Is Intermittent Fasting Really the Healthiest Choice for You?

Altered eating windows are all the rage these days. It’s difficult to go a day without hearing about the benefits of fasting; maybe you’ve already considered trying it (or have tried it) yourself.

There are many ways to fast, but one of the most popular intermittent fasting regimens is to skip breakfast to extend an overnight fast a bit longer. You’d then eat lunch and dinner as usual.

Many people who practice intermittent fasting do this daily or at least a few times per week.

Now, fasting is a way to make a slight caloric deficit a lot easier, which can be beneficial for those who are overweight, but it may not be the right choice for everyone — especially if you’re a woman.

So…how do you know if fasting is the right choice for you?

The Negative Side Effects of Fasting

I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the last few years, and I can confidently say that almost all of my clients feel better when they eat a solid breakfast.

Now, granted, I work with clients who fall into the following categories:

  • Women
  • Normal weight or very slightly overweight
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Digestive issues (usually goes hand-in-hand with adrenal issues)
  • Already eating a healthy diet

Given that I’m working with fatigued women with a normal BMI (or slightly above) who are already eating healthily, I don’t think it’s surprising that I notice that most of my clients do better when they eat breakfast.

If I was working with obese individuals with bad eating habits, I think I’d feel pretty strongly that intermittent fasting is a great tool for my clients because it helps them adhere to a caloric deficit in an easier way.

But many of my clients have experimented with intermittent fasting before seeing me, or are currently doing it when we start working together. They’ve read many an article touting the benefits and they think they should try it out.

Unfortunately, a lot of them experience side effects of intermittent fasting that make them feel worse.

In the research, we see these same side effects when women of normal weight (BMI <25) fast:

  • Excessive hunger
  • Mood disturbances
  • Heightened irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive eating-related thoughts
  • Overeating on non-restricted days
  • Possible insulin resistance

Source: Potential Benefits and Harms of Intermittent Energy Restriction and Intermittent Fasting Amongst Obese, Overweight and Normal Weight Subjects—A Narrative Review of Human and Animal Evidence

In addition to the ones we see in the research, I’d also add that issues with fertility like menstrual irregularities are really common when intermittent fasting leads to caloric restriction, especially when that’s combined with excessive exercise.

Should You Be Intermittent Fasting?

Today, I’d like to share my decision-making process with you to help you determine if intermittent fasting could be the right choice.

Intermittent fasting may be a good choice for you if:

  • You’re overweight or obese
  • You’re male

Intermittent fasting is probably not the right choice (or at least not the right choice with the current evidence, and certainly not the right choice from anecdotal evidence seen in my own practice) if you’re:

  • Normal weight (BMI: 18-25)
  • Female
  • Have adrenal fatigue or fatigue problems

Use this quick quiz to determine if it might be worth trying:

Are you overweight or obese (BMI >25)?  If yes, then you can try intermittent fasting if you’re having trouble sticking to a caloric restriction otherwise.

From there, it comes down to gender.

Are you a normal weight (BMI <25) and male? If so, there seem to be fewer risks to intermittent fasting than if you’re a female with a normal BMI. 

Are you a normal weight (BMI <25) and female? If so, intermittent fasting is probably not the right choice for you given the multitude of negative side effects seen in normal-weight women who fast.

To be on the safe side, I mostly use intermittent fasting with my male clients who are overweight. I find that most women (even those who are overweight) tend to feel better during the weight loss process when they’re eating breakfast.

Do You Need to Eat Breakfast?

If you’ve determined that eating breakfast is probably going to suit you better, you’re not alone! Like I mentioned before, most of my clients realize they feel so much better when they eat breakfast.

But maybe you’re not sure exactly what to eat for breakfast to maximize your energy…

Or maybe you don’t know how many calories you should be aiming for at breakfast…

Or perhaps you’re overwhelmed by choosing what macronutrient ratio your breakfast should be at…

Well, Laura and I recognized that many people are confused about what makes a proper breakfast and we decided to create a FREE eBook to help you eat a healthy breakfast if intermittent fasting isn’t the right choice for you.

