The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #56 - Gin Stephens
Gin Stephens is the author of Delay, Don’t Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle, an Amazon #1 best seller in the weight loss category and the newly released #1 bestseller Fast. Feast. Repeat.--The Comprehensive Guide to Delay, Don't Deny ® Intermittent Fasting, published by St. Martin’s Press. Gin has been living the intermittent fasting lifestyle since 2014. This lifestyle shift allowed her to lose over 80 lbs. and launch her intermittent fasting website, four Facebook support groups, four self-published books, and two top ranked podcasts—Intermittent Fasting Stories and The Intermittent Fasting Podcast with co-host Melanie Avalon. Gin graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Program (2019). She earned a Doctor of Education degree in Gifted and Talented Education (2009), a Master's degree in Natural Sciences (1997), and a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education (1990). She taught elementary school for 28 years, and has worked with adult learners in a number of settings. She splits her time between Augusta, Georgia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she lives with her husband and their four cats. Gin is also a mother to two adult sons (and she is thankful every day for the intermittent fasting lifestyle that makes her life easier).
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1:30 - IF Biohackers: Intermittent Fasting + Real Foods + Life: Join Melanie's Facebook Group For A Weekly Episode GIVEAWAY, And To Discuss And Learn About All Things Biohacking! All Conversations Welcome!
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9:20 - Gin's Bio
Delay, Don't Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle
Feast Without Fear: Food and the Delay, Don't Deny Lifestyle
9:50 - How Did Gin Come To Intermittent Fasting
14:35 - Gin's Various Version Of IF
15:25 - The Problems With Traditional Diets, Chronic Dieting, Yo-Yo Dieting, And The Calorie Paradigm
17:40 - Hunger Hormones And How The Body Is Trying To Protect You
18:50 - The Minnesota Starvation Experiment
21:15 - The Biggest Loser Experiment
22:00 - Over-restriction And The Urge To Binge
23:45 - Fasting Vs. Traditional Dieting And Becoming Metabolically Flexible
26:05 - Can You Over-Fast?: The Metabolic Rate While Fasting
28:50 - Intermittent Fasting Approaches: The 28 Day Fast Start
35:10 - Food Choices, Changed Food Tastes, And Overfed But Undernourished
38:40 - How Do You Stop When Satisfied?
41:30 - The Science Of "The Sigh" Of The Meal
42:40 - BUTCHERBOX: Grass-Fed Beef, Organic Chicken, Heritage Pork, And More, All Raised Sustainably The Way Nature Intended! Butcher Box Provides Access To Nutrient Rich, Affordable Meat And Seafood Shipped Straight To Your Door! Go To Butcherbox.Com/Melanieavalon And Use The Code Melanieavalon For Free Grassfed Fed Ground Beef For Life!
44:00 - What Is The Clean Fast?
45:20 - Fasting Goal 1: Keep Insulin Low
46:35 - The Problems With Flavors And Artificial Sweeteners
47:25 - What You Can Have During The Fast
48:30 - Fasting Goal 2: Tap Into Stored Fat For Fuel - No Exogenous Fuel
49:25 - Fasting Goal 3: Increased Autophagy
The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #22 - Siim Land (Autophagy)
The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #53- Trey Suntrup (Biosense)
The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #36 - David Sinclair
The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #37 - James Clement
51:00 - How To Know If You're Making Progress: Weight Trends, Progress Photos, Etc.
54:00 - Body Recomposition
57:00 - What If You're Not Making Progress?
59:00 - The Hybrid Approach Mixing And Matching
1:00:30 - ADF Vs. Up Day Down Day
1:01:45 - ADF To Boost Metabolism
1:04:45 - The Problem With Restricting
1:05:20 - The Longevity Benefits Of ADF And ProLon
1:07:30 - Using The Scale, Weighing, And Weight Fluctuations, And Weekly Averages
1:10:50 - The Body Set Point
1:11:20 - Lumen Lovers: Biohack Your Carb And Fat Burning (With Melanie Avalon): Join Melanie's Facebook Group If You're Interested In The Lumen Breath Analyzer, Which Tells Your Body If You're Burning Carbs Or Fat, Or The Biosense Breath Analyzer, Which Measures Ketones! You Can Learn More In Melanie's Interview With Lumen Founder (The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #43 - Daniel Tal) And Get $50 Off A Lumen Device At MelanieAvalon.com/Lumen With The Code melanieavalon, And Melanie's Interview With Biosense Head Researcher Trey Suntrup (The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #53- Trey Suntrup) And Get $20 Off At MelanieAvalon.com/biosense With The Coupon Code Avalon20
1:13:50 - What Is Extended Fasting?
1:17:20 - Personal Strategies To Avoid Caving
1:18:30 - Envisioning Your Future Self
1:19:30 - IF Protocol To Rapidly Shed The Weight
1:24:20 - Self Decode
1:25:30 - Mastering Diabetes
1:26:30 - Dealing With Backlash And Challenges
1:33:30 - Personalized Nutrition
1:34:35 - Gin's Dream Research Study
1:39:20 - Rebounders
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Melanie Avalon: Hi friends, welcome back to the show. This is a very, very special episode. I'm really excited about it. I am here with somebody that-- well, I know very well. A lot of my listeners probably know very well. If you don't know her very well, you're about to know her very well. I'm just really excited. I'm laughing because this is so different from all the other episodes I've done. I am here with Gin Stephens. She is the, wait for it, New York Times bestselling author of the fabulous new book, Fast. Feast. Repeat.: The Comprehensive Guide to Delay, Don't Deny Intermittent Fasting. You might recognize a lot of words in there. Yes, Gin, she is my cohost on my other show, The Intermittent Fasting Podcast.
Gin released her new book, Fast. Feast. Repeat, and we’re trying to decide if we should do an episode on this show for it, and it just has to happen because honestly-- for listeners, I've been doing intermittent fasting for almost a decade now. But honestly, I started doing intermittent fasting, I said I was gonna do it for a week, I never really stopped. I maintained a very-- I kind of stuck to what I was doing from day one with a few different tweaks. On our other show, The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, we get a ton of questions about-- a lot of practical questions about intermittent fasting, about the different approaches, about the different types, about stalls, plateaus, all these things like that, and I often defer to Gin because she is the expert on all of that. I know the reception to her book has been-- well, it's a New York Times bestseller, which speaks for itself. But the reception has been absolutely amazing. It's such an amazing resource for anybody interested in starting or dealing with hiccups in their intermittent fasting lifestyle. Yes, it goes into the science of intermittent fasting, the health benefits, all the things like that, a very comprehensive overview. But then, it's just so valuable in that it really, really goes through all the different types of intermittent fasting approaches that you can try, how to do them. And then, of course, what we'll talk about today is Gin has her own approach to starting intermittent fasting. I think it's such a valuable resource for anybody living or wanting to live the IF lifestyle. Gin, thank you so much for being here.
Gin Stephens: Well, I am so glad to be here. Yeah, it's so funny because we're used to recording together and answering listener questions, but here I am. Nice to meet your audience, the ones that don't know me. So, the ones that don't know me, hello. Glad to be introduced and the ones that do, well, hopefully, you'll learn some things maybe about me you didn't know already, if that's possible, because I'm pretty much an open book.
Melanie Avalon: We shall see. A little bit about Gin though. She did earn a Doctor of Education degree in Gifted and Talented Education, a master's degree in Natural Sciences, a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She also graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Program. I assume that a lot of my audience knows you, but I don't know, there's probably some that don't. Gin is also the author of Delay, Don't Deny, Feast Without Fear, as well as her new book Fast. Feast. Repeat, which is just really exciting. But to start things off, Gin, what brought you to intermittent fasting and when was that?
Gin Stephens: That is a great question. It sounds like the beginning of intermittent fasting stories. That's how I begin every episode. Did someone tell you to ask it like that?
Melanie Avalon: Somebody told me to ask you that.
Gin Stephens: That's great. I first learned about intermittent fasting in probably somewhere around 2009. Looking back in my whole crazy diet history, that's the best that I can pinpoint it. Prior to 2009, like so many of the audience, I was trapped in that cycle of weight gain, weight loss, weight gain, weight loss. I was always trying to find the next best diet to go on and I felt it shouldn't be as hard as it was. I was always either gaining weight or losing weight at any point in my life, it was very rare that I was maintaining my weight. I had different seasons of clothes shoved away in different sizes, all ranging from a size 4 to 6, all the way up to a size 14, 16 all shoved away.
In 2009, I can't remember exactly what I came across first. It was Dr. Bert Herring's Fast-5 approach, which is a five-hour eating window, intermittent fasting approach. At the same time, I was also reading some of the alternate daily fasting protocols. There was Dr. Johnson who had one, with an Up Day and a Down Day. And Dr. Krista Varady, who had her Every Other Day Diet. I remember all those years. From 2009 to 2014, anytime something came out about intermittent fasting, I would read it. I even stumbled across a book, Melanie, you may remember it was on Kindle Unlimited. And it was called The What When Wine Diet, right? Was that the original name?
Melanie Avalon: Wait, wait, wait, you knew about that book before we talk?
Gin Stephens: I mean I've read everything, Melanie. I've read every book that I could get my hands on. I got it through Kindle Unlimited. It was on Kindle Unlimited?
Melanie Avalon: Okay. Yeah, it was briefly.
Gin Stephens: Briefly, I had it in my collection because it was a book on intermittent fasting. When did you release that?
Melanie Avalon: 2014.
Gin Stephens: I was reading everything there was, but even the books that rather-- oh, and Eat Stop Eat, Brad Pilon, he was another one. None of those approaches ever worked for me for many reasons at that time, in that time period of my life, but the main reason was because I never saw intermittent fasting as anything different than just a way to eat fewer calories and a way to diet. I saw it as a temporary approach to get to my goal weight, then I would get there, and then I would go back to how I used to live. And really, even those early books that I'm referring to, they all pretty much couched intermittent fasting in the terms of this is a way to eat fewer calories. Either you eat fewer calories every other day with those approaches, or you eat fewer calories because you're concentrating all of your food choices in the shorter eating window.
At that time, we didn't realize there was a lot more to intermittent fasting beyond just “eating fewer calories,” no matter what approach you used. So, I treated it like a diet and I never stuck with it. I never let my body adapt to intermittent fasting, so it was really, really hard. I never lost any measurable weight with it in all those years, 2009 to 2014. And it wasn't until finally in 2014, I went on a family cruise for spring break. The pictures from that cruise, I looked at myself, I was 210 pounds when I got on the scale after getting back from that cruise, and I'm 5’5, so that put me in the obese category. I felt miserable in my body. I'm like, “I've got to do something. I'm smart. I have a doctorate.” I have great willpower when I try to stick to something, but I can't get this weight off. So, I've got to figure it out. Basically, I stumbled around, stumbled back to intermittent fasting, went on to lose over 80 pounds and I've been able to keep it off ever since. So that, in a nutshell, is what brought me to intermittent fasting.
My brain knew this was going to be my answer way back before I even understood how it worked. But it took learning about it and really researching and digging deep to figure out, why does this work? How is it different from low-calorie dieting? And why is this the last thing you need to do to find the health and the weight loss benefits that you're looking for?
