It’s not uncommon to feel powerless over your health. This might be because modern lifestyles often drive our eating habits. Today’s guest took control of her health by changing her eating patterns with intermittent fasting.
Listen to the Episode
About Cynthia Thurlow
Cynthia Thurlow is a globally recognized expert in nutrition and intermittent fasting. She is a highly sought after speaker and CEO and founder of Everyday Wellness Project. Cynthia has been a nurse practitioner for over 20 years. Her TED Talk on intermittent fasting has been viewed nearly 6 million times. She has been featured on ABC, FOX5, KTLA, CW, and in Medium and Entrepreneur. She’s also the host of the Everyday Wellness podcast, which was listed as “20 Podcasts That Will Help You Grow in 2020” by Entrepreneur magazine.
Cynthia was skeptical of intermittent fasting at first. But the more she learned about this healthy eating pattern, the more she realized its power to optimize your health. Modern lifestyles have drastically changed the way we eat. However, for the great majority of human history, intermittent fasting was how we got nutrition. Returning to this process is a return to fueling our bodies the way they were meant to be.
Properly combining intermittent fasting with exercise is a powerful and safe weight-loss strategy. Cynthia explains how exercising on an empty stomach not only leads to weight loss but more energy and mental clarity as well. It also promotes autophagy, the body’s process of cleaning out damaged cells. This leads to healthier cellular health and many other benefits.
Overall, the strategy of intermittent fasting is about taking control. It’s going to look different for everyone. While this may seem like a big change, it can still fit your schedule, diet, and lifestyle.
Have you tried intermittent fasting? Tell me about it in the comments below!
My Your Longevity Blueprint course is currently 50% off to celebrate the launch of the podcast PLUS I’m throwing in a free personalized consultation!
In this episode
- What intermittent fasting actually means
- Fasting’s role in promoting good cellular health
- The best foods to eat when breaking your fast
- The best times to exercise while fasting
- Helpful supplements to take to support nutrition
- If intermittent fasting should be used over the long term
“Fasting for many people becomes not only a physical but also an emotional and spiritual process.” [9:26]
“Once your body is efficient with using fat as a primary fuel source, you have so much mental clarity and so much energy.” [12:04]
“Our bodies are designed to adapt so over time we don’t want to be rigid with our eating windows. We do better when we’re flexible.” [24:50]
“The most important thing is sleep. It’s foundational to our health.” [44:35]
Cynthia Thurlow 0:03
When people are putting meals together during their feeding window if they don't get enough protein in, but they're not getting enough healthy fats and they can, you know, they're having trouble sleeping, their energy is poor. And so there's a lot of variables that can impact how quickly people are able to open up that window.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 0:20
Welcome to the longevity blueprint podcast, I'm your host, Dr. Stephanie gray. My number one goal with the show is to help you discover your personalized plan to build your dream health and live a longer, happier, truly healthier life. You're about to hear from Cynthia thurlow, who is an expert in intermittent fasting and actually is another nurse practitioner. In this episode, I'm going to talk to her all about intermittent fasting, what it is what foods you should eat, to break the fast, when to exercise when to take supplements and if this should be used long term. Let's get started. Thanks for joining me for another episode of the longevity blueprint podcast today. I have some Via thurlow and she is a globally recognized expert in nutrition and intermittent fasting. highly sought after speaker and CEO and founder of the everyday wellness podcast. She's been a nurse practitioner for 20 plus years is a two time TEDx speaker. Her second talk on intermittent fasting has been viewed nearly 6 million times. She's been featured on ABC Fox five, KTLA, cw and in medium and entrepreneur. She's also the host of the everyday wellness podcast, which was listed as 20 podcasts that will help you grow in 2020 by Entrepreneur Magazine. So welcome to the show. Cynthia,
Cynthia Thurlow 1:33
thanks so much for having me. I was just saying how nice it is to be interviewed by another NP. I'm like going to
Dr. Stephanie Gray 1:38
Yes, yes, yes. So tell us your story. How did you get interested in intermittent fasting? Tell us about your background in nursing and how you got to where you are now?
Cynthia Thurlow 1:46
Yeah, so I started as an ER nurse in inner city, Baltimore, and I'm a total adrenaline junkie. And so that was a really amazing experience to have had. But when I became a nurse practitioner, I wanted to pivot I wanted to kind of get out of the ER and fell in cardiology. So I always tell people cardiology was my first medical love. I love everything about the heart, fascinated by the heart. And I love the fact that it kind of took my love for being an adrenaline junkie and kind of allowed me to kind of elevate into a specialty. And so I did that for 16 years. But I would say when I became a parent, that's when I started looking a little bit differently at how are the choices we make in terms of nutrition can have a tremendous benefit on health and wellness. And so my oldest who will be 15 in August, hard to believe, developed horrible eczema when he was about four months old. And so I was exclusively breastfeeding and I remember saying to the pediatrician, could it be something I'm eating and I had a pretty healthy diet so I was genuinely concerned about that. They said no, just you know, do you know put these high potency topical corticosteroids on his skin and just you know, do these baths and this whole bath ritual they wanted us to do? And you know, despite doing all the things is excellent, never really got much Better. I mean, he had significant eczema his entire first year of his life.
