How To Do Intermittent Fasting The Right Way! – with Gin Stephens

Have you heard of intermittent fasting before and wondered if it was something you should try? Have you considered trying fasting for weight loss, or have you wondered how fasting might affect your gut health and microbiome? If so, get ready to have your questions answered because in today’s episode, we are explaining intermittent fasting, eating schedules, clean fasting, weight loss, and more with Gin Stephens!


We answer these questions:

– What is intermittent fasting?

– What is clean fasting and what are the goals of clean fasting?

– What are the gut health benefits of intermittent fasting?

– How can intermittent fasting help with belly fat?

– How to find the fasting schedule that works for you!

– What mistakes do people tend to make when trying intermittent fasting?

– What foods should you eat to help with intermittent fasting?

– And more!


Still want to learn more? Schedule with Dr. Barter today!


Connect with Gin Stephens:






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About Gin:

Gin has been living the intermittent fasting lifestyle since 2014. This lifestyle shift allowed her to lose over 80 lbs. and launch her intermittent fasting website, four Facebook support groups, her series of self-published books, and two top-ranked podcasts–Intermittent Fasting Stories and The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. Gin graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Program (2019). She earned a Doctor of Education degree in Gifted and Talented Education (2009), a Master’s degree in Natural Sciences (1997), and a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education (1990). She taught elementary school for 28 years, and has worked with adult learners in a number of settings.. 

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Dr. Ann-Marie Barter is a Functional Medicine and Chiropractic Doctor at Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic. She is the clinic founder of Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic that has two offices: one in Longmont and one in Denver. They treat an array of health conditions overlooked or under-treated by conventional medicine, called the “grey zone”.



Gin Stephens [00:00:00] We hear the word fasting and people, if they are not familiar with the idea, they’re like, Oh, that sounds really hard, but intermittent fasting is not like that at all. I eat every single day and I follow what is known as an eating window approach or time restricted eating. It’s just that we take a period of the day where we’re going to concentrate all of our eating and that period of the day it can be anywhere from an hour to eight hours, you know, depending on what feels right to you or mean or even 12 hours, right? You are all technically fasting when we’re asleep. The difference is that if you’re an intermittent fast start, you intentionally wake up in the morning and extend your overnight fast, longer into the day. Many people open their eating window with lunch instead of breakfast, just delaying the start to eating for the day.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:00:45] Are you struggling with bloating, gas constipation and fatigue, but don’t know what’s causing these problems? The Gut Health Reset podcast with Dr. Ann-Marie Barter dives deep into the root causes behind these issues that start in the gut. This podcast will give you the knowledge you need to heal your gut and reset your health. Today on the Gut Health Reset podcast, we are talking about intermittent fasting and the gut. We’re going to explain intermittent fasting. We are going to talk about the clean, fast scheduling with intermittent fasting and how this all is going to affect the gut. Also, how it affects your gut microbiome and how it changes your gut microbiome with fasting. Some of the gut issues that we can improve with intermittent fasting also intermittent fasting to help reduce belly fat weight loss and then with women. How you cycle in different eating schedules you’ll need throughout your cycle. And we’re also going to touch on fatty liver and intermittent fasting. Thank you so much for being here today on the Gut Health Reset podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Ann-Marie Barter, and I have a returning guest today who was so lovely the first time I had her on the podcast. I just wanted to go through and talk a little bit more about gut with her and intermittent fasting. She’s an intermittent fasting expert and her name is Gin Stephens, and she is the author of The New York Times and USA Today bestseller Fast Feast Repeat, published by St. Martin’s Press. And DeLay Don’t deny living an intermittent fasting lifestyle, an Amazon number one bestseller in the weight loss category. Jen has been living the intermittent fasting lifestyle since 2014. This lifestyle shift allowed her to lose over 80 pounds and launch her intermittent fasting website for Facebook support groups and for self-published groups and two top ranked podcast Intermittent Fasting Stories and the Training Intermittent Fasting Podcast with co-hosts Melanie Avalon. Graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Training Program in 2019. She earned her Doctor of Education degree in Gifted and Talented Education 2009 Master’s Degree and Natural Sciences in Nineteen Ninety Seven and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 1990. She taught elementary school for 28 years, has worked with adult learners in a number of settings, and she splits her time between Georgia and South Carolina, where she lives with her husband and their four cats. Jen, it is so great to have you back on the podcast. The last episode that we did was awesome, so informative. I think the listeners got a lot out of it, so I’m just so happy to have you back.

Gin Stephens [00:03:52] Well, thank you. I’m so glad to be back, and I will talk about fasting all day and all night.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:03:57] In fact, I do. So let’s all start with the basics. OK, so first off, let’s go ahead and explain intermittent fasting, OK?