So if you took my simple quiz above and determined that you might feel better eating breakfast, try our free 5 Day Breakfast Challenge and see how you feel. Chances are you’ll feel a lot better than if you were intermittent fasting or eating a small, inappropriately balanced breakfast. We challenge you to try it!

I’m not one for believing in “quick fixes”, but eating a well-balanced breakfast every day is the closest thing I have to a magic bullet for many of my clients. It’s truly amazing how much better most people feel when they start eating a breakfast that is appropriate for them from a calorie and macronutrient standpoint.

Plus, it’s easy! It’s one of those things that’s incredibly simple to implement and gives a big “bang for your buck” — most people feel better almost immediately once they start eating a well-balanced breakfast.

So if you think that intermittent fasting is not for you, but you’re unsure of how to make sure you’re getting an appropriate breakfast, we invite you to join us for the #5daybreakfastchallenge (make sure to tag us on social media with your breakfasts!).

When you sign up for the FREE challenge, you’ll learn how breakfast can help you banish fatigue and what makes for a healthy, well-balanced breakfast. You’ll also get 5 delicious breakfast recipes so you’ll be set for the full challenge!

Click here to take us up on the challenge!

2016: My Year in Review

Wow, I still can’t believe 2016 is almost over!

In a lot of ways, 2016 wasn’t a great year. Dealt with some health issues, had to move, politics were absolutely insane, felt like a I didn’t make a ton of progress in my business…

But in many ways it was amazing.

I’d like to share an exercise with you to review my (and your!) 2016. I hope you’ll think about these questions, too!

1. What are you most grateful for in 2016?

2016 brought me a new family 🙂 I married the love of my life in June, and I couldn’t be happier about it! Not only did I get an awesome husband, but I married into an amazing family as well. Here’s all of us (being silly, of course!) below:

I am most grateful for my husband, who is the most supportive, amazing person I have ever met. He pushes me to be better, comforts me when I’m feeling down, and is the best adventure-partner I could ever ask for.

We lost our cat this year, sadly, but we also brought home a new kitten! Meet Mugen, a complete and utter weirdo:

Speaking of people (and pets) in my life, I’m so grateful for you. Whether you’re a client or a reader or a lister, thank you for taking the time to consume the content that I put a lot of work into; I couldn’t be more thankful that you’re in my life!

I’m also grateful that I had to chance to do so much traveling this year! This is kind of hilarious to me, because my husband and I joked that in 2016 we wouldn’t travel since we were planning a wedding and that came with its own stress (and finances).

I spent time in California, Tokyo, Canada, and Budapest this year. Oops.

The incredible view at Mayacamas Ranch in Calistoga, CA. Did my first big talks there this year and had a great experience! 


In Tokyo at the Miyazaki Museum. :D

In Tokyo at the Miyazaki Museum. 😀


Japan is beautiful :) So much so that we already want to go back next year!

Japan is beautiful 🙂 So much so that we already want to go back next year!


Caving in Budapest…such an amazing (and slightly terrifying) experience!

2. What was difficult this year?

Hmmmm… let’s see — feeling sick for almost half of the year, finding out we had mold in our apartment, finding a new apartment in NYC that didn’t cost more than we make in an entire year, moving, planning a wedding…agh!!

This year was kind of insane. Lots of stress, lots of change. Some good, of course, but some bad. I’m looking forward to settling down in 2017 for sure!

3. What are you most proud of this year?

I have been planning to create an online gut health course for…years. Seriously. And I’ve always put it off (because…you know…stuff!! Just kidding, I had no excuse…). But seeing 2016 come to a close pushed me to actually start the damn thing.

I’m now about a third of the way through the content creation process, and wow, it feels good. Writing all of it out has made me realize how much I’ve learned working with clients, and how making an affordable way to learn this stuff without having to work one-on-one with a practitioner is going to help a lot of people.

And honestly, I really love the group learning format. There’s this sense of excitement and possibility that groups thrive on and I really feel like it makes the experience better.

