Today, the amazing, smart, and talented Melanie Avalon joins me once again! Melanie is a SAG-AFTRA actress, author of What When Wine: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine, host of the top iTunes podcasts The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast, and The Intermittent Fasting Podcast with Gin Stephens, and she has appeared on this podcast twice before. Melanie is certified as a wine specialist by the WSET and as a holistic nutritionist by the AFPA. She is also a member of MENSA. Melanie developed the top iTunes app, “Food Sense Guide”, to help those with food sensitivities, and she currently runs three rapidly growing Facebook groups.
A few months ago, Melanie and I had a long conversation and decided to do two episodes at the same time. The first was Episode 143, which aired in April. In that episode, we focused on biohacking, for which Melanie is well-known. For today’s episode, we pivot and focus on blood sugar dysregulation. Melanie and I will bring you up to speed with everything you need to know about managing your blood sugar, tapping into the intrinsic hormonal regulation in your body, and ensuring that your blood sugar is well supported. Stay tuned for more!
“Our body fat is also meant to be energy. It is meant to be stored and used.”
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- How Melanie first became interested in the science of dieting.
- Melanie talks about metabolic flexibility, the amount of energy stored in our body fat, and the purpose of insulin.
- Why your bio-individuality needs to be taken into account when figuring out the best diet.
- What a continuous glucose monitor is, what it does, and the benefits of using it.
- Why Melanie decided to bring carbs back into her diet.
- Why Melanie feels that the definitions of low fat, high carb versus a high fat, low carb are so important.
- Dairy is a hormonal food designed for growth.
- Melanie talks about the Lumen, which is one of the easiest biohacking devices to use.
- Melanie discusses the Biosense ketone meter.
Connect with Melanie Avalon
On her website
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
Connect with Cynthia Thurlow
- Follow on Twitter, Instagram & LinkedIn
- Check out Cynthia’s website
- Check Out Dry Farm Wines: www.dryfarmwines.com/cynthiathurlow
About Everyday Wellness Podcast
Welcome to the Everyday Wellness podcast with Cynthia Thurlow! Cynthia is a mom of 2 boys, wife, nurse practitioner, and intermittent fasting and nutrition expert. She has over 20 years experience in emergency medicine and cardiology, but pivoted to focus on food as medicine. She loves to share science-backed practical information to improve your overall well being and is grateful to be interviewing leaders in the health and wellness field. Her goal with Everyday Wellness is to help her listeners make simple changes to their everyday lives that will result in improved overall wellness and long term health.
Presenter: This is Everyday Wellness, a podcast dedicated to helping you achieve your health and wellness goals, and provide practical strategies that you can use in your real life. Now, here’s your host, nurse practitioner, Cynthia Thurlow.
Cynthia Thurlow: Today, I am joined again by the amazing, smart, and talented Melanie Avalon. She and I had a really lengthy conversation earlier this spring, and we just decided to do two episodes at the same time. One was focused on biohacking, for which she is well known for. This conversation today is going to pivot a bit. We’re going to focus on blood sugar dysregulation, all the things that you need to know about managing your blood sugar, tapping into your intrinsic hormonal regulation in the body, and utilizing ways to ensure that your blood sugar is well supported, including stacking your macros and other strategies. I hope you’ll enjoy our discussion. You can definitely tell there’s a natural friendship and rapport there, and she is a joy to interview.
Let’s talk a little bit about the value of metabolic flexibility. I know you are a fan of intermittent fasting as well as all these little biohacking devices. I’m wearing my CGM right now, and I’m just coming off of like a 30-hour fast. For some reason, I thought that would be a good thing to do after doing a refeeding day on Saturday. I was like, “Okay, I’ve like completely over consumed way more carbs than I would normally, so let’s just do a long fast.” Then I feel I’m tuned back in with my body. But when did you start getting interested in fasting? I know you and Gin have an incredible podcast, and that’s been going on for several years. When did that start for you?