And so when I finally got him in to see the allergist, and we were stunned to see he had life threatening food allergies that really spun my head, it made me paranoid to eat out, which is something that you know, my husband and I were foodies, and our younger younger ages, made me paranoid to eat out made me feel fearful of taking him to a restaurant and Casey was you know, exposed to something he was allergic to. And so down the rabbit hole I went of really determining, you know, I knew that I intellectually needed to do something beyond what I was doing at the time I did my nurse practitioner program is very different. We are masters prepare, there was no doctoral level. So obviously a little bit different than than way the way most nurse practitioners are schooled now. And so I applied to a doctoral program and took one class and that wasn't it. And then I remember I did a wellness coaching program. Nope, that wasn't it. And then I kind of fell into a nutrition program and that opened up my eyes There were at a 30 of us there. were five health care providers. And so I really found that for me, it all starts with food. And all of a sudden, I started to feel like my whole world had opened up. And instead of just writing prescriptions, which in cardiology, that's a lot of what we do. And I was still toeing the party line when I was at work, because we had people who had established disease, we weren't in the process of looking at prevention. And you know, God help if you already had, you know, chronic disease, we were dealing with it in that way. But I, you know, my n of one became my n of 10 became my n of 20 really starting to look very closely at when I would suggest to patients, let's pull out gluten or let's try to eat less processed or let's find another option for your favorite food, all these tantalizing, highly addictive, highly processed foods.
When I could get patients to buy into removing them from their diets, all of a sudden, they started getting healthier. And then I really got to a point where I felt like you know, when I went to work, I was 100% committed to the medical model I worked and I want to be very clear about that. And there's an Absolute positively a role for traditional perspectives on urgent and emergent care. But I think we could do a much better job with prevention and chronic disease management. And so I took a leap of faith four years ago and left clinical medicine and then started initially at the time nurse practitioners weren't able to be autonomous. So it really was just I was working as a nutritionist which I could do in the state that I reside in with a really strong emphasis on, ironically enough looking at you know, healthy aging and the chronic symptoms that people were coming to me with and women in middle age, you know, late 30s, early 40s were coming to me with poor sleep, weight gain, developing food sensitivities, having no energy just being exhausted and feeling like they had lost their kind of inner goddess. And so unknowingly I kind of fell into another rabbit hole of dealing with healthy aging and part of that stemmed from a desire for people to you know, stop kind of thinking In these limiting beliefs, I'm all about mindset. I think that's really critical. And we don't do a not enough of that with our patients.
And quite honestly, now I have the opportunity to be able to do that I can spend the time really counseling people on all the lifestyle pieces and the nutrition piece, which I think are absolutely critical. And you know, now NPS in my state can function autonomously, which is really nice. So every once in a while, if I have to, I can write a prescription, or call them into a pharmacy, and then I work with a lot of other healthcare providers, MDS, pH, and PS, to really help support patients and really unique and different ways. So I feel very, very fortunate, really blessed and, you know, pivoting again, I think, you know, we're all about evolving, shifting and changing as we become more mature. And so this is just my next my next thing that I'm doing. So that's, that's a little nutshell of how I got to where I am.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 6:53
So along your journey of kind of being sick of writing these prescriptions and finding out nutrition is just so helpful, and I'm getting Be very powerful for patients. You landed on intermittent fasting, I presume? Yeah. So since you're the expert, I want to get into this. So tell us what intermittent fasting is, and maybe time restricted eating as well, and how that can impact our health and longevity.
Cynthia Thurlow 7:16
Yeah, so it was probably five years ago. And ironically, it was like three people to talk to me about intermittent fasting in a week. And in my typical fashion, I was like, well, that's contrary to everything I was ever taught anything I've ever told a patient. And so I went and bought a book and really dove into it and started practicing it and started to realize, like, gosh, my sleep is better. I have more energy. I'm not even energy slumps. This is really onto something. And so you know, my my NF one became something I was discussing with my female patients became things I was sharing with friends and family. And so I think the easiest way to talk about intermittent fasting is to talk about the fact that it's really less eating and less and more, more time where you're in a fasted state. So the easiest way to To explain it is to say that you skip your breakfast and maybe the night before you ate at six o'clock and the following day you ate your breakfast at eight, you've already fasted 14 hours. So it's really not designed to be scary. It's designed to be very straightforward. You either exist in a fasted or fed state, that's it. And when our insulin levels are low like they are when we're fasted, that's when we typically will see a lot of the physiological benefits and so, low fasting insulin is what provides mental clarity once people are fat adapted, most of us are considered to be sugar burners, which means that our bodies tap into glucose as a primary fuel source. And that's actually the antithesis of the way our bodies are designed to be optimal. And so if you think back to ancestral health perspectives, or before there was refrigeration and grocery stores that have all this junk, this highly processed, highly excited toxin type foods, people really did have to you know, they would go out and hunt.
