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The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #69 - Nicole Poirier

Nicole Poirier is the creator of mindbodyketo.com. A special diets chef, wellness advocate, biohacker, and writer, Nicole has been helping her clients and followers achieve their health goals without deprivation for years, using the Ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. Her broad culinary repertoire and tasteful healthy cuisine has made her a sought-after chef for private clients and the who's who of Silicon Valley. Nicole resides in San Francisco.



IG @mind_body_keto


2:25 - 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!

2:40 - Follow Melanie On Instagram To See The Latest Moments, Products, And #AllTheThings! @MelanieAvalon

3:05 - BEAUTYCOUNTER: Non-Toxic Beauty Products Tested For Heavy Metals, Which Support Skin Health And Look Amazing! Shop At Beautycounter.Com/MelanieAvalon For Something Magical! For Exclusive Offers And Discounts, And More On The Science Of Skincare, Get On Melanie's Private Beautycounter Email List At MelanieAvalon.Com/CleanBeauty! Find Your Perfect Beautycounter Products With Melanie's Quiz: Melanieavalon.Com/Beautycounterquiz

4:45 - FOOD SENSE GUIDEGet Melanie's App To Tackle Your Food Sensitivities! Food Sense Includes A Searchable Catalogue Of 300+ Foods, Revealing Their Gluten, FODMAP, Lectin, Histamine, Amine, Glutamate, Oxalate, Salicylate, Sulfite, And Thiol Status. Food Sense Also Includes Compound Overviews, Reactions To Look For, Lists Of Foods High And Low In Them, The Ability To Create Your Own Personal Lists, And More!

8:30 - Nicole's Background

15:05 - Writing the Intermittent Fasting Cookbook

16:35 -Healthy Approach to Food Sensitives

17:50 - Elimination Diets for testing

19:00 - Intolerance to veggies: Bio-Individuality

20:00 - comfort in restriction

21:00 - The importance of variety, or lack thereof

21:50 - Safety in restriction

23:00 - carnivore freedom

23:45 - INSIDE TRACKER: Get The Blood And DNA Tests You Need To Be Testing, Personalized Dietary Recommendations, An Online Portal To Analyze Your Bloodwork, Find Out Your True "Inner Age," And More! Listen To My Interview With The Founder Gil Blander At melanieavalon.com/insidetracker! For A Limited Time Go To MelanieAvalon.Com/GetInsideTracker And Use The Coupon Code GIFTFROMMELANIE For $200 Off The Ultimate Plan!

26:30 - Zero Fiber Diet

27:20 - Nicole's Improvement on keto

28:10 - Nicole's Intermittent fasting start

30:50 - reflection of health in the eyes

31:40 - long-term "diets": keto, paleo, carnivore

33:00 - incorporating colorful carbs and white rice

34:00 - carbs for hormones and cycle

34:50 - biohacking as a concept

36:20 - Starting biohacking

The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #58 - Ami Brannon (Xen By Neuvanna)

39:15 - Intermittent fasting vs food choices: which is more powerful?

40:35 - Food for health

42:35 - what determines nutrient density?

45:00 - food studies about plant compounds

46:00 - pharmacokinetics of plants

47:05 - the role of calories in weight loss

50:30 - Energy Partitioning

52:00 - Diet Failures

54:00 - BiOptimizers: Get BiOptimizer's Ultimate Immunity Stack, With 3 Products Which Contain Over 18 Natural Herbs And Probiotic Blends Formulated To Fight And Eliminate Bad Bacteria And Repair Compromised Gut Lining! Go to bioptimizers.com/melanie and use coupon code MELANIE10 to save an extra 10% on the Immunity Protection Stack.

55:50 - Intermittent Fasting Study Idea

58:00 - Science Of Food

59:30 - Foods For Satiety With Less Calories

1:00:55 - Volume Vs Calorie Density

1:03:05 - Macronutrient Balance For Satiety

1:04:00 - Satiety Index

1:07:30 - Capsaicin To Reduce Hunger

1:09:00 - PSMF (Protein Sparing Modified Fast)

1:10:05 - Rapid Fat Loss

1:10:15 - Problems with BMI

 1:11:30 - Muscle Sparing

1:12:50 - How PSMF Works

1:14:00 - Nicole's Next Book Ideas

1:18:10 - PSMF Delicious Recipes 

1:19:30 - Weight Loss and Anti-Inflammatory Effects

1:21:10 - Additional Modified Fasting Techniques

1:21:30 - The Recipes


Melanie Avalon: Hi friends, welcome back to the show. I am so excited about the conversation that I am about to have. It is with Nicole Poirier, and she is the author of a new book, Intermittent Fasting Cookbook: Fast-Friendly Recipes for Optimal Health, Weight Loss, and Results. And so, for listeners, the way I got connected to Nicole, I released my own book was What When Wine and Ariane Resnick did the recipes for that book. And she's a fantastic human being, and she did an incredible job. And she reached out to me, because her friend, Nicole, who is also a special chef, was writing her own book, which I just mentioned, and was looking for endorsements for it. I will say so, whenever that happens-- because you don't know, Nicole, you don't know what to expect. Especially in the intermittent fasting world, the food world, the diet world, that whole world, you just don't know what to expect. And so I was like, “Well, I really hope that when I read this, it's something that really resonates with me and aligns with what I've been talking about, and what I would love to promote to my audience.” And, oh, my goodness, friends, listeners, it's the bomb.

I was so excited to read it because what Nicole has done is, I was really, really impressed. It's a very comprehensive, very thorough, but very approachable overview of intermittent fasting. I mean, it goes deep into all of the different ways to do it, the benefits, issues you might experience the “How to Start” tips and tricks, and then on the food side of things, because that's a whole another nebulous world because as listeners know, as I know, there are so many dietary approaches out there can be really overwhelming. And the one thing I never want to do is lock anybody into a box of any one diet. I don't think there's one diet for everybody, I really don't.

Nicole Poirier: Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

Melanie Avalon: I know. So, in Nicole's book, it's not that at all. It goes into something that's a lot of things that are way more important to me, which I'm sure will dive in deep in the show, which is things like the importance of nutrient density and the concept of calories and what that actually means. Macronutrients, how you can sort of hack those for your body. So, it was great, everything in it, I was like, “Yes, this is great. This can help so many people.” Nicole, thank you so much for your book, and thank you so much for being here.

Nicole Poirier: Oh, it is my pleasure. I'm really excited to talk about this and hearing your response. The book in your own voice is just magical. So, I'm covered in tingles right now.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, no, I love it. And then what was so funny for listeners, I was reading it and Nicole actually mentioned in it, Gin Stephens, my cohost of the Intermittent Fasting podcast, and I was like, “Did you know she's my cohost?” So, it was great. We actually got to introduce Nicole to Gin, so that it all meant to be, all worked out really well.

Nicole Poirier: Serendipity.

Melanie Avalon: A little bit about Nicole. She is a special diet chef, a wellness advocate, a self-proclaimed biohacker, which we were talking before the call about the concept of biohacking. So, maybe we can touch on that. Also, a writer, but she has helped her clients and followers achieve their health goals, as she says without deprivation for years, and her specialty has been in the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. But I'm sure what we'll talk about in this episode is there's not just keto, there's so many other dietary options and approaches that people can follow. And she does work for private clients, and she lives in San Francisco. This is her first book, which is super exciting. Again, congrats, because it did just come out three days ago. So, congratulations.

Nicole Poirier: Thank you so much.

Melanie Avalon: To start things off, well, I did just tell listeners a little bit about you, but in your own words, what is your story? What led you to become a special diet chef? Were you a chef first and then had an interest in health nutrition? What was the timeline on all of that? What actually led you to writing this book today?

Nicole Poirier: Okay. I'm going to try to nutshell this as much as possible because I could speak for hours on my history of falling in love with food and growing vegetables and diving for seafood, but I began my career as a chef in the yachting industry. I was working on superyachts a la below deck, and mega yachts sailing around the world. And in this particular industry, you are exposed to clientele who have a lot more education about what they should and shouldn't eat for health reasons and food allergies. It's just the nature of the game, they have access to more healthcare and interest in that. I would end up having interactions with these clients who, A, had specific dietary requirements, whether it was celiac disease or dairy-free living, diabetic diet, and allergy, requirement to not consume too much vitamin K.

