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Reader Q&A: Nuts, Raynaud’s Syndrome, Munching, Korean BBQ, IF And Menstrual Cycles

Reader Q&A 3 use

Todays questions come from Murcia, who started IF, and has a few followup questions after reading The What When Wine Diet.

“Your book is Amazing and I just finished it 🙂 I guess I have to start again. I thoroughly enjoyed the science behind it all. Very fascinating stuff.

I have a few questions in regards to the book – Do you eat nuts? What is Raynaud’s syndrome? Just curious about your korean BBQ experience; what do you mean they cook on your own “section” of the grill?

You are right-on about humans disliking restriction. That is outstanding information! It can inspire humanity if everyone know this secret. What kinds of things do you freely munch on until bed? I also truly enjoyed your bit on willpower! It was inspirational and very much my alley. I feel like you understand the essence of my deepest desire to share with everyone how to get passionate about health, nutrition and the power of the body.

I started IF on 7/4 and has been doing amazing with the results. Except with moments of feeling “spacey” I truly am a believer. I also eat Paleo/Ketogenic during my feeding window and love it! My question is, during your IF program have you noticed any interruptions or delay with menstruation? Thank you.” 

So, on to the questions!

NUTS
I do eat nuts! Nuts are quite Paleo in nature, and feature an abundance of nutrients. They also have a stellar protein and fat ratio, with little sugar.

A downside to nuts, however, is they tend to be high in Omega-6s, which are inflammatory in nature. On a whole foods diet, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but since the typical Standard American Diet is so geared towards Omega-6, and since it takes months to adjust the Omega-6:3 ratio on a cellular level, you may want to limit nut consumption until your Omega-6:3 ratios are good. The typical Paleo ancestor had an estimated 1:1 Omega-6:3 ratio, while today’s Omega-6:3 ratio is estimated to be 16:1! Talk about an inflammatory diet! For nuts with higher Omega-3 ratios (the good, anti-inflammatory fats), try walnuts.

Furthermore, while I strongly discourage calorie counting, nuts are still a sneaky way to quickly consume a VAST amount of calories. Gathering a handful of shelled nuts in the wild, Paleo style, is far different from consuming a Costco-sized tub of pre-shelled nutty goodies. While these nuts won’t raise insulin per se, that still doesn’t give you license to go crazy. The point of Paleo is consuming whole foods in their natural form. (This is also why I do not encourage highly palatable “Paleo” desserts – they activate too many pleasure pathways in our body, and encourage overconsumption.)

Note: Peanuts are NOT nuts. They are legumes, and harbor the anti-nutrients of such. Avoid them.

RAYNAUD’S SYNDROME
I talk about Raynaud’s Syndrome in The What When Wine Diet, in regards to artificial sweeteners. Raynaud’s Syndrome is a weird, finicky condition where your fingers and/or toes become cold, blue, and/or numb. The first time it struck me was when I went home to the South for Christmas from LA, after first going low carb. I was at my grandparent’s for the Christmas get-together, and my hands turned completely blue. I remember thinking I was actually going to die, it scared me so much.

While the cause of Raynauds is unknown, I have a personal theory that it may involve blood sugar regulation. It began, for me, after going low carb and low sugar, which definitely changed my blood sugar in general. This, however, was during a time when I still ingested artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Sweet N Low, etc.). Once I finally went Paleo, bit the bullet and cut out these nasties, my Raynaud’s syndrome dissipated.

KOREAN BBQ
In The What When Wine Diet, I list Korean BBQ as a “More Difficult” option for Dining at Restaurants, Paleo-style:

“You’d think Korean BBQ would be easy, but I always get sick after it. Cross contamination seems to be a thing. Make sure to avoid marinated meats, and try to cook on your own “section” of the grill, no matter how weird it feels. The type of Korean BBQ where you cook in water (rather than on a grill) tends to be a safer choice.”

To clarify, in Korean BBQ, you order raw pieces of meat, which you grill on an open stove top. It’s the Paleo dream in spirit (Oh hey tons of raw meat which I can lightly sear and then indulgeeee). The problem, however, is cross contamination. You’re cooking your meat on a grill which who knows how many other people have cooked on. It’s way too easy in such a situation to pick up bits of sugar and gluten without meaning to. I suggest picking your own “section” in order to avoid rubbing up against other meat pieces. Last time I ate Korean BBQ, I ended up with food poisoning or cross contamination or something… which ultimately resulted in a colonoscopy. No big deal.