They would you know, have a feast and then they might not eat For a couple days, or they might not eat for a couple days, and they might just have like twigs and bark, and berries, and so that that fasted state is when we really tap into all these really cool mechanisms. And that's really where a lot of the benefits are conferred. So when people first start off, they're curious, a lot of people come to intermittent fasting because they are curious and they want to lose weight. But what most people do is they'll stay for all the other benefits that they find and you know, fasting for many people becomes not only a physical but also an emotional spiritual process and strategy and so, in a very brief kind of distinct way, it is a way to tap into the way that our bodies are designed to function, but we forgotten this in our very modernized, you know westernized and I will coined a term that is used by a good friend, Ben Azadi says the stupid American diet which I can agree with more that most of us have bought into this diet where we Eat all day long we eat many meals, we stroke that insulin release all day long and wonder why we are obese and sick. So I think intermittent fasting, in many ways can be a strategy that people can use throughout their lifetime and have some control. I think for many of us that are healthcare providers, our patients feel powerless. And so this is a way that people can kind of tap back into their innate wisdom and tap back into what true intrinsic hunger feels like, again, something that a lot of us have forgotten what that feels like, It scares people at first. They're like, I'm not comfortable listening to my stomach growl. And I'm like, Oh, it's very cyclical. So if you, you know, kind of suppress that and do something to keep your body or keep your brain focused on something else, it will, it'll cycle through again, but it's just a physiologic noise. It doesn't mean that your interest, it doesn't mean that you're in trouble. And so that's, that's how I typically like to start the conversation.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 10:54
Awesome. So speaking of weight loss, whenever I think fasting, I know one of the first questions that might be Patients asked me is okay if I, if I'm fasting Can I exercise? So I would assume the greatest benefit for weight loss, which is what brings many patients to intermittent fasting would come from exercising in a fasted state. Is that correct? Like first thing in the morning? If you did the fast that you suggested then first thing in the morning, or exercising as late as you can before you eat would be beneficial. Is that
Cynthia Thurlow 11:25
correct? Yes. And so once someone is fat adapted once their body is tapped into those mechanisms where their body uses that as a fuel source as opposed to sugar, it's not so scary. I think people are terrified because we've been conditioned to believe that we have to eat before exercise and immediately afterwards, and I used to be that person. I would drink a protein shake going to the gym at five o'clock in the morning and I would drink one while I was showering and then I would have a mini meal before I started seeing patients and I think about that now like I was traveling around with all these containers of stuff. And now it's so effortless because I go to the gym with water. I come home and I might have green tea. You I might do a couple hours of work and then I eat around lunchtime. It's so much easier. And you know, once you you have your body is efficient with using fat as a primary fuel source, you have so much mental clarity and so much energy it makes it just it's one less thing to worry about, like I always say to people, like you're going to save money on groceries because you're not buying as much food now, not if you live in my house because I have teenage boys but you know, in most instances, there are a lot of savings and many ways that you'll experience.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 12:28
Sure. I want to get into the benefits that you were mentioning, you said I like what you said you said patients come to intermittent fasting for the weight loss but they stay for the anti aging the long term benefits. So one of those being improving a tapa G, do you want to speak a little bit to what that is and how fasting helps induce them?
Cynthia Thurlow 12:45
Yeah, so a tapa G is this very interesting principle that goes on in our bodies. And so when we're only when we're fasting, not while we're eating, when we are fasted, our body is allowing us to get rid of these diseases and disorder itself. So I always remind people to Kind of like taking out the trash. And so the longer you fast, the more autophagy will be induced. And there's a lot of, you know, there's a lot of speculation, when does that start happening, and I and I have to remind people, even if you're fasting just for 12 hours, you're still doing things beneficial for your body. But I think the important point to make is that if you're fasting for 16 1820 hours, you're still tapping into some of that, it really starts to uptick when you hit that 24 hour mark. But if anyone that's listening, you're really trying to wrap your head around. What does this mean? What does this mean for me, I'm not a scientist, I was around people, you're taking out the trash.
So the cells that we don't want to use in our bodies. This is the time that this happens. And so really, really critical when we're thinking about, you know, we're still in this COVID situation. We're still dealing with, you know, the threat of, you know, persistent uptick in disease which I'll cross my fingers. We're heading into phase three and the area of the country that I live into, I'll just cross my fingers that the cases remain, continue to go down, but really important for us to be thinking about the benefits extend beyond the the atomic GPS. But it's the one really big scientific principle that when people have a big takeaway, they're like, Oh, I understand that. So, you know, a cell that could potentially have developed into cancer, potentially precancerous, would then be scavenged up by the body and you get rid of it. And so that that waste recycling process is probably the easiest way to kind of chip into it is really an important one for people to understand. So it's not just about weight loss. It's not just about people thinking about all these benefits they get, I get more, you know, fat burning potential, because I'm exercising fasted, and I remind them, it's a lot more than that. It really, really is.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 14:39
So how would one start with intermittent fasting? So you suggested, maybe just examine your diet to start with maybe eating 12 hours and then not eating 12 hours? And then do they extend out from there to 13 hours, or what what do you recommend? Well, I
Cynthia Thurlow 14:53
think it really depends. You know, for some people, they're already fasting 14 hours. So I'll say to them, hey, for some people, they're more comfortable doing In 30 minute increments, meaning if they were doing 14 hours faster, maybe they go to 14 hours, 30 minutes for a couple of days and then extend to 15 hours. So slow and steady wins. I remind people, you don't get a prize if you go from 12 hours to 18 hours and you suffer for three hours to get through that. So yes, so I always suggest wherever you are, and wherever you are, is perfectly perfect. Whether it's 12 hours already fasting, aim for 13 if you're already doing 14, or 15, you know, some of the clues that let you know if your body is ready to move on to another 30 or 60 minute interval, your energy is good. You have lots of mental clarity. You're not dealing with significant food cravings, some people really push you they get close to 15. And then they want to push to 18. Like they put their foot on the accelerator and they want to push 18 hours and then they break their fast and they eat everything in their kitchen. And then I'm like, okay, that's a sign that you waited too long and that's okay. And for some people, they may never get to more than 16 hours and that is totally okay. I think it's really important to say that You know, men seem to have an easier time with intermittent fasting in the sense that their hormones are relatively stable throughout the month. It's women that are still cycling, where we have to kind of tweak an ebb and flow to make sure that we are honoring our bodies and honoring the cycles that go on throughout the month.