Melanie Avalon: So, it was 2014 that you started your version of intermittent fasting?
Gin Stephens: Oh, yeah. And I did some crazy versions of intermittent fasting along the way. To give some context, I mentioned some of the earlier books that were out there. But this is before The Obesity Code. This is before autophagy was a word anyone had ever heard unless they were in the science halls as researchers. We just really were figuring out how is intermittent fasting-- How did it work? We hadn't heard of fast and clean, which is a phrase we actually coined in my Facebook groups. I was in some Facebook support groups myself. We were all stumbling around together, trying to figure this out. It was like the Wild West of intermittent fasting really.
Melanie Avalon: That's really funny. I feel like even low carb had that for a little bit. It's just crazy. So, question to that, it seems like such a basic question with the million-dollar answer that people pretend there's not a million-dollar answer to because they think there's already the answer. And that is traditional diets, why don't they work? Because it's posited to us often-- I think things are changing now with the literature on intermittent fasting and the success with it. But it's basically posited to us that the answer is move more, eat less. That's the answer. But it doesn't work. One thing you talked about in your book a lot that I really liked was the studies on-- the Minnesota Starvation Experiment and things with The Biggest Loser. Can you tell us a little bit about that, like what we see with chronic dieting, yo-yo dieting, does it work? Why doesn't it work?
Gin Stephens: That's a great question. We've all been trained for so long, even your doctors are having to unlearn this. It's all calories in, calories out. We can put it down to this mathematical formula. The whole point of that is you control calories in and then you exercise to ramp up calories out. And then according to these formulas, you magically lose weight, get to your goal weight, maintain forever. It's all perfect, except that's not how it works in practice.
The whole point is that you can pretend to control calories in, although that's not even as easy as people like to make it sound, and I could get into that more in a little while. But we can pretend to control calories in, but the whole calories outside of the equation is where our body can really thwart the best efforts of trying to control your calories in. For example, your body can do all sorts of things based on what you're eating. Your body can raise your metabolic rate in response to overfeeding. Your body can lower your body rate in response to chronic underfeeding, like we see with these low-calorie diets. Pretending that it's all in your conscious control is forgetting about how powerful what goes on behind the scenes in our bodies are. We only have so much willpower. And if our bodies perceive that we're in a starvation crisis, our bodies can do all sorts of things. For example, increasing our ghrelin. Ghrelin is our hunger hormone.
We've all been through those low-calorie diets where we're white knuckling it day to day to day. And then one day, we fall into a bag from the McDonald's drive-through, and then there's the end of that diet. Now, we're eating like crazy. You almost have that binge response and you're like, “Why can't I stop eating all this food?” It's because your body has said, “Hey, we're in distress.” And so, your body has literally ramped up your hunger hormone to get you to eat more because your body is doing all of these things to try to protect you.
Basically, our bodies don't understand the idea of, “Hey, I want to lose some weight, so I look better in my bathing suit.” Our bodies are just focused on survival, reproduction, living. So, when we're consciously trying to restrict calories all day long, we're not well fueled, that's when our bodies are trying to save our lives. We found that research-- people have been doing this research, scientists have done this research for decades and decades. So, it's not new information.
The Minnesota Starvation Experiment is fascinating in that this type of experiment would never be approved today. But it was right around the World War II period of history and they got this group of conscientious objectors who didn't want to fight in the war, but they were wanting to give back to support the war effort. And so, they were studying what do we do in these areas of Europe and other parts of the world where there's not enough food and people are starving. How do we refeed? How do we keep people from dying of starvation? So, that was really-- what's kind of ironic is, it was completely opposite of today's obesity epidemic. In today's obesity epidemic, we're overfed, and people are overweight, but at that period of time in history, they were concerned with people not having enough nutrition.
So, they took these men, and they housed them-- I think it was a university dormitory somewhere in Minnesota. They fed them specifically to have them lose a certain amount of their body weight. When they stopped losing weight, they lowered their calories even more, they increased their exercise. That's just the classic eat less, move more. They studied what happened to these men as they continued to eat even less, move even more. It was fascinating to see how it affected them physically. Their metabolism slowed. Also, psychologically, they became obsessed with food, reading recipes. They developed all sorts of disordered thinking, like chewing their food and all sorts of crazy ways when they were allowed to eat.
Then, they had a refeeding period where they had different methods of refeeding, and the ones who continued to be fairly restricted in the refeeding, they continued to have these issues. They did find that they were able to heal metabolism by having overfeeding with the guys. But when they were doing this experiment, and they called it-- the words of the study were Minnesota Starvation Experiment. They were giving these men an average of 1800 calories a day during the starvation part. That doesn't sound like a starvation diet at all. That sounds like more food than I allowed myself when I was eating a “low-calorie diet.” For some reason, in my mind, I heard 1200 calories a day, you'll lose weight. So, I would try to limit myself to 1200 calories a day. And no wonder it was hard to stick to. My body was fighting back.
We also found that to be true, with The Biggest Loser experiment. They took some participants who had been on The Biggest Loser television show, and they followed them years after appearing on the show, and they found a persistent metabolic adaptation. Meaning, the contestants who'd been on the show and lost the weight, their bodies needed to maintain on fewer calories than when matched to someone of their size. Someone who was their exact same weight and size who had never gone through the extreme weight loss and dieting, they were able to eat more calories per day than the contestants who had been on The Biggest Loser. Their metabolisms had adapted to a lower caloric level of intake in order to maintain their weight.
We know over and over again that if you restrict calories long term to a low level, your body will adapt to that. We've all lived it. And then, you have that-- like I said earlier, that urge to binge, the urge to overeat, that's your body saying, “Hey, we need some fuel. We're worried that you're starving to death.” And then, boom, you gained the weight even more, and it's just that vicious cycle.
Melanie Avalon: Actually, I'm just so fascinated by the Minnesota Starvation Experiment because I think it is-- like you said, it's such a good example of what happens when the metabolism does crash and leads to overeating, bingeing, three random things I wonder about it. One, I wonder-- so 1800 calories. A lot of people I feel, like you said, on almost calorie-restricted diets are eating 1800 calories, it almost makes me wonder if maybe they had been eating less, if then they would have entered into a fasting-type mode. Maybe they were eating too much that they never switched over to fasting or if they had eaten it in an intermittent fasting pattern, or what they were eating was like potatoes and rutabagas and turnip and bread and macaroni.
Gin Stephens: Right. They were eating the foods that they expected to be not plentiful, but available after the war in Europe. Things that they would have on hand. So, you're right. They also were not well nourished because they weren't eating a well-rounded diet, but they were eating a typical pattern of a breakfast, lunch, dinner kind of a thing. So, they definitely weren't fasting. Also, their physical activity was definitely ramped up. So, they were very active.
Melanie Avalon: I think that's often the fear, is that with diets or with intermittent fasting, that it's going to be a Minnesota Starvation Experiment results. Why do you find that intermittent fasting compared to traditional diets, even though it starts arguably a starvation-type response in the fast that we don't have to worry about having starvation-type responses in the long term as far as our metabolism goes, as far as bingeing tendencies, the feelings of white knuckling, what is the key difference there?
Gin Stephens: I think the key is in whether your body is working fueled or not, that's the key. A body that is well fueled and happy, feels different than a body that is not well fueled. And that's the magic of intermittent fasting. I talk about in Fast. Feast. Repeat., a fabulous article. Dr. Mark Mattson of Johns Hopkins and his colleagues put out an article, I don't know maybe it was 2018, called Flipping the Metabolic Switch. He talks about how when we become metabolically flexible, which intermittent fasting does for us, we're able to tap into our fat stores during the fasted state, and we're able to use our fat stores for fuel. That's why they're there. That's what nature intended.
Another thing to keep in mind also, the Minnesota Starvation Experiment guys probably-- not just probably, but definitely, they didn't have a ton of excess fat by the end of this, so that that leads to the-- if you're underweight, your body's not going to be well fueled. Even if they had been fasting, they didn't have sufficient fuel. The key is you want your body to feel well fueled. The pattern of intermittent fasting that you and I do, time-restricted eating, where we have a daily eating window with all of our eating in that window, and then the fasted period of the day, our bodies become metabolically flexible. During the fast, we're able to tap into fat stores for fuel, we are well fueled because we're fasting clean. And then during our eating window, we eat nutritious foods, we fuel our bodies well during that period of time. It's the interplay between the fasted state and then getting the nutrients during your eating window. I think that keeps our bodies happy because even with fasting, and this is a distinction that a lot of people don't understand.
There's a mindset out there that, gosh, you've got all this fuel on your body. If you're overweight, you could just fast it off and never stop fasting and just start fasting and fast, fast, fast, fast, fast and your bodies got all this fat, and you'll be fine. And so, there's a thought out there that your metabolic rates not going to slow with prolonged or extended fasting. Actually, I don't think that that's actually true. There's going to come a point where your body is going to slow things down with fasting. Even though fasting is protective of metabolic rate, I think that extended fasting, you could get into some trouble because eventually your body's going to say, okay, there's absolutely nothing coming in and it's time to conserve some energy. Why do I think that that's true?
Well, there's a great study that was done where they followed people through a 72-hour fast and they tested their metabolic rates throughout. At the beginning of the fast, before they started, they had a baseline metabolic rate. As time went on throughout the fast, their metabolic rate actually increased. It went along with as they're burning the fat, going into ketosis, ketones went up, their metabolic rate went up, up, up. Then, it came to a point where it peaked. And then, on the second part of that 72-hour fast, as time continued, the metabolic rate was on a downward trajectory. So, at the end of the 72 hours, the metabolic rate was actually higher than it had been at baseline when they started, but it was on that downward trajectory, showing us that eventually the body is going to start slowing things down. That's where you have to find the delicate balance for you.
I'm not certain everyone has the same point that would be, okay, now my body's slowing things down. I think that it's going to be different for everybody. And it depends on a lot of personal factors, your hormonal factors, metabolic factors, but the key is, you want to find a sweet spot for you. If you're going to use intermittent fasting and you want to keep your metabolism going strong, you don't want your body to feel like it's in danger of not being well fueled.
Melanie Avalon: That is so true. I hadn't really thought about that before. I was hoping you were going to bring up the study about the three days, but the individual factors of a given person, I wouldn't be surprised if some people could even go longer and it doesn't go down and some people maybe they think can only go a little bit and it starts going down based on other factors involved, which may explain why people depending on where they're coming from when they first start intermittent fasting may do really well off the bat, or they may struggle and we can go into all of that.
To that approach, you mentioned something time-restricted feed or you call it feeding or eating?
Gin Stephens: Well, I talk about both in the book. When you read about it in the scientific literature, they say time-restricted feeding, and they generally because a lot of them are like rat studies, they're feeding them, but in practice with humans, we usually say time-restricted eating.
Melanie Avalon: So, there's all this vernacular out there, all this terminology time-restricted feeding, time-restricted eating. You mentioned a few keywords and everything you were just saying ADF, up-down-day, one meal a day. There's so many things, and I think it can be really overwhelming to somebody. People often hear like 18:6. So if somebody wants to start intermittent fasting, is there one approach that is great for everybody to start with? Well, first of all, you can maybe clarify a little bit what the different approaches are? Then, how can a person know which one to start with?