As I'm preparing these five-star meals for multiple people and accommodating all these different things, I just fell in love with the concept. I love the idea of healthy food, I love the idea of healthy and delicious, not being mutually exclusive. These were people coming on for a week or two or three into a really exclusive setting, and they don't want to go home heavier than they arrived in this vacation setting. I think we all feel that. Going on vacation, we feel like we have to come back and deprive ourselves and who wants that? Nobody in this world wants that. So, I started to tailor my own cooking both for the crew and the clientele. I always had my own passion. Throughout my life, I had a bit of a battle with the bulge and didn't quite understand where that was coming from. And I gained a lot more compassion both for my clients and the rest of general population when I found out that I was allergic to gluten. This is before it was cool. This is like 15 years ago, I found that out.

At the time, I was working in Italy. I didn't even know what I was going to be doing, but I went to the grocery store. Well, it turns out, they were already switched on and there were aisles of gluten-free products in the grocery stores. I just took to embracing different cuisines and different recipes. This really-- between working with clients’ requirements and then fully embracing it with my own, this just put me into the path of wanting people to eat to feel the best that they possibly could. And so, that's how I became a chef. I moved to San Francisco after I decided to leave that industry and set up shop as a boutique caterer and specialist in dinner parties with mixed restrictions.

Here, if you have a dinner party, there's always going to be a mix. There will be a vegan, there will be someone who's gluten free, there will be someone who's keto, there will be someone who has a salicylate allergy or something. I was the gal that would get called to put together amazing menus with the lowest common-- I call it lowest common denominator cooking. And it ends up being really fresh, whole-food based, colorful, just nutrient-dense cuisine and gained a reputation for that. I found my own way into the world of keto, after-- I was still learning about other cuisines like paleo and what have you. And I found my own personal way into keto, and was pretty dogmatic about it for two years from my own personal self, and started helping my clients deal with weight issues that they were wanting to try and use keto for. But as time passed, I'm just not that dogmatic about really any diet, kind of like you, Melanie.

It's important to eat right for your body and release of the attachment to this 25-carb limit, really coincided well with my discovery of intermittent fasting a couple of years ago, which completely restarted my own successful journey. I'd already lost and kept off 40 pounds for a couple of years at that point, and then with intermittent fasting, another 25 fell off. And I’ve started to watch my body change, and I started to watch my body stay in ketosis, almost no matter what I ate during my feasting period. I would say I'm still really low carb in the grand scheme of things, but low carb, according to the American Medical Association is 100 grams of carbs are less per day, and I probably say around like 50 to 60, which with intermittent fasting has led to so much amazing body recomposition, shape, changing inches, falling off, etc.

I was writing about it online, just in Instagram. And another author, who wrote a book about Keto for Women, reached out to her publisher and said that I was the gal who should be writing the intermittent fasting cookbook, and like you, I call it The Intermittent Fasting Cookbook, but it's intermittent fasting cookbook. But anyhow, and so they reached out to me and said, “We love what you're doing. How do you feel about writing this book?” I said, “Sounds like a great idea. I've been wanting to write a book, I'm super passionate about this. I want a way to share all that I've learned and all that I've absorbed with a larger audience.” And here we are.

Melanie Avalon: Here we are. Oh, my goodness, I love that so much. I did not know that story in detail and so much of it just resonates with me so much. Wow. Okay, so many things to touch on. I love that the exposure that you had in the beginning to people with dietary restrictions and things like that because that is something that I personally have struggled with a lot the whole-- like food sensitivities, which is such a vague term and it can be hard as well because I think once people start getting into that rabbit hole, it's hard to know how to be balanced in your approach to it. For me, for example, I even created an app called Food Sense Guide. And you mentioned salicylates, for example, and that's one of the compounds included, and it's 11 compounds, comparing their levels in over 300 foods. And of course, gluten is in there, like you mentioned and things like FODMAPs, and salicylates and oxalates, and amines and thiols and nightshades. There's so many things.

And so that's actually a question for you. What do you think is a healthy approach to dealing with potential food sensitivities? Do you think people should do testing to figure out if they're potentially sensitive to things? Is it more intuitive? When it does come to actually eating because, obviously, you're a chef, and you're creating recipes for people with the sensitivities, do you find that when people stick to diets and plans that address their potential sensitivities that they do see a big difference? How do you feel about all of that?

Nicole Poirier: Okay, so these are great questions and I have answers for all of them because you asked me actually before I even started the show if I’d thought of another book and this was a book about-- this was exactly the first book I was dreaming up after-- like the day after I finished writing Intermittent Fasting Cookbook, I was like, I want to write a deep-dive self-test elimination diet. I know that there's a million elimination diet books out there, but I want to write something that does deal with that, salicylate, amine, oxalate, etc., situation.

To address your question, I do believe that an elimination diet is the best way to go to really pare down to the bare minimum of lowest restrictive foods that are out there. But this is the issue. It is restrictive. I think it should only really be done for two weeks to three weeks before you start testing, and adding things back in. That's where people will see-- and you'll feel free for three weeks. For those three weeks, your body's not in pain. You'll see so much inflammation go down when you pare back what you're eating. One of my best girlfriends has a salicylate and amine combination allergy, and was on a juice fast when she found out and her husband came across her passed out on the floor from organ failure, from overloading her body with salicylate.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, wow!

Nicole Poirier: Yes.

Melanie Avalon: Like in cucumber juice and stuff like that?

Nicole Poirier: Yes. Cucumber, kale. And so, I love vegetables because they make my body happy. And you love vegetables because they might make your body happy. Guess what? Not every vegetable makes everybody happy. So, this is where we have to strip away that dogma of all veggies are good for everybody. They're actually not.

Melanie Avalon: I'm on the struggle [unintelligible [00:13:47] with veggies. Yeah. Fruit is much better for me, actually.

Nicole Poirier: Yeah, you still get your full complement of nutrients with fruit. So, it's like NBD in my world. People do have a hard time staying on it if you stay in that restricted thing too long. So, the biggest issue with those kind of fruit and vegetable intolerances is adherence over time. But I think once you learn the threshold concept, the threshold and the buckets concept, which I'm sure your app addresses-- I can't wait to check that out, by the way.

Melanie Avalon: I'll send it to you, for sure.

Nicole Poirier: It's just a new sense of freedom and comfort in your own skin. I don't understand why you wouldn't want to stay there, but it does tie into a lot of emotional connection to food, which is something that I think about a lot.

Melanie Avalon: It's hard because it's restrictive. At least this is what I personally struggle with, is I find comfort and safety in a restrictive diet. So, on the flip side, I think there's a lot of us if we do try restrictive diet, we can get a fear of coming out of it because it feels good. Like you just said, it feels really free to not be reacting to foods and if you find just a few foods that you do well with, it can be comforting to stay there. And I'm constantly researching because, on the one hand, there's a lot of talk about how you need to eat a really, really wide variety of foods. I'll hear that a lot on podcasts, like you need to eat-- I was listening to a podcast the other day with, I think it's the author of Fiber Fueled. And he was saying the number of different fibers that we needed, and it was something like, ungodly amount. And I was like, “Oh, gosh.”

And then, on the flip side, I've read studies where it says that actually the longest-lived populations actually eat a [unintelligible [00:15:36] variety of foods, it's actually not that big of a difference. So, I'm actually constantly haunted by how much variety do I need in my diet? Do I find the foods that I should be eating? With your clients, especially those on restrictive diets, do you find they can exist long term in a more restrictive protocol? Or do you encourage them to branch out and expand their food palette? How do you feel about all of that?

