HPN 26: Julie Goes Carnivore, Real Talk On Within-Day Energy Deficits, Plus a New Study Shows Avocados Favorably Alter Gut Microbiota

March 26, 2021


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Welcome to episode 26 of Holistic Performance Nutrition (HPN) featuring Tawnee Gibson, MS, CSCS, CISSN, and Julie McCloskey, a certified holistic nutrition coach who you can find over at wildandwell.fit.

On this episode:

Part 1:

Coffee talk:

  • Julie and Tawnee chat about mushroom elixirs and coffees that feature special blends of adaptogens like Four Sigmatic and Om. You can find mushroom elixirs over at Fullscript and get a discount when you create and account through endurance planet!

Julie’s carnivore experiment

  • Animal-based diet (aka the carnivore diet)
    • What is it ?
    • Elimination of all seed oils and high-toxicity plants; eat lots of organs, meats and fish plus low toxicity plants (fruits, veg)
  • What Julie learned:
    • Getting over 100g of protein isn’t THAT hard
    • More organs and bone broth and steaks than ever before—beef, bison, chicken once, fish, fruit, eggs, avo, olives, squash, cheese, berries, oranges, bananas, apple, salt (SOLE!)
    • Woke up feeling rested and chatty
    • No night sweats except when taking Mg and almonds the first two days
    • Felt better, connective tissue healing
    • Muscle spasm in hamstring on day 6; low on calcium so added in goat kefir and pecorino which is sheep cheese.
    • Diet is low on folate
    • Dips in energy especially in afternoon—wasn’t getting the calories
    • Constipated—enzymes or kefir didn’t work or celery juice; was it the cheese, sauna, and carbonated water causing this?
    • Typical Day: black coffee, date, 3 eggs and 2-3oz of organs, canned fish/apple/banana/EPIC bar, bone broth, organs, honey leftover meats/squash, avo, then dinner was a meat/fish and squash with cheese. Dessert as berries and goat kefir
    • On missing veggies
    • The notion we as society have that “green juices,” all veggies and leafy greens and plant-based is inherently healthier than meat… but is that always the case?
    • Tailoring the carnivore diet to be more realistic and balanced
  • Julie also tried vegan diet a while back! Listen to her thoughts on being fully plant-based here:  HPN 19: Potato Purée vs. Sports Gels Put To The Test, ‘Cleaning Up’ A Poopy Problem, and Cultivating A Healthy Mindset For A Healthier Body

Part 2:

Study discussion

Avocado Consumption Alters Gastrointestinal Bacteria Abundance and Microbial Metabolite Concentrations Among adults with overweight or obesity, an RCT (August 2020)

  • Objective: “Evaluate the impact of daily intake of avocado on the fecal microbiota and microbial metabolites and to assess relations between metabolic health markers, microbial taxa and metabolites in overweight and obese.”
  • Hypothesis: Basically they predicted that avocado consumption would positively impact the intestinal microbiota and be a dietary strategy to improve health among adults with overweight or obesity
  • Study:
    • Subjects: 163 overweight/obese men and women
    • Ate: roughly one full avocado daily or not; 12 weeks (otherwise they had regular diet)
    • Women received 140g of Haas avocado per day as part of an isocaloric controlled meal, men 170g.
    • The study meals were designed to replace one meal a day and included ingredients of standard american foods. The avocado group had 20g more MUFA than the control group and 14g of additional fiber and 300cals higher. Bodyweight did not differ between groups. Saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, carbs and protein were similar between groups
  • Conclusion:
    • Daily avocado consumption = “Evidence that this nutrient-dense food affects digestive physiology, as well as the composition and metabolic functions of the intestinal microbiota.”
    • This study also showed avocados support fat digestion and insulin secretion, which contributes to better blood sugar regulation.
  • More specifically:
    • increased diversity and enriched the following between 26% and 65% compared with the control group.
    • Faecalibacterium
    • Lachnospira
    • Alistipes
  • The avocado group had:
    • 18% greater fecal acetate (a SCFA that increases colonic blood flow and enhances ileal motility)
    • 70% greater stearic acid
    • 98% greater palmitic acid concentrations
    • Bile acids cholic and chenodeoxycholic acid were 91% and 57% lower, respectively.
  • Daily avocado consumption resulted in:
    • Lower fecal bile acid concentrations
      • Bile acids help with fat digestion and regulate systemic metabolism and insulin secretion.
      • Greater bile acid concentrations are associated with obesity and diabetes.
    • Greater fecal short-chain fatty acids (SCFA)
      • Avocados are rich in fiber, including soluble hemicelluloses and pectins that can be metabolized by intestinal microorganisms to produce SCFAs
      • Short-chain fatty acids: these are made when you eat fiber, and they help maintain gut barrier immunity.
      • Low SCFA associated with dysbiosis, gut inflammation and functional bowel disorders.
      • High SCFA associated with decreased GI disease.
      • N-buyrate is a type of SCFA that is the preferred energy source of cells lining the colon; helps regenerate colonic mucosal membrane. It is the result of bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates that have resisted digestion in the small intestine.
    • Greater relative abundances of bacteria capable of a healthy type of fermentation
  • Other studies on avocados show:
    • Eating avocados regularly is associated with lower body mass, improvements in satiety and healthier blood lipid concentrations.
  • Downsides to eating avo?
    • Avocado is a high histamine food; histamine drives many everyday allergies (seasonal, etc). If this is a problem for you may need to limit avocado intake until histamine issues is resolved.