Gin Stephens: That's a great question. So, that is why I actually developed the 28 Day Fast Start. And that is something that's in Fast. Feast. Repeat. And it's the 28 Day Fast Start. Why 28 days? It's because your body needs to adjust. We're so used to “diets.” By the way, intermittent fasting is not a diet, and diet refers to what you eat. It's your foods that you're choosing. With intermittent fasting, it works with any way that you would want to eat. You lean paleos. Other people may feel better low carb. Some people need all the carbs like me, you might be someone starting off with the Standard American Diet. However, you're eating, intermittent fasting is when you eat, your diet is what you eat. So, just to get that out there.
When you're starting a new approach, I guess that's a better way of saying it. A new approach to eating, like intermittent fasting. We're so used to-- you start and the best results you're ever going to get are right at the beginning of any new plan, typically, but that is the opposite of how a lot of people find intermittent fasting to be. With intermittent fasting, you might actually gain weight at first, which sounds crazy because you're eating in a smaller window of time, how could you possibly be gaining weight? Well, there are a lot of factors that go into that, that I could get into in a few minutes.
In my 28 Day Fast Start, the first 28 days are for you to basically nail the clean fast, let your body adapt to fasting and don't focus on anything like weight loss or body changes yet. You're just trying to adjust to fasting. And by the way, the Fast Start, F-A-S-T actually stands for something. F means Fast Clean, A is adapt. That's where your body is learning how to tap into your stored body fat. S is Settle-in, you're settling into a different routine every week of the Fast Start. And then T is Tweak. That means, even during the Fast Start, you're able to go between the different plans. So, I've got a quiz in there in the Fast Start that you can take. Did you take the quiz, Melanie?
Melanie Avalon: I already knew what I was.
Gin Stephens: Well, I know what you are too. But did you take the quiz?
Melanie Avalon: I didn't. I meant to.
Gin Stephens: Okay, well, I had fun with the quiz. My background as a teacher, so I had a whole lot of fun.
Melanie Avalon: Is it online?
Gin Stephens: No, the quiz is not online. It's just in the book. You have to get the book to find the quiz. Yeah, it's just in the book. It's in the 28 Day Fast Start. But there's three different approaches that you can choose from that will help you, whether you're depending on what your quiz tells you, you could start with the Easy Does it Approach. And that's a way of really easing in. If you're somebody who has never fasted, and you want to just give your body all the time in the world to adapt, there's the Easy Does it Approach. And then we have the Steady Build Approach for someone who's kind of in the middle who is ready to get in there, but not too much. And then we have the Rip off the Band-aid Approach, which Melanie is where I would have but you.
Melanie Avalon: Yes.
Gin Stephens: The rip off the band-aid approach where you start with a shorter eating window. But as I said, during the 28 days, you can go back and forth, like maybe you say, “I'm going to rip off the band-aid,” and you start like that, week one, and you're like, “Oh, wait, maybe not. You can ease back and scale yourself back. But the point of the Fast Start is to, like I said, nail the clean fast and get your body adjusted. You're going to have all sorts of have feelings during the Fast Start, during the first 28 days, because your body is not going to be well fueled yet, and that is so important. Once your body adjusts to fasting, you feel great during the fast because you are well-fueled, your body knows how to take your stored fat and produce ketones to give your brain great energy, you have great mental clarity, but the beginning none of that is going to be true. So, you're going to feel like you're walking around in jello, your brain is going to feel like it's stuffed with cotton. You're not having a good fuel source for your brain, you just feel maybe even hangry during the adjustment phase. For the 28 Day Fast Start, I have people start with time-restricted eating with a different eating window.
So, if you're in the Easy Does it Approach, then you're eating windows are going to be longer and you're going to gradually shorten them versus rip off the band-aid. You're starting with a six-hour eating window. And you start with two meals in a six-hour eating window and then you gradually shrink it until you get to a shorter window, that would be the rip off the band-aid approach.
Everyone is starting with time-restricted eating. Then after you feel like your body is adjusted in it, 28 days is the number that I gave in there because that's just a good rule of thumb average, you may find it takes you more like six weeks or even eight weeks to get adjusted. Once you start feeling good during the fast, that's when you can start experimenting with other types of things, like the up and down day approach, the alternate daily fasting protocols. I have a chapter in Fast. Feast. Repeat. called “Tweak it till it's easy.” And that's where you can experiment with different things, try different approaches. Someone just starting off probably doesn't want to jump right into alternate day fasting where you're doing like a 36 hour fast and then a 12-hour eating window, that's a lot of fasting for someone who's not built up that fasting muscle.
I like to think of it as, if you want to run a 5K. They have a program Couch to 5K, I know probably everyone's heard of that, but you don't do it in one day. You don't get off the couch and run a 5K, you build up to it. And so, I want people to think of building their fasting muscle in the same exact way.
Melanie Avalon: I just had an epiphany and what you were saying because you're saying that the difference earlier you were talking about how that maybe the difference between like the key to intermittent fasting works and not calorie restriction is whether or not we're nourished, receiving the energy that we need. So you were just speaking about how in your Fast Start that, it's the focus is on the fasting, you actually recommend that people don't change during the Fast Start their dietary choices from what they've been eating. Let's just use an extreme example.
Let's say somebody is not eating anything nourishing. Let's say they're eating a lot of calories, maybe but there's just no nourishment, but they're doing intermittent fasting and they're losing weight. Is their nourishment coming from their own body fat you think, rather than what they're eating, and it's maybe that a reason that it might stop working eventually? Does there come a point where you do need to address your food choices?
Gin Stephens: Well, that's a great question. Let me speak to it from my own personal experience. When I started intermittent fasting, and really leaned into it. In 2014 finally said, “This is what I'm going to do.” I was eating at that point of my life, like probably a teenage boy on a college campus. I was eating fast food, I was eating junk food. That's what appealed to me. For whatever reason, I focused on ultra-processed foods. That's what I crave. That's what my body liked. I didn't eat very many vegetables. I didn't eat much nutritious food, or I didn't get a lot of nutrition. And looking at my dinner plate now, it's crazy to think of that. I'll go to a restaurant for example that my husband and I have gone to for years and I'll look at the menu and I will think, “Gosh, that's what I would have ordered, and 2015 or 2014, I would have ordered that.” But now, I'm over here getting something completely different, because my tastes have changed, and it happened naturally.
I think that as my body adjusted to intermittent fasting, I started hearing my body's cry for nutrients. And then I suddenly started craving different foods. When we're overfed, like so many of us in modern times, I love the phrase overfed but undernourished because it really speaks to the problem. We've eaten too many calories because we're overweight. We've eaten too much food, but we’re not nourished. I talk about this and Fast. Feast. Repeat.
Now, if I were to go to McDonald's and get a Big Mac meal and with fries and a coke, and that's a lot of calories, but it wouldn't provide my body with good nutrients, and so the rest of the day I would be strangely unsatisfied. My body's like, “Where's the nutrients?” If I eat a high-quality meal with a lot of nutrients, I'm satisfied much more quickly, and I don't have that need to keep looking for something to eat. But, again, that happened for me naturally. We find in the intermittent fasting community that that's almost a universal truth, that when people are fasting clean, they start off eating whatever it is, however they were eating before. And then over time, their body starts to direct them to eat differently because you realize you feel better, you feel more satisfied, and then all of a sudden, you're a completely different eater than you had been.
Melanie Avalon: You mentioned feeling satisfied. One of the things you talk about in the book is, how do you stop when satisfied? You provided some really awesome tips and tricks. You said, use a smaller plate or use a smaller amount of food than you think you need at the beginning.
Gin Stephens: We've all heard the phrase, my eyes are bigger than my stomach. So, you load up your plate with more food than you need. Think about Thanksgiving dinner. We pile that plate high. And then we eat till it's gone. And then a little while later after the meal, you realize, “Oh, that was too much,” you ate too much. But while you're eating it, there's a disconnect between the receptors in your stomach and “I had enough” in your brain. And so by the time you've actually eaten it and gotten the message that was too much, it's too late, you already ate it. So that's why I suggest, and we've heard this for years, the whole idea of serve yourself less food.
With intermittent fasting though you eventually start to tune into those signals better. And then you don't need the tricks and tips, perhaps. It takes longer for some of us. I still have the problem of even now, this many years in, even though I understand the signals, if I put too much on my plate at the beginning, I'm still likely to finish it just because it's delicious. So, serving yourself a little bit less than you think you might need with the permission to go back and have seconds if you are still hungry later, that'll really help a lot of people with that overdoing it.
Melanie Avalon: We've talked about this before, but I think you me both, I was always the type at restaurants like, I mean, I would eat everything. I couldn't understand how people could not finish everything on their plate.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I like to eat a big meal. When I'm serving dinner, for me and for my husband, I will usually give myself less than I give him, could be he is fabulous at stopping when he's had enough. It is almost comical because he's a naturally slim person who's never struggled with his weight. I watch him eat and he starts piling it up and doing weird things with his fork. Probably no one would ever notice it except me because we've been married since 1991. So, I've been watching him eat for a lot of years now, but I can tell when he's about ready to stop eating because he starts doing this thing with his food. And then he just stops.
I made these important meatballs the other day, it had rice and vegetables and had pork meatballs. He stopped eating with one meatball on his plate. I would have eaten that last meatball just because it was there even though I tried to stop when I've had enough, I would not have been leaving one meatball on my plate. I would have just given myself fewer meatballs at the beginning and then I could have more if I wanted them, but the whole stopping-- He just hears that signal, just boom, “I'm not eating that meatball.”
Melanie Avalon: One of the things you mentioned, which I have been picking up on, and I'm wondering about the science behind it, but you talk about the sigh that you get after meals.
Gin Stephens: I don't know the science behind it.
Melanie Avalon: Well, I read one thing I thought it was that, but now I'm wondering if it's something else. I had read before it's because your body is getting acidic. And so, it's a response to that. But now with the whole Lumen device thing and measuring carb fat burning, I'm wondering if it has something to do with exhaling carbon dioxide.
Gin Stephens: I don't know. It could even just be a physical mechanism like your food is now protruding into your diaphragm, and so you have to gasp for air. I mean, I don't know, it could be a physical thing. Hard to know. But I don't know if anybody has researched that. But the point is that your body sends you all these signals that you've had enough, but we have disconnected from them. Just the whole finish what's on your plate, for whatever reason we've all been taught to finish what's on our plate. Your mom, your grandmother, whoever, you just felt like you had to, but we really don't. If you've got kids and you're watching your children eat, don't ever say to one of your children, “Hey, finish your dinner.” Uh-huh. No, let your kid stop with one meatball if they want.
Melanie Avalon: I love it. Okay, well, I have some more questions about the 28 days, but I guess first to clarify what are the exact-- Do you like the word rules? Is the word rules okay? What are the exact rules of the clean fast?