Nicole Poirier: Well, of course, I'm going to pat myself on the back and say, “As long as I'm doing the cooking, they could last on it forever” [laughs] because I'll still make it interesting with flavors. However, if someone's doing something on their own, or more on their own, or does get trapped in that-- like wanting to stay safe-- and what you say is valid. I mean, why wouldn't you want to feel safe all the time? But the great thing about this restrictive diet, is you can always return to them, and return to that sense of safety at any time. But you don't have to stay there, you don't have to stay there. It's like that saying about a ship in the harbor. A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for. And humans, we can be safely really, hiding away, and restricting our behaviors and activities. But that's not what life is about. It's about getting out there and trying things and enjoying things and exploring our senses.

When my clients want to spend more time in a more restrictive diet-- and I'm speaking of the autoimmune protocol, which I love, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love it, or Whole30, also love it. Now, those are two great diets. I do encourage them like, “Listen, let's reach out. Let's branch out just a little bit more.” These are two amazing examples of whole foods situations, whether you can get all of those nutrients or what have you, but also, the AIP, autoimmune protocol is meant to last for six to eight weeks at a time, not six months. So, I do encourage people to branch out.

Also, to go back to-- look at the carnivore people who are loving their lives right now and all their eating is meat, organ meats, occasionally dairy if they decide to incorporate dairy, and are feeling great. I know a guy in New Zealand, who was prescribed this by his doctor, and he's been thriving between a combination of intermittent fasting and carnivore for the last five years. It literally saved his life. So, everybody is different. I can't say any diet is perfect for any one person, although I do kind of think that fasting can complement any way of eating.

Melanie Avalon: I am so fascinated by carnivore. I sort of did it, not really, but for a long time in college, I basically just ate rotisserie chickens and coconut oil. They would mark down the rotisserie chickens to $3 after 11 PM and I was in college. So, I would go to the store at 11 PM and get my rotisserie chicken and slather in coconut oil. And I literally did that for probably like a year with intermittent fasting. I've been fascinated, at least by the concept of a mostly meat diet. I mean, it was a zero-fiber diet for a long time, especially, with gut issues and things like that.

Nicole Poirier: How did you feel at that point?

Melanie Avalon: Oh, I felt great.

Nicole Poirier: You mentioned that you've had some digestive challenges and fights with vegetables. So, I bet you were just like, “Oh, I feel amazing.”

Melanie Avalon: My own personal timeline of everything was, I first went low carb. And that was the thing where I was like, “Oh,” because I tried it to lose weight, but then so many other things got better that I was like, “Oh, wait a second.” And then, I was like, something's happening here that's not just weight loss. And that's what started-- which sounds similar to because you do say keto was what started the--

Nicole Poirier: Yeah, I started it for weight loss and then I was like, “Oh, this is amazing. I've never had such clear thoughts. I have energy up the wazoo and I'm sleeping well, and my mood is even, my menstrual cycle is regulated.” It's just like zip-a-dee-doo-dah for real.

Melanie Avalon: This was way at the beginning. I was doing the urine ketone strips and I was like, “Oh my goodness, I can literally measure fat burning with a thing,” which I now know it's way more complicated than the urine strips. But I guess that was probably my first foray into “biohacking,” probably, if you could consider that biohacking. So, yeah, in my time I did that, and then I adopted intermittent fasting. I said, I was going to do one meal a day for a week and I did not stop after that because I was like, “Wow, this is a game-changer.” How did you start intermittent fasting? What was your first attempt?

Nicole Poirier: Oh, let me see. It's really all about the research. The more I did research with keto, it's continuous. Continuous research. I think I read about my favorite movie star crush, which would be Hugh Jackman.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, he's a big IFer.

Nicole Poirier: Yes, using IF to get ripped for Wolverine. And I just said, “Jeepers Crow, that is amazing. He's amazing. I want to do whatever he's doing.” I don't necessarily need to-- I never want to look like Wolverine to be brutally honest, that's not the look I'm going for. But it said he's eating really well and very low carb, and just restricting the hours of the day. And this concept of changing the hours of the day that you eat, instead of changing the amount or whatever you're eating, fascinated me. I said, “Well, why not just try the 16:8?” I first started reading, but I'm like, “I don't really eat in the morning.” But as I looked at it, and I see this with a lot of my clientele now who I'm guiding through coaching, it's when you wake up at 6:00 in the morning, and you put cream in your coffee, and then you have your last glass of wine by 9:30 at night, or that last macadamia nut by 9:30 at night or 10:00 at night, you're eating for 16 hours a day. Your digestive system is working for 16 hours a day without a break, and that seems bananas to me.

So, I decided to give it a little try, and it was like keto supercharged. All of a sudden, I had more energy, and I didn't really have cravings with keto, but I would get hungry at regular periods. As our body is attuned to our mealtimes and so the ghrelin spike would pop in and-- ghrelin the hunger hormone, and make me want to eat within just a few days since I was already fat-adapted and keto-adapted. The cravings went away. I had even a greater level of mental clarity. The whites of my eyes got whiter.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness, that's something I always pick up on. When I brought back fruit because I was low carb and then I switched to a high-carb, low-fat paleo with high fruit, my eyes were like-- they just got so white. And I was like, “Wow, something's happening.” But also fasting does it too for me.

Nicole Poirier: Yes. I think you don't hear talked about very often about the whites of the eyes. But it really is a clear message, like no pun intended, because clear eyes, but a clear message from your body saying, “We like this.” And that's awesome. I like a good clear message from my body.

Melanie Avalon: We're so similar. That's something I've always sort of used my eyes as a subjective mirror to how I feel my body's doing with my diet and everything. I feel it really does reflect in the eyes. So, going back, though, to the keto stuff, because you were doing keto, I was doing keto. For me, for example, I adopted paleo-- that was the last thing because I was low carb and then intermittent fasting and then paleo. And paleo was when I started bringing back more-- well, first vegetables and then ultimately fruits. Do you find with your clients and everything that you've experienced that a lot of people do exist long term in keto and lower-carb approaches? Do you find people benefit from bringing back more carbs? I know you mentioned for example that-- it's so funny how your whole perspective of carbs changes after you go low carb because 100 grams of carbs, for example, is what you used as the definition of a low carb by, I guess, standard American diet percentages. Do you find that people and maybe women in particular might benefit from having more carbs and how does intermittent fasting play into that? Carbs, what are your thoughts?

Nicole Poirier: Carbs. Okay. Yes, I do think that carbohydrate intake plays into some of this, especially for women, because carbohydrate intake does also help regulate some of our sex hormones, our cyclical hormones. And during some piece of research I was doing I found-- have you heard of Dr. Mindy Pelz? She's out of California and she's a very big advocate of intermittent fasting and low carb living and what have you. And I look up to her, I want to meet her, I think she's only like an hour away. But whatever the case may be, she did a really clear explanation on the need to incorporate slightly higher carb amounts and preferably from really colorful veggies like squashes or sweet potatoes, or carrots, possibly more fruit, and white rice. And I know that sounds crazy, but white rice is not the enemy #TeamWhiteRice.

Melanie Avalon: I feel like white rice out of all the starchy carbs is one of the most approachable carbs as far as very low potential for reacting to it.

Nicole Poirier: Exactly. And that's why I'm an advocate for it. I'm not saying go and have two cups of white rice or three sweet potatoes. I'm talking about, if you're in the keto world, or even just low-carb world, yeah, you can boost up your total carbohydrate intake to between 60 and 100 the third week of your cycle, and it will preserve your progesterone. This is for people who are menstruating, it'll preserve progesterone and take away any PMS symptoms, and it's also important for women past menopause to incorporate just a little higher carb-- it's pumpkin season right now, I'm going to make pumpkin muffins for my client later and they're going to be low-carb pumpkin streusel muffins. But this is important to have something like that once every two weeks when you're postmenopausal also just to maintain that progesterone and estrogen balance because we still have it, it just goes down once menopause hits. We do need to do the best we can to maintain it to live the happiest healthy life. It's biohacking via cooking is what we're talking about.

Melanie Avalon: I love it. Yeah, just really quick random sidenote, as we were talking before the call when it comes to biohacking, I've recently been engaging in a lot of conversations and dialogues about what even is biohacking because some people say it's anything that really enhances your biology and your health. So, intermittent fasting is biohacking, going out in the cold is biohacking, or things that are just like lifestyle in a way. And then, there's the argument on the flip side that it's things that are more specific. So, it's tools and supplements and doing something that you wouldn't naturally be able to do. And I don't even know if it's a conversation worth having, but I've just been engaging with some people. I guess people who are like anti-biohackers and they're like, “No, you can't biohack your biology,” I don't know, it's just a really, really interesting concept. I don't know if you have any thoughts on biohacking as a concept.