MUNCHING
On average, we chew 800 to 1,400 times a day. And I’m a muncher. I love eating dinner and then munching until bed. I’m just assuming everyone harbors this love. (Do they? Do you?) In episode of #114 of the Bulletproof Podcast interview with Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, I learned a little bit about the psychology of “munching,” like how the crunch decibel in the ear can instigate pleasure, how crunching and munching relate to aggression expression (oops?), and that the only nerve which goes directly to the brain is the 5th cranial nerve, which, co-incidently, just happens to land right behind your teeth. But now I’m on tangents…

Whether crunching and munching addiction is good or bad, it’s probably best to find healthy things they you can freely snack on to satisfy those munchie cravings, like low glycemic fruits and vegetables. While, in my Standard American Diet days, I’d munch on chips and cookies {Shudder!}, I now adore leafy green veggies (yes, I do munch on lettuce and don’t feel weird), as well as celery, cucumber, etc. Cucumbers are just sooooo hydrating and yummy, and surprisingly sweet once you lose your sugar-driven sweet tooth. The amount of cucumbers I eat is insane, just ask my roommate. Be sure if you are munching on veggies in substantial amounts, to choose organic! Ingesting large amount of pesticides is NOT good for you.

Or you can do gum. But good luck finding a Paleo-friendly one. (Suggestions anyone?)

INTERMITTENT FASTING AND MENSTRUAL CYCLES

Sorry boys, but here comes some girly stuff!

Your body is very smart when it comes to bearing children. One could argue that the entirety of your body’s actions are in the spirit of furthering its genes. Thigh fat, for example, is so hard to burn because it’s specifically saved to nurture the infant in the womb! Similarly, if the body does not perceive adequate energy reserves available to support a baby, it will halt the processes which make that an option in the first place.

It’s therefore not surprising that many studies on food intake and physical stressors like exercise, find they can affect a female’s cycle. A JCEM study, for example, found that “low energy availability plays a causal role in the development of exercise-induced amenorrhea.” Similarly, a Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise study, concluded that “high-volume training combined with caloric restriction may predispose one to exercise-induced changes in LH pulse frequency, while adequate caloric intake may prevent these changes.” (“LH” refers to lutenizing hormone, which spurs ovulation.) Studies on fasting and menstrual cycles, are far less common. A 2010 study looking at intermittent fasting in women during Ramadan, however, did conclude that “Islamic fasting causes neither significant variation in the secretion of hormones around ovulation nor does it influence the occurrence of ovulation.”

The commonality in the majority of the studies which find menstrual irregularities from diet, relate to calorie restriction (inadequate calorie intake). However, intermittent fasting, as discussed in my book, supports ample energy intake. As such, you should not suffer menstrual irregularities (though your cycle may initially adjust, become lighter, become longer, etc.)

I have done IF for 4 years with, with few menstruation problems. It initially made my cycle much lighter, with far less PMS symptoms. (Back in my Standard American Diet days, I had a very heavy period.) Since then, I have had a few moments where my cycle has skipped – likely due to times of extremely low body fat coupled with life stress. I saw the doctor to address this. As my vitamin/nutrition test results were great, she concluded any skipped cycles (for me personally) are related to body fat percentage, and isn’t detrimental in the long run. Since then, my cycle has returned.

So in summary, a healthy female body, is a fertile body. I believe IF initially creates beneficial changes with hormones and body composition. It may, however, create cycle problems if you reach a body weight which your body “views” as not enough stored fat for having children. If this does become a problem, I’d say up either your fat or carb intake, or cut back on the fasting a bit.

I would also like to extend the thesis, after reading Kelly McGonigal’s The Upside Of Stress, and point out that the perception of stress also likely matters. If you are implementing Intermittent Fasting while following a healthy, nutritious, Paleo diet, and view your fast as a time of growth and strengthening, I believe it will greatly benefit your body. If, however, you view your fast as a dangerous, negative process, repercussions are more likely to arise. Perception really does matter.

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