If someone's in menopause, perimenopause, it's another set of things that I usually will focus on. But just acknowledging that women as a whole, we have to be a little bit more conscientious, a little bit more tuned, a little bit more flexible with our bodies, especially as women are getting older. And I see a lot of people come to them and fasting because they're like, Oh, it's the panacea, it's gonna fix everything. And I just remind them, it's one strategy amongst many others that they need to think about. But yeah, so starting off with a window. And here's the other thing is that if you really want to get the benefits of intermittent fasting, you may want to take a week or two to really clean up your diet. And by that, I mean, you know, eating less processed any more nutrient dense foods, really focusing on protein and healthy fats with your meals and adding And carbohydrates. If you tolerate them, I think that's a good first step, because you're going to get more from intermittent fasting. If you're not on a standard American diet, you're going to get more from intermittent fasting. If you're mindful of your carbohydrate intake. Does that mean that every single person who does intermittent fasting should be low carb? No. But it does mean that most of us eat way more carbohydrates than our body needs. And so we want to be mindful, truly mindful of the types of foods that we're consuming while fasted, that's or sorry, during our feeding winter while
Dr. Stephanie Gray 17:30
fasting. Sure, sure. So that led me to a couple other questions. So going back to how female hormones do fluctuate throughout the month, I would probably recommend a woman not start intermittent fasting the month she's cycling, or the week she cycling, that might be more difficult for her to get started, but many of us are already unknowingly intermittent fasting to a certain degree. So do you recommend as far as extending out that time to fasting for another half an hour or hour Like every day, every week, how slowly should someone increase the fasted hours?
Cynthia Thurlow 18:06
Yeah, I mean, and that's a great question, a lot of it comes down to the individual. So some people are going to be able to push. So if you're more carb dependent, this is my n of like 100. If you're more carb dependent, it's going to take you longer to transition from being a sugar to a fat burner. So those people may take longer to get to a point where they're fasting for an extended period. So if you know that you eat a very carbohydrate heavy diet, it may take you longer to be able to go from 12 hours to 16 hours, whereas someone who's doing a bit more protein and fats may find that it's a little bit easier for their body to be metabolically flexible, that's really a phrase that I like to use quite a bit. We want to be our bodies to be as flexible as possible. So there's no hard and fast rules. A lot of it is highly bio individual meaning if I took 10 women, and if they had a very similar diet, I would say probably half will be able to open that window you know, every color Couple of days meaning every two or three days, maybe they go 30 minutes longer an hour longer.
Other people, it may take them anywhere from two to six weeks. So this is where I say slow and steady wins. You know, you're not in a race, you don't get a medal if you you know, go from like 12 hours to 18 hours effortlessly. That is not the norm. Most people can't do that. They don't feel good. And I remind people that it's really, really critical that while you're making that transition, that you're attuned to how your body feels, your body will let you know are you getting headaches? Are you dizzy? Are you hydrating properly, and then there's a whole slew of tips that go along with that as well but and are you giving your body the food it needs during your feeding window because some people buy a byproduct of you look at statistically how most most individuals eat they don't eat enough protein in their diet and that's like the most important macronutrient in my my humble opinion. And so when people are putting meals together during their feeding window if they don't get enough protein in but they're not getting healthy fats and they can you know they're having trouble sleeping. They're energy efficient. And so there's a lot of variables that can impact how quickly people are able to open up that window.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 20:07
Okay, good answer. So let's talk about what to eat in the eating window. Starting with what you recommend be eaten when breaking the fast I've heard before, bone broth is a good idea. Something to say she you so you're not going to go for the junk? What would your answer be to that first how to break the fast? Yeah,
Cynthia Thurlow 20:26
well, and I think this is a little bit of experimentation again, and I hate to keep saying that, but it really is dependent on the individual. Some people don't have the ability to have bone broth, and then a meal an hour or two later because of their work schedule. But I encourage people to really experiment I mean, if you look at some of the data, some people encourage people to do bone broth and fermented foods for some people say I slide right into bacon and eggs really depends on how you feel after you eat. So what I generally encourage people to do is to stick with lighter protein. So if you're going to break your fast, lighter proteins, whether it's chicken or fish or shellfish Or bone broth, or you know, having a bone broth. You know there's lots of bone broth proteins that are out there people say I'm just not ready to chew up a meal I want to just have something that's lighter. Sure, I think those are reasonable. I generally recommend that people do something that's lighter so it's not the time to do something that's a very high fat heavy meal and then you know, maybe have something small and maybe two hours later you know, really you know, eating a larger meal depending on what you like. You know, some people will say to me, I want to have you know, full fat dairy yogurt with nuts and some berries. I'm like, great. Some people say I love bone broth because it's warm and soothing. Fantastic.
I personally break my fast I love to have breakfast, and when I say breakfast, it really is lunch. But I love to have like bacon and eggs and like some avocado like that's a meal that makes me really happy. You know, I feel satiated. I'm full. Sure. I don't feel like taking a nap afterwards. But it's all about you know, doing a little bit of experimentation with yourself to find out what makes your body feel good. Do you feel like taking a nap Afterwards, then you probably have the wrong combination of protein, fat and carbohydrates. We use the term macros. I don't necessarily suggest people track those unless we're looking for specific, you know, unless we're really saying, Okay, how many grams of protein Are you consuming in a day? That's really where we want to look. But I do find that protein and fats tend to be the most satiating are the ones that are more likely to keep people from having blood sugar instability and blood sugar dysregulation, which is a huge problem here in the US for sure, just with all the carbohydrate heavy meals that people eat.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 22:32
So for someone who has not heard of intermittent fasting before, they may be wondering, okay, so you're saying I fast for 16 hours, and then I eat for eight? So in that eight hours, am I just having two meals? Like how many calories Am I having, but having the equivalent of what the three meals would have been? Am I just snacking? Can you talk more about what to eat during the feeding window?
