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!

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PODCAST: HOW TO OVERCOME A NEGATIVE HEALTH MINDSET

Thanks for joining us for episode 32 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show!

We’re doing something a little different in today’s episode. Instead of answering questions, we’re going to chat about something that’s been on both of our minds recently: MINDSET.

Did you know your mindset can significantly affect not only your happiness but your physical health as well? Are negative thoughts keeping you from living your healthiest life? Listen to this episode for some tips about how to improve your mindset and start living more positively today.

Thanks to our podcast sponsor Prep Dish for offering our listeners $10 off their first month of the online meal planning service. CLICK HERE to get your discount!

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

  1. How mindset and positivity can drastically improve your experience of life AND your health
  2. Practical ways to start improving your mindset immediately

Links Discussed:

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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)

Links Discussed:

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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?

Links Discussed:

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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…

Links Discussed:

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PODCAST: Sweet Potato Intolerance and Multivitamin Dangers

PODCAST: Sweet Potato Intolerance and Multivitamin Dangers

WELCOME TO OUR VERY FIRST EPISODE OF THE ANCESTRAL RDS PODCAST!

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?

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How To Keep a Food Journal (Plus 10 Things To Keep Track Of)

How To Keep a Food Journal (Plus 10 Things To Keep Track Of)

Meal LoggerWhenever I start working with a client, I always tell them to keep a food and symptom diary. It’s one of the most important tools to use when we’re trying to figure out possible food sensitivities, as well as instrumental in losing weight and keeping it off. In fact, it’s been shown that those who keep a food journal at least 6 days a week lose (on average) twice as much weight as those who don’t (1). In my experience, a combination of a paleo elimination diet with keeping a food journal provides the best results in terms of finding hidden food sensitivities. For these reasons, I think keeping track of your intake with a journal is one of the best things you can do for your health.

 

What App Should I Use to Keep Track of My Food?

I’m always experimenting with new phone apps for this purpose because I find that they are the easiest way to keep track of my intake. I’ve tried the usual ones like MyFitnessPal, but they are time-consuming (if you’ve ever tried this app, I’m sure you’ll say the same!) and too calorie-focused.

One app I’ve found recently is called Meal Logger, and it has by far surpassed all the other apps I’ve tried. Meal Logger works on your desktop, iPhone, or Android and is super easy. Instead of entering each food and portion size individually, you just snap a picture of your food and upload it to your journal. You can also put a note that corresponds with your picture (i.e. “2 scrambled eggs and sweet potato”). Keeping track of your food literally takes 30 seconds!

With Meal Logger you can also add a “Daily Note”, which patients have been using to enter some of the symptoms they had that day, keep track of blood sugar levels, or let me know that they had a stressful day. Some patients also just upload a picture and use the note that corresponds with it to enter their symptoms there. Though I wish Meal Logger included some built-in tools for symptoms, there are easy ways to include them even without that.

You can also connect with your nutritionist or other professional via Meal Logger so that they can see what you’ve been eating, which is my favorite part of the app. As a dietitian, I can send an email to a client inviting them to use the program. When they accept, they show up as one of my clients and I can see whatever they have put in their diary. It’s a super easy way for me to keep track of what’s going in everyone’s mouth! When we have follow ups, I don’t have to wade through emails upon emails looking for your journal – it’s all right at my fingertips.

I highly suggest checking out Meal Logger if you’re looking for a program that will let you easily keep track of your food intake. It doesn’t rely on calorie-counting (though there are some tools within the app if you really want to go that route), it makes it easy to see portion sizes, and you can even connect to your nutritionist or other professional through the app for easy transfer of information.

 

10 Things to Keep Track Of

When you’re keeping a food diary, you should of course make sure to put everything that crosses your lips into the journal. Though you can enter food items without pictures via Meal Logger, I highly suggest snapping some pics before entering the information, especially if you’re keeping this for your dietitian! But beyond the obvious, let’s talk about some things you should make sure to include:

  1. Spices: It’s possible to be sensitive to spices, so it’s a good idea to include these in your journal. Since we’re just taking pictures, you’ll want to make sure to include any spices beyond salt and pepper in your note that goes with the picture.
  2. Cooking Fats: It’s always useful to know what fat something was cooked in, so definitely include this information in your note, too.
  3. Hidden ingredients: This goes along with what we’ve already mentioned – make sure to write down any ingredients that aren’t obvious from your photo. For example, if you made a sauce that was on top of your chicken instead of writing “sauce”, write down exactly what you made the sauce with.
  4. If you ate out: If you ate out at a restaurant, make sure to write that in your note! Though you may know now it was a meal outside the house, you might forget later when you’re looking back or if you’re sending it into your nutritionist, he or she may not know.
  5. If you didn’t finish the meal: You’ll be taking pictures before you start your meal, so make sure to write yourself (or your nutritionist) a note that you didn’t finish your meal. If you want to be extra good, you could even take another picture of the stuff you didn’t finish. Or, just write a quick note approximating the portion that was left untouched.
  6. Bowel Movements: Yeah, maybe not the most pleasant thing to write about but it’s important! You can write this in your Daily Note or put it in your journal – either way works. And be a little specific – was it loose, formed, diarrhea, etc?
  7. Your specific symptoms: If you’re trying to get rid of reflux, hives, or whatever other symptom you may have, make sure you keep track of when these symptoms are popping up for you throughout the day. When you (or you and your nutritionist) look back at older diaries, you’ll then be able to pick up on patterns and potentially find hidden food sensitivities.
  8. Life Stress: If you had an extremely stressful day, write it down! Stress can be related to your symptoms as well as food, so don’t forget about it.
  9. Exercise: Meal Logger allows you to keep track of workouts as well – make sure to use this feature!
  10. Sleep: Meal Logger also allows you to track sleep. You can sync it with a device you use for this (like a FitBit) so that it will be done for you, or you enter it manually.

  Do you have any favorite apps for keeping track of your meals?

Sources:

1. Hollis, Jack F., et al. “Weight loss during the intensive intervention phase of the weight-loss maintenance trial.” American journal of preventive medicine35.2 (2008): 118.

Paleo Food Shopping at Costco

Paleo Food Shopping at Costco

DSC_0146Let’s face it – the paleo diet can be expensive. Though of course I prioritize food in my life, I can’t always buy grassfed meats and other big ticket paleo items. As a graduate student with a growing business, I’m on a budget and I’m sure many of you are too! I recently decided to check out my local Costco to see what they offered as I’ve heard that they carry some great paleo-friendly items. Here’s what I found:

1. Organic ground beef – not grassfed as far as I can tell, but better than conventional

2. Amylu Andouille Chicken Sausage or Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausage – no bad ingredients, and really yummy! Of course not pastured or organic chicken, but pretty good.

3. LOTS of lamb – they had lamb roasts, ribs, and lamb osso bucco (which I tried and loved!). From New Zealand. They also had whole lambs in the freezer section for 3.39/lb. I honestly wouldn’t know what to do with it, but it was pretty cool nonetheless.

4. Wild-caught fish – they definitely had salmon and cod, can’t remember now if there were others!

5. Kerrygold Dubliner cheese – they didn’t have butter which I was bummed about, but they did have a giant block of cheese that will probably last me forever.

6. Nuts! – lots of them, and good prices. I bought the almonds though, and they tasted old. But I also bought a bag of trail mix with dried fruit (yeah, okay it had some sugar in it. I’m not a perfectionist) and the nuts in that tasted great. Probably hit or miss. They also have macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, the list goes on….

7. Produce – I bought a giant container of strawberries, but they went bad in 1 day. Bummer. But they have big bags of broccoli, spring salad mix, and lots of other veggies that are great. I also bought a container of Asian pears (my favorite!!!) that were very good and priced amazingly well (I don’t know why Asian pears are ALWAYS so expensive!)

8. Frozen foods – lots of frozen fruits (great for smoothies if you do those!), and frozen vegetable mixes (with no weird sauces or anything YAY!). I didn’t buy any when I went because I didn’t need them at the time, so I’ll have to see how the quality is later.

9. Duck – YEAH, DUCK! I love duck. It’s delicious.

10. Organic eggs – they’re not pastured of course, but probably better than the conventional alternative.

11. Maple syrup – I make sourdough buckwheat pancakes a lot, and love maple syrup on them. I also like to use maple syrup if I do the occasional baked good too.

12. Organic canned tomato products – tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce. Lots of options here and great prices, especially for organic.

13. Roasted seaweed – didn’t buy some this time because I already have some from a local Asian market, but it looked pretty good. Really yummy with fresh white rice or to make sushi with!

14. Almond butter – I never buy this because it’s just too expensive and I don’t eat all that much of it. But I like to eat a banana before going to yoga in the morning and I think it might be even better to eat it with some almond butter!

They also had organic extra virgin olive oil, Himalayan salt, Epsom salts, and more! They really had a lot of items that would fit into your paleo template, but I didn’t write them all down.

Those are some of the great finds at my local Costco!  Your mileage may vary (as all Costco’s don’t carry the same items) but I think most should have good luck finding some staples there. If you’re struggling to fit a paleo diet into your budget, Costco can definitely help fill in the gaps. Of course it’s not the best when it comes to food quality, but I think it’s definitely a good option and I will be keeping my membership there for the time being.

What does your local Costco carry?