Gin Stephens [00:04:08] Intermittent fasting, you know, we hear the word fasting and people, just if they are not familiar with the idea, they’re like, Oh, that sounds really hard, but it’s like because you think of, you know, like Jesus in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights and that sort of thing. But intermittent fasting is not like that at all. I eat every single day. And I follow what is known as an eating window approach or time restricted eating depending on, you know, whether you’re looking at the scientific community or just in general lingo. But basically, it’s just that we take a period of the day where we’re going to concentrate all of our eating. In that period of the day, it can be anywhere from an hour to eight hours, you know, depending on what feels right to you or I mean, or even 12 hours, right? You are all technically fasting when we’re asleep. The difference is that if you’re an intermittent fast start, you intentionally wake up in the morning and extend your overnight fast, longer into the day. Many people open their eating window with lunch instead of breakfast, just delaying the start to eating for the day, or perhaps even a little bit later in the afternoon, depending on on your schedule and what you’re doing. It’s just a remarkably flexible way to live where you are just getting more in tune with your body and eating in a way that that makes you feel so energetic. And it sounds crazy because, you know, we’ve always been taught that, you know, you got it your good breakfast to have energy for the day. But how many of us have eaten a good breakfast and then felt immediately tired? You had that slump after after the big meal, so intermittent fasting is just a really amazing way to live where you’re just you’re giving your body that time for the fast and the digestive rest, which is good for so many things, including your gut, which I know we’ll talk about. And then you have your you’re feasting window, your eating window and your your fasting time.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:06:04] That’s such a great way to explain it and just give it such an easy, breezy over the overview of it. So there’s been some debate about coffee, no coffee tea, no tea creamer. I’m fasting, I’m not fasting. So what is clean fasting considered? And is it OK to have coffee or tea? Well, intermittent fasting,

Gin Stephens [00:06:30] yes, for the coffee and tea. As far as the clean fast goes, I came up with the terminology clean, fast and gosh, was it twenty seventeen? Perhaps I had some very large Facebook support groups that grew up over time. And so we we had, you know, we we had a way of fasting and then we decided, let’s just call it the clean fast, because that just seemed it seemed, you know, where it’s are in. Our bodies are having the self-cleaning time going on. Let’s call it the clean fast. So there are three goals that you want to experience while fasting. And that helped us, you know, create what the clean basket would look like. You know, so goal number one, fasting goal number one is we want to lower our levels of insulin. You know, after I read Dr. Jason Fong’s book The Obesity Code in 2016, that really changed my understanding of everything related to fasting because I started fasting, really. I started dabbling in it in 2009, and the only thing we thought of was fasting allowed you to lower the number of calories you were eating. That’s what we thought. There’s really so much more to it. But then when I read the obesity code in 2016, Dr Fong talks about the role of insulin in our really more than just our weight and our health in general. Having chronic high levels of insulin all the time is actually connected to so many metabolic issues, so many health issues that are just prevalent in today’s society. So he explained that we want to keep our insulin low and fasting is a great way to do that. So what makes our body release insulin while eating? So obviously we would not eat while we were fasting? But whenever you taste something or put something into your body that your brain perceives is going to be food, or I’m going to have like a glucose load, for example, like, let’s imagine you’re having a diet soda. We’ve all been trained to think that, you know, calories in, calories out. So a diet soda would be perfect if you’re trying to lose weight, right? Well, it’s got artificial sweeteners. And besides being really harmful for the gut, which I’m sure you know about it also, our brain tastes, you know, the sweetness from our tongue. That input comes in. We have a soft, phallic phase insulin response because our brains don’t understand that sweetness could have zero calories. Because in nature, every food that’s sweet in nature comes with a glycemic hit like it’s going to be honey or it’s going to be fruit, or it’s going to be something like that, something sugar. So our brain has not kept up with the times and understanding, Oh, that’s just a diet soda, zero calories. We do not need to manage blood glucose. Our blood glucose is not going to go up from this. So our bodies kick out insulin to deal with blood glucose that never goes up. So we get in this state of insulin going up, but we don’t even really need it. But we end up with chronic hyperinsulinemia and high levels of insulin. Keep our bodies from tapping into fat stores effectively. So we want to keep our insulin down low level of levels of insulin, meaning we can actually tap into fat stores as well. And insulin is anti-liberal at eight minutes, meaning it’s anti fat burning. So during the clean fast, we want to keep insulin low. We don’t want to take in anything that our bodies are going to think our brain is going to think food’s coming in. So avoid anything sweet, even if it’s zero calories. Don’t put fruity flavors in your water, like even a lemon wedge. You know your brain is going to perceive that the food is coming in. So avoid anything like that. That’s fasting goal number one. So fasting goal number two is we want to tap into our stored fat for fuel. We don’t want to store more fat during a fast. We want to tap into stored fat. So when you add things that contain fat into, like, let’s say, into your coffee cup, you’re putting in some city oil or butter or cream or something. You know, you might think there’s going to be a zero insulin response from fat and there may or may not be as much of an insulin response, but you could have some insulin response as well, but more so you’re taking in a lot of fat. And you know, if your body is taking in a lot of fat, you’re not going to tap into fat stores for fuel. So we want to avoid taking in any outside source of energy because your body is going to go to that instead of tapping into your fat stores. And then the third fasting goal is we want to have increased autophagy and autophagy first came on the scene to most of us lay people in 2016, when the Nobel Prize for Medicine. And was awarded to a researcher who was studying autophagy and autophagy is basically our body’s self-cleaning mechanism. And it actually is upregulated during fasting. When we’re taking that pause from eating, our body can scavenge around and, you know, recycle old junk proteins or old cell parts or take care of pathogens, that sort of thing because we’re not constantly digesting. So autophagy goes up well. What stops autophagy, eating and protein? So you don’t want to take in anything that’s a source of protein during the fast. Like, for example, bone broth, you know, people talk about bone broth fasts and it’s really not fasting if you’re taking in, you know, a source of nutrients or protein for the body. So we want to keep our insulin low. We want to avoid taking in fat, and we also want to avoid taking in protein. So what does that leave us? Well, we can have plain water. We can have sparkling water. I’ve got mine right now. I’ve got some period unflavored, though I don’t get the lemon or the lime or the flavored. I just get the plain. You can also have black coffee plain tea because there’s have a bitter flavor profile. A bitter flavor profile is not associated with insulin response in the body because it’s not associated with, you know, we’re going to our blood sugar is going to go up, so we’re going to need insulin. So that’s why the black coffee, plain coffee plain tea should be fine. When you start getting into like herbal teas, it gets a little more complicated because some herbal teas are sweet, more so like I could kill a meal or something, whereas something like a Yoruba matee, I never know if I’m sick. That would write something like a your ability has a better flavor profile so that one is probably going to be all right. But once you really know how you feel during the clean fast, you will know if you accidentally ingest something that doesn’t work for you. Like I can remember going to Starbucks and having their Nitro Cold Brew, and you know, there is nothing added to the Nitro cold brew that should break a fast. But so I’m like, Well, I can have. This is just, you know, it’s just bubbly black coffee. But you know, I was in the Starbucks and I look at the shirts of the people that are working there. I just when it first came out and they’re like creamy without cream, sweet without sweetener. Well, my brain agreed. When I drank that nitro cold brew, my brain got the message that something was coming in that was going to have, you know, calories in it. Obviously it didn’t, but I felt shaky and not not great at all after having it. So it breaks my fast. Even though there’s nothing in it, my brain was fooled into thinking it is. Am I release insulin drops my blood sugar? So that’s one way that I know if I accidentally break my fast, my body releases, insulin drops my blood sugar. I feel shaky and I’m like, Well, that was not a good thing for me to have. Yeah, yeah, yeah, really