Cynthia Thurlow 22:52
Yeah. So again, it goes back to like some people have, you know, work schedules, they have to work around so they're, they're willing to have a meal like at lunch. time at a meal at dinner. And I remind people that you should have enough protein and fat in that meal that you shouldn't be hungry in between that freaks everybody out. They're like, you know, that's a very different than I'm eating every two to three hours kind of mind shed. So, you know, first and foremost, it's determining, you know, within your window, how much time do you have to eat, and I really want people to be hitting those protein numbers. And so protein numbers in terms of grams. Ideally, if you weigh 120 pounds, I'm just using this as an example. You should be having 120 grams of protein a day, and I would guess more often than not, most women aren't anywhere close to that. So I remind them, let's reverse engineer your day. And so it may be that you're having, you know, two good sized meals, maybe that's 80 grams of protein and then you're gonna have something called collagen peptides. You know, there's a brand vital proteins not associated affiliated with them, but you may need to have some collagen peptides in your water, they dissolve. They're tasteless, they're not gritty, to bump up your protein, another 20 grams, and if you're right now, only eating 60 it's going to be it's going to take a while to get up to 120.
So, I think it's always dependent on your lifestyle, but also being cognizant of, you know how you're going to get those those those proper macros and during your feeding window, and for a lot of people, it's a struggle, it can be a day where, you know, normally I'd be on the go in the afternoon, I might be going to a swim meet, or I'd be taking a kid to a practice and I may be missing a window of food. Sometimes you have to take things with you, which I'm not always a fan of eating my car, but sometimes that does happen. So it's a little bit of acknowledging that every day may not look exactly the same. You may have a day where you're feeding when I was a little longer, maybe you want to eat with your family and you get home late from work and you say to yourself, I'm going to, you know, leave my feeding window open for another hour because I want to eat with my family. There's no shame in that. And in fact, I would make the the statement that our bodies are designed to adapt. So over time, we don't want to be rigid with our windows, and we do better when we are flexible and we do better When we vary what we're doing, you know, if we think of what a hormetic stressor is, it's a stressor that has benefits to our body. And our bodies are very smart and attuned. So if you do 16 816 hours fast with an eight hour feeding window, every single day for the rest of your life, that's the adaptation has has, you know, you're you're not going to see the same gains over time. So I will say to people, you know, maybe one week you're gonna do or maybe for a few days, years, 16, eight, and then maybe you're doing 124 hour fast. Maybe you're doing a prolonged fast once a quarter.
So to answer your question, I think it's really dependent on someone's schedule, and what is feasible for them to do and there are definitely tricks that you can do to scoot in, get in a little bit more of those macros, again, focusing on protein first, by you know, just acknowledging, being mindful, it doesn't mean measuring all your food, it doesn't mean you know, tracking every bit of food that goes into your mouth. In fact, I'm not a huge fan of doing that. Because I think it can lead to some degree of disordered relationships with food, but I do think that there's value And having an honest conversation with yourself and saying, you know, yesterday, I really didn't get the right macros. And so today I'm gonna make a much more conscientious effort. And it may be that maybe midway through your afternoon in order to get to your macros to your protein macros as an example, you may have a snack in between and I'm not normally a snack or per se. But it may be that you need to bump up your protein. And the way to do that is you know, maybe you're having some beef jerky, maybe you're having some macadamia nuts, maybe you're having like a clean protein bar. There are actually some of them that are fairly clean. But I'm also a realist and recognize that not everyone's at their home 24 seven and can have ready accessibility to everything that they need.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 26:39
Sure, very thorough answer there. To simplify this for patients who are maybe getting started again, it sounds like if you have an eight to five job, if you have a regular work schedule, that really you could fast after dinner, mash through morning don't have breakfast, and then you would have two meals you'd have lunch and dinner which would be in your eating window. That's Sounds very doable for patients. But I'm glad you brought up the concept of I think it's called hormesis. I'm not sure exactly the word, the term. But I was wondering what you do long term since this has been a revelation that you have. I've had the benefits of intermittent fasting for years now. I was wondering if this is something that you believe should be done in select patients ongoing, like what's the ketogenic diet, I don't recommend anyone stay in ketosis forever, they should cycle in and out different seasons. So is intermittent fasting, something that you recommend should be done long term? And then it sounds like I'll ask you a personal question. Are you doing? Are you stressing your body and doing a longer fast once a week or once a month? Is that kind of what you recommend to your your patients?
Cynthia Thurlow 27:44
Well, I think it depends. So the answer so there's a couple great questions. What I would say is for me, personally, I had a healthcare hiccup last year and lost 15 pounds, which was really challenging for me to go back and read fasting so it took a while to be able to do that. So yes, I'm a huge fan of variation. Meaning once you've gotten it's kind of like training wheels, once you got the training, what you got the riding the bike with the training wheels, you take the training wheels off, and then it's time to experiment a little bit. Sure. So I don't do the same fasting window every single day. In fact, I believe that we as women in particular, and I don't mean to keep singling us out, but I think we're unique, you know, we're not many men. I think women have to be a little bit more savvy. And so when we're closer to our cycles, we have to be pretty deliberate about making sure we're not fasting for too long. Sure, we may need to integrate more carbohydrates, you know, healthy carbs. We probably should benefit from doing you know, even 124 hour fasts a month. I think it's great. I do that I might do it every other week really depends on how I'm feeling. You know, some times in especially coming off of all this COVID stuff. I felt like I needed to do more variety because I was just getting bored. So I may have a six hour window one day the worm Eating and they have an eight hour window. I had a feast day over the weekend, meaning I had a 12 hour feeding window. And a lot of that is so that we we tell our bodies that we're trying to continue to provide variation so that it doesn't get lazy, much like you would not do the same workout program every single day for the rest of your life.