Melanie Avalon: The first big dietary shift that I made– because growing up I did a lot of crazy diet, I did all the diets. Like calorie counting, HCG diet, I did the cookie diet, where you eat like these crazy cookies.
Cynthia Thurlow: No way.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I looked at the ingredients recently, and they send you shipments of cookies and you replace your meals with them. Literally, the ingredients are gluten.
Melanie Avalon: I looked at them recently. I did low carb in 2010, and that was the first time that I was trying to lose weight, but I perceived other things happening. I was like, “Oh, I actually feel better. My skin is clearing up. I have more energy. Maybe there’s something going on here.” That’s when I became diet obsessed, or the science of diet obsessed. In the low carb world, at that time, intermittent fasting, nobody really knew what it was. But if you were to find it, it would be in that low carb, keto world. I started doing it. I said I was going to do it for a week, just the one meal a day, so just eating at night. I felt so amazing, I never stopped.
One of the biggest benefits are, especially with a one meal a day in the evening, you gain back so much time. Especially I was in college., driving back and forth. I didn’t have to plan breakfast and plan snacks and plan lunch. I just had time. So, it was really wonderful. I’ve been doing it ever since then, haven’t really stopped and started the Intermittent Fasting Podcast about three years ago. What was the question about it beyond that?
Cynthia Thurlow: No, I was just curious how long you’ve been fasting, because I think people come to fasting for different reasons. My listeners know this, I came to fasting because I hit the perimenopause wall literally, and I had had multiple people just innocently recommended in a one-week span of time, so I spent time– I bought Jason Fung’s book and dove into it. I was like, “Okay, there’s a healthcare provider who’s advocating this lifestyle.” I always think of him as the modern-day father of intermittent fasting. That was six years ago, and now it’s obviously become something that I’m well known for, but I know so much more about it because I think there’s a very surface level of fasting that most people know and that’s as much as they want to know. At the time, I didn’t really necessarily understand the deeper science and the impact on the mitochondria. I just took it as, like, “This works really well and I don’t have to worry about eating breakfast. I get so much more done in the morning and I don’t have to worry about carting food around.” That was something– as a healthcare provider, to cart food around is not convenient. [crosstalk] -wants to see you bringing little– like, I would bring little Pyrex boxes of salad and snacks because that’s what we were conditioned to believe, was to be eating every two or three hours, and before and after the gym and all these other things. For me, it was a lot of food freedom.
But the longer I’ve been doing it, the more intuitive is become. Like I mentioned to you, I had a feast day on Saturday, which is a day when I eat up my carbs or my protein. I was like, “Okay, well, tomorrow, I’m going to do a long fast.” I did a 30-hour fast and a Monday, and then I just broke my fast before we started recording. To me, it’s just nice not having to worry about one more thing. In our otherwise very busy lives, it’s super helpful.
When we pivot and talk about metabolic flexibility, and what does that represent to you and intermittent fasting, we also tend to focus a lot on blood sugar. Metabolic flexibility, being able to utilize fats and carbohydrates for fuel. I think people think now carbs are all bad, and fats are all good, and it’s really not as simplistic as that.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, it’s funny. The diet I actually follow right now is I eat very high carb, low fat, which can seem scary to people, especially in the low carb world. But, yeah, this whole idea of metabolic flexibility and fuel substrates or–
Cynthia Thurlow: Just more statements when we talk about metabolic flexibility, what does that mean? There’s always this polarizing dogma of fats are good, carbs are bad, or fasting is good, not fasting is bad. Much to your point, you’ve experimented, I’ve experimented, finding what works for you and your body is really critical. I think the younger you are, the more metabolically flexible you are, the more carbohydrates you can consume. That has been my working hypothesis. The people who I see struggle the most with carbohydrates are oftentimes the people who are the least metabolically flexible. They’re usually the ones who were obese, and maybe they’re insulin resistant. So, kind of touching on these the N of 1, really the experimentation process, because I know that people that are listening don’t have the ability to see Melanie. Melanie is obviously a very healthy young person, and so it’s not at all surprising that the lower fat, higher carb works really well. I think that’s great. It’s all about finding what works best for us.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that’s 100% what I think. I keep going back to intuitively what our bodies are meant to do or made to do. We’re able and capable of running on all different macronutrients, fat, carbs, alcohol even [chuckles]. Protein is not ideal as an energy source, but in our modern environment– And then on top of that, our body fat is also meant to be energy, it’s meant to be used. it’s meant to be stored and used. It’s there for a purpose, to give us energy. The amount of energy we store in our body fat is shocking. I think it’s the equivalent of– an average person, and I realize people of all different levels, I’ve read that an average person has enough store body fat to walk like 1000 miles, just on that energy. In our modern environment where we’re eating 24/7, so we’re constantly in a storage mode, and also where we are eating a lot of carbs with fat together. We’re basically keeping on insulin, it’s stopping our fat cells from releasing energy, it’s stopping our glycogen, our carb stores from releasing carbs. It’s putting us into a perpetual storage mode.