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:13:51] good examples here and in good goals to have with intermittent fasting, really well said. So I think one of the number one questions I get asked is what is the best approach for intermittent fasting? Should I do you know, how many hours should I wait to eat? What should my eating window be? And so what? What do you think is the best approach for intermittent fasting?

Gin Stephens [00:14:14] And that’s I’m smiling because there is no best. Mm-Hmm. You know, there is there is no best. Everyone’s got to find their sweet spot, and I’ll go so far as to say your sweet spot can vary from day to day, you know? And it also depends when you say best, best for what, right? You know, my husband never needed to lose a pound. He’s still he’s one of those people that was fitting into the pants you wore when we got married. We’ve been married for, you know, 30 over 30 years now. So but he never needed to lose weight, but he does intermittent fasting strictly for the health benefits. So the best one day for him is one that will allow him to maintain his weight. So he does a 16:8 approach, so he fasts from dinner till lunch the next day. So he has lunch and then he has dinner, and then he doesn’t eat again until the next day at lunch. So that’s a great one day for him. Now, if you’re trying to lose weight, you know, maybe six eight will work well for you, but it depends. You know, for me, 16:8 was not a weight loss window. I can eat a lot of food in eight hours. So for me, more of like a 19 five with a fight about five hour eating window average, that doesn’t mean that every day I’m exactly, you know, was having five hours. One day might be three, the next day might be five. One day might be for one day. I’m really busy. I have one hour eating window. The next day I have a six hour eating window because I’m hungry because I didn’t need as much yesterday. So it really evolved to be a very flexible lifestyle. And one really important concept is that we are very much a study of one. And so over time, you’ll figure out what feels right to you. I mean, I know people who are, you know, one meal a day and done in a very short period of time. That’s how they feel great. They get enough food and they have a big appetite. They eat their meal. They’re done. That would not be enough for me. You know, I consider myself one meal a day, meaning I only mainly eat one I. Don’t eat breakfast, I don’t eat lunch, but I do open my window in the afternoon, usually with a snack. Think of it like an appetizer and then I’ll have dinner later. So I think of my my one meal a day is kind of like a multi course meal that you would have at a restaurant, and it might span a period of time of like, you know, five hours. So and it does vary from day to day. So there is no best. Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:16:29] Well said. So the intermittent fasting you talked about there being some gut benefits. And so yes. What benefits have you seen with the gut for intermittent fasting?