If you want to get on the program waiting list, I’d love for you to sign up to do that here.

I’m also super proud of Laura and I for being consistent with The Ancestral RDs podcast. Do you guys know how much work goes into a consistent content production schedule? So much! We don’t get paid for it, of course, so it can sometimes feel like we’re doing it for nothing. But then you guys comment and email us and tell us how helpful it is to you, and we feel like a million bucks.

But still, it’s hard to put out content every. single. week. But we did it. And I’m super proud of that.

Check out the podcast here if you haven’t already!

And speaking of consistency, and probably the thing I’m most proud of myself for this year: powerlifting.

For almost the first half of this year, I was having some fairly major health issues. I had mold exposure and was not feeling well because of it, and exercise was kind of out the window. Some days just doing normal activities felt like a lot.

But by about April I was feeling a lot better. I had gotten out of my moldy apartment and wanted to start doing some exercise. And I really wanted to build some strength. So I started powerlifting!

I was in Massachusetts at the time, so I started lifting at a gym there. Then when I came back to NYC, I found an awesome gym (and an even more amazing coach) at JDI Barbell in June.

Since then, I’ve been going 3-4 times a week consistently. By the time January 1st rolls around, that is 6 months of consistent effort in the gym. For me that’s pretty amazing. I’m one of those people that likes to switch it up a lot because I get bored easily. But there’s something about always progressing in powerlifting that is really appealing to me, and I think it’s the reason why I’ve been able to stick with it for so long! Not to mention that I feel SO much stronger.

Now I’ll be honest: I am really not good at lifting. I can’t squat my bodyweight yet (because my quads apparently have been off-duty for the last 27 years and are just now getting around to working…) and my bench press and deadlift certainly aren’t impressive.

Weirdly enough, that’s actually one of the reasons I’m most proud of my lifting efforts. When I suck at something, I usually want to quit. Who likes to be the worst at something? My gym is full of really amazing weightlifters and powerlifters, and here I am over here struggling to squat something they’d warm up with.

But through lifting, I learned that it doesn’t freaking matter. What matters is that I’m getting stronger, I’m enjoying it, and my body is thanking me for doing it. I am awesome.

4. What are you most looking forward to next year?

Next year I hope to be able to put a lot of effort into growing my business. My new gut course will launch, we’ll re-release Paleo Rehab a couple times, I want to get better at content production (blog posts included!), I want to post more on social media for you guys…the list goes on.

I feel like I’m at a really exciting time with my business now that I feel like I have energy and time to focus on it. Like I said earlier, this year has been absolutely insane with moving and getting married, and I cannot wait to just relax in 2017. I feel like getting those things out of the way has left a lot of mind space for me to think more about how I want my future to look.

Writing all that out makes me realize how truly incredible 2016 was, despite a lot of craziness. I hope you’ll take the time to answer the same questions I have and reflect on your year before we jump into the next one.

I’m always surprised at how quickly a year goes by, and I think it’s important to think about all that you’ve accomplished, all that your grateful for, and how you can make next year even better.

Happy holidays to all of you. Know that I am wishing you health and happiness in the New Year.

I’m Married!

I’m Married!

Yay! After 10 years of being together, my fiance (now husband!) and I were married on June 4th in New York City, the place we’ve called home for the last 5 years.

We had a private ceremony with immediate family only, ate arepas from our favorite restaurant, and drank far too much alcohol with our loved ones. We’ll celebrate with our extended family and friends in October!

Just wanted you all to know why my name changed around here 😉

I’m working on an awesome new website with my new name and a new url to match…coming soon!

Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue Enrollment Is Now Open!


I can’t even tell you how excited I am to open up the Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue program today! Laura and I have been slaving away for months and months to make this an absolutely amazing program for you.

There are lots of online programs out there, but Laura and I noticed that there was one in particular that was missing… one about adrenal fatigue! There is so much you can do to heal from adrenal fatigue, and we though it was unfortunate that no one had made a program that we could refer our clients to.

Well… you guessed it – we decided to make one! And I am so incredibly thrilled to open enrollment for you today after testing the program with our beta groups for the last 5 weeks.