Gin Stephens: I like to say we have three fasting goals. We have goals in Fast. Feast. Repeat. The idea of the clean fast is something that a lot of people resist in the fasting world, some people ridicule the idea completely, which is fine, that's why I have something in there called The Clean Fast Challenge for anybody who's like the rebel because I taught school for 28 years, I know all the children in the classroom and there's the rebels out there who are like, “Oh, yeah, you tell me not to do it. I'm going to do it anyway.” I challenge everyone to take the clean fast challenge and try it my way, and then let your body adjust to the clean fast and then you'll see. Most people become believers after they try it, which very few people have ever said, “I tried it and then I decided I liked it better the other way.” In fact, I don't know if anyone's ever said that.
To understand the clean fast, I framed it around three fasting goals. Our three fasting goals, fasting goal number one, this is what I learned from Dr. Jason Fung after I read The Obesity Code and that was the role of insulin and when it comes to fat loss or fat gain, whether we're storing or whether we're tapping into our fat. We want our levels of insulin to be low. Fasting and goal number one is get your insulin low. I go into great detail about this and Fast. Feast. Repeat. But hyperinsulinemia, which is chronically high insulin all the time, is linked to so many of our negative health conditions that were plagued with these days, autoimmune diseases. Obviously, obesity, metabolic syndrome, but having chronically high levels of insulin all the time, are just not good for our bodies for many, many reasons. Even Alzheimer's is called type 3 diabetes by some because it's linked to high levels of insulin in the brain. We want to get our insulin low.
Insulin is antilipolytic, meaning it's anti-fat burning. When you have high levels of insulin, it's hard to tap into your fat stores efficiently. Also, that's going to mean you're not going to be well fueled. If you're not tapping into your fat stores, well, you could be just hangry and starving and not well fueled. We keep our insulin low by not doing anything that causes our bodies to release insulin.
Eating, of course, causes our bodies to release insulin so you don't eat during the fast, obviously, but certain flavors trick our bodies into thinking foods are coming. For example, diet sodas, zero-calorie diet sodas, you taste the zero-calorie diet soda on your tongue, and your brain says, “Ooh, something sweets coming in.” Well, our brains don't understand zero-calorie artificial sweeteners. Our brains understand that sweetness is associated with some kind of form of like glucose, sweetness found in fruits, honey, any kind of-- even like some vegetables, but our brains have that sweetness coming in. And so, we release insulin in response. That's called the Cephalic Phase Insulin Response. So, we don't want to taste anything that makes our brain think food is coming. Okay, so that's fast and goal one, keep insulin low. You don't want anything that makes your brain think food is coming in.
What we can have during the fast things that water, does not make your brain think food is coming in, unflavored water, you don't want to add fruit flavors to it. You don't float a cucumber slice in your water. Don't add apple cider vinegar to your water. Just keep it plain, sparkling water is also fine. Black coffee and plain tea are okay during the fast because they have a bitter flavor profile. And a bitter flavor profile on its own is not associated with insulin response. Our bodies don't associate the bitter flavor with needing insulin. So, that's why black coffee and plain tea would be fine. You want to avoid the herbal teas like apple cinnamon deliciousness, things like that. Anything that's going to have a sweet flavor.
Certain herbal teas like yerba mate. I know I say that wrong every time. We've debated that. Someone who lived in South America sent me how to say and I still can't remember. But anyway, yerba mate, I always say it wrong, that one has a better flavor profile, and it's likely fine during the fast. Fasting goal one, keep your insulin low, you don't want anything that's sweet or food-like or makes your brain think food is coming in.
Fasting goal number two is you want to tap into your stored fat for fuel. And, of course, keeping insulin low helps with that as well. But we want to keep from taking in other sources of fuel during the fast. For some people out there in the world, there's a train of thought that, if you're taking in, something like MCT oil or butter in your coffee, or even exogenous ketones, that's still going to be fine. That's going to be fasting. Well, if our goal is to tap into our fat stores for fuel, we don't want to take in any outside sources of fuel. So, keep the fat out of your coffee, keep the exogenous ketones out of your mouth, or however you're taking them. You don't want to take in any sources of fuel.
The third fasting goal is we want to experience increased autophagy. Autophagy is the buzzword that all of a sudden everyone was talking about in 2016. It was after the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded based on scientific research into autophagy. We learned that fasting increases autophagy. And so, we want to have increased autophagy during the fast. Well, what shuts down the rate of autophagy? Protein. Taking in protein. So, during the fast, you don't want to have things like bone broth, because bone broth, it's going to have protein and your body's not going to need to rummage around and recycle your access proteins if you're taking in a source of protein. So fasting goal three is to experience increased autophagy by not taking in anything that's going to slow that down. So, those are our three fasting goals. Keep insulin low, tap into your stored fat for fuel, experience increased autophagy.
Melanie Avalon: For listeners, if you'd like to learn more about details of any of those topics because they're so fascinating, I've had quite a few different interviews. I've had an interview on autophagy with Siim Land. Just this week released an interview on ketones and ketosis with the makers of a company called Biosense, breath analyzer device. I've had David Sinclair, James Clement. That's a really good episode. I'll put links to all of these in the show notes if you want to learn more. The show notes, again, will be at melanieavalon.com/fastfeastrepeat.
Big question. When a person is doing the Fast Start, how should they know if they're making progress and what should they do? And what should they not do?
Gin Stephens: Okay, good question. The 28 Day Fast Start is not the time for people to expect weight loss or body changes. And I really attempted to hammer that home in Fast. Feast. Repeat.
Melanie Avalon: How are people responding to that, by the way?
Melanie Avalon: I still have people who are like, “It's day 29 and I weighed myself and I didn't lose any weight. What did I do wrong?” I'm like, “Go back and read it again.” [laughs] Because I have people weigh themselves and take measurements and take photos on what I call Day Zero before they started. They just have that baseline to know. Then for the whole 28 Day Fast Start, I don't want people to weigh themselves or take progress photos or take measurements during that whole 28 days because the goal is to let your body adjust to fasting. And you should not have any weight loss expectations because your body may not be tapping into your fat stores yet. You might actually be overeating during your eating window because you're not well fueled because you're not tapping into your fat stores yet, your body might freak out and increase ghrelin, like I talked about earlier, telling you to overeat. So, you're actually could even gain weight during the Fast Start, which is the opposite. I think you'll see in any diet and lifestyle book, “Hey, start this plan, you might gain weight.” But I'm being honest here because your body has to make a lot of changes as you adjust. Once you start tapping into your fat stores, then you're well-fueled, then you can see these positive body changes.
On day 29, that's the new baseline. That's when I want people to weigh again, and to measure again and take photos again. Now, if you're one of the lucky few that that does see some weight changes between day zero and day 29 or somebody changes, that's fantastic. But for the people who don't, you start from those day 29 results and that is the baseline that you use going forward. I want people to really have several tools in their measurement toolbox. Such as, weighing daily and tracking your overall progress, by calculating the weekly average, where you add up all seven weights for a week, and then on day seven, you find the average by dividing them by seven.
You could also have an app that does that for you, like Happy Scale is the one that I love. If you're on iOS, there's one called Libra. It's not the same company but it's similar if you're on Android, but you really only want to focus after the 28 days are over. For the next coming weeks, you want to focus on what your weight trend is doing over time, not the daily fluctuations up and down, and up and down. Also, take progress photos.
One thing about intermittent fasting that is just striking is what we call body recomposition because some people will find, their scale weight doesn't change a lot, but they shrink in size. And they're like, “How is this happening?” Well, when you think about how we're preferentially burning fat during the fast, we also have some other hormonal changes going on during the fast, such as increased human growth hormone, so you're better able to build muscle. So, that results and you might not see changes on the scale, but you're literally shrinking, your body fat goes down, your muscle mass goes up, no change on the scale, but you're wearing a whole different size, smaller and clothing. So, I want you to have the photos, use your clothing to measure. Also, you can measure your waist size or any other parts of your body that you want. After that 28-day fast start, start looking at all those different measures to see what's changing over time. It's only the overall trend that matters. I also want people to focus on the things that are changing instead of getting obsessed about the things that are not. Here's an example of that.
Some people find that they lose weight on the scale before their clothing size changes. So, like for example, someone might post in the Facebook group, “I've lost 30 pounds on the scale, but I'm still wearing the same size pants. What am I doing wrong?” “Well, you're not doing anything wrong, you've lost 30 pounds. That's amazing. Something is changing inside your body. Maybe you're losing fat from a fatty liver.” Visceral dangerous. Visceral fat is clearing out, you don't worry about that. If something is changing, you're making progress. On the flip side, there'll be somebody who says, “Well, I've lost two pant sizes, but my scale weight hasn't changed. What am I doing wrong?” Again, you're not doing anything wrong. You're losing fat, probably building muscle, you're having body recomposition. So, I want people to focus on the things that are changing and know that everything else is going to catch up over time.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that was one thing I really, really loved from your book. I think for the progress, a lot of people often focus on one of the things. A lot of people are really scale fixated. A lot of people are measurement fixated. A lot of people are photo fixated. A lot of people are fixated on how one part of their body works, like their arm or their legs. But you were really clear, you were like, “If something changed, the photos, the pants, the measurements, the scale trend, then you made progress.” And that was such a freeing way of looking at it because it frees you from that one thing you're focusing on to the broader picture.
Gin Stephens: Because I've seen it really thousands of times. People will make such a discouraged post. They're like, “I've lost 30 pounds, but my pants still fit the same. Why is this not working?” I'm like, “It does work.” We've just seen that so many times, I want people to have the freedom to say, “Okay, I am making progress,” and to honor that they are instead of being stressed out about what's not changing.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I really liked that point. Let's say that person hits the 29 day, and they haven't made progress, so they can check all the boxes, the weights not changing, the mirror, the clothes, the scale, if they did all the things that they made the metabolic changes in their metabolism. Now, what would be the next step? Do they need to look at food choices? Do they need to fast more? People who aren't making progress and, I guess, we can even throw in people who perceive they're not making progress.
Gin Stephens: Here's an actual quote from page 118. I wrote it bold and capitalized and off by itself. Do not expect to lose any weight or any inches during the first 28 days. Do not expect to. Now I'm not saying you won't, because people do. People do lose weight and inches, some people do. But I don't want you to have that expectation. When you get on the scale, do your new photos. Day 29, if everything is not better, you don't have the expectation that it was going to be. Now you're ready to proceed because the first 28 days were for adjusting and learning how to do this new thing. And now going forward, that's when you can start to tweak, but starting from day 29. You don't say, “All right, I'm on day 29, nothing happened. How can I tweak now?”
No. Starting from day 29, you just keep intermittent fasting and now use that new data from day 29 on to judge whether you need to tweak. Do not use the data from days 1 through 28 to make any judgments at all about working or not working because the whole thing you're trying to do is to let your body adjust to fasting.
Melanie Avalon: Adjusting the fasting is happening in the 28 days. Say somebody at day 50, same question, they feel like they're not making progress.