Gin Stephens [00:16:42] Well, I’ve got my notes. I’m going, look at my notes, you’re going to be referring to them because I am definitely an expert on the practical, you know, helping someone find their best intermittent fasting approach. And I’m also great at researching to find information. But I am not a gut expert, but I was a teacher. I was an elementary teacher for 28 years, and I also taught at the college level teachers who were working on advanced degrees. I have a doctorate in gifted education, so I am great at delivering content, so that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m going to read, deliver some content about the gut. So there are actually some great studies on time restricted feeding in mice, which is another word for your eating window. And they found that in the mice, fasting led to reduced gut permeability, which is huge. You know, gut permeability, leaky gut. We don’t want that. We want to have a strong gut lining. So they found that for the mice also, it increased the diversity of the gut microbiome, which is big. We want to have a diverse and healthy gut microbiome. And so also it shifts the population of the gut microbiome to one that’s more associated with leanness versus obesity. Because I’m sure you and your audience know, since you tackle the gut topic that a lot of people who are overweight and obese are shifted to a certain type of gut population versus people who are naturally lean have another type. I remember the first time I learned that information it was a long time ago was when I was really struggling with obesity. You know, I was obese. I weighed £210 at my heaviest that I ever saw on the scale. And I remember reading that about the gut and thinking it was all it was something an article on like fecal transplants or something. You know, where it’s like they just gave someone a fecal transplant. It changed them after changing their gut microbiome. And I’m like, Could this be true that it really, you know, depends it depending on what lives in our gut, we could depend on whether we’re, you know, obese or lean. And so they found in the mice that their gut population shifted to one that was more leanness promoting. Now that’s mice. Mice are not people, but they are. There are some studies in people as well. You know, Ramadan studies. We have a lot of fasting research done because, you know, Ramadan is is a religious fasting period. So we’ve got a good pool of subjects there. So they found an increase was 20 19, an increase in healthy gut microbiome inhabitants during the Ramadan fasting. And we also have a couple of studies that have been done with longer fasting. I am not an extended faster I told you already. I like to eat every day, but there was a study that just came out in March of twenty twenty one in Nature Communications. It was based with a five day fast. I’m going to read the title of the study because it’s a good one. It was fasting alters the gut microbiome, reducing blood pressure and body weight and metabolic syndrome patients. So I think that’s huge. And they also had found a study from 2019 with a seven day fast where they found that it really helps the gut microbiome as well and changed the the population down there. But basically, our gut bugs need period of digestive rest as well. Just like, you know, our cells need the digestive rest for autophagy and housekeeping. So to our gut bugs, they they don’t want to work around the clock digesting they need to take some time to rest as well.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:20:08] Great summary of that, a great summary on so well said, you know, when you talked about the mice and like gut bugs, et cetera, the study that makes me think of that was when they took overweight mice and they injected and they injected their microbiota into lean mice. They ended up becoming heavier and obese, which I think is just exactly what your take-home message is there. So.

Gin Stephens [00:20:38] And yeah, the one the one with human, though the human one, one anecdotal story was like, I’m sure you’ve probably heard it, the lady and it’s one of her family needed a transplant. Have you heard this one? No, it was like a member of the family, and they gave her a fecal transplant to some sort of whatever it is that they give them for. I can’t remember the name of the disease that it helps. C. Diff, C. Diff. Yeah. So that’s what it is. But they transplanted the the fecal material from one member of the family to another and then the person who had never struggled with their weight. He was the recipient. All of a sudden started having trouble. And so we’ve seen it in humans as well, not just in the mice. So then there’s that whole like, is this just going to be the future we’re just going to transplant? But no. Not yet. But we can change our gut microbiome in so many ways.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:21:32] Word is to become a fecal transplant like donor. It’s harder to get into than Harvard Medical School, really.