Want in? Just click below to learn more about the program and sign up. Can’t wait to see you inside!


PODCAST: Women’s Health and the Female Athlete Triad with Kate Callaghan, RD

PODCAST: Women's Health and the Female Athlete Triad with Kate Callaghan, RD

Click through to hear Laura and I talk with Kate Callaghan about all things women’s health:

  • What the Female Athlete Triad and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea are and what causes these problems
  • Health consequences of the Female Athlete Triad, both short and long term
  • Common mistakes with going low carb Paleo that can contribute to hormonal issues
  • How to recover from this common condition using nutrition, activity, and lifestyle change

What Can You Do About Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)?

What Can You Do About Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)?

Blood sugar regulation is process that is carefully balanced by our bodies.

We break down food to produce glucose and this is used by our cells for energy. Insulin, a hormone, acts as a key to open the door into the cell and allow glucose inside. If our blood sugar goes too low, another hormone called glucagon is released, which allows us to break down a stored form of glucose called glycogen. The process works much like a thermostat – when blood sugar is high, insulin is released to allow it to enter the cells; when it’s too low, glucagon is secreted to release stored glucose. Both high and low glucose can be dangerous, which is why our body works so hard to keep our levels in balance.

Today, I’m going to share my top tips for dealing with low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.

Prolonged low blood sugar can cause serious medical problems, including seizure, coma, and even death. But the symptoms of a shortened period of low blood sugar can be more subtle.

It’s quite common for someone with hypoglycemia to not know it, and the symptoms are sometimes attributed to anxiety or panic attacks. In my own practice, I often find that patients complaining of brain fog, headache, anxiety, mood swings, or irritability feel instantly better once we start balancing their blood sugar.

Hypoglycemia is usually defined as 70mg/dl or lower. It is at this point that a person will start to feel a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Irritability
  • Feeling shaky
  • Rapid pulse or pounding heartbeat
  • Sleepiness
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Anxiety
  • Headache

So what can you do to prevent episodes of low blood sugar? Here are my top tips.

1. Eat within 30 minutes of waking up

It’s increasingly common for me to see clients who skip breakfast, or just consume Bulletproof coffee in the morning. While this can be healthy for some, it’s often counterproductive for hypoglycemics. Instead, I urge my hypoglycemic clients to eat a well-balanced meal within 30 minutes of waking up if possible. This usually consists of around 30-40 grams of protein (½ filet of salmon, half a chicken breast, 6 oz ground beef, etc) along with fat and some carbohydrates. The ideal amount of carbohydrates really depends on the client, but a good place to start is about 20 g (½ cup sweet potato). You can then experiment from there to determine what level of carbohydrate intake works best for your blood sugar.

2. Don’t eat carbohydrates alone

When we eat carbohydrates, we break them down into molecules of glucose that then go to the bloodstream. This process can happen quite quickly if there isn’t anything else in the stomach to slow down the digestive process. This can result in a blood sugar spike. For someone with reactive hypoglycemia, this spike causes the body to release too much insulin in response, eventually driving the blood sugar too low. This causes a hypoglycemic episode. Both fat and protein slow down the digestive process, and as a result, glucose is released more gradually into the bloodstream, keeping the blood sugar steady.

Avoid eating carbohydrates on their own, and instead combine them with at least some fat, and possibly some protein for best results. So instead of having an apple for a snack, you might have an apple (carbs) with almond butter (fat + protein)

3. Eat every 2-3 hours

While eating three square meal a day is a healthy choice for many people, it can sometimes cause problems for those with hypoglycemia. This is because their blood sugar has a hard time regulating itself and tends to go too low when they don’t eat for hours at a time. To help stave off low blood sugar, it’s a good idea to eat every 2-3 hours. Typically this means adding a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack and, depending on the person, potentially a bedtime snack, too.

Your snacks should consist of at protein, fat and carbohydrate just like your meals. Our previous example of an apple with peanut butter checks off all those categories.