Our bodies thrive on variety. And I think it's really, really critical that we acknowledge once we've got those training wheels on once we're thriving, riding that bike, pull the training wheels off and experiment a little bit. And that could look very different for every person that's listening. Meaning, you know, I might I have some patients who are like, they're like a duck to water. They go from 12 hours fasting fairly quickly to 18. And then they like experimenting, maybe they're doing one meal a day, which is odd. Some of them want to do a 24 hour fasts and they want to do, you know, a 16 hour fast and then they're varying it all the time really dependent on how their body feels, you know, what their social and personal and professional responsibilities are. And the point that I think is really critical here is that you can you can do it right, just by varying your schedule. It's really being responsive to you know what your needs are, again, cycling women in particular, a week before your period, you want to definitely be mindful of your fasting windows, how many carbohydrates you're consuming, and then I feel like a lot of people get stuck in perimenopause. And that's when they start to put on weight, they start getting discouraged, menopausal women. And there are definitely ways to integrate this strategy into those times in a woman's life as well. They got a ratchet and all the lifestyle stuff that's, you know, we kind of get the get out and get out of jail card, kind of, you know, we get that in our 20s and 30s. And then in our 40s, and 50s. And beyond, all of a sudden, the lifestyle piece becomes absolutely critical if you want to have success, and that's where I see people getting stuck is that they're trying to force an outcome, really forcing an outcome. They want to lose weight. They're going to over exercise, they're going to restrict their food intake, they're going to be mad and like wound up and I just remind them like Sometimes we have to just surrender you know the whole concept I would say remember Shavasana the end of a yoga class and seraphina is like always my favorite pose, because it's acknowledging that ultimately we have to surrender to the process we can't force an outcome. Sure,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 31:16
I a couple other questions popped up while you were were talking they're just coffee or tea break the fast you mentioned that you're having tea does that break the fasted state or not?
Cynthia Thurlow 31:27
So plain coffee and bitter tea so we talk about green tea, black tea, etc, the ones that are not going to be all you know fruity and and sweet, because we want to avoid consuming things that will spike in insulin response or evoke an insulin response and think about the fact we can really subtle and ratchet it into the nuances on this in particular, because sometimes people get paranoid to brush their teeth and I always remind them, you know, you are not going to break your fast and you brush your teeth, but if you swallow copious amounts of toothpaste, you will so when we talk about what we can consume during that fasted state, water are black coffee, bitter teas. We know that both coffee and bitter teas contain, you know ingredients that will actually induce thermogenesis, they will enhance a tapa G, and really can suppress hunger cues. And so I encourage people to consume those things. Obviously being sensitive, your caffeine sensitive, find a decaffeinated alternative. But those are good things to consume while you're fasted, I find a lot of people get stuck while they're fasting, and then they're like, Oh my gosh, I had two cups of green tea or I had a cup of coffee and then my hunger cues gets, you know, they're just suppressed. And I can power through my morning and I just remind them just thinking about, you know, your insulin levels are low, because you're not consuming any foods.
Now you will see a lot of information about bulletproof coffee MCT oil, fatty coffees, and I just want to be really crystal clear about this. If you're trying to lose weight. Why would you add fat to a beverage like why would you do that to yourself or if you say to me, like my greatest joy in life is I love a fatty coffee then Do it during your feeding window, don't run the risk of potentially, you know impacting your ability to really tap into a toffee g I've seen, you know, when I looked at research, it was one teaspoon of MCT oil. I don't know anyone who just uses that little amount. That is the the most MCT oil that you can consume during a fasted state when it won't break your fast. But I just remind people, if you're trying to lose weight, like most of my patients are, like, just kick those things to the curb and focus. I'd rather you do enjoy something during your feeding window. Sure, but if fatty coffee could be 250 calories, I'm like, well, you're trying to be fast and you're trying to lose weight. Why would you purposely consume something that is just going to give you like a little bit of a negative deficit in terms of your caloric intake for the day?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 33:44
Good answer. So I have not done a 24 hour fast and I get nervous back to what you mentioned the work responsibilities. We talked before recording today that I had patients all day and now we're recording a show and, you know, go go go I wonder Okay, could I do that and see patients all day I don't know what these sorts of responsibilities or what I want to do this sort of fast on the weekend when I'm not at work well then maybe I'm going to be more I don't say bored but bored and distracted and at home and going to want to eat so I don't know when the best time would be to do that. But do you feel like most professionals with similar you know work schedules you you are you have been one yourself to do okay, if they work themselves into that, and they do solely then that it is it is a goal that I can succeed?