Gin Stephens [00:21:40] Yeah, I believe it because we all got some, you know, funkiness going on

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:21:44] here and there. It’s a good way to put it. You do not want everybody’s know for sure. So many people struggle with bloating, bowel issues, brain fog, fatigue. You might not even have any gut issues, but did you know the cause of it could be food sensitivities or gut infections? What I have done is I have brought a talented functional nutritionist into my practice. We have very similar training in the nutritional world. And her name is Alexis Appleby. She is awesome. So you can head on over to our website. &Lt. Alti Fam Fam Med Med and have a consultation with her and schedule so that she can help you get to the root cause of your problems. So I want I want to pop back over because I really think you summed up so many of the gut issues that we see and see intermittent fasting help with one thing I want to touch on. I think one of the biggest things that folks struggle with is belly fat. And, you know, and I think that that’s one of the things that people are so frustrated with, especially women, when they get into that menopause perimenopause range. And so what do you see intermittent fasting do with belly fat? That’s a

Gin Stephens [00:23:08] great question. I’m 5:2. I’ve been through menopause and on the other side now. So, you know, I went through menopause and I’m still wearing my same clothes that I wore before menopause. So ladies, we are not destined to gain weight and get heavier and heavier and heavier as we get older. We’re not. Intermittent fasting is an amazing way to target that visceral fat and the belly fat that we’ve got. You know, I read some research when I was writing my book Fast Feast. Repeat that actually set your fasting targets that that visceral fat in a way that you know, other types of things may target that subcutaneous fat, but we really want to target that visceral fat. So, you know, my waist measurement is smaller now than it was when I was, you know, in my 30s, you know, and when I was, I was leaner in my thirties and as I got bigger and bigger and bigger and became obese, obviously my waist was huge, but I had I suddenly went from someone who was, you know, in my 30s, I was very much a pear shape. And then all of a sudden, as I continued to gain weight throughout my thirties into my 40s as I approached perimenopause prior to really, you know, starting intermittent fasting for real in 2014, I dabbled from 09 to 14 and never really stuck. But over those years, when I was getting bigger and bigger and finally moved into obesity, I was an apple. I had a really big belly and I can remember being in my car and like having to move my seat back and you’re not having room between myself and the steering wheel. And so with intermittent fasting, I lost over 80 pounds and it really, you know, my my waist is 27 inches now. And so it targeted my belly fat. And I really think the clean fast is important for that because you want your body to have that period of time where it’s got nothing to do but tap into those fat stores. You know, I’ve got a friend. She’s a moderator in my community. We met through the community, but now I consider to be a friend. But she was suffering from fatty liver disease, and she had a fatty liver and she started intermittent fasting, and for months, she didn’t lose any weight at all. Lost zero pounds on the scale. But she went back to the doctor. Her fatty liver had cleared up, so her body was was tapping into her fat stores right there in her liver. And, you know, clearing out a fatty liver is one of the best things you can do for your health, because fatty liver is definitely not a good sign. So, yeah, I think intermittent fasting is definitely something that women should should carry through menopause. I just interviewed Dr. Anna Kabaka. Do you know Dr.?

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:25:47] Yeah, she’s been on the podcast for sure.

Gin Stephens [00:25:49] Like, she’s literally yesterday or the day before I interviewed her, and she’s an intermittent faster. Did you know she does intermittent fasting? You probably did. I didn’t.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:25:59] I knew she was. She was keto green. Yeah. And but I did not know she to

Gin Stephens [00:26:05] her other one. After the first one she did. It was like Kito Green, 16, and the 16 is the fasting. Oh, OK, OK, that’s cool. That’s very cool. But yeah, but she was talking about how, when, when she’s working with, you know, because menopause is a big thing for her. We had her on our other podcast of Life Lessons podcast. I have a co-host, but we had her on a few months ago and we talked about, you know, the menopausal transition. So she’s, you know, really well known for all of her hormonal work with women. But she said that really fasting is like essential for women that are going through this transition. Not just like, Oh, that it would be nice. But she said, it’s really essential to keep your body healthy for women as we’re going through these hormonal transitions. And I can just really attest to that because, you know, I mean, yeah, there were there were things that went on during menopause, of course, but I really feel like fasting helped me make it as painless a transition as it could possibly be.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:27:01] I think that was really well said. I mean, thank you. I feel like what you said was not only about the weight loss, but also about the overall health benefits when you hit on the fatty liver and that sometimes you’re not going to notice this immediate weight loss that’s happening here because your body’s busy doing and cleaning up other things as you give it the tools that it needs to basically clean up, say fatty liver. So yet you’re not losing weight. But I think one of the most frustrating things for women is going through that transition and. Watching the pounds pack on like they didn’t have before, right, and you would agree, and I’m sure you see that in your community all the time, right?

