketogenicgirl.com, you can check out the Tone LUX line of red light therapy panels. And the Sapphire is like the big one, the half body panel that has those four wavelengths. And you can use it for any area of the body. I use it on my legs. I use it to precondition my legs before workouts. It's just a really powerful panel. So, I was using it on my abdomen a lot. I'm not using it on my abdomen as much right now because I'm pregnant, but I'm still using it on my face and other parts of my body and also for ambient lighting around the room, like I know you like to do too. 

Melanie Avalon: Oh, yes. [laughs] That's my favorite use of it, which I know is probably most people like lower on the totem pole. But, yeah, I'm all about the ambient lighting. 

Vanessa Spina: Yes. And I think the other thing that I have been and we talked about this on another episode, really researching is air quality and getting an air filter that is HEPA grade. And I know you know so much about air filtration, and that's kind of the next thing that I want to-- even though I am pregnant now, I'm still taking CoQ10. I'm still doing red light therapy. I'm still doing things to make sure because those things, they improve egg quality, but they also just improve your overall health and longevity and everything. So, I've been reading about how air quality and having an air purifier is so helpful for the mitochondria, because carbon monoxide is killer for the mitochondria. So, you really have to have really high-quality air. 

Melanie Avalon: Were you using air purifiers historically?

Vanessa Spina: No. 

Melanie Avalon: No.

Vanessa Spina: [laughs] This is a new thing for me. Okay, I have layers of different things that it's been, like, a thing I've wanted to look into for a while, but haven't. 

Melanie Avalon: Okay, wait. Pause. Oh, my goodness I'm like, then again, I feel like the air quality-- I don't know. Is the air quality better in Prague than here? 

Vanessa Spina: [laughs] No. And it was really bad when I was growing up in China. It was like, horrible, so yeah. 

Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness. Okay, Vanessa, we got to get you on team-- Well, I guess you're-- I guess you're here. 

Vanessa Spina: But I want to be educated. Like, I've been learning so much from you. 

Melanie Avalon: Okay. I'm obsessed with air quality. I have so many. I mean, I go overboard. I have experimented with a lot of different brands, and it's overwhelming, basically, because, think about it, we're always talking about cleaning up our exposure toxins and our food, and then we think about our cleaning products, and then a little bit like our skincare and makeup. I mean, I'm talking about it all the time. But our air is what we are constantly in 24/7 [chuckles] and so many of us spend our time indoors, and they've done studies and apparently indoor air and this is for the US. So, again, I'm not sure about Prague, but in the US the indoor air can be 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, which is crazy. I just got some facts about this. We actually breathe around 30,000 gallons of air per day, which is just so much. There're all these different compounds that can just accumulate. So, people think about things like bacteria and viruses, but mold, VOCs, all of these chemicals from all of our products that we have. So, I am all about the air filters and purifiers. And so actually, we have a new sponsor on this show that I'm so excited about because I had been using their devices for quite a while and was a big fan of them because I think they make having high-quality air purifier so affordable for people. So, it's AirDoctor, I have one of their units. I love it.

Vanessa Spina: Literally looking them up right now to check them out because I want to invest in a really high-quality device or maybe multiple. See, they've got purifiers and well, they have HVAC filters for your whole house. 

Melanie Avalon: Oh, I would love to do something like that once I have an actual consistent abode.

Vanessa Spina: Oh, it's nice looking. 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Okay, so things I love about them, they look super nice, aesthetically pleasing, they're very quiet. It's actually one of the only-- this is a true statement. It's the only air purifier I have that I run while podcasting because it's so quiet, which is amazing. And they're super affordable, which is what I love. When I was researching them in the past, one of their missions was to make high quality air affordable to people, so people can listen-- We have an ad for them in the show, so you can listen to that for more details. But we do have an incredible offer speaking of affordability. So, the coupon code, IFPODCAST, depending on the model you choose, will actually get you up to 39% off or up to $300 off, which is like crazy. So, it depends, again, on the model. So that's airdoctorpro.com. So, A-I-R-D-O-C-T-O-R-P-R-O dot com with the promo code IFPODCAST, for up to 39% off or up to $300 off, depending on the model. I have the 3000, the AirDoctor.

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. That's the one I was just looking at. It circulates about 638 square feet, four times an hour or 1200 square feet twice an hour.

Melanie Avalon: Yes, that's the one. I have the AirDoctor 3000.