Basically, insulin’s role is to keep our energy in storage. He talks about something called energy toxicity. We basically just take in too much energy today and keeps our bloodstream full of fatty acids and blood sugar. When that’s the case, our bodies have a priority of using fuel in our body. They want to use– well, alcohol first, because it’s a toxin. So, if we’re drinking alcohol, that’s what’s going to be burned first. Then they’re burning carbs, like blood sugar. Well, carbs from our diet, blood sugar, stored carbs in our glycogen. Dietary fat and body fat are lower down. Our bodies– because they can store fat all day, all day, every day. When we are constantly eating and constantly eating carbs, in particular, we lock ourselves into the body just wanting to burn carbs, and then our blood sugar drops and so we refill, and it’s just this roller coaster of madness.
Ideally, we should be able to eat carbs during the day with our meals, or whenever we eat them at night, whenever. When we don’t have food or when we’re fasted, ideally, we would be able to easily tap into our fat stores and use them for fuel. Our bodies should be able to deal with things and flip back and forth, and that’s the metabolic flexibility aspect of it. But it really does come back down– I’m making it sound very casual. It’s not casual. The mitochondria of our cells, are primed to– they get accustomed to burning a certain thing. So, it’s enzymes and it’s very granular, there’s actually things going on. When people do things, like change their diet, macros, maybe go low carb or do fasting, it can teach our bodies to start more easily switching between fat and carbs for fuel.
Of course, on top of that, there’s the whole ketosis and ketones thing, which I don’t know if you’ve– I’m sure your listeners are probably more familiar with that. As far as the individuality, I think there is an idea out there, especially with all the fasting and the low carb and the keto world, that we’re broken and we should just be using fat, we need to go low carb and high fat and that’s all we should be doing. We should be in ketosis, that’s the thing.
When I think it’s likely more beneficial to be able to– based on your individuality and how carb tolerant you are, to be able to switch back and forth between the different fuel substrates. I want to say have your cake and eat it too, but find the carb level that works for you, where you can burn carbs, you can burn fat, and the body can happily switch between them, while maintaining stable blood sugar levels, and while not dealing with both hypoglycemic, hangry feelings where you need food now, or on the flip side, really high blood sugar levels after meals because your body can’t adequately deal with food. So, I love metabolic flexibility.
There’s Lumen, there’s continuous glucose monitors that you mentioned, there’s a lot of different biohacking things people can use as tools in the toolbox to try to support that.
Cynthia Thurlow: There are a lot of big takeaways from what you just said. Bio-individuality rules, experimentation’s critical. I myself have not been rigid. I’ve been a version of low carb paleo for the last nine years-
Melanie Avalon: Me, too.