Gin Stephens [00:27:44] Yeah. And even, you know, we do see people who, you know, maybe started intermittent fasting and they were having success and then their body goes through these hormonal changes and all of a sudden the weight loss stops and they may have no weight loss, you know, over the rest of the menopausal transition. Then they get to the other side and maybe the weight loss picks back up again. And so a lot of them get really frustrated, like why I’ve been on this plateau. And when you consider that most women really do gain weight throughout menopause. Having a plateau instead is actually a positive. Definitely. I just have to be patient with your body as it changes because it’s doing a new thing. And then on the other side, you know, you’ve got to work with your body in a different way because the body you have after the menopausal transition is different from the body you had before and you had like, for example, I don’t tolerate wine as well as I used to. Darn it. Right. Wine? I love wine, but I don’t sleep very well now, and that really started being a problem as I went through the transition. And so you’ve got to decide, you know, am I going to be zero wine for the rest of my life? No. But I don’t have a glass of wine every night with dinner anymore because sleep is something I prioritize. And that was something as my body changed hormonally, you know, I had to change with it. And instead of being mad, I’m just like, Well, okay, that’s just what I’m going to do. Just roll with that. But you have to. Yeah, I do.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:29:08] Do you think do the same rules apply for intermittent fasting for women going through the transition with the fasting schedule that you spoke of earlier?

Gin Stephens [00:29:19] As far as just finding the fasting schedule that feels right to you? Yes, really. And it just really depends on so many personal factors like, for example, someone who you know does CrossFit every day is going to need a different eating window than someone like me who’s jumping on my rebounder and standing on my vibration plate. And that’s all I’m doing right and just living my life. You know, you’re going to need to fuel your body more if you’re doing intense workouts. And what we do know is that women’s bodies don’t respond well to over restriction, and every restriction can look like restricting what you’re eating, not eating enough. Also, it can look like overworking out. So we just have to be careful. Whatever we’re doing is not overly restrictive for our own bodies, and it’s going to look different for everybody.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:30:05] And what have you seen with over restriction? You said it’s not. We’ve seen that it’s not good for women, right? Rebound effect, do you see?

Gin Stephens [00:30:13] Well, we know that it’s not good just in general, and we see it through the paradigm of just even just regular diet like low calorie diet. You know that women have been doing forever. We know that if women over restrict through the low calorie diet paradigm, you know, they’ll lose their periods. They have hormonal effects that are negative. Well, the same with fasting if you overdo it. But sometimes people just assume that fasting is restrictive and that we’re going to have all these hormonal problems as women. But that is not a good assumption because I certainly do not practice intermittent fasting with an overly restrictive eating window. You know, my book is not called fast diet repeat. It’s called Fast Feast. Repeat. I nourish my body well during my eating window, and I do not, you know, over restricted my eating window. I make sure I’m getting the nutrients that I need, and I really listen to my body like I know when I haven’t had enough to eat. And like, the next day, I’ll be extra hungry and I’ll have a longer window. You learn how to tune into that. You know, we don’t push through feelings of, Oh gosh, I didn’t eat enough. You eat, you know, you really learn to listen to your body over time because our bodies are designed with these feedbacks to let us know. I mean, a baby doesn’t overeat, a baby doesn’t underrate, a baby knows how much to eat, and it’s only when we start, you know, teaching the baby, no. Now we’re going to eat three meals a day. We’re going to eat on a schedule and you’re going to clean your plate, make mommy happy. Then we start learning to ignore our our hunger and satiety cues. And that’s when everyone gets disconnected from it and then just starts to eat for different reasons. You know, as you start learning to reconnect with your hunger and satiety cues, and fasting is great for that. You really start to trust your body. And to know, Gosh, I’m extra hungry today. I’m extra hungry. Oh, maybe it’s that time in your monthly cycle and your body’s sending you, you know, eat some more food today, messages and you listen to those. Or maybe you had a really busy day yesterday and today you just need a longer window. But we can really trust our bodies to let us know if you ever start feeling the urge to binge, that gets worse over time. That’s a sign, and we know that from starvation experiments like the Minnesota Starvation Experiment that they did way back in the day around the time of World War Two, we know that as people were were starved, they started to binge. As a result, our bodies send us the signal of you better just get as much and as you can. So when anyone is doing any kind of eating approach, if you start getting an increased urge to binge, that’s the sign you may be over restricting. And then, you know, those of us that have tried so hard with dieting, we all know what that felt like when you were trying to do a low calorie diet day after day after day, you know, maybe twelve hundred calories. We were told that’s what we were supposed to do. And then, you know, by about week two, you’re like, find yourself just bingeing and you’re like, Why am I so weak? What’s wrong with me? Well, it’s just your body’s saying, you know, not enough is coming in. One caveat I want to give with with fasting is during the. Assessment period, when you’re first, your body’s first adjusting to intermittent fasting, you may feel at the very beginning for the first month the the increased overeating during your eating window because your body hasn’t learned to tap into your fat stores for fuel yet. So all day long, your fasting, your body is not great at tapping into your fat stores. You’re not well fueled during the fast. Your eating window opens. You’re starving. You’re eating everything in sight. Once your body adjusts to fasting, though, that settles down. So while you’re fasting, your body does learn to tap into your fat stores. You know, those calories count as well. You know you’re you’re fueling your body during the fast from your fat stores. Then you open your eating window and you have what we call appetite correction, meaning your body is calm because it’s been. We’ll feel during the fast and you lose that signal to bend or to overeat. But then over time, as you continue to live in intermittent fasting lifestyle, if the urge to bend starts coming back, that’s the sign that that you may be restricting. I just said a lot of stuff you did is great.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:34:16] It’s great. You said one thing that I kind of want to just touch on really quick. You talked about women in their cycles a little bit, and if they’re feeling a little hungrier at certain times of the month, do you find that that fasting windows should change based on a woman’s cycle?