Vanessa Spina: It's so cute.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I love it. I have it in my kitchen. Yeah, like I said, "Looks super nice, very quiet." Has an ultra-HEPA filter, a carbon gas filter to trap VOCs. I really like its auto mode. Oh, this is what I love about it. Okay, so it's in the kitchen because I don't always trust the auto modes on these things. I've had units of different companies and I don't really feel like it's doing the auto mode because it never changes. So, this AirDoctor is in my kitchen and it's always quiet doing its thing. Every time I cook on my George Foreman Grill, if I use it, if I open it, like, open the George Foreman Grill, it like kicks into high speed. I'm like, "Oh, it knows." So, it's very impressive. Like, it knows, totally knows. 

Vanessa Spina: It's like, intelligent.

Melanie Avalon: And it stays on for a little bit and then simmers back down. I'm probably going to get feedback about using a George Foreman Grill, but that's okay. You got to just pick your battles. It's easier to use than my cast iron. 

Vanessa Spina: This is a really nice discount. Like, I just put the coupon code in just to see. And yeah, it's a generous discount.

Melanie Avalon: And they're already affordable, very affordable pricing. Yeah, and then you put in that discount and it slashes it. So yes, AirDoctor. I'm just so excited to have them on the show because I've been using them for so long. So, I do have quick other announcement. Oh, wait, just last question about what we were talking about. I have to ask you. When you said you were anemic, because I struggle historically with anemia, in what lab markers were you anemic? Like, did you do a full iron panel with, like, ferritin and everything? 

Vanessa Spina: I did, and it's actually mostly because your blood volume increases by about 20%. I wouldn't say it's like a true anemia, but it's like a pregnancy kind of anemia, and it's mostly because you're diluting the volume of ferritin, everything, because your blood volume is increasing so much for the baby. And it plays a big role in my biggest pregnancy symptom, which was fatigue in the first trimester. I don't have any nausea. Any other issues? Same thing with Luca. The only symptom I really have is fatigue, especially in the first trimester and the third. So, I've really been amping up my consumption of beef. Like, we had burgers or steak pretty much every day when we were in Denver and trying to get at least some serving of beef in or some red meat every single day right now. But it's really interesting. It's like I didn't have it that I know of last time, but this time I seem to have it. And I know it's because I wasn't eating that much red meat for some reason. I just wasn't like, we just got out of the habit. I wasn't ordering as much steak; I wasn't eating as many burgers. I was just doing a lot of fish, like a lot of seafood, and I just was doing poultry, and I just wasn't thinking about it intentionally. So, I know that that's probably the main reason because I didn't have that with Luca. I was eating so much [laughs] red meat at least once, if not twice a day with him before getting pregnant and during up until I got the aversion. So, it's really interesting. It's like you have certain things like your cholesterol markers to change, and it's just like, transient part of pregnancy, so you kind of have a different lipid profile and overall blood profile when you're pregnant. 

Melanie Avalon: So, it was your ferritin that was low for the anemia. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. It was the ferritin, but it was also a couple of other markers. And I just knew right away that it was because blood volume increased so much. So, I wasn't too worried about it, but I was like, "I know that I can take some iron supplements, and I can just eat a lot more red meat, and it'll probably get better." And it did improve after that. So, we'll see how it continues to go. But women are often dealing with anemia because we tend to eat less red meat. We tend to eat healthier. We tend to eat more salads. Every time I go to a steakhouse, I look around. It's mostly men, not a lot of women there. And we also lose every month when we menstruate, we lose iron. When we give birth, we lose tons of iron. So, we're more at risk of anemia. And I do lots of posts about how women need bioavailable heme iron. And it's not the spinach, the heme iron, if you are not vegan or vegetarian, it's the red meat. It's the most bioavailable, absorbable, and it makes the biggest difference. And it's really not all in the spinach, as we've been told. 

Melanie Avalon: It's so funny. So right now, I'm preparing to interview I'm reading two books. I'm reading Dr. Gabrielle Lyon's new book.

Vanessa Spina: Me too.

Melanie Avalon: I love her. Are you going to interview her?

Vanessa Spina: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: I love her so much.

Vanessa Spina: She's a dear friend of mine and she helped me out so much with my pregnancy and birth with Luca because she's a physician too and she just had two kids, so we had a lot. But she really, really helped me. We kind of bonded over that. Yeah, I'm reading it also.