Nicole Poirier: As a concept, I think-- I've been experimenting with my biohacking for years, for a few years. And I said this to you before we started recording, this is a grassroots-- I kind of have a grassroots approach. So, I do think that these lifestyle things that we can do can optimize our bodies, systems, and genetics. So, there's a place, there's a spectrum of that lifestyle to the apps or the super supplement stacks, and everything in between. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and not everybody's going to know, unless they do a lot of research, how to apply a super supplement stack four times a day that'll work for them. I think working up to that is a really good way to go. Start with the basics. You start with your food. You start with creating this conversation with your body. You start with meditation and being able to tap in-- I know you did an episode not too long ago about the vagus nerve. And I'm such a huge fan of vagus nerve, let me tell you, and toning it.

It can be as simple as sitting and taking deep breaths for five minutes a day. And that is going to help you moderate your own stress hormones and create acetylcholine and start these chain reactions in your body to get you from fight or flight to rest and digest where you can actually absorb more information, but you're not quite as focused or frantic as when you're in the fight or flight mode with a high cortisol. We start with what we've got and then you move forward from there. It's a staircase.

Melanie Avalon: I love it so much. If listeners are curious about my thoughts on the semantics of it, that's a good example with the vagus nerve. For listeners, I'll put a link in the show notes to that episode. It was with Ami Brannon who's the founder of a company called Xen By Neuvana. And they make a vagus nerve treating headphone device thing. That's sort of how I feel like biohacking is. Because you can stimulate your vagus nerve, you just mentioned, like so many other ways, like laughing and dancing and all these other different things. So, I feel that's living your life. And then I feel it'd be biohacking if you bring in a third-party device that we wouldn't normally have, like the Xen device and you're using it to stimulate your vagus nerve.

Nicole Poirier: I think that's next-level biohacking. But you can start with the super basics, like we can change ourselves. I think biohacking is taking actions to optimize our genes. We can work with our own epigenetics with food, with exercise, with journaling, with meditation, and we can also work with supplements, with wearables, with all these things. So, there's just room for everyone at this party.

Melanie Avalon: I know, it's so true. And really, that's the vibe that I got from your book, was everything that you just said that that there are all of these tools at our fingertips, and it's not one right thing or it's not one answer. It's a paradigm to exist in, and then there's so much potential and freedom within it. It's really a beautiful thing. So, question, in the book, you go through intermittent fasting in detail, like I said, the ways to do it, and tips and tricks, and things like that. And then, on the flip side, you have the food part, because that's obviously really, really important.

Actually, this is a really random question. I’m just dying to know your thoughts on this, because Gin and I, my co-host at the Intermittent Fasting Podcast will talk about this sometimes. It's one of those either/or questions where I feel you can't really win by answering it.

Nicole Poirier: Okay, challenge me, fire away. I'm ready.

Melanie Avalon: So, if you had to choose between intermittent fasting versus food choices, what do you think has a more powerful effect on the body?

Nicole Poirier: Ooh, that's a great question.

Melanie Avalon: I feel like you can't really win with this answer, but I think about this often. And Gin and I will talk about it sometimes.

Nicole Poirier: Okay. Wow, that's a really intense question.

Melanie Avalon: I know, whatever you say, not holding you to it, this is just thought experiment. And I'll tell you what I think too.

Nicole Poirier: It's fine. For me, personally, God, I love fasting so much, so even if it's as simple as that eight-hour eating window, but I think it does come down to food choices for your body, and making food choices your personal body feels are beneficial. You can get away with less beneficial choices, less nutritive, more harmful choices when you combine that with intermittent fasting because the exposure is limited, but if you're eating foods that make you sick, then you will not be well.

Melanie Avalon: That's basically the way I feel, too. I don't think Gin's perspective has changed, but I think she's more on the fasting side. So, it's always a really interesting thought experiment about everything. Because the way I see it is, fasting does so many incredible things. It just activates all of these genes that really go in and do clean up and activate longevity genes. But in a way, it's doing a lot of repair. So, I feel the food aspect side of things is, if you're putting in foods that are not working for your body, it's like you're constantly attacking yourself.

Nicole Poirier: When I say the beneficial versus detrimental, for me, I support people eating literally anything. Intermittent fasting is beautiful, because you can eat anything in your window, you can eat any food. I'm not going to be dogmatic about whatever I have recommendations, which my book incorporates because I want people to have, I mentioned, nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory options being the highlight. So, you're getting the biggest bang for your buck when you're eating, but you can eat whatever you want. My cousin-in-law, she might only eat a bowl of creamy pasta, and it works for her. Her goal is to lose weight only. It's not to get into autophagy and do that cellular cleanup, just not trying to increase her HGH or BDNF. She's doing intermittent fasting to lose weight and it works for her, and she's not allergic to gluten.

Now, if I had creamy pasta, I would see suffering and it would throw my body into a complete state of inflammation because I'm allergic to gluten. So, that's where the food choice, the beneficial/detrimental comes in. So, you have to take into factor of what your body wants and what your goals are.

Melanie Avalon: I love that so much. Speaking to that, so, this is a very basic simple question, but it might have a long answer, what is nutrient density in foods and what determines the nutrient density potential of foods?

Nicole Poirier: It's going to sound very simplistic, but just grow that way. Talking about whole foods, they just grow that way and a good guide to whether something is nutrient dense or not is often how colorful is it, though at the same time, white foods like cauliflower-- When I talk about white vegetables, like cauliflower or beans, they have such a huge complement of vitamins and minerals, all wrapped up in there. Nutrient density is really the most micronutrients per energy unit, per calorie, or kilojoule, however you want to approach it. This is where the concept of superfoods comes in. Every week, it seems like there's a new superfood. And superfood is just a nice way of saying, “This food’s got a lot of nutrients.” We got the kale and the blueberries and quinoa and acai berries, though I'm not a fan of acai bowls, P.S. that's just a sideline. I think they’re just sugar bombs. But that's me. Anyhow, does that answer the question?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, because one of the things I loved in the book was, there's a lot of really helpful charts showing the different vitamins and where they're found and the micronutrients and all of that, and you had a list of your top anti-inflammatory foods. And there's a lot of really fun takeaways, some of the things I learned because I took some notes on it. I mean, there's a ton of foods on that list. There's berries and cherries and grapes and fatty fish. But then, I learned random little fun facts I didn't know, so things like, like ginger’s been linked to increase autophagy which was really cool, dark chocolate. I don't know if it's co-coa or co-co or ca-cow.

Nicole Poirier: I always say ca-cow.

Melanie Avalon: It modulates inflammation and keeps blood cells and lymph vessels healthy. I actually don't know which oil it was because my notes are pretty bad here. But it was either olive oil or coconut oil contains something called oleocanthal?

Nicole Poirier: That's olive oil.

Melanie Avalon: Which has the same anti-inflammatory properties as ibuprofen. A lot of really cool things. That was a whole rabbit hole that I got into one point was looking at the studies on these compounds found in plants. The reason I think I really got into it deep was because I was becoming really fascinated with the carnivore movement and the very anti-plant aspect that that often has, especially bringing on a lot of figures in that movement, like Paul Saladino, and Dr. Shawn Baker, but when I went to the studies on these foods, these compounds found in plants, they literally can send a message or a signal to ourselves to activate certain responses in certain genes. I don’t want to say it's very scientific, but it's very scientific. I mean, it's taking medication in a way but without the negative side effects potential, although I guess the carnivore people would say that there was a negative side effect potential. I don't think there was a question there, just that I'm really fascinated by the pharmacokinetics of plants, and how they're affecting the body.