Gin Stephens [00:34:37] Well, it’s not. Not that they should. It’s just that they naturally do right. I can remember before I went through menopause, I I had this, this tracker. I was like on this app, tracking my period from 2012. So you can ask me what happened on any day between 2012 and really today, and I can go back on my app and tell you how long every single day I tracked it religiously. And so I remember before, you know, before when I was in 2014, when I was just really starting with intermittent fasting and it was becoming my lifestyle. I can remember having dates when I would be like, Gosh, why am I so hungry? Was the fast, so hard today? And I was always like the day before my period started. Like every month, literally. I was surprised by it, right? Every month. I was like, Why am I so hungry? And then the next fall I go. So I just I always listened to my body. And is it because, you know, I I had to eat my body told me, you need to eat some more food today? It’s just natural.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:35:38] I think it’s really important that women know that that’s normal, right? And that and you made some great points in the last part that you said where you know, the calorie restriction, what’s wrong with me? I can’t do this. You know, there’s something wrong with me. Why don’t I have more self-control? I feel like as women, we need to listen a little bit more to our bodies and just be OK with what happens versus beating ourselves up. We need to be really careful of that.

Gin Stephens [00:36:05] It’s hard to fight your body, right? We’ve got powerful biological urges that are there to keep us alive. Right? And so our body is going to fight us if we’re fighting our bodies. And so we really have to learn to trust our body and work as a team. And you can trust that you’re hungrier and you don’t have to feel like that something’s wrong with you. And when you finally start to trust, Oh, I’m hungrier today. That’s a real thing, and I can eat it, and I don’t have to feel guilty for eating this, this meal or eating two meals today or three meals today or whatever my body needs.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:36:40] So lutely. And what mistakes do people make with intermittent fasting that can sabotage their progress? And Daggett dang it. Why aren’t I losing weight or why can’t I lose this belly fat or what? What things do we need to watch for?

Gin Stephens [00:36:58] Well, first of all, for people who have tried intermittent fasting before, perhaps didn’t have great results, I would bet 90 percent of the time they were not fasting clean or maybe even more than 90 percent of the time. You know, if you go research on YouTube or Google or look around, you’re going to find out opinion to support whatever you want to do. You want to drink cream in your coffee. You can find 10 people who tell you it is fine to drink cream in your coffee, right? You want to have a diet soda. You can find 10 people, 100 people who are going to tell you, you know, to have that during the fast. So. If you do all those things and you’re having a hard time with fasting. Go back to the clean fast, because I promise it makes a difference. That’s really the number one thing. I think that makes a difference for people. So when anyone tells me, well, I tried fasting and it just didn’t work, I’ll say, What were you drinking? They’d be like, Well, I would have, you know, Powerade zero, and then I would put two tablespoons of cream in my coffee because I heard that was OK. Then they were like, no. So in varsity’s repeat, I have something called the clean, fast challenge. So for people who are like, No, I read all that and I heard it’s OK and I really just don’t believe you, Jen. I want you to take the clean, fast challenge and give yourself a month of fasting clean, and then you will become a believer because you’ll feel so different. You know, before I read the obesity code, I was putting stevia and cinnamon in my coffee because it was zero calorie and it was a surely a delicious cup of coffee. And I white knuckled it every single day. It was really hard to fast. I got to my eating window and then I was starving every day and I really wasn’t tapping into my fat stores as well as I could. As soon as I read, the obesity code pitched a little fit. Took the stevia out of my coffee, stopped with the cinnamon. All of a sudden fasting became easier. And then I’m like, OK, I can do this forever now. So it made all the difference in the world. And so I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes people can make is not fast and clean. Another one is by being too rigid. If you’re too rigid, then you can really like, shoot yourself in the foot with that because it’s hard to live as overly rigid lifestyle. On the flip side, being too loosey goosey can also be a problem because you know you’re trying to let your body adapt to fasting, and some things have to to happen. And so if you don’t give your body time to adjust, it’s going to be harder. Like when I was dabbling in fasting from 2009 to 2014, I never did it long enough in a row for my body to adapt. So I was basically always in the adjustment period, and I never got into that period where I’m tapping into my fat stores efficiently and feeling good. So being too strict or not being, you know, not letting your body adjust and being too loosey goosey can can also be a problem. So you need to find a happy medium where you’re having a period of the day where you’re tapping into your fat stores, but then also being flexible enough and learning to listen to your body.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:40:00] And what would you say to the naysayers about intermittent fasting?