Melanie Avalon: I was texting her and I was mentioning you. It was like a really long text because she was asking, what podcast should she go on? So, I gave her this really long list, and I didn't know if you knew her or not, so I included this whole thing about you in it, and she didn't address it, so I was like, "That's weird." She didn't address it. So, I didn't know that you guys knew each.

Vanessa Spina: Oh, yeah. For a while and yeah, she's been on the podcast once or twice, but yeah, she's really an amazing person. And Dr Don Layman her mentor, I just had him on the podcast last week again, but I've had him on three or four times, which is how I connected with her initially.

Melanie Avalon: Got you. No, it's so funny because she texted me. She was like, "Do you know anybody? Any podcast I should go on?" And then she said she was like, "I feel like you know everybody." I was like, "I know everybody. You're Dr. Gabrielle Lyon." [laughs] Where's that? That always blows my mind. And what's funny, though, so I'm reading her book, which I am just loving, but at the same time, I'm reading do you know Dr. Joel Kahn? 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. He's the big vegetarian doctor, right, who went on Rogan's podcast to do the debate with Chris Kresser, I think.

Melanie Avalon: I think that was him. Was that? 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah, I think so.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, I did not-- Okay. Yes, that was him and I listened to that. Do you know my story about how I'm getting him on the show? 

Vanessa Spina: No.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, this made my life. So, I have my list of guests to reach out to try to book on the show. I so rarely do that because I'm just so slammed with [chuckles] incoming requests anyways, so he was on this list of like someday.

Vanessa Spina: Your dream list.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I probably added him after listening to that episode with Chris Kresser honestly. I totally forgot that that's how I originally heard about him. So, when that article came out, the one that made my age the title, like, 32-year-old podcaster article on CNBC profile piece.

Vanessa Spina: Oh, yeah, yeah. That was hilarious. 

Melanie Avalon: So, after that came out, I talk in that about wine and alcohol, and he's like, for health and he's a big wine fan, so he saw that article, like, just organically and reached out to me and was like, "We should collaborate." And I was like, Oh, my gosh, [laughs] you're on my list." 

Vanessa Spina: That's a real moment.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. No, that was like a hardcore moment. I was like, "Yes." [laughs] So I'm reading his book right now, which is called-- Oh, we should tell Gabrielle's book. Gabrielle's book is Forever Strong: A New, Science-Based Strategy for Aging Well, hint, hint it involves protein and muscle, and then Dr. Kahn's book is The Plant-Based Solution: America's Healthy Heart Doc's Plan to Power Your Health. And ironically, it's not the antithesis of Gabrielle's work, but they have very diverging viewpoints. So, it's very-- I really love when I have these moments of reading just complete different viewpoints at the same time. I think it's so helpful for, [sigh] I don't know, finding truth [chuckles] to be exposed to a lot of different viewpoints. So, I'm very excited about that. Okay, very last thing about the steak. I thought about you the other night because I went to see Wicked, the Broadway show. Have you seen that? 

Vanessa Spina: No, but I think it's, like, in the news a lot right now because, isn't Ariana Grande in it? 

Melanie Avalon: Oh, yeah. They're making a movie of it 

Vanessa Spina: Oh, okay. I've heard really good things about the musical.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, it's so good. I think I've seen it now, I don't even know, maybe six times, but I saw it twice in a row, like, within five days. Oh, it's so magical. I want to see it again now. I almost cried when she was singing Defying Gravity. The second time I saw it, I was out very late, very long, drinking a lot of wine, and I got back and I was just ravenous. Like, ravenous and I felt like a caveman. Like, I went in my kitchen and I ate three steaks, and I didn't even really cook them. I mean, I sort of did. It's debatable.

Vanessa Spina: That's, like the thing I miss the most is from pregnancy is beef tartare.

Melanie Avalon: Ah, oh, yes you and I have this, we understand the raw meat. I literally just put on the grill for, like, a second. They were frozen too. [laughs] Put on the grill for a second, and then I just cut through it. It was so satisfying. And I was only going to eat one, and I was like, "I got to keep going." So, I ate three.

Vanessa Spina: That's what I was saying to Pete throughout our whole dinner tonight. I was like, "Steak is just so satisfying like, there's no other protein that-- I'm like every time we're eating it, I'm like, this is so satisfying." You know, it's a superfood. It's so nutrient dense. When it gives your body that much satisfaction nutritionally, it's amazing. 