Cynthia Thurlow 34:29
And so what's interesting is so last year when my that second talk came out, I had a lot of intensive so you know, doctors that are working in icy us who were so convinced they could not do this, like the limiting beliefs that they kept saying, I want you to go slow and steady. And so I would walk some of them through and there's some of like my biggest supporters now they're like, Oh my gosh, like I worked all day, or all overnight. 100% fast that I was so sharp. I was so mentally alert. So yes, you can but I think to be fair, Yes, if you weren't work working clinically and fast, it would be a lot easier because you're distracted because you're focused on your patients. Sure, as opposed to when you're home, if you're home with your family and your children, and the refrigerator is not all that far in their eating, it's a lot more challenging. Like my kids know, when I'm in a 24 hour fast, I was said last couple hours are the hardest. So from like three to 7pm. For me personally, it's just the hardest, but I would say maybe start on a weekend, maybe do it with your husband and maybe the thing to do is to start with a 16 hour fast mastered I get to 18 hours do 20 to 20 and then you know, jump off the cliff and do the 24 and what I find is people afterwards are like that wasn't so bad. It's all so much of it is mental and you know, especially with longer fasts, a lot of it is mental. And you know you're getting to that point where you're like, Okay, I can totally do this. I totally conquer that. I think you would be surprised and then you probably would do it every once in a while and be fasted all day at work. And then just go home in the evening and have a light meal and go to bed and feel great.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 36:00
So, a couple other questions. Since I have a hormone clinic, I have to ask about the impact of hormones when you're intermittent fasting and specifically even growth hormone. So do you want to speak to that a little bit?
Cynthia Thurlow 36:10
Yeah. So amongst many of the benefits of intermittent fasting, we know that when you are fasted you spike human growth hormone. And for especially, I'm sure do you work with men and women or just women? Yeah,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 36:21
yeah, both way.
Cynthia Thurlow 36:22
So So women in particular, we know human growth hormone we want to keep stay as lean as we possibly can for as long as possible, humanly possible. And so we know it really spikes nicely, especially with those longer fasts, you get this human growth hormones that spike which makes it easier to maintain muscle mass, lean muscle mass, which is really critical. But what I remind people of is when we're thinking about hormones, which are these chemical messengers in the body, we're really talking about not just sex hormones, because everyone always thinks about estrogen and progesterone and testosterone. And yes, men and women make both. It's not just, it's not unique to just one gender, but we think about thyroid hormone, and we think about cortisol and so on. What I find is it's a little bit of fine tuning. It's a little bit of intermittent fasting combined with the lifestyle pieces. quality sleep absolutely critical. If you really want to succeed with intermittent fasting, you have to be sleeping properly got to dial in and your stress. The older you are, the more challenging I see you smiling.
The older you are, the more challenging this can be for people what if we really want to maximize this it you know, it also involves like the nutritional choices that we make, you know, we used to be very fat phobic and very cholesterol phobic and I remind people that you know, cholesterol is kind of the the mother hormone to all these sex hormones. So if we aren't consuming the proper amount of saturated fats, like we get from meat, for mono unsaturated fats from things like nuts and avocado, that can be hugely detrimental, but I do find for many people when they've got thyroid issues, and I think it's fairly common, I would say I more often than not, nearly every woman north of 40 ends up being underactive in terms of thyroid. So could be you know, subclinical hypothyroidism. More could be hashimotos or non autoimmune hashimotos. I remind people not on immune hypothyroidism, I remind people that a lot of what, you know benefits our, our bodies when we're facet is the impact on the mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of ourselves. And there are some arguments to suggest that fasting can actually help with mitochondrial health and so, you know, can also be beneficial for conversion of, you know, inactive to active thyroid hormone. If you're getting proper sleep and dialing in on stress that can help balance cortisol, which is a good hormone. I think people think of it as a bad hormone is a very good hormone. But we're not being chased by rabid dogs. You know, rabid dogs are rabid animals. A lot of the stress that we experience in our personal and professional lives, our body can't differentiate that versus baseline survive allistic mechanisms.
So yes, I do believe that intermittent fasting, along with some of the other things I mentioned, can help balance hormones in a very beneficial way. And I'm able to track that by using you know, very specific testing in my practice and kind of really dialing in on, you know, things as simple as meditation and gratitude journaling and not overdoing it with and I'd hate to pick on the CrossFit community, I'm just using it as an example of super high intense exercise. You know, doing things like bar or yoga or Tai Chi versus doing CrossFit are ways that we can support our bodies are not doing this chronic cardio. We're a nation that's convinced that we have to go run marathons and we have to be doing really intense exercise all the time. And I just remind people, you know, things like high intensity interval training, it's going to be or Tabata is going to be a better bang for your buck. As we're, you know, as we're aging in reverse, we want to just be mindful of that. But all of those strategies can have a really positive impact on supporting our hormones in our bodies. But it all starts with making sure that we are dialing in on on mindset sleep, stress management, nutrition, you know, Less eating and more fasting all can be hugely beneficial.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 40:03
I'm smiling because these are things that I preach to my patients every day, and to myself reducing stress and getting optimal sleep. And I was that CrossFit junkie, I was a gymnast growing up. So I was used to well, the adrenaline junkie, almost like you were saying I was used to those intense cardio classes. However, I had very fast heart rate ended up with taca cardia. With your cardiology background, interestingly, yeah. Which was part from stress and not doing yoga and only doing high intensity training. So I quit CrossFit, but which I'm not again saying it's bad there's a time in place and I think I was already in a my adrenals were shot that was not a good fit for me. I needed yoga, not CrossFit. But cardiologists also never asked me what I was eating and glue. Every time I have gluten, I'd have fast heart rate, right. So there's such a relationship between even gut health and health and I'm going off on a tangent here, but I want to come back to a few more questions. So when should someone take their supplements when fasting?