Cynthia Thurlow: -obviously. After my healthcare hiccup, I was carnivore for nine months, because my gut was just destroyed from six weeks of antibiotics and antifungals and surgery and stress. It’s really only been when I got to about the 18-month mark after coming out of the hospital, which was fairly recently that I was able to eat vegetables again, and I missed eating vegetables, I missed eating salad. I didn’t want to just eat meat although I love meat, and I’ll be the first person to say that. Acknowledging that in the past two years I’ve been paleo, I’ve been carnivore, I’ve been modified carnivore, and to my great surprise, I got a Lumen in November and I got a CGM in January. For me, it was really enlightening to see that my body right now, even though I’ve been doing more protein and I’ve been doing healthy fats and lower carb, I had to flip flop those macros. More healthy fats in terms of my macros were higher and fat, a little lower, like I would describe moderate protein, and then my carbs I cycled depending on how physically active I am.
The other big takeaway from having a continuous glucose monitor was the surprise of– oh, by the way, I can eat tropical fruit but not a plantain. If I eat a plantain, my blood sugar goes to about 150, which is not good. I can eat a tropical fruit like a banana or some mango, and I’m fine. I mean my blood sugar will pop to 110, come back down. So, it’s been a very helpful device and I’m sure you probably have had some similar insights, meaning maybe it validated some things you were gravitating towards, maybe you look yourself you’re like I had no idea that my body was reacting this way to X particular food. I don’t do well with rice either, that wasn’t really a surprise because I haven’t done a lot of grains anyway, but really trying to focus more on non-starchy carbs. That’s where my body wants to be right now, but I don’t feel great when I do high carb either. So, it’s trying to figure out the happy place where I have plenty of energy, I sleep really well and I feel good, like cognitively I feel good.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. Also, you wearing the CGM was such an enlightening experience. I don’t even know how many rounds I’ve done, probably like six or seven rounds. I’m taking a breather. Kind of like with the supplement overwhelm, I think I had CGM overwhelm. I was like, “No more.” [crosstalk]
Cynthia Thurlow: [crosstalk] You get a sense of like, I’m like, “Ooh, let me check my blood sugar.” [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. All the time. I think the thing that was really, really enlightening for me– and for listeners with a CGM, it’s basically a device that you apply onto your skin. It is not painful at all to put on. I have a lot of videos on Instagram of me putting it on. It’s super easy to put on. But it measures the glucose levels and the interstitial fluid around your cells. It’s not actually measuring your blood sugar. It’s measuring what seeps into your cells, which is why there’s actually a lag behind. They say what you see on it is about 10 minutes after what your blood sugar would have been. I think the thing for me is just how different your blood sugar can be, at least for me, like minutes apart. I’m not saying I go from like a fasted blood sugar in the 80s to 100, not that at all. In the 80s, it could be 81 and then it could be 90, and it’ll just be so different and it makes you think realize when you go get your blood tested conventionally, that’s a snapshot of that one little moment. You could have come in five minutes later and have a different blood sugar level.
For me, as well, it did intuitively line up with what I was perceiving– because just really quickly, my diet history, like I said, I was low carb type. Like you, probably it’s been about nine years. The reason I started doing paleo was I read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. Obviously, that’s why I’m a fan girl of him.
Cynthia Thurlow: [laughs]
Melanie Avalon: I definitely had carb fear for a very long time. I was high fat, low carb. Carbs are the enemy. I did low carb like that for probably six years or so. And then I decided to bring back carbs with much trepidation. I went a high carb, lower fat route, because something I do actually feel very strongly about this, I feel so strongly about this. I talk about this on the Intermittent Fasting Podcast all the time. I think the definitions of low fat, high carb versus high carb, low fat are very, very important, because I will often suggest people who are struggling to lose weight or find themselves in plateaus that if they have not tried one of those approaches, that they try one of those approaches, but it’s an either/or and it’s a literally low meaning low. So, low carb, high fat– and this is for people who are trying to break through stubborn fat or stubborn weight loss or lose those last few pounds. Low carb, high fat, keeping those carbs low.