Gin Stephens: Well, that is when you should be tweaking. That's the tweak it till it's easy chapter but there's so many things you can tweak. You can tweak eating window link, you can tweak whether you're doing the up and the down day protocol. I even have something, and they're called the Hybrid Approach. And this is just what blows my mind, Melanie. We talk about time-restricted eating. We talk about the up and the down day or alternate daily fasting. I put them together and call it the Hybrid Approach, where you can have a down day and up day and eating window day, a down day, an up day and eating window day, and you just do a mixture of things. People are like, “Oh my gosh, I didn't know you could do that.” I'm like, “Of course, you can.” You could do whatever you want. I call it your Intermittent Fasting Toolbox. But it blew my mind that no one had thought or I'm sure some people have but that so many people never thought of mixing and matching and trying different things. People thought they had to do this one or that one. But that's not true.
Melanie Avalon: To clarify further, the 28 days do they stick to one?
Gin Stephens: Yes. For the 28 days, we're focusing on time-restricted eating because you're trying to build that fasting muscle, and I don't think that you're ready. Maybe you are. Maybe you're a fasting muscle is built up really, really quickly, especially if you've been, for example, eating a ketogenic diet and your fat-burning enzymes are really strong and you're great at tapping into fat and you've been burning fat with the keto diet, you're going to probably adjust more quickly to intermittent fasting. Maybe you're ready to do a 36 hour fast, but for most people, you want to just really first focus on the time-restricted eating before you start experimenting with the longer fasts. Like my Couch to 5K example. You got to build that fasting muscle.
Melanie Avalon: I've actually been meaning to ask you this for like the longest time. Up day, down day and ADF, they're the same thing but not really-- like up day, down day is ADS, but not all ADF is up day, down day?
Gin Stephens: It's all terminology and wording. Alternate Day Fasting, ADF. In strict definition of it would be-- and really it depends on who you ask. Like for example, Krista Varady, who's done the bulk of the research on alternate daily fasting, she doesn't do full fasts. She has some research where they've done full fasts, but most of our research, they have a 500 calorie, what we call a down day, and really the words down day, up day, that wording right there came from Dr. Johnson.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, and Dr. Johnson, was it a fasting approach at all? Or was it just calories?
Gin Stephens: Really, it was just calories. Even Krista Varady with her up and down day approach-- Her book was called The Every Other Day Diet and she had you eating 500 calories every other day. She still considers her plan to be more of a calorie cycling program than actually the word fasting.
Melanie Avalon: Okay. Actually one of the things I hadn't really realized until I read your book because I hadn't come across this literature about ADF because I think a lot of people see ADF as, “Oh no, I need to lose more weight.” It seems more restrictive, but you actually talk about how it can actually boost metabolism. It can actually be a fix for that which actually, I hadn't considered it, would you like to talk a little bit about that?
Gin Stephens: Yes. And that's the up day. The feature of the up day, that's your metabolic boost day. We know from the science of overfeeding, if you overfeed, eat more than your body needs-- your body tends to respond by cranking up your metabolic rate in response to that. So, that's the point of the up das. And Krista Varady’s research, they found that they had the 500 calorie down day or The Modified Fasting Day, I think is what she calls it. That's her terminology, the modified fasting day because you are eating a 500-calorie meal. But on the up day, it's unrestricted. So, you just eat. When you wake up in the morning on that up day, the eating day, you just eat according to how you want to eat that day. You're not supposed to also be dieting or restricting or having a one hour window or any of that because they found that the participants who were unrestricted on the up days ate, I think it was 110% of their “caloric needs” on those days. So, they were flying overfeeding. They weren't like binge eating or eating twice as much food as they needed.
Even if you only thought that this was working because of calories in, calories out, that would create the calorie deficit. The 500-calorie day, and then the next day you ate 110% of your caloric needs, mathematically, you see that is still a calorie deficit. But if you get beyond the whole idea of calorie deficit and think about metabolic rate, you understand that the other day with the slight overfeeding is very protective of metabolism.
Melanie Avalon: It's so interesting because, like I already said, I think a lot of people see ADF is like, more restrictive in a way but because it has that focus of overfeeding, that actually can maybe let people get the best of both worlds and that they actually lose more due to the severe deficit on the “down day,” the fasting day, and then they get that metabolic boost. I wish I could do ADF. It just doesn't resonate with me.
Gin Stephens: Well, that's fine. And a lot of people feel weigh about it until, if you're someone who's been doing time-restricted eating or the eating window approach for a while, and you find that your body has adapted to that approach and you're not losing weight, but you still have weight you'd like to lose, that's when we really recommend you try ADF, or even like four, three, where you have three down days a week, it doesn't have to be strictly every other day. You can even just do two down days a week, if you wanted to. People say it sounds like it's going to be so hard and they dread it and they don't want to do it. And then they start doing it. They're like, “Oh, I love it.” [laughs] We hear that over and over and over again.
When Fast. Feast. Repeat. came out, and they read it, even some of my moderators, they said, “Okay, when I read Fast. Feast. Repeat., I finally got it, and I realized that I had been restricting on my up days.” And so, then they started having unrestricted up days, and I don't mean that they're like force-feeding themselves to the point that they're overeating on purpose, just to go crazy. Eat without feeling they need to diet, just eating till satisfied within a long period of time, like two meals, three meals. They finally started having better results.
Melanie Avalon: I'm so attracted to the health benefits, like the longevity benefits potential of it with that. I think what you might be getting from that severely low protein intake. Talked about this on The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, but I ordered ProLon and it was an epic fail because of me, not because of the concept. I'm thinking of maybe I still have some of the soups that came with it. And I was like, “Oh, I could use these as like the down day, maybe for ADF.” We'll see.
Gin Stephens: And one thing I want to point out, so much of this research, as I said was done by Dr. Krista Varady and her group, and here's a little something that a lot of people don't know. There's a whole train of thought in the fasting community that the 500 calorie modified fast where you had like-- I recommend that if you're going to do it fast, clean all day, have your 500 calorie meal, all in one small window, and then begin a second fast. So, instead of thinking of it as 136 hours to 42-hour fast, it's really a fast, a 500-calorie meal, another fast. And then you wake up the next day and it's your up day. But there's a train of thought in the community that having that 500-calorie meal is not as good as if you just fast as your way through it and did a complete 36 hour clean fast. But with Krista Varady’s research, they've done it both ways.
They actually found the people having the 500-calorie meal, lost more weight over time, which is very counterintuitive. There's one more variable with her research that we can't discount. They're not fasting clean. She's still very much caught up, which is really interesting, but she's still very much caught up in the whole calories' paradigm. So, she lets them have zero-calorie beverages, like a diet soda. I think It would be very interesting if she did the research with clean fasting instead. I'd like to see the difference that would make.
Melanie Avalon: That'd be really fascinating.
Gin Stephens: It would be. I wonder if they'd still see that same benefit, because if you're not fasting clean, if your insulin is high because you're drinking diet sodas, that's a variable that you can't discount.
Melanie Avalon: Three little things. I love when I read books, and they're just some gems that just stick with you. I'm just going to share them with the audience if that works for you. My favorites. One was something that I think a lot of people experience and that's you talked about the scale and that, why you shouldn't weigh yourself during the 28 days. And you're talking about how, it can potentially go wrong either way, if you see your weight loss, then you might overdo it. And then on the flip side, if you see, you gained weight, then you might freak out and think it's not working. Basically, it could be a lose-lose situation.
Gin Stephens: It sabotages you either way. We have people who say that. Psychologically if the scale weight is down, they're like, “Yay, I can relax a little bit. This is working.” And then they sabotage. If the scale is not down, they're like, “This isn't working, forget it.” And then there's that sabotage. I've played all those games in my mind, which is why I can point them out to people. I haven't weighed myself in yours though for that very reason.
Melanie Avalon: The other scale thing I loved. I loved it, you talked about you're saying for people when you do start weighing yourself because you do talk about the importance of weighing regularly to get the weekly average and things like that. But for people who just can't handle that, psychologically, you talked about getting a physical scale, and stepping on it and never changing. Would you like to tell listeners, I just thought this was brilliant?
Gin Stephens: This is years ago, probably, gosh, over 10 years ago, I read this somewhere and I can't remember where, but get a doctor's scale, the kind with the balance on it. You have to move the little weights and stand on it and adjust it to your weight, and then get off. And then till everyone in your house, they're not allowed to touch it. And then you get on the scale the next day, and only move it down if you need to, but never move it back up. You never have to see the upward fluctuations. You just keep moving it down as you go from day to day, when on the days that your weight is lower. So that way, don't worry about the fluctuations because weight is like a zigzag.
Even when I was losing weight, thank goodness, when I was losing weight that I did weigh daily and once a week calculated my weekly average and I only worried about the comparison that the weekly averages but when I look at my graph because I had a scale that was one of those Bluetooth scales and it would send the weight to the internet. And then I would have it on my app. My weight went up, down, up, down, up, down, but overall, it was slipping down. If you only focus on those fluctuations, it can make you think it's not working.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it's so interesting because originally, back in the day, I was of the mindset of, “Don't weigh yourself.” But actually, I think it's for a lot of people either don't weigh yourself or weigh yourself every single day, so that you become aware of these fluctuations and can see the trend.
Gin Stephens: You've got to have a way of smoothing out that trend with the app or with the weekly averaging and you cannot let those fluctuations get inside your head.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I did read a study too. It was interesting. It was looking at weight loss and people who weigh or don't weigh, and it seems that people who weigh lose more weight, and it's probably like accountability.
Gin Stephens: That research is there, and it is true. But if you're somebody who's going to play those mental games, you have to understand the trend. That's the key.
Melanie Avalon: Then the third thing I loved was, you talked about body setpoint in the book, and it's interesting, you had some research in there about maybe it took-- I think you said like maybe a year, we won't go on a tangent about body setpoint. But maybe if the body maintains a lower weight for a certain amount of time, that body might reset to that weight. You pointed out that if a person doesn't make seemingly progress, after the 28 days that you can reframe it as a new body set point of not gaining. I asked on my Facebook group for questions for you.
Gin Stephens: I knew that you did that. By the way, someone told me.
Melanie Avalon: I told people not to tell you.
Gin Stephens: Sorry, people tell me everything.
Melanie Avalon: Did you see the questions though?
Gin Stephens: No, I didn't see the questions.
Melanie Avalon: I knew it would leak though. I wanted it to surprise. Okay, can we do some rapid-fire questions, they're really fun?
Gin Stephens: I would love that. I was actually looking forward to it. As soon as I heard that that was happening, I was really excited. But no, I didn't hear what they were.
Melanie Avalon: They're really good questions. I'm really looking forward to this for a long time. Okay. So, these are just going to be all over the place. Sarah has three questions. She says, “Why did you stop extended fast?” And she wants to know what's the longest fast you've done?
Gin Stephens: I think people use the word extended fasting incorrectly, and I don't know if Sarah is or not, but people think that alternate daily fasting is extended fasting. It isn't. I was doing alternate daily fasting right after I read The Obesity Code. And really reading The Obesity Code is one reason I wrote Delay, Don't Deny because I was so excited because I knew Jason Fung was writing this book, The Obesity Code, I'd seen it coming and I was thrilled. And it was the spring of 2016 and I had been maintaining my weight for a year, but I still had so many questions. So, then I read The Obesity Code, and I was waiting for him to tell me what to do. And he really didn't.