4. Pay attention to adrenal health

When I have a client come to me with low blood sugar issues, one of the first things I evaluate is their adrenal health. This is because when the adrenals are worn out (you may have heard of this as “adrenal fatigue”) it leaves the body less able to properly handle low blood sugar. In someone with normal adrenal function, cortisol is released once blood sugar starts getting low and this causes the liver to release glucose, bringing the blood sugar back to normal. Someone with HPA axis dysfunction (adrenal fatigue) can’t make enough cortisol in this situation, and thus the signal to release glucose from the liver never gets turned on. This means that the blood sugar level just keeps getting lower instead of rising.

To learn more about adrenal health, check out my post on HPA axis dysfunction.

Finally, if you ever do have a hypoglycemia event make sure to eat 15 g of carbohydrate as soon as you feel it happening. If you don’t feel better in 15 minutes, eat another 15 g.

So there you have it! My top tips for dealing with low blood sugar.

Now I want to hear from you. Are there any tips you’d like to share?


PODCAST: Recommendations for SIBO and “Paleo” Alcohol Choices

Thanks for joining us for our fourth episode of The Ancestral RD podcast!  This is definitely a longer episode today, so buckle up and get ready for nearly an hour of Ancestral RD goodness! If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode!

Remember, if you’d like to submit a question for our new podcast, or suggest a guest that we should host, CLICK HERE.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  1. Are there any special instructions for the getting started with a Paleo diet for someone with SIBO?
  2. What are the most “Paleo” alcohol choices I can drink? (36:40)

CLICK HERE to listen to Episode #4!


PODCAST: Choosing a Prebiotic and Grains Recommended During Pregnancy

PODCAST: Choosing a Prebiotic and Grains Recommended During Pregnancy

Thanks for joining us for our third episode of The Ancestral RD podcast!  We’ve got a lot of great questions to choose from so thanks for submitting them! If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode!

Remember, if you’d like to submit a question for our new podcast, or suggest a guest that we should host, CLICK HERE.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  1. My question is on prebiotics and soluble fiber. I often hear Acacia fiber recommended for gut health as it can feed good bacteria. But doesnt this also feed bad bacteria too? I have noticed prebiotics being sold in the store but I just dont get how it can help if its also promoting bad bacteria growth. I thought any kind of soluble fibre/prebiotic will help both the good and bad. And if we have Bad bacteria overgrowth, don’t we want to reduce it by starving them off?
  2. I have problems with grains, and have been doing well on the GAPS diet. However, I’m also pregnant, and most recommendations for pregnant women include several servings of grains. Should I avoid or include grains during pregnancy?

CLICK HERE to listen to Episode #3!


PODCAST: Switching to High Carb and Healing Leaky Gut

PODCAST: Switching to High Carb and Healing Leaky Gut

Thanks for joining us for our second episode of The Ancestral RD podcast! We’re planning to publish every two weeks and will hopefully nail down a consistent day of the week to publish once we determine a schedule for production. If you want to keep up with our podcasts,subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode!

Remember, if you’d like to submit a question for our new podcast, or suggest a guest that we should host, CLICK HERE.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  1. Due to crazy GI distress from paleo, is there any reason a plant-based, carb heavy diet might be unhealthy long term?
  2. Can leaky gut really be healed without expensive supplements? Seems a lot of health issues track back to that, and hope would be appreciated…

CLICK HERE to listen to Episode #2!


PODCAST: Sweet Potato Intolerance and Multivitamin Dangers

PODCAST: Sweet Potato Intolerance and Multivitamin Dangers

We are so excited to finally be hosting our very own podcast, and we can’t wait to answer all your burning questions about nutrition and ancestral health.

If you’d like to submit a question for our new podcast, or suggest a guest that we should host, CLICK HERE.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

1. I’ve eaten sweet potatoes twice now and both times I’ve reacted poorly. My gut feels irritated and I go to the bathroom shortly afterwards. Any idea why this might be happening? I can tolerate regular potatoes with no problem.

2. Do I need to take a multivitamin? Are they healthy or harmful?