Melanie Avalon: It feels like a sigh of relief when you eat it.

Vanessa Spina: Totally. 

Melanie Avalon: I also sometimes get that feeling with salmon, I think from the high omegas. 

Vanessa Spina: Oh, yeah. I've been having salmon every day. [laughs] I crave it so much. I crave it so much, especially when I'm pregnant. So, I've been having it every day. 

Melanie Avalon: It's so good. I'll go through, like, salmon periods, and I don't know what it is, but I'll just have to have salmon every night for a while. 

Vanessa Spina: I really think the body just needs those fats, and the more in tune you are with that, especially if it-- like for me, I tend to do more, like, tenderloin with the steak. I eat more like lean chicken. Most of my proteins are pretty lean, but I think the salmon is like the fatty one. So, it's like my body knows if it needs to get those omega-3s, it should ask for salmon and I will deliver. [laughs] 

Melanie Avalon: So good, so good. Sometime we have to hang out in real life and go to some meat place and just eat all the meat. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. And just, like, all the raw. [laughs] 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I want to apologize to our vegetarian, vegan audience. I do respect their viewpoint. [laughs] No, I'm being serious. I respect your viewpoints. I just personally need it.

Vanessa Spina: Yes, I was vegetarian for most of my life, so I definitely respect it. But I'm still making up for that time [laughs] all the time.

Melanie Avalon: Reading Dr. Kahn's book, I just feel so hungry like, reading it. I would be so hungry without.

Vanessa Spina: I was always hungry because of protein leverage, yeah. And I often think if I were to do it again now, based on what I know about protein, I would be pounding, like, plant-based protein shakes multiple times a day. And I think that that would probably help a lot in addition to the other supplementation that you need to do if you can do. [chuckles] Yeah, I would definitely go about it a different way now because I definitely was not getting enough protein for years. 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Something I'm going to ask Dr. Kahn. I'm going to use myself as a case study because he talks a lot about cholesterol and how animal products affect cholesterol. I am the perfect case study. So especially because I've used InsideTracker. 

Vanessa Spina: Shout out.

Melanie Avalon: I love InsideTracker. Oh, did you get your results from InsideTracker?

Vanessa Spina: No, not yet. 

Melanie Avalon: Oh, man. I can't wait for you to get them. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. It's just like I'm not really expecting much right now because I'm pregnant like everything is different. And we even discussed that when I went in for the test and they said, "This is not going to be optimal." I was like, "I know," because I'm like growing a person right now. So, I'm looking forward to doing it also afterwards, postpartum.

Melanie Avalon: Well, that's something great about it is how it keeps like in the app, you have all your data over the years now for me, and you can see-- and this is what I'm going to talk with Dr. Kahn about. You can see over time how everything's changing and it has these graphs and it's just so helpful. But the thing I want to ask him, because he's a cardiac doctor, so a lot of what he talks about is cardiovascular disease and cholesterol levels and how diet affects that and specifically how bad meat is for cholesterol. I want to be like, look at my cholesterol panel, which I have points in it with anti-tracker, it tests HDL, LDL, cholesterol, triglycerides and apoB, which is very exciting. You can see the trend. So, I have trends where everything's very high, not very high, but high cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and then right now, everything is shockingly low. And throughout that, I have been consuming the same amount of animal protein, very, very high amounts. The difference is the high spikes are when I would do low carb, higher fat and not animal fat, plant-based fat. So basically, I would do high protein with a lot of MCT oil. And in those times, everything's very high. When I do high-carb, low-fat, but very high animal protein, my cholesterol is low. And so that says to me it literally it can't be the animal. I mean, I guess it could, but it's really hard to look at that and say it's the animal protein because I've kept it consistent.

Vanessa Spina: I don't think it's animal protein, but people associate animal protein with animal fat. So, I don't eat high fat proteins except for salmon, which has healthy lipid profile. But I think if you're eating like carnivore and you're eating just like ribeye's and just tons of really high fat like pork and chicken, I think it could contribute to that. I prefer to get my fats mostly from salmon and olive oil and coconut oil a little bit, like just for cooking. But I don't cook with olive oil. So that's like, I think maybe the only other fat I get from animals like egg yolks, but it's so nutrient dense and nutritious. So, yeah, I can't wait to hear you interview him. 