Except in the back, he had this appendix where it had some kind of alternate daily fasting protocols, and they're like, “Well, that's what Dr. Fung has in his book.” I had been using the eating window approach, but I'm going to do some alternate daily fasting because that's what's there. And so, I started doing 36 to 42-hour fasts. I was doing three days per week, but a 36 to 42 hour fast as part of the alternate daily fasting is not really what we would call an extended fast. So, I never regularly did extended fasts ever.
Even though in the spring of 2016, I did alternate daily fasting. I actually did for three. I think I fasted on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. And the other days, I just ate according to how I wanted, I didn't diet it on those days. But I've only done extended fasting, and when I say extended fasting, I'm talking about, now you're not eating, like if you sleep two times and you haven't eaten, you're 48 hours and beyond. That's when I start thinking that it's extended fasting because if you're eating every other day, that's not extended to me. One time I did, I think an 84 hour fastest, this is way before I knew anything at all. I mean, this is like in my crazy desperate days. I was like, “I'm just going too fast until I lose all this weight.” I'm not kidding, I did that. [laughs] “I'm going to fast for three weeks.” Then I felt awful.
Melanie Avalon: Super crazy?
Gin Stephens: Yes, it was awful. And I didn't end up having any lasting weight loss from it.
Melanie Avalon: None?
Gin Stephens: No. It makes sense why I was so hungry, obviously. But, yeah, that's the longest I ever did. And I absolutely would not recommend that to people. I really don't recommend people do longer than 72 unless you're under medical supervision because things start to happen. And you can have things going on that require like, electrolyte levels, things like that. So, I really don't recommend people fast for more than 72 hours, unless you're under medical supervision. And even up to 72 hours might not be right for some people. So, proceed with caution with the longer fasts. The longer fasts were not a part of my journey.
I read Fasting and Eating for Health, Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I read that years and years and years ago, and he talks about how extended fasting is known to lower metabolic rate. I mean, he used to do with patients. But he's doing it for healing purposes. And so, when someone who's a proponent of fasting says, “Hey, when you're going to do these longer healing fasts, be aware that it's going to slow your metabolic rate.” I mean, that made my ears perk up and it made me realize that's not what I want to do.
Melanie Avalon: Sarah also wants to know, what's your personal strategy when you feel caving in fast? How often does that happen for you? Does it happen for you?
Gin Stephens: There's no caving. It's just, “I think I'll eat now.” [laughs] I never consider it caving. I eat every day. Ever since 2016 when I did that dabbling, but I mean, I had done alternate daily fasting in that 2009 to 2014 period when I was trying all the different things. And then I did it a little bit 2015 around the holidays, but then I didn't do it again till 2016 when I did it for a while. Ever since I went back to the daily eating window approach in probably June of 2016, I haven't skipped a day of eating since then. So, I haven't had a day where I didn't eat since 2016. So really, there is no caving, there's just today I opened my window earlier than I did yesterday or whatever. I don't think of it as failing, cheating or caving. It's, “Oh, my body's telling me I need to eat earlier today.” Or, “Hey, my sister wants to go to brunch and I'm going to,” and I don't perceive that as a failure or caving at all.
I will say when I'm trying to decide if I'm going to open my window earlier, I think am I going to be glad that I did? Will the future me be glad that I ate this? And I'm not talking about the future me from a year from now. I mean, the future me from two hours in the future. Two hours from now, I'll be glad I went and had brunch with my sister. Probably the answer to that is yes because it's so much more than just the food. It's the social event it's being there. It's the experience of the brunch. But if I'm sitting around the house and I'm making French toast for my husband, and I'm like, “Yeah, that looks delicious.” In two hours, am I going to be glad that I made myself a piece of French toast and ate it? No, probably not.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I think that's a great reframe. I think a lot of people will be like, “Oh, me next week will be happy.” But if you think about literally, like in an hour, it makes it much more real, makes it much more like, “Oh.”
Gin Stephens: Because in an hour, I'm going to feel draggy and gross after eating the French toast, whereas I would feel fabulous if I didn't eat it.
Melanie Avalon: Stephanie wants to know, if you had to lose 10 pounds in two months knowing all that you know now, which IF protocol would you use to rapidly shed the weight?
Gin Stephens: It all depends. If I was brand new to intermittent fasting, I would not set a goal to lose 10 pounds in two months because you need to just let your body do what it's going to do.
Melanie Avalon: Let's just do a hypothetical, I knew you're going to say that. Let's say like, “It's going to save the planet if Gin Stephens loses 10 pounds in two months,” for some reason it saves the planet.
Gin Stephens: I would do alternate daily fasting. I would probably do for three/slash hybrid. I liked having Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday is my down days. And I would probably do Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, I would probably do the 500-calorie meal. Well, I don't know. I would let my body decide on each of those days. I would fast clean have the 500-calorie meal if I wanted to. And then resume the clean fast. And then the next I will have an up day of at least two meals. And then on the seventh day because I'd like more of a pattern. I liked knowing that it was going to be Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. So, then that gave you two days in a row Friday and Saturday. So, then Saturday, I'd probably just have an eating window.
Melanie Avalon: We have some people who think they know what you're going to say. Julie wants to know, if you could only have one junk food for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Gin Stephens: Oh, well, I know they know it's Doritos.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, we got Doritos. Some people said pimento cheese. One person said Prosecco. And I was like, “I don't consider that junk food.”
Gin Stephens: Not junk food. Yeah, it would be Doritos. That's the one thing that my tastes have not gone off of Doritos. I still would love Dorito at any time, and I don't buy them for that reason because I would sit down and eat all those Doritos. They're still good. My brain still lights up from Doritos.
Melanie Avalon: Similar question, and we have answers they think you're going to say. What are some of your typical snacks? To clarify, I guess that would be in your eating window snacks.
Gin Stephens: Oh yeah, definitely. The only snack in your eating window because even if you think you're snacking during your fast, you're not. [laughs] It is your eating window if you're eating. Anyway, I love to have like a cheese plate. I actually today went to the store and got some delicious cheeses and some fig jam and some cherry preserves, and I'm going to later open my window with a cheese plate, cheese and crackers. I've been making homemade hummus, which so easy. Everybody always said it was easy and it's really as easy as everyone says, you dump it in, blended up. There's your hummus and it's delicious. You can put anything in there that you like. So, I love hummus with-- You could put broccoli in there with it if you're trying to get some more nutrients, you dip it with the broccoli or carrots or pita chips or whatever, that's a great snack.
Sometimes I'll have something left over from the night before. If we have a dinner, and especially if it's a big veggie-packed dinner and we don't finish at all, I might save a little bit of that and have it to open my window. Also, I love guacamole and chips.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, that was one, we had a prediction for guacamole and a prediction for dates with peanut butter.
Gin Stephens: I usually have the dates and peanut butter at the end of my eating window. That's what I did yesterday. Yeah. Yesterday I closed with dates and peanut butter. And it's just so funny, I was really sitting there yesterday thinking, “I would just love some ice cream.” I wish I had some ice cream. Then my brain said, “You could go get some ice cream.” Then I thought, “Yeah, but it's going to give me restless legs because that's what sugar does. And then I thought you know what doesn't give me restless legs? Dates and peanut butter. So, I had some.
Melanie Avalon: Christine wants to know, what is your go-to meal when you don't have a meal kit coming and you don't want to go out to eat?
Gin Stephens: Yeah, that's tricky because I lose all the ability to figure out how to cook food. [laughs] Now that I've been using these meal kits since 2016, I use a bunch of different ones. But honestly, right now at this point, I love to get a bunch of vegetables and roast them, roast some chickpeas and maybe have some couscous or something, feta and put it all together. It's delicious. If a meal kits not coming, I'm going to do something with a big pile of veggies, some kind of grain, maybe a soup, or if I'm really can't think of anything, it might be spaghetti. That was my old go-to. Sometimes you just want some spaghetti.
Melanie Avalon: Nicole wants to know, how's the eating for genetics going?
Gin Stephens: Oh yeah, I quit doing that. [laughs] It's hard to limit fat and fat is delicious, and it works well for my body. Also, my husband said, “What are we doing? Stop doing this? Where's the food?” He was not a fan of the lower fat. I could do it if it were just made by myself. It does take a lot of work. And the meal kit really did not work well with it if you're trying to eat low fat.
Melanie Avalon: Have you tried the SelfDecode yet platform? The gene?
Gin Stephens: Not yet.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. For listeners, I recently did an episode on a genetic platform. I actually really, really love people who never suggest to eat omega-6 polyunsaturated fats for weight loss. No, it's actually really incredible. I'll put a link to in the show notes. It was with Joe Cohen who created the website SelfHacked and the website SelfDecode.
Gin Stephens: But I will say that when I was doing the low-fat experiment, I realized that I will never again use fake food substitutes that are low-fat things. I was like, “It's a low-fat mayonnaise. Let's try that,” and I was like, “Oh my God, no, throw it in the trash.” The really the only way to eat low fat and have real food is you're practically vegan, like the Mastering Diabetes guys.
Melanie Avalon: Well, I did really low fat for a long time and it's chicken breast, fish, lean fish shrimp, you can eat really high protein.
Gin Stephens: I really don't like chicken a ton. And I don't like fish. So, for me, with the foods that I like, lots and lots of fruits and vegetables and grains. That to me is how I can do low fat and feel great and be satisfied. But with real food version.
Melanie Avalon: Which is like the Mastering Diabetes type guys?
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I could eat their way. But my husband was like, “Why am I so hungry? Where's the food?” [laughs] Yeah, I felt great. But anyway. It was hard.
Melanie Avalon: For listeners, I'll put a link in the show notes to the interview with them. It's really fascinating all about a low-fat diet, a lot of mind blown moments for a lot of people, especially if you've been existing in the low carb world. It's really interesting.
Gin Stephens: Oh, and also, the person who asked what I would do if I had to lose 10 pounds. She asked about the fasting, but honestly, what would do it for me would be eating like the Mastering Diabetes guys, that would do it.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, when I get that question, I say, either PSMF or protein-sparing modified fast foods with fasting but not calorie-restricted. It's basically low fat, low carb, high protein.
Gin Stephens: I would personally do the lower fat, higher carb.
Melanie Avalon: Naureen wants to know, how does she keep from burning out? I promote her books and spread her clean fast message to anyone and everyone, and on my teeny tiny scale compared to hers, and I burn out when friends challenge clean fast. When I started 11 months ago, I challenged it too, a lot. I couldn't imagine defending it in Gin shoes multiple times daily. Please ask how she stays motivated?
Gin Stephens: That's a great question. And it can be a challenge. But remember, I was an elementary teacher. I'm used to being challenged all day every day by the same exact questions over and over and over and over. So, when I run my Facebook support groups, we have people agree before they join the group is one of the membership questions that they're going to respect our definition of the clean fast. And so, we present it to make people when they join, and let's say someone's like, “Hey, can I have lemon in my water?” And we're like, “No, we do not believe that that's part of a clean fast.” And then if someone challenges it, we're like, “Well, you agreed when you join the group, this is a non-negotiable. We don't debate it.” So, I found that by saying, agree to respect it, and we don't debate it here. And that's, that's the end of the discussion.