Nicole Poirier: All of our medicine came from plants, throughout time. And all of these compounds that I talk about, especially in those anti-inflammatory ingredients, they've been used in different cultures around the world without-- like, intuitively. And now we know deeper reasons behind it like that, eating tomatoes keeps you from-- helps you not get sunburned as much. It tones your skin, or like that olive oil. We knew it made our skin look good, but who knew that it was taking away inflammation. So cool. I'm never going to be a plant hater. But, again, it's because my body likes those things. And, yeah, it is cool. I had so much fun writing this book, you have no idea, like I was in chef heaven.

Melanie Avalon: Well, it really shows in the book. And listeners, it definitely really shows talking to Nicole because I asked her if she wanted to write another book and she was like, “Yes.” Compared to me where I was like, “Give me three years.” [laughs] I was like, “Never again.” No, but that's amazing. So clearly, it was really a passion project for you. And it really, really shows through. Something I'm dying to talk to you about, one of the things that I loved because you have a section on calories and things like that. And a lot of people in the intermittent fasting world will say, “Well, calories don't matter, they don't matter if you're doing intermittent fasting,” and I think it's probably a little bit more complicated than that. In your book, you do talk about calories and the role of nutrient density versus calories. I'm paraphrasing, but you say something to the effect of like, how-- and this is what I've experienced is that when people do intermittent fasting, they often don't have to focus on calories anymore. But I mean, it's not like calories go away. What are your thoughts on calories, especially when it comes to weight loss and then maybe we can go deeper into actually weight loss hacks?

Nicole Poirier: Okay, calories and weight loss. Weight loss only occurs when your body is in a caloric deficit from your total daily energy expenditure. That's the only time it occurs. It's not as simple as calories in, calories out. But if your goal solely is weight loss, and preferably, fat loss, we can get into that, that's another nitty-gritty topic because I don't even like to say the words ‘weight loss’ anymore. It's a loaded situation where fat loss has a lot more to do with health and muscle gaining and what have you. Anyhow, I won't go there yet.

If you want to lose weight, you need to be consuming fewer calories. Then, your total daily energy [unintelligible [00:41:14] like I just said. Plus, this works really well with intermittent fasting because with that limited amount of time to consume that many calories-- and humans really do need a lot. It drives me bananas that there's all these random 1200-calorie diets for women out there when that's what a child needs to survive. I wish more people would do their research to find out how many calories their body needs and incorporate a worksheet in the book to figure that out for yourself. But you need to know how many calories that you have, and it's going to be higher than you'd expect to find in any given book. And eating that many is going to be a challenge if you're only eating between two and eight hours a day, even eight hours a day. So, this is why intermittent fasting encourages weight loss so much, and I love that about it. Because we're again holding back some of that time that we'd normally be eating, when you do consume those calories whatever your-- hopefully nutrient-dense calories, your body is in a position to shuttle them to all the right places, which is next-level awesome.

So, instead of going one minute on the hips, straight to the hips, or whatever, it's like, “Oh, okay, we haven't eaten in a little while. We need to replenish some glycogen because we know Melanie is going to go for a walk later and might need a little extra glucose in her muscles.” For that reason, up, you know what these cells up, my mitochondria want this, that, the other thing.

Melanie Avalon: There's a difference between eating a calorie-restricted diet throughout the day. So, constantly eating and so not having enough calories for your body and having your body feel like it's in a calorie-restricted state constantly, compared to having it all at once where it can create a feasting-type mentality, even if it's less calories, and I think there's something really beneficial to that. And then, you mentioned the increased nutrient partitioning and putting it to the right place and being more efficient. I think it's complicated because then also there is the potential of especially women not eating enough in their eating window, but I do think in a way it can create protective mechanisms compared to chronic dieting throughout the day.

Nicole Poirier: Because fasting and also low-carb living change your hormone levels, it is different than just calorie restricting and eating nutrient-devoid foods throughout the day just to meet that-- eating three lean cuisines over eight hours as opposed to--

Melanie Avalon: I'm getting flashbacks to the diet days. It's the worst.

Nicole Poirier: It is the worst. It's crazy. Do you remember Snackwell's cookies from 9,000 years ago?

Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness, I remember the amount of crazy things I would eat and try to do to. Like Shirataki noodles. I think I would just stock up my entire system, try to create these no-calorie meals.

Nicole Poirier: Yes. I have to admit, I do eat Shirataki noodles sometimes because I actually enjoy that. But since I have literally researched every diet out there to be able to accommodate all of the different needs of my clients and also trying to find that next great thing to have a smaller booty, which, amen, the tide has changed on that. I'm keeping my juicy booty, P.S. But, yeah, the HCG diet, it cracks me up.

Melanie Avalon: I did that.

Nicole Poirier: You did it? Like that Shirataki noodle heaven and 500 or less calories per day.

Melanie Avalon: How much lettuce can you eat?

Nicole Poirier: Oh, my word! Anyhow, I'm glad we're past that.

Melanie Avalon: Me too. Oh, I did the cookie diet.

Nicole Poirier: What's the cookie diet? I didn't hear that one.

Melanie Avalon: It's where you get shipments of cookies sent to your door. Okay, I did all my crazy dietary escapades in college, and my roommates probably thought I was insane. Yeah, the cookie diet, you get these boxes of cookies that are-- literally if you look at the ingredients-- I've looked at the ingredients recently, they're literally gluten and fiber. They're the worst. But, yeah, so you were supposed to eat like five per day. They're in a bag and you're supposed to eat two for breakfast and two for lunch and then you eat a normal dinner. But I would just eat the whole bag and then be starving and try to eat another bag. It was just a massive fail.

Nicole Poirier: Yeah, we could have a whole episode on diet failures. There was one-- my mom had shipped this thing called The One Day Diet. The One Day Diet. You eat one day-- If you look at it now, it could be like intermittent fasting, sort of. One day you eat normally, the next day, all you get are these choc-flavored chocolate tablets, like little discs. And you get to chew a few of those the day, and I have no idea what was in them. But at that time, I was in yachting, doesn't work when you wash it down with espresso martinis at the end of the day. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: That is so funny. I love it. I've been thinking about this. I really want them to design a study on intermittent fasting. Let me know your thoughts on this. I thought of a way that we could test intermittent fasting and get rid of the placebo effect because people wouldn't realize that it's testing intermittent fasting. Do you want to hear?

Nicole Poirier: Yeah, please.

Melanie Avalon: It would be a pill study, but it would be a placebo pill and the mechanisms or the instructions would be like, “Take this pill.” The way it was set up when they take the pill, they can't take it with food, and they can't have food for amount of time before or after. So, the way that you prescribe the time of the pill, you could create different eating windows, and people would think it was testing the pill, but really it was testing eating windows because it would just be-- well, it couldn’t be a sugar pill, but it'd be a pill, but-- [crosstalk]

Nicole Poirier: Something that doesn't have a leucine.

Melanie Avalon: I know. I'm thinking like, “What could be in it?” I don't know.

Nicole Poirier: It could just be like, yeah, like an almost-- [crosstalk]

Melanie Avalon: Maybe that Avicel, like that filler they use.

Nicole Poirier: Yeah. How small can you make the pill? You know what I mean?

Melanie Avalon: Maybe we can have sand. I don't know, can you eat sand? I have no idea.

Nicole Poirier: You can, I think. You can.

Melanie Avalon: It could have diatomaceous earth or something.

Nicole Poirier: Yes. You’d just be cleaning out your system a teeny tiny bit. And one of those gelatin--

Melanie Avalon: Activated charcoal.

Nicole Poirier: Oh, yeah. There you go. Charcoal, diatomaceous earth in one of those teeny tiny gelatin-wrapped capsules or pressed into like--

Melanie Avalon: Or probably not even gelatin, because we might be on the fence about gelatin being an amino acid. So, it probably would have to be the cellulose, I don't know. I'm going to do the study.

Nicole Poirier: Cellulose comes from trees. Basically, we're going to get trees, burnt trees, with the charcoal and dirt. [laughs] It's amazing. I love it!

Melanie Avalon: Some people will take it at certain times, and it would create different eating windows without them realizing it.

Nicole Poirier: Yeah, take immediately upon waking.