Melanie Avalon: And to that point, it's exactly what you said, people associate, when they say animal products, they're talking about the fattier part and the ironic thing and the reason I think I'm a perfect case study and I can't wait to talk to him. I added plant-based fats and I basically would eat lean protein with, like I said, MCT oil, coconut oil, really just MCT oil. And that's what would drive everything up. And then now, my most recent panel, I'm just pulling it up on the InsideTracker app because people were asking because I posted this on my Instagram, and it's actually too low now. [laughs] So, like, my total cholesterol is 104, which InsideTracker has in the red, not even in the yellow. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. It's out of range, but we all know the reference ranges are not necessarily-- 

Melanie Avalon: This is by InsideTracker's range. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. InsideTracker ranges might better than the general population. 

Melanie Avalon: They actually don't have a-- Oh, this is so interesting. Is this the way it is for all of theirs. Oh, wow. I never realized this. So, this is not the way with all of their markers, like, HDL will go from green-- Like, on the low side, HDL will go from green to yellow to red. LDL will go from green-- So, LDL goes straight from green to red. So, you go from great to bad and same with cholesterol. So, in any case, everything is really low. So, my cholesterol right now is 104. My LDL is 49. But in any case, people wanted to know what I did. My HDL is low, too. It's 40. But the trigs are--

Vanessa Spina: What're the triglycerides? 

Melanie Avalon: The trigs are 69. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. That's perfect. 

Melanie Avalon: So, it's a good ratio and I do want to research more how high does HDL need to be if your LDL and cholesterol are very, very low? But in any case, people want to know what I did to make it-- because it really did, like, severely drop. You can see it on the graphs. I did three things. I started taking my berberine before meals. Before I was just taking it in the fasted state in the morning. So, I think that had a major effect because people typically take it for blood sugar, but it's been shown to have an effect on cholesterol lowering as well. I've been using my CAROL AI Bike, which I'm so obsessed with still. 

Vanessa Spina: That could have a huge effect. Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, because they have a lot of studies on theirs on cholesterol beneficial lipid level changes in people. So, I've talked about a lot before, but basically, it's a long story short, it's an exercise bike. You do two to three per week of these 8-minute workout. It's the easiest thing you will ever do. It's only 8 minutes. The majority of the time, you're just like breathing, literally breathing. Like it's telling you to breathe. And you're pedaling very slow and you're keeping your resistance below a certain level and then you just do two 20-second all out sprints during which time it is yelling at you to run. So, you feel very motivated. It makes a whole story that you're like a hunter-gatherer in the woods running from a tiger. It's amazing. And I am seeing such changes in my leg definition and now getting my blood work back, I really think that that played a role. And the main part of it is it uses AI to adjust the pedals so that if you slow down, it increases resistance, so you're still pedaling max effort.

So, it forces you to actually do it's a REHIT workout, not a HIIT. So, it's high-intensity interval training, but like a new version of it that's more effective and time efficient. I'm obsessed. So, you can actually go to carolbike.com and coupon code MELANIEAVALON will get you $100 off. And I'm going to be doing an interview with them soon, so stay tuned for that. But yeah, so that's the changes I made. Oh, the berberine and then I stopped heating up my fruit because my HbA1c had jumped through the roof from doing that and it went back down.

Vanessa Spina: That's right. Oh, so that's really what it was then.

Melanie Avalon: It's ironic because I changed three things. Taking the berberine, the CAROL AI Bike, and stopping cooking the fruit. But yes, friends, this was so upsetting. My HbA1c, which is always around like 5, I started heating up my fruit because it made it taste like pie and it jumped to 5.8. I was freaking out, that's like not [laughs] okay. I went cold turkey, no pun intended, literally cold turkey. Started eating the fruit frozen again. And now my HbA1c is 4.9. So, that was in a month. It changed, a month. 

Vanessa Spina: That's awesome.

Melanie Avalon: Which is really empowering to show how much change you can make in a short amount of time. Because even HbA1c, it's supposed to be a three-month marker, but it changed that much in a month. So, team exercise, team don't cook your fruit, team berberine before the meals.

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. We just have so much incredible access to biofeedback and data now. In terms of-- that was the thing that it made me so excited the first time I learned that I could measure my own blood at home and I could see what was happening inside my body in response to what I was eating. And then obviously the ketone thing really took off for me too. But I just think now we have the ability to get so much feedback, we don't have to poke around in the dark anymore. You can actually figure out if heating up your fruit is making your blood sugar higher. You can actually figure things out with these kinds of incredible tools.