And so, for people in your real life, obviously, it's different. Someone's debating it with me-- I'll actually have a lot fewer people debate it now than it used to. It's like they finally are like, “Hey, maybe Gin does know what she's talking about.” So, if I tell them they're like, “Okay, makes sense.” But I think the clean fast challenge is the way to handle the people who aren't quite buying the science or like, “I saw a video and it said I could have Stevia and that it was fine.” I'm like, “Alright, well, I understand. I appreciate there are different opinions out there. Take the clean fast challenge. Try it my way, just give yourself a few weeks, and then see how you feel.” And then you're putting it back to them, you don't have to prove it to anyone or change their mind. Just say, “Well, this is what I believe. How about try it and see what you think?” And then it's up to them. They're empowered to use the information or not.
But again, I don't debate it with people. I'm not going to debate it. I'm not going play dueling studies with somebody about it because if you don't want to believe this, that's fine. Do your thing. I believe this makes a huge difference, which is why it's the approach that I recommend. So, you can take it or leave it. [laughs] Did that sound bad? Take it or leave it?
Melanie Avalon: No, no, not at all. That's the way I feel. It's like everybody can have their own opinions, do their own thing, do their own research, and I love talking about things with people who have thoughts about it. It's hard to talk about it if they haven't read your-- not necessarily your opinion. But if they're not familiar with the dialogue, I'm not here to convince anybody of anything. Like, honestly.
Gin Stephens: This is what I believe, and this is why I believe it. And how about try it my way and just see?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, this is what I think I believe. And I love when people have different opinions. I love that. And to clarify different opinions that they've done the research, but not just a different opinion where they're just not thinking about it really. But if they have a different opinion, and they've done research, I love talking with them because I love being challenged and maybe changing my own thoughts.
Gin Stephens: Well, my thoughts sure changed because I thought if you go back to the me in 2015, I was drinking Stevia in my coffee all day long. And it wasn't until I read The Obesity Code and started digging into the science that Dr. Jason Fung presented, and I did not want to believe that was true. And so, I'm like, “Alright, I'm going to experiment. I'm going to do it.” And then I was like, “Oh, that does make a huge difference.”
Melanie Avalon: This is a question for me, not from a listener. What do you think has been the biggest like, changed your mind on diet thing? Would it be what you just said?
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I think so. Realizing that, our bodies are a lot more complicated than calories in, calories out. But also understanding that a lot of people are still stuck in the old paradigm, and they just haven't been exposed to the information that will make you realize that you were wrong. For example, just one thing about calories, we know our gut microbiomes greatly affect the number of calories we're able to use from the foods that we eat. And if you don't understand that, we’re also very different. Then you realize, gosh, it makes no sense for us to think we're all going to be exactly the same because we're not.
Melanie Avalon: 100%. Christina wants to know, do you feel pressure to stay slim, and is that hard?
Gin Stephens: Well, yeah, I do feel pressure to stay slim. Is it hard? No. Because I have intermittent fasting, but she's right. I do feel that pressure because we've all seen the diet guru regains weight. No, I don't want to regain the weight, I do feel a pressure that I need to stay slim. But fortunately, I've got the tools in my toolbox to do it.
Melanie Avalon: Theresa wants to know, she says, I know her parents aren't interested in fasting, assuming that is still true? But are there other extended family members, family other than her sons that she has turned to IF.
Gin Stephens: I have two brothers, and one of them does intermittent fasting and his wife, but they both do it, and my other brother doesn't need to. He's one of those people that cannot gain weight no matter how much he eats, which is again, an example of how we're all really different. I mean, my youngest brother, he can eat and eat and eat and eat and eat and just cannot put on the weight. He's just like, you look at him and you think he never eats. But he does. He just can't put on the weight. So, but my other brother and his wife do it. My sister won't do it either. I have a cousin who has been very successful with intermittent fasting, which is thrilling. I didn't know she was doing it. She struggled with her weight just like I did all my life. She struggled all her life. And then she was in my group, this is years ago, and she was quietly in my group. Then all of a sudden, I saw she made a comment saying how she lost 100 pounds. And I'm like, “Oh my God, I didn't know that.” It's just thrilling to see. I have so many close friends and college friends and high school friends and childhood friends that are living the intermittent fasting lifestyle.
Melanie Avalon: Also, in the family sphere, Heidi wants to know with your sons entering adulthood and getting married, are you anxious for grandchildren?
Gin Stephens: Oh, yeah, that's going to be so much fun, grandchildren coming up one day. The one-- Cal who's in San Francisco with his wife, they're married. And so, I don't know when they plan to start a family. I don't feel like they're planning to start one soon, but things happen. It's going to be really hard to have grandchild all the way across the country. So, we'll see how that goes. The son that lives here in town, he and I actually had a conversation about that the other day. He doesn't have a significant other, but he talked about how he does want to settle down and raise a family and stay here, which made me happy.
Melanie Avalon: That's nice.
Gin Stephens: He's only 20 though. So, we've got lots of time.
Melanie Avalon: Angie, I think this is a great question. She has a few questions. She says, “What do you think is the most likely breakout area that we will learn something big about when it comes to the science of weight loss?”
Gin Stephens: I really think personalized nutrition is coming more and more. The PREDICT study that I talked about in Fast. Feast. Repeat. and now they're doing the PREDICT 2 study. I actually know a bunch of people who are participating in PREDICT 2, but the interplay between your gut microbiome and your weight and your health, and how we really are all different when it comes to what foods work well for our bodies. And that is not just wishful thinking, it is a fact. And one day, I hope that we understand that we are all different, and that we can all coexist equally understanding that you're not wrong if you think this way of eating works better for you. You're right, even if it's the opposite of what works well for me, learning to trust our bodies and realizing that we really are different personalized nutrition. I want it to be just really common knowledge.
Melanie Avalon: Angie also wants to know, I love this. She said, “If you could design one research study on IF, how would you do it?”
Gin Stephens: Oh, well, it would definitely be with clean fasting. [laughs] I don't know if I could only design one, gosh. This would actually be unethical though. I would like to design a study comparing clean fasting with not clean fasting, but knowing what I know, I wouldn't want anybody to have to do the other way. So, I guess that would not be a good study. I guess it would be really interesting to do an alternate daily fasting where they were fasting clean. And one group is having the 500-calorie meal and the other group is fasting straight through, that would be an interesting study. But everybody's fasting clean.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I would really like to see that.
Gin Stephens: I would really like to see that.
Melanie Avalon: Angie also wants to know, what are your cat's names?
Gin Stephens: Oh. Well, our oldest cat is Jackson. And I have to do the math. Let me think. He's four years younger than Will, so he is 16, almost 17, and he's got cancer. He is on his last little kitty legs, but we thought he was gonna die in September and I was like, “This is the day. “This is the day he is going to die. Let's call the vet.” And then he didn't die. And he rallied and he's still cruising along. And that's Jackson, and we named him Jackson because he was born under my brother's porch in Jackson, South Carolina. And we got him, and he was a kitten. And then our next oldest cat, his name is Ringo. And he has these circles on his fur. He's named after Ringo Starr, The Beatles. So, then we got stuck in that whole naming Beatles theme. And I've always wanted to name a cat Cat, like Cat Stevens the singer, but my family has vetoed it every time. But my other cat is Ellie. Her name is Eleanor Rigby. And then we have another cat Lucy. She's Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Melanie Avalon: I didn't realize you had that many. I only knew about Lucy, I guess you mentioned Ringo. I don't think I knew about Jackson.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, Jackson's the old guy, but three of our cats are orange tabbies. Two of the girls are orange tabbies. And you know Eleanor Rigby.
Melanie Avalon: No, I did not know about Eleanor Rigby.
Gin Stephens: Yep. Ellie, Eleanor Rigby.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, Ellie. Oh, I did. Yes, it did.
Gin Stephens: That's Ellie. Yeah, that's Ellie. She's the one with no tail. She's the one that got hit by car and she was in Delay, Don't Deny in the exercise chapter, Exercise, I Thought You Said Extra Fries, that's Ellie. It's a picture of her.
Melanie Avalon: Leah wants to know, she says, “What does she have against listening to podcasts? I think it is hilarious how she does two podcasts, but still doesn't listen to any.”
Gin Stephens: I don't have anything against it.
Melanie Avalon: I was slow to get on the bandwagon for podcasts. In fact, IF podcast was my first and I'm so glad it was.
Gin Stephens: I'm so glad. I'm just not a listener to things, unless I'm driving in the car. And then that's it. I have nothing against podcasts at all. And I know that a lot of people like to have them on, but my problem is, I am not good at listening and learning and paying attention and doing other tasks. I can watch TV all day long and visually and auditorily engaged, but just being auditorily engaged is just not enough for me. That's my learning style, I guess.
Melanie Avalon: You know what I'm wondering now, I hadn't thought about this before, but I talked before about how if you say things out loud, like subconscious parts of your brain hears it.
Gin Stephens: Oh, yeah, that's very true.
Melanie Avalon: I wonder if you have like information type stuff. Even if you don't think you're hearing it, like, are you hearing it?
Gin Stephens: Well, it might be going into your subconscious brain but the only time I can actually focus on it enough to listen is if I'm driving, because driving is so automated the way you-- you're not having to focus on the driving. So, I can drive and listen to something and get the auditory input that way, but I just can't listen to something and do other things in my daily life. I just can't. It's like I'm unable to learn that way. Or to listen.
Melanie Avalon: To that point, my mind was blown. I read something, and I said this before, but with driving, people often think the fact that we feel like we're not paying attention to driving is really bad like that we're going to have wrecks, but actually if we weren't like that, and we were actually consciously focusing on driving, we would be having to make all the decisions about everything. It's like when you're learning to drive, and you have to think about like every single thing. So, the fact that it's automated is actually much, much better.
Gin Stephens: Yeah, because you're not having to focus on all the inputs.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, your brain knows how to react if something happens.
Gin Stephens: Thank you to your subconscious brain that is back there running things all the time.
Melanie Avalon: Pammy says, “Do you still use your rebounder? And could you make a video showing your routine?” She says she bought one the same time that you did.
Gin Stephens: My routine is very boring. I jump on it. Sometimes I move my arms around depending on how I feel. But I like to watch TV and jump on it. I was doing that today. I really just love jumping on it. And I also use the vibration plate and so does my husband. My husband, the PhD scientist is convinced of the benefits of that vibration plate and he gets on it all the time.
Melanie Avalon: I'm actually thinking of getting another one because the one I have is the one I love. You have a big one, right?
Gin Stephens: Not anymore. Now I got rid of that one. I have a LifePro.
Melanie Avalon: See, I don't have room for it. So, I might get a little one.
Gin Stephens: Go to the favorite things tab of ginstephens.com. I have a link there for a LifePro vibration plate. They have great customer service.
Melanie Avalon: Can I sit on it?