Melanie Avalon: And then, you take another one at night, so it would scrunch you into an eating window. Whole tangents there. Where I was going with the original question about the calories was that something that-- I was like, “Oh, I feel like Nicole and I think alike,” because there is definitely an appreciation, which is something I've always or started realizing, when I started realizing that when you look into the science of food in a way that there are ways to “hack” your eating choices, too, because we said that calories do matter. In the end, it does come down-- because if you store more calories than you burned, you're going to gain weight and the flip side for losing weight. But the calories is vague because certain types of calories can be processed certain ways, some have a higher thermogenic effect, so we burn calories, actually processing those calories. So, protein is going to have a higher thermogenic effect than fat or carbs. Even alcohol has a pretty high thermogenic effect.  There's the satiety factor to foods and you have bits and pieces of this throughout the book.

So, you have a list of the foods that are highest on the satiety index, which is really, really interesting to me. Especially for people who are-- they're wanting to eat nutrient-dense food, so they're meeting their nutrition on a micronutrient perspective. But they want to, in a way, hack their foods so that they can ultimately take in less calories, even though they're still getting all their nutrients, what sort of foods can encourage satiety or maybe suppress appetite-- because I don't want to encourage crazy calorie counting or chronic dieting, but I do think we can make conscious choices to eat certain foods that will fill us up more just by their nature, or help us feel full. And you talk about this throughout the book, but what are some examples of foods like that?

Nicole Poirier: Thank you, yes, for seeing that. I 100% agree with you that we don't really want people calorie counting all the time. It can be really triggering for a lot of people and we don't want to trigger people into unhealthy patterns of eating and racing against eating more. When people ask for low-cal, what have you, when clients ask for low-cal meals, I'm just like, “What are you doing?” But I also hear the need to make it fit within your day. Until your tummy is trained by intermittent fasting, which it does get trained, and your hormones get trained, you will feel hungrier in the beginning, of course, of the process. And what I would say as far as food hacks to manage that hunger and those cravings, or maybe you're having an emotional day, and you just have a real hunger out there. What you want to look for in foods that will be nutritious, but also extremely filling, its volume. It's volume versus caloric density.

So, lettuces, iceberg lettuce. It's so fluffy, greens, they're fluffy, you think about fluffier, lighter feeling fruits and veggies. And berries are lighter and fluffier than a pineapple, so that's going to have more fiber, it's going to have more water, it's going to be great and that. Using broth- or water-based soups will not only actually fill the space in your stomach, but the warmth of the soup brings a comfort level that adds to satiety. And if you add spice to that, so like Tom Yum-Goong or Tom Yum vegetable soup they have in Thailand, raises your core body temperature, cools you down, keeps you satisfied for longer, as does the capsaicin and the chili peppers that are in there. So, think of flavor, think of volume, and I would say those are my top tips for that particular thing. Does that make sense?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. The reason I love this so much is I feel like there are often two camps on this. They're the people that say it is all about filling up and tricking your body in a way with these foods. And then, there's the camp that says that you shouldn't do that at all, that really won't have an effect or that it's negligible or perhaps too much of a detrimental mindset to have towards food. These are just my thoughts, but I think that we can consciously make decisions about the foods that we're eating and they have effects on our body, especially if it's a thing where you're doing daily intermittent fasting, you're choosing the foods that you eat. For example, you mentioned the Tom, I don't know what is the Tom Young--?

Nicole Poirier: Tom Yum-Goong, which is that that hot and sour Thai soup that has chilly and shrimp or you can do with vegetables or you can-- Tom Kha Gai is another one. Sorry, I've spent a lot of time in Thailand and it was my favorite and I learned how to cook there. Tom Kha Gai is like-- Tom just means soup and Kha means coconut and Gai means chicken. So, if you've ever had that Thai coconut chicken soup that has chilies in it, yeah. So, that's another filling thing.

What I didn't mention is making sure that you do have a nice balance of the macronutrients will also help keep you satisfied for longer, if you have this gigantic bowl of lettuce one day when you're ravenous and making sure that you get a really nice chunk of protein in there too. Particularly with a fattier meat, decent meat or fish, like salmon Caesar salad, another one of my faves because you can eat all the lettuce in the world, you're getting a nice amount of fats, like healthy, satisfying fats from the fish that are anti-inflammatory, and possibly some dressing which satisfies an emotional need. So, you're satisfying your body and your heart at the same time.

Melanie Avalon: I've always really fascinated because on the satiety index, which is one of the things that I look at when I'm bored. That's the type of person I am. Whitefish is always really high up there even though I feel for me it doesn't fill me up like compared to chicken. I've always found that really fascinating. I wonder how they came up with that with the testing. Kind of like the glycemic index, I think, where people will actually have like completely different responses to foods. I wonder if the satiety index is also individual and I haven't seen any research on this. And I also wonder how the gut microbiome is involved and probably how you're reacting to that food.

Nicole Poirier: It is a challenge to know how all of it was come up with because seriously, when they do say fish or whitefish, how many people did they ask? Where did they ask them? And how was the fish prepared? Was it steamed? How many people eat steamed whitefish on a regular basis? I don't. I just don't. It has to have more to it.

Melanie Avalon: One last note, the thing I was going to say about the Tum -- I can't say it, what is it, the Tum?

Nicole Poirier: Tom Kha Gai or Tom Yum-Goong.

Melanie Avalon: So that whole concept, like spices and things like that, that raise metabolism. People will often say, yes, it raises metabolism, but it only burns the equivalent of a tiny amount of calories. But the way I see it is, if you're constantly making your meals-- if weight loss is your goal and you're constantly making your meals, things that stroke your metabolism and do have these factors, I feel that-- it's the little things that you're doing consistently that are often making a difference. So true, having one meal that you add some spice too might not make a difference, but if you're constantly making choices in your meals, and this is again for a weight-loss perspective, to create meals that are high in satiety, while still being nutrient dense and then using these little tweaks, I think there can be a lot to that, which exciting topic I'm dying to talk to you about.

I got really excited for listeners because I wanted to talk about this, but I wasn't sure exactly what Nicole's thoughts were on it. But then, she actually brought it up before we started recording. So, I got really excited because you touch on something I've been really fascinated by, which is a bit controversial, I believe, that is PSMF, protein-sparing modified fast. And we often get questions on the Intermittent Fasting podcast about people who want to lose weight, a lot of weight really fast, what to do? And, of course, crash diets. That's not something you want to encourage, at least I don't want to encourage, I don't want to ever encourage restrictive dieting. All of that said, from my experience and what I've researched, I've found a protein-sparing modified fast to probably be the most effective way and the safest/potentially healthiest way to lose a lot of weight fast. So, if there were to be a crash dieting technique, I would say do PSMF and do it the right way. You don't go into like a ton of detail in the book, but you do talk about PSMF, so what are your thoughts on PSMF?

Nicole Poirier: I have many thoughts about PSMF. I do want to touch back on the chili peppers for one second, just one second. I also agree with you that-- it is the small habits that add up to a lifestyle. So, yes, all the little things you can do to stoke your metabolism are great, but I just don't want listeners to forget that not only does it-- yes, sure, it's only going to help you burn what five or six more calories or what have you, 20, whatever a day, to have that hot pepper. But capsaicin is a plant compound, also helps lower blood pressure. It helps reduce hunger because it reduces the production of your hunger hormone, ghrelin, which takes away craving. This is incorporating spice into your meals if you can handle it. It's another known anti-inflammatory and might help relieve pain either by distraction or compound because when we do taste spice, it's not actually a flavor. It's a neurological reaction. It's a pain reaction, oddly enough.

So, taken internally, it has beneficial effects on your skin because it affects your microbiome. There's so many reasons to add that to your diet that like-- yeah, you want to add it for weight loss? Awesome, but you're just going to have to get stuck with 9,000 other awesome things that come along with it, okay? Just deal with how great it is. I just wanted to mention that.