Melanie Avalon: And it's so telling, especially with the fruit theme, because I did not change the amount of fruit I was eating. The only thing I changed was I was heating it up and that it can have that big of a difference is so-- it really makes you think more about processed foods and how we might be eating the same amount of food, but in a processed form, like how that changes, how it interacts in our body. It's crazy. It's crazy. So, yeah, [laughs] all the things I did want to do a fasting question before we wrap up. Okay, so we actually have two questions related to coffee. Vanessa, would you like to read both of them and we can talk about it?

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. Let's get into it. So, we have the first question from Sunshine. It came to us on Facebook, in your Facebook group, and the question is, "Is just coffee first thing in the morning, okay. Lately, it has gotten so much negative attention. I have seen more and more lately about if you only drink coffee in the morning, it causes leptin resistance and imbalanced cortisol. I am a longtime faster, OMAD, one meal a day was my go-to for a long time until Cynthia on this podcast convinced me that I wasn't eating enough protein in a 24-hour period. So, I lengthened my window. I don't eat until later in the day and only have coffee for breakfast. Is coffee okay just by itself." Thank you.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. And then we also actually have another question. And this is ironic because the first question was from Sunshine and this is from Sunny, and they're not the same person. They are different people. So, would you like to read Sunny's question? 

Vanessa Spina: Yes. So, Sunny asks, "Melanie, I have the same question regarding clean fasting with coffee. Is it a stressor?" 

Melanie Avalon: Okay. So, friends, I went down the rabbit hole with this question. And so, honestly, when I read this because I feel like people do think coffee and they think that it rises cortisol. I know I did like, I read this and I was like, "Yeah, I've heard that." Let me see what I find. So, my takeaway I found a lot. [chuckles] So I think this is just my theory because I'm going to go into what I found about it. I think people are confusing. Okay, well, first of all, let me step back. There are conflicting studies. So, there are some studies that show caffeine raises cortisol and there are some that show that it lowers. Overall, though, I read this really amazing review and walked away from that feeling. Like in general, caffeine and coffee actually has a lowering effect on cortisol. And I'll talk about why. I think people are probably possibly confusing cortisol with catecholamines because both of the-- so catecholamines, like adrenaline, epinephrine, noradrenaline, both of those can stimulate a sympathetic state. So, like a fight-or-flight type response. We get that from cortisol. We get that from catecholamines. Coffee, caffeine pretty consistently stimulates catecholamines. It does not seem to do so with cortisol and it might actually do the opposite. So that's my theory about where the confusion is coming in, just a theory.

So, what's really interesting is that there is a lot of data and literature on coffee's beneficial effect on diabetes and blood sugar control. And so, I found this really cool study, it's 2022. It's called the acute effects of coffee consumption on blood glucose and its relationship with serum cortisol and insulin in females. And so, it was looking at how coffee affects cortisol and insulin in females. And it also referenced a lot of the literature up to that date. And again, I liked it because it was 2022, so it was very recent. And basically, a lot of literature has shown that coffee lowers cortisol levels in the blood. They think that might actually play a role in its beneficial effects on blood sugar levels because ironically, in the short term, coffee seems to reduce insulin sensitivity. But there's more going on there because like I said, "The long-term effects are beneficial effects on blood sugar regulation and diabetes." So, the response to coffee seems to be connected with the cortisol. So, cortisol seems to go down and blood sugar seems to go down with coffee consumption and it tends to be an acute response with that cortisol. So right after drinking is when you're seeing the decrease in serum cortisol levels. And that's what they found specifically in that study. It also can reduce glucose and glycogen in the liver and it does that by inhibiting muscle glycogenesis, which is basically the formation of glucose in the liver. 

And then at the same time, not only does it seem to lower blood sugar levels and reduce cortisol, but it might also affect other hormones. So, adiponectin and that might be playing a role in its beneficial effects on diabetes. And then Sunshine was asking about the insulin connection. There was another study from 2017, so they actually found that it did affect leptin levels, but that it did not affect insulin or cortisol levels. So that's like a baseline no response with cortisol. So, my takeaway reading all of it, and this is crazy because a lot of people are thinking coffee, stress, that it's the sympathetic state and a problem. But literally this article was positing that coffee might have antistress effect because of its reduction in cortisol levels. So, what is going on here? And then just as like another tangent, I didn't know this, there are over 1000 compounds in coffee that affect glucose metabolism, which is crazy, mind blowing and likely beneficially. So, my takeaway after reading all of that was coffee and caffeine is probably not having a negative effect on cortisol. It's probably having, if anything, a beneficial effect. And this fear and concern about the "cortisol," I think might be due to caffeine activating the sympathetic system via other modalities, which would be something to keep in mind. So, it might still be a concern for other reasons, but I actually don't think it's the cortisol. At least just not from what I was reading. And then I was going to go on a tangent about my new favorite coffee. But before that, do you have thoughts on the coffee and the cortisol?