Again, it’s probably individual for people. Like the Atkins Induction diet is like 20 grams net carbs, which is where it all started. And then for the low fat, high carb thing, the reason I think it’s so, so important to keep it low, is that– a lot of people think of low fat, and they think it’s not low fat, it’s moderate fat. The same thing goes with the carb side of things, but I think there’s a danger that can happen if you’re doing really, really high carb, but your fat’s not low enough to receive the metabolic benefits, because the fat is impeding with the signaling. If it’s just a tiny bit too high–
Basically, in the studies, they found a ton of health benefits for like low fat diets when the fat is actually 10% or less. And then after that, I think it can get pretty dangerous pretty quick, because if you’re in a really high carb situation, and then you bring in just a little bit too much fat, you can mess with that signaling. On the flip side, if you’re doing a really, really high fat diet, and then you bring in too many carbs, but you think it’s low enough, but it’s not, that can mess with the signaling. Either way, you’re in a super high energy state from a given macro, and if you have too much of that other macro, I think it can mess with the signaling. I’m sorry, that was such a tangent.
Cynthia Thurlow: No, but it’s an important one, and I’ll tell you why. One of the things that the registered dietitian with NutriSense was trying to get me to do because she was saying, “I think you’ve been low carb for so long, that you get this hyper response to carbohydrates.” She wanted me trying different– “One day, I want you to have a cup of blueberries. One day, I want you to have a cup of squash, and then watch your blood sugar.” I would say to her, I was like, “This is freaking me out,” because I’m watching in the instance of when I tried plantains. Plantains, they’re cooked in coconut oil. I mean, this should be like a no brainer. And then, watching sky high blood sugar, she said, “You get this physiologic insulin resistance, so you’re talking about that signaling pathway that is messed up because your body either has become unaccustomed to processing that amount of carbohydrate, because you’ve been doing low carb for so long.”
Even for me, if I do too much protein, I’ve been very protein focused, that can mess with my glucometer. Because we know through gluconeogenesis, 100 grams of protein, it has the potential turn is 60 grams of carb. It’s these nuances that sometimes you’re unaware of, unless you’re wearing a CGM, or you’re using a Lumen. I’m not sure if that was the direction you were going, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned that because that for me has been really enlightening. I’ve been like, “Wow.” I’m a very healthy weight. I don’t want to be any smaller than I am. I’m stable where I am, but that was surprising. For me, I am not physiologically insulin resistant, but because I’ve been low carb for so long, my body just doesn’t really know what to– So insulin sensitive, hasn’t had to secrete a lot of insulin in response to carbohydrates for a long period of time.
Melanie Avalon: Can I ask you two questions about it?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: So, the blood sugar response to the plantain, did it drop back down or did it stay elevated?
Cynthia Thurlow: The plantains came back down but it was such an exaggerated response. They were like, “Okay, we want you to do that again,” and it happened again. They’re like, “Okay, that was real,” because they thought maybe it’s the coconut oil. Maybe it’s the salt. I’m like, “It’s not the salt.”
Melanie Avalon: That was my second question. Did you try it without the coconut oil, and it’s the same thing?
Cynthia Thurlow: [crosstalk]
Melanie Avalon: Well, that’s actually starches for me, because plantains are very starchy. I do a lot of fruit as well, my carb source is fruit, so I was just thinking I didn’t finish the diet history that I went through. My happy place is very, very high carbon fruit. When I say low fat, I basically eat whole meats without added– I don’t add oils, I don’t add anything, definitely for me, but for a lot of people if you’re metabolically inflexible, I think people think, “Oh, I need to add fat to the carbs to mitigate the blood sugar response.” I’m not a fan of that. I reserve the right to change my mind. Oh, first of all, I want to say I don’t know anything. These are all just my thoughts. I don’t want to say I’m ever right about anything. But my thoughts at present on that is I don’t think there’s ever– I get really nervous about adding fat to carbs to mitigate a blood sugar spike. I think it’s less likely to have our body adapt to using either fuel because our body’s not made to be using fat and carbs at the same time, and historically, we would have been having carbs because of the nature, we wouldn’t even have carbs–[crosstalk] Yeah, or fat. The only time they’re really together is nuts. [crosstalk]
Cynthia Thurlow: Processed foods, yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Nuts for autumn when you’re stocking up. That’s another thing I tell people to try to cut out if you’re trying to lose weight is, things like nuts.