Now, on to PSMF. Yes, PSMF, it is very controversial, and this is why I did not elaborate on it too much in the book. If we were talking about skiing, most of the book is like bunny hills through advanced-intermediate, and PSMF is a triple black diamond ski hill. Okay, so it's not something to be approached lightly. I'm with you on that, not wanting people to crash diet because, generally, when weight comes off fast or and you set a goal weight, you lose this weight, people have a tendency to say this was so easy, and go back to old habits immediately, put it all back on. So, a lot of people who have done the SMF as a crash diet have seen all the weight come back, if not more, and also in doing that, it's harder to get into that habit again. It's just the way our minds work. It's hard to reengage a habit. So, it's not something you should use as a yo-yo situation.

That disclaimer being said, it is a phenomenal fat loss protocol, a very rapid fat loss protocol that is used by professional athletes, is advocated by doctors who are supervising extreme weight loss from, and I mentioned this before the call. I'm a not a big fan of the BMI scale, and the PSMF diet advocates generally, it's only something you should approach if your BMI is over 31 in that morbidly obese category, unless you have type 2 diabetes, and you have a BMI of over 27. Hard to approach that. That all said--

Melanie Avalon: I feel we have to do so many disclaimers.

Nicole Poirier: I'm so sorry, I feel really bad about it.

Melanie Avalon: I'm the same way. And that's why I got really excited to talk to you about it because I feel you do need-- it's so important to make all these disclaimers and have this approach to it. And it's really exciting to meet somebody like you who I feel has the same perspective of it that I do. So, this is a really exciting moment. So that all said, listeners.

Nicole Poirier: If you're ready to ski down that triple black diamond hill, it's important to again, focus on what you're putting in your face. It is really important to get an accurate balance of nutrients and watch the fat melt off while you maintain an exercise regime that will even further promote that muscle sparing. We don't want to lose muscle. When we're losing weight, we always lose a combination of fat, muscle, water. And the PSMF, you're trying to just lose fat as much as possible and maintain that muscle mass. So, I always advocate if you're going to do it, also maintain some heavy lifting, or start some heavy lifting in there to do a full body recon. And that's something I've been exploring myself, and I'm just about to get into a PSMF cycle. Because with COVID-19, there’s not going to be too many holiday parties. So, why not?

Melanie Avalon: I hadn't thought about that. It's so true. Yeah. For listeners, I guess we should probably say what PSMF is. There are different approaches to it. It was popularized by Lyle McDonald, who I want to invite on the show, but he kind of scares me. He's really intense, is the point. He's a great person. He made PSMF really out there, but I've been intimidated to contact him. But in any case, it's an approach-- I think the original protocol is like 500 calories a day, but it's basically-- because now people do approaches where it's more like 800, but it's basically just protein-- I mean, not just protein, but it's all just lean protein.

Nicole Poirier: And ultra-low carb, ultra-low fat. Well, the concept is, it is a version of the keto diet. I mean, except you're not counting your grams. Technically, you have to stay below 20 grams of fat and 20 grams of carbs per day. Your body's in ketosis. And when you have fat to burn, that's where your fat marker is coming from. That's really what it is. So, eating the protein to save those muscles and all the fat comes from your love handles or that spot behind your knee.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, because basically the concept is, it's what you just said. With the protein, it's providing what your body needs to maintain muscle mass, which is so key and so important. But then, your body has to get energy from somewhere. So, I mean, it pretty much-- I don't want to say it has to come from fat, but it's most likely going to come from fat. Yeah, I'm really fascinated by it. I think his version, you supplement with, I think, omega-3s and there might be some other little things to it, but I got really excited because I was asking Nicole at the beginning before we started recording about, was she is going to write another book and what would she like to write about. And in addition to the one she mentioned earlier in this interview about the food sensitivity book. What book are you thinking of writing next potentially?

Nicole Poirier: Well, I think it would have to be called-- since this is Intermittent Fasting Cookbook, I think this one would have to be called PSMF Cookbook, to stay on track with the trend. But in my also personal research of PSMF-- Gosh darn it, the food is so boring! And it's just-- Oh, it has been called the chicken and broccoli diet because people have poached chicken breast and steamed broccoli. And eating that day in, day out, as a chef, that just sounds torture to me. There's so many ways to add flavor without adding fat. And it's all about the spices, it's about the way you cook things. So, they're slow cooked or sous vide. There's just so many different approaches you could take, air frying. With the tools that we have now, it's like kitchen biohacking. Again, there's just a whole complement of cool things. So, I would love to put together another hundred recipes of satisfying, emotionally warming recipes that would-- easy to make, like accessible recipes for PSMF.

Melanie Avalon: If you could write that and somehow get approval to post it in some of the PSMF groups on Facebook, oh my God, everybody would get it in those groups because the recipes surrounding that in general are pretty abysmal.

Nicole Poirier: A client had an event, she was doing an event, and wanted to prepare for it. She was really adamant about trying to shake 5 to 10 pounds in two weeks. I said, “We can try. This is the approach you have to take. It's extraordinarily strict.” And she's like, “I'll do it. No, I'll do it.” “I said, “Okay.” I want her to stay healthy throughout this period. So, I went online, and I downloaded a few cookbooks, or a few e-books that are out there, and just spent 30 bucks on online cookbooks. Again, the recipes were just passable, just passable. I ended up just creating things for her anyway that were amazing, like a shrimp salad with fat-free lemon juice dressing, but I did thick enough with a touch of xanthan gum, which-- I'm not the hugest fan of gums, but if you're doing a PSMF, you're going to have to make a couple other sacrifices, like--

Melanie Avalon: You’ve got to do what you got to do.

Nicole Poirier: Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I was going to ask you what would be like an example of recipes. In the times when I tried PSMF, I think I pretty much just ate massive salads of chicken breasts with lettuce and apple cider vinegar, and ginger and stevia at the time, on repeat. I'd be so interested to see what you would come up with, that would be really interesting. Also, to this point, because as I don't-- I'm not encouraging crash dieting, or anything like that but I've seen-- I think there are people who, depending on what type you are, there are some people who they're going to want to do something fast and drastic. And I think if they're going to do that, you want to do it the way that's going to be most supportive and most effective at the same time, and I think that's what PSMF is. Again, it's short term, it's not meant to be a lifestyle. I've seen studies too on what is most effective for weight loss and maintenance. The most effective approach was actually-- I don’t know if it's crash dieting, but severe restriction for a very brief amount of time, followed by more maintenance compared to just perpetual dieting. So, I think depending on what personality type you are, it can work for some people.

Nicole Poirier: Yeah, I can tell you some of the things as-- I just actually pulled up an email of what I sent the week that I brought over.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, yeah, so what were they?

Nicole Poirier: For that particular week, I had a tomato stuffed with crunchy tuna salad over baby greens. So, I hollowed out a tomato and I made fat free with the-- or just fat-free mayonnaise celery, green onion salad with pickle juice and that was over baby greens and the client loved it. The turkey, like lean turkey and lettuce rollups with another fat-free sauce. I had given her crispy chicken tenders, which I did in an air fryer with egg white and a Honey Dijon dipping sauce, which there wasn't actually any honey in it. I used the sweetener. That's Sukrin Gold Syrup. So, calorie free, high fiber, otherwise no net carb. Steam-sauteed swiss chard. I did chocolate meringues with monk fruit made-- Yeah, so these are all recipes, I just like whipped up, I'm like, “Okay, these are the rules. And I'm just going to whip these things up.” And so, it can be satisfying. You can get chocolate meringues, you're getting cocoa, which is anti-inflammatory. Yay.

Melanie Avalon: Again, it's not meant to be long term, but there are a lot of benefits to calorie restriction in general. If it's done correctly, I think it can have not only a weight loss effect but an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

Nicole Poirier: Absolutely. Well, like Valter Longo's 5-day Fasting Mimicking diet.

Melanie Avalon: Which I tried recently.

Nicole Poirier: Yeah. Did you do the actual kit?

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I ordered ProLon. I haven't been eating nuts, or, well, nuts, things like that, in a long time. I tried it one of the bars, I was like, “This is not going to work.” It set off all of my craving hunger, and I was like, "I can't do this." I was like, “I'm just going to keep the soups and maybe if I ever try ADF, which I can't-- I don't know. I don't do well with ADF every time I've tried it. But I was like, maybe if I would do it, I'll just keep the soups and try to use them for an ADF type thing. But it works for a lot of people, but for me, no. I want to do it for the health benefits. I like my big meals. That's why I love intermittent fasting and my one meal a day.