Vanessa Spina: I'm so glad that you clarified that. Honestly, I'm kind of over the whole anti-coffee trend. As a sports nutrition specialist, I'm very aware that caffeine is actually one of the only scientifically backed supplements that is an ergogenic or performance aid. I'm such a huge fan of coffee and caffeine and not just because I'm super addicted to it, but also because I just think it has so many amazing properties. It actually helps with fat burning. It helps the body release those catecholamines that you were mentioning which bind to the beta receptors on our fat cells to help with fat flux. It actually even can stimulate brown fat. There're just so many wonderful things about coffee. I think the issue that people can run into is if they are doing too much potentially or if they're sensitive to it and they notice. If you have caffeine and you notice that every time you have it. I mean coffee, you feel anxious afterwards, try having a less potent dose of it or try going off it. I've done so many experiments where I was convinced by all this anti-coffee messaging, like maybe I should try it, maybe it is affecting my blood glucose, etc. And every single time I would cut it out for like a month, it would make zero difference, none whatsoever.

I probably was just like having less fat burning, less performance. I limit myself because I know myself. I have one cup in the morning and I make my own espresso. So, it's about 75 mg. I continue to have it during pregnancy because it's safe up to about 200 mg. If I really need it, I'll have another coffee in the afternoon, but I very rarely do that. So, I have talked to people though, like I have a friend who's a physician. She has like six or seven coffees a day because she's a super busy [laughs] physician who needs to be alert and on it all the time. And I think that potentially there could be issues, like if you were having just so much caffeine constantly, so much coffee. But I'm a big fan of it. I don't understand why it is being touted, like you said, "As having to do with stimulating cortisol." Other people say it makes your blood sugar higher if anything, that's probably just having you dump a little bit of glycogen from your liver and that's not a bad thing. It's not like, "Oh, it's making your blood glucose higher, so you're going to have diabetes kind of thing." [chuckles] Not at all, so I don't really get the anti-coffee rhetoric. I think it's a little bit like maybe trendy and so people are jumping on the bandwagon. And I think people like to deny themselves things and feel good about themselves for doing that. So, I think that may be where some of it's coming from, but scientifically it's like a proven performance aid. It's great for performance, [laughs] it's great for fat burning. So, I'm very pro coffee, just personally.

Melanie Avalon: Okay, so I'm so glad we're on the same page. And it's so interesting where that came from because that is the vibe that I have just tangentially experienced about coffee. Like I said, "I read the question." I was like, "Yeah, I've heard that, that makes sense." And then I went and looked at all the studies. I was like, "Oh, it does the opposite. It probably is really good for cortisol." 

Vanessa Spina: Busting myths here on The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. 

Melanie Avalon: My mind was a little bit blown and I walked away from reading all the studies and I was like; "I need my coffee for my blood sugar control." [laughs] 

Vanessa Spina: Totally. People have it totally opposite. A lot of people get it, but a lot of people have it totally opposite. And I don't think a week or two goes by that I don't get some kind of comment or message stating that, like, "Oh, this person said that it's bad for my blood sugar, bad for my cortisol." And I'm just like, [sigh] "Here [laughs] we go again." So hopefully people listening to this will know and understand. And I know you will link up all those studies in the show notes for people because some people may be like, "I don't believe it, I have to go read that for myself so that I can be convinced too." 

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I'll definitely put a link. There was another study I found, and this wasn't coffee in the liquid form, it was coffee extract. But they found that coffee extract actually blocks the conversion of cortisol creation, which is crazy. So that's like also the antithesis that it increases cortisol. So, I'll put a link to it in the show notes. I do think that a lot of people can have an issue with mold in coffee and might be reacting to compounds in coffee and toxins in coffee. And that's why historically I'd been drinking literally Bulletproof Coffee since 2012. I am no longer drinking Bulletproof Coffee because, well, Dave Asprey is no longer with Bulletproof Coffee and can no longer confirm that they are-- I mean, they might still be doing all the mold testing and everything, but he's the reason I was trusting to drink that coffee.