Cynthia Thurlow: Nuts and cheese-
Melanie Avalon: Oh, cheese. [laughs]
Cynthia Thurlow: -are the big things. I was low oxalate. For the past 18 months, I’ve just been able to start eating some nuts again, like a macadamia nut with salt is my happy place, but I tell people, I’m like, “Cheese is so hard for people to keep [crosstalk] serving.”
Melanie Avalon: If you think about it, dairy– because I have a lot of nuanced thoughts on dairy, and I think different forms of dairy have places in people’s diet, but dairy, the function of dairy is to grow something. So, it is a hormonal food literally telling you grow, store weight, store body fat, hard to– Yeah, tangents. I can go on tangents all day every day.
Cynthia Thurlow: No, I think that discussion is really important to have because people are trying to navigate how best to put their macros together, how to navigate what food paradigm they fall in. I always say be open minded, be fluid, because if I was stuck in my carnivore bucket, I would really still be missing things in my diet that I intrinsically feel like I need. I know we both have interviewed Paul Saladino, and there’s a lot of people in the carnivore space, they’re like, “Everything’s antinutrients.” I’m like, “Well, it’s all about balance.” Truly, it is all about balance and finding out what works for you and your body.
Let’s touch on one of the easier biohacking devices, I think that’s out there. In terms of ease of use, it might not be easy to interpret. I think a lot of people get flummoxed over the Lumen. Can you touch on the Lumen a little bit? I’ve been personally using it for the last four months, and it’s correlated nicely with my CGM data, and then also my thyroid medicine nightmare that I’ve been dealing with over the last six months. I kept saying like, “This is the piece that no one is paying attention to.” It was able to predict when I went from fat burning and stayed stuck carb burning for like six weeks when I was taking compounded thyroid medication, which is a whole tangential conversation. Talk to us about Lumen, I think Lumen is one of those devices that is really, really interesting and fairly user friendly.
Melanie Avalon: Lumen is very, very cool. It’s actually the only device that– I’ve expanded on it since then, but it was so popular with my audience that I started an entire Facebook group for it. Since then, I’ve added to that group, Biosense, which is ketone breath analyzer and CGMs, but people are just obsessed with Lumen. I’m actually giving away one on my Instagram right now, which is really exciting. Basically, what Lumen is, it uses the science of indirect calorimetry, and that’s what they use in a lot of clinical studies where they determine if people are burning carbs or fat, and the way it determines that is it’s a breath analyzer that measures the levels of carbon dioxide in your breath because when we burn carbs versus fat, they create different levels of carbon dioxide. So, it determines if you’re using carbs or fat. The reason you were talking about its ease of use, unlike a– Well, the continuous glucose monitors do provide data and you can work with a dietitian if you’re doing NutriSense and things like that, but the Lumen app is very user friendly, and it actually makes dietary recommendations that you follow to try to– its goal is to get you to a place of metabolic flexibility.
One of the things I really loved interviewing the founder, Daniel, he was saying when he first started it, he was thinking that– I’m paraphrasing a little bit, but the idea was that when he started it, he was thinking of the goal would be low carb, that would be what it was trying to get you to. But he’s realized since then that it’s not that. It’s changing up your macros and learning how to switch back and forth. The way the device works with you is it makes dietary macro recommendations, and it helps your body reach a point where you can get into fat burning mode more easily, and also be having carbs at certain times, fat at certain times.