Cynthia Thurlow 41:04
Great question depends on the supplement. That's the easiest answer. So if it's something like a mineral like magnesium, which I think most if not all of us need, obviously, you know, my cardiology background because I'm like, everyone is low in magnesium till proven otherwise. So magnesium is fine, well, fast, but things like branched chain amino acids, collagen peptides, fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K should all be taken during a feeding window. And so I think a lot of people unknowingly will say to me, Well, what am I going to do is my pre workout for the gym. I'm like, coffee tea, and they're like, no way. I'm like, Oh, yeah, it's like the best pre workout. So the point being that a lot of these products that people are taking, they don't realize that they're actually breaking their fast. So think about it from this perspective. If you're taking a high quality supplement that's not full of a bunch of junky fillers. Most of the minerals you can take so selenium, magnesium, actually Or you can take during a fasted state. In fact, I do that. But I save things like if I'm doing branched chain amino acids or creatine or if I'm doing vitamin D, I do that with my fat and with my feeding windows, and that's completely fine. You know, you're not going to mess things up. Your body doesn't keep score and say to itself well, I lifted at 7am. So if I take the creatine and branched chain amino acids at two, I've somehow mess it up. No, no, that's not the way our bodies work. And so unfortunately, we there's kind of this gym bro mindset of, I've got to take it immediately around my, my workout and like, that's not the way our bodies work. They don't keep track that way. So I just encourage people to, you know, read the labels and if they're, when you're if it's in doubt, take it during your feeding window. They don't have to worry about it
Dr. Stephanie Gray 42:45
like that. This was very helpful. I think you gave us several tips to make our intermittent fasting more successful. Do you have anything else that you want to share or do you have a special gift or promotion for our listeners?
Cynthia Thurlow 42:59
I have an anti inflammatory evoke, that has, you know, recipes in it that we will be sharing with your listeners. And I find that, you know, when we're talking about inflammation in the body, although we didn't talk about it a ton, there are foods that are more inflammatory to our bodies than others. And so I think about the big ones like gluten, grains and dairy, like processed sugars, alcohol, soy. And so sometimes it's not until we take those things out of our diet, that we realize that maybe the pain in our foots gotten better or knee or hip or we have more energy. And so this is a cookbook that we kind of put together that we've gotten some really nice feedback on. So yes, that will be available for your listeners, and hopefully they will find beneficial and helpful
Dr. Stephanie Gray 43:41
I'm sure they will. I will post a link to that in the show notes. And also tell us about your upcoming masterclass.
Cynthia Thurlow 43:47
Yeah, so I have an intermittent fasting masterclass, which I'm really excited about. And so it's a three week long program where I'd kind of dive into a lot of deeper information on intermittent fasting how to interpret it. into your life, the things that can boost a tapa G, there are foods that will do that. The things that can impact, you know, when we're cycling and are getting our cycles, strategies, I would say it's all my best tips and tricks to really be able to take this strategy and you know, really run with it. And so that will be back in September, but definitely our listeners will have an opportunity to check it out as well.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 44:23
Awesome. Sounds like a wonderful resource. My last question for you is what would your top longevity to be and it's okay, if you repeat something you've already said, What's your absolute top longevity tip?
Cynthia Thurlow 44:34
I think the most important thing of all his sleep, it's foundational to our health. I like to remind people that our brains are more active at night than they are during the day. I know people are surprised to hear that. But there's another really cool thing that goes on in our brains called the glymphatic system and so it requires so much energy and it's usually activated within the first four hours of sleeping along with a spike in growth hormone that we were talking about earlier. I feel like if you can dial in on sleep, if you can get your sleep just right, you can lose weight, you can thrive, you're able to build muscle, you're able to better balance your hormones, I just think sleep is absolutely positively non negotiable for anyone that's listening and thinks it's okay to get by it a four to six hours of sleep. Trust me when I tell you, I see a lot of people crash and burn. Because they just don't prioritize it, or they go to bed with their iPad every night. They're not wearing blue blockers, you know, all the things that really can make sleep, really you want to be able to to thrive, irrespective of what age range you're in, and I think sleep is a great first step. So work on sleep first, I would say get the sleep dialed in and you're capable of doing anything,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 45:44
then you can start the intermittent fasting.
Cynthia Thurlow 45:46
Absolutely. Well, thank
Dr. Stephanie Gray 45:50
you so much, Cynthia, you're a wealth of knowledge on this topic. And I think our listeners will get a lot out of this episode, plus you have additional resources. So thank you again today for your time.
Cynthia Thurlow 45:59
Thanks for having They
Dr. Stephanie Gray 46:02
Well there you have it. Intermittent fasting can assist with keeping insulin levels low and weight loss but also in boosting growth hormone and in a tapa G. I'd encourage you to give it a try. Start with that 12 hour eating window and 12 hours in a fasted state and then slowly start adding more time onto the fasted window. Be sure to check out the show notes for all of Cynthia's resources and info on her upcoming masterclass. Her free anti inflammatory diet ebook can be found at Cynthia thurlow.com forward slash Thank you, and you can register right now through August 10. For her next intermittent fasting masterclass at Cynthia thurlow.com forward slash masterclass, forward slash Dr. Gray that's CYNTHIATH URL ow.com forward slash ma str CLA SS forward slash Dr. gra y Be sure to check out my book your longevity blueprint. And if you aren't much of a reader, you're in luck you can now take A course online where I walk you through each chapter in the book. Plus for a limited time Not only is the course 50% off, but you also get your first consult with me for free. Check this offer out at your longevity blueprint comm and click the course tab. One of the biggest things you can do to support the show and help us reach more listeners is to subscribe to the show. And leave us a rating and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. I read all the reviews and would truly love to hear your suggestions for show topics, guests or how you're applying what you've learned on the show to create your own longevity blueprint. The podcast is produced by the team at counterweight creative. As always, thanks so much for listening and remember, wellness is waiting.
The information provided in this podcast is educational. No information provided should be considered to be or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your personal medical authority.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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