So, he has a new coffee brand that I'm obsessed with. It is my official favorite coffee and I'm probably going to give this to a lot of people for like Christmas and stuff. It's called Danger Coffee. So, it's mold free. But what's really cool about it is it's remineralized, which is so cool because minerals are just so key. And this is probably something I need to go down the rabbit hole and research and see just how much does normal coffee potentially like, does it deplete minerals or not? Regardless, though, so Danger Coffee, he actually has a potent formula that has over 50 trace minerals, nutrients, and electrolytes in the coffee. So, you get all the benefits of coffee, none of the mold, tested for purity and potency, and you get these minerals, these nutrients, these electrolytes, and it tastes amazing. I prefer it to Bulletproof Coffee. So, it's my new favorite thing. I do have a discount if you go to melanieavalon.com/dangercoffee and use the coupon code MELANIEAVALON. So that's my favorite coffee for intermittent fasting. But yeah, just last comment is that researching all the coffee, my takeaway was that it sounds like the perfect thing to pair with fasting if you're a coffee drinker.

Vanessa Spina: It totally is, like it also has appetite suppression effects. Like if you are wanting to do intermittent fasting, it's like your best friend, [laughs] especially in the mornings. Now, I know that there is some rhetoric out there, some discussion out there about skipping breakfast and having coffee in lieu of breakfast and that being bad for your hormones, as we just talked about, it actually doesn't really have that effect. But some people do find that having a high-protein breakfast is great. It's great for your muscle mass, your lean body mass, it's great for your metabolism and you can have coffee with it. If you like to eat earlier in the day, then I suggest either doing a break-- and you still want to do time restricted eating or intermittent fasting, doing a breakfast and lunch or doing and closing your eating window early for the day or having a breakfast and then fasting until dinner. And you can have your coffee with your breakfast. 

But if you prefer to eat later in the day, which I find so many people, myself included, prefer to do because we just don't feel that hungry in the morning, that's not a bad sign. And I think the fact that there's been this association, the fact that maybe people are saying that having just coffee for breakfast is causing leptin resistance, it's coming from the fact that having a high-protein breakfast can help if you have leptin resistance is not the same as having just coffee for breakfast as causing leptin resistance. So, if you do have leptin resistance, it's one of the things that's recommended in Dr. Jack Kruse's, Leptin Reset protocol, have a high- protein breakfast, like more so fat for calories, not so much carbs. Protein scientist Dr. Don Layman also recommends that. You know Dr. Paul Arciero, who we recently interviewed, also recommends that. It's definitely great for body composition, but I don't think that we can then infer that it causes leptin resistance. So, I'm really glad that you cleared it up with some of the research as well. 

Melanie Avalon: Awesome. I love that we are on the same page. 

Vanessa Spina: I'm a little bit passionate about this topic. [laughs] Don't take my coffee from me. 

Melanie Avalon: I'm passionate about it. I don't drink that much coffee, though. I just have a little bit every morning. 

Vanessa Spina: I know, yeah. And you're still passionate about it so.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I still love that little bit that I have, and I think it just works so well for so many people, especially just one last tangent. Like all of these pre-workouts and stuff that people are cramming down with all these weird ingredients. Coffee is a great pre-workout. I feel like you can get a lot of the benefits just with coffee and just like a lot of health benefits from it.

So, yeah, on that note, well, this has been absolutely wonderful. So, a few things for listeners before we go. We talked about so much in today's show. You can get links to everything that we talked about and a full transcript in the show notes. That will be at ifpodcast.com/episode330. 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 and you can join me in my Facebook group IF biohackers. I've started to ask in there for questions and I kind of like using them because it keeps it really fresh. So, if you'd like your question featured, definitely check out that group and you can follow us on Instagram. We are @ifpodcast. I am @melanieavalo and Vanessa is @ketogenicgirl. And I think that is all the things. Anything from you, Vanessa, before we go? 

Vanessa Spina: No, that's everything. Thank you so much for the wonderful questions and I'm super excited for the next episode.

Melanie Avalon: Me too. I will talk to you next week. 

Vanessa Spina: Sounds great.

Melanie Avalon: Bye.

Vanessa Spina: Bye.

Melanie Avalon: 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 a 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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