When I first got it, I used it round the clock, and I’ve hit a little bit of biohacking overwhelm with that one. I haven’t used it recently, but I obviously run a whole group for it and I see everybody talking about it. I’m actually getting really inspired to bring it back into my life because I want to play around with my personal macros and see if it can help me reach a place where I feel good, which something you were talking about the CGM how intuitively, do you see on the CGM what you intuitively feel and I was seeing that that, like, intuitively, I feel now I met a little bit at a place of more flexibility. In the past, I was– [crosstalk] Yeah, I want to get to a place where I’m burning carbs adequately and all of that stuff. I am looking forward to doing a Lumen run pretty soon.
Cynthia Thurlow: I go in and out. I would say there’s probably two weeks out of every month that I will use it every morning and either after a workout or at the end of my day, just to check in. But I agree with you that you can get to a point where you just feel like your data overwhelmed. For me, it’s been really important because my thyroid medication was taken off the market in September. I’ve had five different medications since then. For me, it’s correlated nicely with, is my weight stable? Is my weight going up? Is my weight going down? At the stage of life I’m in, I don’t like to be regimented about weighing myself, but it’s been helpful for my functional medicine people to say, “Hey, we’re not heading in the right direction.” Or, “Yeah, we are heading in the right direction.” For me, I’ve been grateful for it, but probably of the two, I would say my CGM is the most enlightening. There are times where I’m like, “How in the world?”
For listeners that don’t or haven’t used a CGM, what I like about as you can see a response to stress and sleep quality, and nutrition and exercise. I have a really lovely client that lives in New York City that plays tennis and she called me– well, she reached out because she was freaking out. She was like, “Oh my God, my sensor hit 165.” I was like, “What were you doing?” “Playing tennis.” I’m like, “Okay, you’re playing really strenuous tennis, you’re really good tennis player,” because she was doing it fasted. I was like, “Okay, maybe before you go to play tennis, this is what we need to do nutritionally so that you don’t see such wide fluctuations.” We adjusted some of her macros, and now her blood sugar’s staying much more stable. But not all spikes in your glucometer are bad. Sometimes, it can just show you you’ve got insulin sensitivity, you get this spike, and it comes back down because your body responds in terms of appropriate insulin secretion in response to whatever you’ve eaten, and then your blood sugar comes back down, and that’s what you want to see. That’s what’s capturing that metabolic flexibility.
Now, I want to be super mindful of your time. One last thing I’d love to hear from you, is talk a little bit about Biosense, this ketones meter that you have become– you have this special Facebook group that is instrumental in some of these biohacking devices. And how would that play in with some of these other devices that we talked about?
Melanie Avalon: Ketone measuring, I’m sure a lot of your listeners are very familiar, but when you are in a fasted state for a certain period of time, or you’re doing a low carb diet, there’s an alternative state of energy generation called ketosis. Normally, we’re burning carbs and fat and the Krebs cycle, and when we are fasted for a certain amount of time, or doing low carb, we can start generating ketones from dietary and body fat. Ketones, there are basically three types of ketones. There’s acetoacetate, which is the first type of ketone created, and it’s actually the energy form. When we’re burning ketones, we’re burning acetoacetate. Then, there’s BHB, beta-hydroxybutyrate, which we see in the blood. And then, there’s acetone, which is a byproduct of when we burn acetoacetate. That was a lot of big words, but the thing to remember is that BHB people are pretty familiar with that that’s blood ketones is what we see in our blood, it’s actually a storage form of ketones, so it’s not actually being burned, which is interesting. It has to be converted back into acetoacetate to be burned.
But the acetone, which we can measure breath ketones. The interesting thing about measuring breath ketones is, it’s really the only thing we measure that tells us if we’re burning fat. When we measure blood ketone levels, it’s hard to know if we’re actually burning it. When we measure urinary ketones, a lot of people will do with urine test strips, that actually– when we first started ketogenic diet, those tend to be really high because we’re starting to create this acetoacetate ketone, and our body doesn’t know how to adequately burn it yet. So, we start excreting a lot of acetoacetate in its whole form in our urine. So, that’s why people’s urinary ketones might go away, even if they’re still doing ketosis, or ketogenic diet. Especially on the Intermittent Fasting Podcast, we don’t even recommend testing urinary ketones, because it’s not that telling. Blood ketones you can measure, but like I said, the acetone, that’s what’s created when you burn acetoacetate. When you burn ketones, that is the byproduct. Measuring it in your breath can be very telling for, are you actually burning fat, and that can be dietary fat that you ate, or it can be body fat.