Gin Stephens [00:40:07] Well, you know, it’s funny, it depends on what they’re saying, right? And I would have a different answer depending on what they’re what. They’re problems with that war. But you know, I’m somebody I’m fifty two years old and I was on that diet rollercoaster for so long. I mean, you can tell me whatever you want to tell me, you know, in the world about it, but I know that nothing worked for me. And hundreds and thousands of other of other people that I’ve talked to today, I recorded episode one hundred and eighty something of intermittent fasting stories. And, you know, I talked to an intermittent fasting every week and we all can tell you we tried everything. And this is the thing. And and this is the thing that allowed us to reach our goal weight for the first time ever and maintain it. This is the thing that reversed, you know, whatever I’ve talked to people with Crohn’s disease who have reversed or you no longer suffer from the problems. And people with type two diabetes who are no longer considered their markers are no longer in line with being type two diabetic. And I mean, you can say all you want, but people are having amazing results. And so. You know, it’s it’s easy to criticize something you have to live, but once you’ve lived, the people who live an intermittent fasting lifestyle become the biggest evangelists for it because they know how great they feel and will never stop doing it. And so, you know, I think the criticism comes from a place of maybe fear because it sounds really hard or just ignorance or you’re not understanding, really. You know, I like to call intermittent fasting the health plan with the side effect of weight loss. It’s no longer all about weight for me. Obviously, when I was obese, that was a huge motivator. Right. And we didn’t even know all the health benefits back then. We didn’t know. But the more that we’re learning, the more we’re realizing this is a very healthy way to live. And I really think, you know, with with very few. On the list of people who shouldn’t do it, I think it’s something that most adults should do. Obviously, children should not do intermittent fasting. They’re still growing. You know, your body is growing and developing through adolescence. You want to fuel yourself differently. But once you’re an adult, you know, if you’re not not pregnant, pregnant women should not do it. Breastfeeding mothers should not do it for a wide variety of reasons not just, you know, milk supply, but there’s a lot I could go into that for a long time as well. But unless you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have some kind of other, you know, contraindication, it’s a really healthy way for for an adult to live.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:42:34] That’s great. So we have covered

Gin Stephens [00:42:36] today a lot of things, we

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:42:38] have covered a lot of different things in a short amount of time. We have covered the basics of intermittent fasting, how to do it, fasting schedules. We have covered its benefits for gut health and how it diversifies some of the microbiome and also will help reduce some chronic diseases. Potentially you had some examples of that. We’ve talked about it for women and some of the scheduling with cycling as well. And just what you have seen with amazing stories. Is there anything that we missed that’s really important to mention before we we sign off?

Gin Stephens [00:43:14] Well, we didn’t talk about food at all because of course, a big, a big piece of the puzzle. And, you know, the older I’ve gotten and the better I have felt, the more I’ve gravitated towards eating Whole Foods and real foods and not eliminating, you know, ultra processed foods 100 percent. But just, you know, the higher quality foods I eat, the better I feel. So that’s an important piece of the puzzle on most intermittent fasters find that over time, they naturally gravitate towards more nutritious foods, which is just, you know, the better you feel, the better you want to eat, the better you want to eat, the better you feel. And it just keeps going like that. So I consider myself to be cleaner, and I have actually a new book coming out January called Cleanest Eat mostly clean, live, mainly clean and unlock your body’s natural ability to self clean a little piece of that self-cleaning as fasting. But it’s not a fasting book, but it’s really important to feed ourselves well and our gut microbiome because they need the nutritious foods. You know you’re not going to be your best self if you’re fasting and then eating ultra processed foods absolutely completely. Not enough. Yeah, that’s a great issue.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:44:21] Yeah, yeah. You definitely can’t be feeding your body tons of junk and expect all of the benefits. So I think that’s a great important adjunct. Yeah, very good. Well, it is always a pleasure to see you and just thank you so much for being on and just sharing your amazing knowledge today.

Gin Stephens [00:44:41] Well, thank you for having me.

Dr. Ann Marie Barter [00:44:46] Thank you for listening to the Gut Health Reset podcast. Please make sure you subscribe, leave a rating and a review so more people can hear about the podcast and hey, take a screenshot of this episode and tag Dr. Ann Marie on Instagram or Facebook at Dr. Ann Marie Barter. And for more resources, just visit Dr. Ann Marie



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