Nicole Poirier: I think I put the formula in for that Fasting Mimicking diet for an at-home version into the text and I recently read that it is just all about the calories and not necessarily about the protein in that particular case. But, yeah, just to tie in what we are saying is that extreme calorie restriction for a short period of time can have magical health benefits. So, you could do PSMF for 2 weeks instead of the 1000 weeks that I actually recommends in the two separate phases, and gain benefits similar to that Fasting Mimicking diet, which has been shown to really regenerate your immune system and all that jazz.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, actually, I just looked it up. So, for listeners, yeah, you do have in the book, you have a section on Additional Modified Fasting Techniques and you actually provide all the information about Fasting Mimicking diet and PSMF, like the macros and what it looks like, and all of that stuff. So very, very cool. So, how did you choose which recipes to include and what type of recipes are in the book?

Nicole Poirier: I designed all the recipes for the book and chose them and designed them-- First of all, each one will have a maximum per serving of 500 calories, if not less, really. Whether you're doing ADF, or you're doing time-restricted eating, more traditional-style intermittent fasting, every recipe should be able to fit in there. I wanted to make all anti-inflammatory recipe, so they are heavy on the anti-inflammatory and colorful ingredients. I also want there to be recipes for vegetarians and for vegans and for meat eaters, and for people who like to eat carbs sometimes. So, there's a lot of-- I know it sounds like it's all over the place, but I feel there's a very common thread in that every single one has less than 500 calories, or one in some or two servings. They're all higher on the satiety index. They're going to be very filling. They're extraordinarily nutrient dense, and also focused on being anti-inflammatory though they could be from any cuisine in the world. That comes from my background in yachting, having traveled everywhere, I just picked up the flavors of everywhere I went. Some of the examples, I mean, there's everything from snack crackers and lower-carb versions of hummus and Muhammara dip and Tzatziki, but you can make with dairy or with non-dairy. There's two bacon-wrapped, rosemary-stuffed chicken breasts. I guess a few cookies in there, if you have a little sweet tooth. Does that cover most of what you think?

Melanie Avalon: I'm just looking right now at the turkey mushroom meatloaf muffins. Those look really good. I was like looking into see-- Yeah, so there's no obviously breading or anything like that in those.

Nicole Poirier: All the recipes are gluten free, since I'm the one who had to make them and test them. But if somebody wants to use their breadcrumbs, they could, but why?

Melanie Avalon: So then, basically you're good to go, like you just said, if you want to do ADF or PSMF-- Well, not necessarily PSMF because it would depend on fat content, but you're good to go, but you can always eat more servings.

Nicole Poirier: Yes, they're at most, I think, 500. There may be one in there that's like 525 and I can't remember which one it is, but when I say a recipe is 525, it's because there's three recipes in like a dish, so it would be like the bacon-wrapped chicken breast with the cream spinach or the creamed greens, coconut cream greens on the side. So, you're getting a meal, your meal is 500 or less, not just one single recipe. It's to touch every part of your tummy, it's to touch every part of your tongue. I wanted every recipe to be satisfying and nourishing from the inside out.

Melanie Avalon: I'm just looking through now, wanting to make these recipes so much. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. I have enjoyed this so much, Nicole, thank you. Thank you for sending me the book when you were writing it. Thank you for trusting my endorsement. Thank you for creating the book. And listeners, like I said, super valuable resource. It covers everything that we talked about, and so much more amazing recipes. So, I cannot recommend it enough. I'll put links to all of it in the show notes. And that brings me to the last question that I always ask every single guest on this podcast. And it's something also that you touch on in the book, which we didn’t even talk about but it's just because I've started to realize more and more how important mindset is surrounding everything. So, what is something that you're grateful for?

Nicole Poirier: I actually haven't written my gratitude list today when I usually do it every single morning. But something that I'm grateful for today is the perfect temperature outside, that this was such a fun conversation, that I had a really great night's sleep, and I went to one of the most amazing grocery stores, I think, in the United States today to pick up farm-fresh produce to cook with the rest of my day. I could keep going because it's really small things that make me grateful. And there's so many things to make me smile today, though.

Melanie Avalon: You know what? I've noticed because I ask every single guest this question as the last question, you can tell the people who do a gratitude practice, that's what they do is they pick the little things rather than the one big thing for-- which there's nothing wrong with that. But I've noticed this trend, the people who do have some sort of gratitude practice, they're attuned to focusing in on the little things, and I think it's so powerful. When you start having that mindset surrounding things-- the thing that sold me was when I learned that the brain can't both be in a state of fear and anxiety and gratitude at the same time. So, it's such a hack to turn off that fear.

Nicole Poirier: It's a super hack. Yes, it turns off fear and you also train your-- because you're training your executive processing, what is it? The frontal lobe, it's like your executive center of the brain. And the more control you have over that-- not really control, but the more toning, let's call it toning, the tone you have your prefrontal cortex, the more able you're able to make it through a day with clarity and positivity. So, I'm there with you.

Melanie Avalon: You inspired me because I usually do my gratitude at night, but I should be doing it in the morning, or both. I should be doing both probably.

Nicole Poirier: If ever I have a day that I have a rough patch, I do a second or third one.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that's great.

Nicole Poirier: It does uplift, it's really nice.

Melanie Avalon: It's crazy. You literally feel it. Like the second you think of something you're grateful for, you feel it. So, listeners do it. Speaking of listeners, how can they best get your book? Where is it available? How could they follow your work? Anything else that you want to put out there?

Nicole Poirier: Okay, yes, my book is available on Amazon. That's where I'm running that primarily, but you can access that through my website, mindbodyketo.com. That's M-I-N-D-B-O-D-Y-K-E-T-O dotcom. You can also access it by Instagram, and the handle there, it's @Mind_Body_Keto. And you'll see me in my formerly blonde glory and now I'm a bodacious brunette. And yes.

Melanie Avalon: Are you a natural blonde?

Nicole Poirier: I am a natural dark-ash-blonde, like really dark, and I had some gorgeous highlights. But COVID, I haven't been to the hairdresser in 11 months.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I went yesterday for the first time since March.

Nicole Poirier: Yeah. I meant to go at the end of March. And before you know it, those roots, I'm like, “You know what, let's do the whole thing. I'm going to have an overhaul. I'm going to have pandemic hair.” And now I'm like the darkest-ash-brown, and it's sultry. That's all I can say.

Melanie Avalon: Have you gone brunette before?

Nicole Poirier: Oh, yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Okay. See, I'm so scared because I've heard like, once you go brunette, it's hard to go back to blonde. I'm like, “Oh.”

Nicole Poirier: No, I've done that before, and it's a fun change. You'd have great hairdresser. I mean, if you think you can't go back, look at the Kardashians.

Melanie Avalon: This is true. I've really thin hair. I'm nervous enough about it already, but I get really envious of people that do the flip or flip around or do different colors. It's amazing.

Nicole Poirier: I found the hairdresser that I ended up finding, she has a commitment to natural products and non-permanent as well. But it did take off-- it was a four-hour process to bring my highlights down to this lovely color it is now, so but I feel safe. I know she uses quality products. I don't want those endocrine disruptors.

Melanie Avalon: Don't get me started.

Nicole Poirier: [laughs] Right. Okay. Anyhow, I don't want to take up all your time, as much fun as it is to chat.

Melanie Avalon: So, for listeners, I will put links to everything that we talked about in the show notes, and the show notes will be at melanieavalon.com/intermittentfastingcookbook. So, Nicole, this has been absolutely wonderful. I really am looking forward to-- Well, I'm going to order the physical copy of the book because I just have the galley right now. So, I'm looking forward to seeing it and then your-- all of your future endeavors. We will have to bring you back when you write those next books.

Nicole Poirier: I cannot wait.

Melanie Avalon: All right. Well, I'll talk to you later.

Nicole Poirier: All right, sounds great.

Melanie Avalon: Bye.

Nicole Poirier: Bye.

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