People often asked me, “Should I get a Biosense?” “Should I get a Lumen?” “What should I get?” “Should I get a CGM?” I think it really depends on your goal. So, if your goal is ketosis, measuring ketosis, seeing how long you stay in ketosis, seeing how things affect that, you would want a Biosense. If your goal is determining metabolic flexibility, like when do you burn carbs? When do you burn fats? That’s when you would get a Lumen. For example, if you are on a ketogenic diet and you’re in ketosis, a Lumen would show you as probably number one fat burning, that it’s not going to show you that you’re burning ketones, it’s just going to show you fat burning, compared to a Biosense, which would show the level of ketones. Then, the CGM would be– Yeah, just realizing how you’re reacting to foods on a very, very granular level. The biggest change I made, ketones from CGM, is I started taking berberine.
Cynthia Thurlow: I love berberine.
Melanie Avalon: Which is very, very effective by lowering blood sugar levels.
Cynthia Thurlow: That’s an incredible synopsis. I’m so appreciative of not only your friendship, but your graciousness. How can people connect with you? You have two podcasts. You’ve got some amazing Facebook groups. What’s the best way to connect with you outside of this podcast?
Melanie Avalon: Well, thank you for having me on. I was really looking forward to this for such a long time. I just so respect you. I look up to you in so many ways, and you’re doing such incredible work. I love that you’re a practitioner, and you have your shows. I just really, really respect your work and our friendships. So, thank you for having me on as well. If listeners would like to learn more, I have the Intermittent Fasting Podcast with Gin Stephens, but I also have the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast, and that’s the one where I interview all the guests and that’s like my baby show. I just love that show so much, and that’s where I geek out on all these things with people. You can go to melanieavalon.com, which is my blog. I do a lot of blogging there.
I have three Facebook groups. If you type in Melanie Avalon group in Facebook, they’ll probably all come up. My main hub is IF Biohackers and we talk about– so anything related to anything remotely of what we talked about today, I mean[?], Cynthia and I talked about today, that would be the groups to be in. I also have a Lumen– I don’t even know what it’s called now. I had to keep changing the name because I kept adding things to it. I think it’s called like Lumen, Biosense, and CGM, Carbs, Fat and Ketones with Melanie Avalon. And then, I just started a new one, which is a huge passion of mine, which is the role of clean beauty and safe skincare. I just think this is so huge because our skincare is– our largest exposure to endocrine disrupters every single day because we’re putting these compounds on our skin if we’re using them and conventional skincare makeup, there’s just no regulation for endocrine disruptors which mess with our hormones. I’m really passionate about that. I started a group for that called Clean Beauty and Safe Skincare with Melanie Avalon. And then, the last thing is Instagram, which I try. I’m really shy and I don’t like selfies and all of that, but I’m trying to post a lot on Instagram and I do a lot of giveaways.
Cynthia Thurlow: No, you’re doing a great job, and that’s the funny thing. Melanie prefers being the interviewer as opposed to interviewee. So, it took a little bit of convincing to get her on the podcast, but I’m so grateful again for your time, your friendship, your knowledge. You constantly amaze me. I appreciate there are other women out there doing really high-quality podcast because that’s what it’s really all about. Let’s inspire people to take better care of themselves.
Melanie Avalon: I know, I cannot agree more. We talk about this all the time, you and I. Yeah, there’s just so few women in the sphere. So, it’s really wonderful to form this tribe, if I can use that word, just to be connected in all the work that we do. I’m really, really grateful, and this was really fun.
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