Gin Stephens: You can sit on it. Yeah, you can sit on it. You can stand on it. But it's just the platform with no handles.
Melanie Avalon: I might get that one.
Gin Stephens: It takes up so much less room.
Melanie Avalon: I'd have to say goodbye to the other one.
Gin Stephens: I gave it away. I was like, “Who wants it?” I posted it in like the advanced group. And somebody drove like three hours and came and got it.
Melanie Avalon: That's really funny.
Gin Stephens: I know. It was last year. I don't know if I'd post that now. But anyway.
Melanie Avalon: Mindy says, “Given the success of the podcast and books, do you regret not quitting your teacher job sooner?”
Gin Stephens: Well, I couldn't afford to quit until I quit. That's the thing. I quit the minute I could afford to quit. I always loved going back to school. I always loved it. I was getting excited, but then the last year, I was sitting at the dinner table one night and I realized I only had one more week before it was time to go back and I actually started crying. And I was like, “Okay, I've never felt this way going back to school, I need to be doing other things now.” My calling has changed from teaching. And so, then I was like, “Well, can I afford to retire?” Because you have to have a certain amount of years and teaching before you can take your pension if you're a certain age, and I was not old enough to get the pension unless I had a certain number of years, so I had to buy some years in order to get my 30 years and get the pension.
I was sweating it. I was like, “Am I going to be able to afford to write this big check to buy these years that I need to?” And fortunately, the universe provided. There was a real turning point that I don't know if I ever talked about it was, I had pretty much decided I was going to retire and assuming and trusting the universe was going to give me enough money to be able to do it based on book sales of Delay, Don't Deny.
In December, I got an email that said and realized, I didn't have enough money yet to pay for these years I needed. I got an email that said, your teaching certificate, it's time to renew it, you have to renew your certificate and time to start the process. And I was like, “Well, I should probably just go ahead and renew it just to be safe.” And then I'm like, “Wait a minute. What kind of message is that sending the universe? I don't want to renew my certificate.” So, I didn't. I trusted that it would all work out. And it did.
Melanie Avalon: Wow.
Gin Stephens: Yeah. I was like, it would be a mixed signal to renew my teaching certificate knowing I wanted to retire. But I sold enough copies. I had enough money, I was able to buy the time and retire from teaching. And I loved teaching and I was very good at it and I never felt the dread. Like I said, but that last year, it felt like I was out of sync with that world all of a sudden.
Melanie Avalon: Karen wants to know, to that point. “Did you ever in your wildest dreams think that this is what your life would be like? How does it feel to be famous now that you're a New York Times bestselling author?”
Gin Stephens: Oh, good Lord. That's a crazy word, famous. I don't know that I would say I'm famous, but I don't know. I'm just still me and I always will be. You know the song Jenny from the Block? That's always me. I'm never going to feel like a famous person and I'm just always just going to be myself. So, it is weird to think about.
Melanie Avalon: Michelle wants to know what celebrity would you most like to hear has read your book and has reached their health goals with clean fasting?
Gin Stephens: Oprah Winfrey.
Melanie Avalon: That's what Allison thought you were going to say?
Gin Stephens: Yep. Oprah Winfrey. I grew up watching Oprah. I watched her struggle, and then I struggled too. Oprah Winfrey is a bazillionaire, brilliant woman with access to the best minds out there and she has struggled, and that shows us all that it's not our fault and we're not weak. If you could buy thinness, she would’ve bought it, she's got the money. It lets us know that it's not a matter of just not being strong enough, she's strong. It's not a matter of not having-- it means she's got access to anything, and it gives us all the feeling of, it's okay that we've struggled because this is not an easy thing. But I bet you she's tried fasting, but I bet you she hasn't tried clean fasting because she probably-- Dr. Oz is like, “Have some cream. Put some coconut oil in there.” If someone had said to me, “Have some cream, have some coconut oil.” “I'd have been like, “Alright, I'm going to.” In fact, I did, until I realized why I didn't want to, but I would love to know that I had helped Oprah.
Melanie Avalon: Maybe your book will be in the Oprah book club and that'll do it.
Gin Stephens: That would be really fun. It's not even that though. I mean, I'm a teacher, I want to teach Oprah the magic.
Melanie Avalon: Susan wants to know without any limits, which five noted public figures would you invite to share your OMAD with.
Gin Stephens: Oh, I don't know. I can't. I'm just not really up on like--
Melanie Avalon: Oprah, maybe?
Gin Stephens: What famous people would like to have come and eat with? I don't know. Yeah, Oprah. Oprah would be great. But I'm very much a regular person. I would like to meet you, Susan, I like to just sit down with regular people. I have no desire, no burning desire to hobnob with a bunch of famous people.
Melanie Avalon: This is true, listeners. Oftentimes, I'll be like, “Gin, you should bring these people on your podcast that if I've had on my show.” And she's like, “I like talking to regular people.” Not that they're not regular people. But yeah.
Gin Stephens: I just want to talk to Susan. That's my calling. And that's what feels best to me.
Melanie Avalon: So, sort of related, DC, she says, “When you read your Facebook group members post, do any of their words move you to tears? Which kind of posts affects you more? The people who have had amazing success or the ones who are struggling so much, they're close to quitting.”
Gin Stephens: Oh, that's a great question. Really, they all affect because the thing that really makes me the saddest is when someone says, “Intermittent fasting isn't working,” because the words isn't working implies that intermittent fasting is only going to work if you lose weight. And there's so much more to it than that, and you're selling intermittent fasting short if you only see it as a means to lose weight.
Now backtrack back to 2014, that's all I thought that it was. And if I hadn't lost weight, I would have quit. So, I get it. But I didn't understand all the health benefits either. And so, I would never stop intermittent fasting for the health benefits. And that's why my husband does it. The saddest posts are the ones where people are about to quit because they think it isn't working. And they haven't defined the idea of working. But really, the post I, of course, loved the most that really moved me are the people who talk about lifelong struggles, and now they feel free. And so many of them, they're like, “Hey, I haven't lost all that weight I want to lose yet. I'm not at a goal weight. And I don't even care because I finally feel free.” That's what really gets to me is when someone just gets it, they embrace the freedom of intermittent fasting. And they know it's their health plan with a side effect of weight loss and they trust that their body is doing good things, and they no longer are caught up in, “What is the scale say?” And that that's what really when I feel like I've done my job.
Melanie Avalon: She ends it by saying, “Melanie, I'm always curious as to how you and Gin handle the pressure that comes from being experts in your field. I'd be a melted puddle on the floor. I hope you know how special you and Gin are to us.” I would say I don't consider myself an expert. That's how I deal with that.
Gin Stephens: Well, and also, I've told myself, I don't have to know the answer to every question. I don't have to pretend to know something I don't know. Once you realize that you're like, I'm not a medical doctor or a medical researcher and this is what I believe, and I could be wrong. And but this is what I have synthesized based on all the reading I've done. This is what the evidence is pointing me towards. But you don't have to be somebody you're not and it's okay. I think probably that's my teaching background. I worked with gifted learners, I worked with teachers, and being able to say, “Gosh, I don't really know,” is empowering right there, to recognize that you're not expected to know everything.
Melanie Avalon: That's how I do it. I mean, I literally don't think I know anything. Ever since those split-brain studies, we're here like, clearly our brains can just make up realities. I'm like, “I know nothing.” So just a few more so. Maria says, “Be honest. Do you ever get sick of hearing will this break my fast?”
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I would like to not ever answer that question again.
Melanie Avalon: That's funny. So, Patricia wanted to know if we finally met in person, and then Coolio, maybe she says, “Have Melanie and Gin finally met in person? If you two haven't met up, I'd be miffed. I've been listening since beginning and I recall that you hadn't ever hung out. Love you both.” Yeah, we haven't. I feel like I have. I wonder that would be probably weird. I mean, I don't know. That'd be so interesting. You know?
Gin Stephens: Yeah, I mean, I know you've really, really well but I've never shared oxygen in the same space.
Melanie Avalon: Somebody suggested I should go on the cruise. I was like, nope. I cannot.
Gin Stephens: We may never cruise again. I'm not making lightly of that. The cruise industry may not survive this.
Melanie Avalon: Same topic. Sheree says, “What do you think you and I have most in common and what do we most differ on?”
Gin Stephens: We have the fasting in common. And how are we different? Well, obviously, I think it's foods. Foods that work well for us. That's different.
Melanie Avalon: [unintelligible [01:40:38] cashews, putting anything in your coffee even in the first few weeks, grains and legumes being grand or not, fish. Okay, and then Brenda, “Are you working on your next book?”
Gin Stephens: I actually am. We're talking through some ideas.
Melanie Avalon: She says, “Can you tell us a little bit about it?”
Gin Stephens: No. [laughs] Not yet. We're still talking about it. We've had a few meetings with my literary agent and my editor. And they said, this is very not normally how they do it. But we've had several meetings altogether. We're coming up with ideas together and what they want to put together and what-- I said no to a few ideas. I was like, “Nope, I don't think we need to write that book.” Not writing that one because I feel I'm not writing another intermittent fasting how to. We don't need that, because we've got the comprehensive guide to Delay, Don't Deny intermittent fasting and that's Fast. Feast. Repeat.
Melanie Avalon: And here's my favorite question out of all of them away. I don’t know why I start crying when I think about it. I started crying when I read it the first time. If you had the whole world listening for five minutes, what would you say?
Gin Stephens: I would say that if you're struggling with your body, it's time to stop feeling like you're working against your body or that your body is not on your team because literally everything your body does is to protect you because your body loves you. And so, you need to realize you're on the same team as your body. And so, you can work together to figure out what your body needs, and that none of it is your fault. None of it is because you're weak, or there's something wrong with you, you can figure out what your body needs.
Melanie Avalon: I love that. So, the last question I ask every single guest on this show, I think I only forgot once, and then I had to email them and get their answer. But it's just because I am realizing more and more each day how important mindset is surrounding everything. And so, it really ties in really to what you just said. But what is something that you're grateful for?
Gin Stephens: I am grateful for the opportunity to bring intermittent fasting to so many people. I'm really grateful that St. Martin's Press of Macmillan was willing to publish my book because I've got an education background, and they took a chance with me and let me write a book about intermittent fasting. Even though I'm not a doctor, and then it went on to be a New York Times bestseller, of course, and they're certainly glad they took that chance, but I'm really grateful that people are listening and that I have the opportunity to help people who've been struggling for as long as I did or longer.
Melanie Avalon: Well, thank you so much. Thank you for-- I told you it'd be shorter, but we went long. I'm sorry. I'm super, super grateful for your time. And listeners, like we talked about, all the information is in Fast. Feast. Repeat. If you're doing intermittent fasting, wanting to start intermittent fasting, it's a super, super valuable resource, so definitely get it. Gin, how can people best follow your work or what links would you like to put out there?
Gin Stephens: Well, if they go to ginstephens.com, that's Gin is G-I-N. Stephens with a P-H, there links to everything from there. They can find me from there.
Melanie Avalon: Awesome. So, listeners, we will put all of that in the show notes. And Gin, I will talk to you tomorrow for The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. All right.
Gin Stephens: Bye.