Part 3:

Cassie asks:

How to combat within-day energy deficits?

Hi Tawnee and Julie,

Thanks for this podcast; I look forward to HPN all month! I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about within-day energy deficits, and I think it’s a problem for me (maybe partly why I have only gotten one period since having my IUD removed a year ago?). I have a really hard time eating enough during the day (I’m a teacher, so I can’t just snack whenever, especially now that we have to wear masks and face shields all day). I’m wondering if you can give me some advice for better spreading out my nutrition throughout the day.

Here’s what a typical day looks like for me:

  • 5 am- wake up, do 10-20 minutes of yoga, have a cup of black coffee
  • 5:45- Breakfast (usually some sort of egg bake made of eggs, veggies, and maybe some ground turkey; sweet potato; avocado or guacamole
  • 6:15- leave for work
  • 7:30- students start arriving (mask and face shield on)
  • 11:00- Lunch: dinner leftovers and a piece of fruit
  • 2:45- end of the school day. If I don’t have a meeting and remember to have a snack,
  • I’ll eat 2 boiled eggs and half a sweet potato (more food than that makes for a rough run later)
  • 4 pm- workout: 1-2 hours of running and/or strength training (I’m training for a 6-hour trail run in April)

So, by this point, I’m super hungry. I’ll grab a couple handfuls of nuts while cooking dinner. Dinner is some sort of meat, some sort of leafy or cruciferous veggies, and a starchy veggie or rice. After dinner, I’m generally still hungry, so I’ll have a bowl of frozen berries with some nut butter and maybe a scoop of protein powder and some coconut flakes. Sometimes I’m STILL hungry, so I’ll eat something like an RX bar.

Bedtime is 9:00. I’ll read for a while and try to be asleep before 10.

As you can see, I’m eating a lot at night, which is not awesome. Can you help me figure out how to spread that out a little more and fuel better during the day?

Thanks so much! Keep up the awesome work on the show!


What the coaches say:


A review of within-day energy deficits and research on this topic

  • Episode mention: HPN 15: Is Keto Bad For Bone Health? Plus: The Risks of Intermittent Fasting For Female Athletes (And Why We Say ‘A Hard No’)
    • Within-day Energy Deficiency and Reproductive Function in Female Endurance Athletes – a 2018 study looking at 25 female elite endurance athletes and within-day energy deficits
      • Within-day deficits were classified as any 1-hour window where energy deficit was in a 300-kcal deficit (<300kcal).
      • within day deficits are shown to suppresse resting metabolic rate, lower estrogen levels, increase cortisol levels
      • Eating empty calorie or low nutrient value snacks may feel safe but might not do the trick for healing
      • All athletes spent time in an energy-deficient state, but the athletes with menstrual dysfunction had 24% more time in a deficit. (Also of note: total daily energy intake was not statistically different!)
    • Our thoughts:
      • It’s not about never going without food, but rather avoiding too many deficits too often. don’t feel like you can never have a day with a deficit, it’s avoiding chronic deficits and when healing this is what I mean when I say you often have to go above and beyond to send the body the right message for rebalancing hormones and menstrual function then can tailor from there.
      • Must consider: individual variance + confounding variables, for example some may have lower or higher thresholds for what leads to healing or dysfunction.

Cassie’s situation

  • Amazing awareness and so glad you’re asking for help!
  • Also great that Cassie is not running/training fasted first thing in the morning before school, most likely this is an understanding she’s gained knowing a practice like that does not serve her or her cortisol levels.
  • Cronometer calculates her at 3,000cal/day
  • Julie’s ideas:
    • Bigger breakfast—egg bake AND oatmeal. Front load your day better since your job inhibits snacking
    • Variety: are you rotating between different macros? Different types of protein sources and cuts. Different grains/beans/carb sources. Different types of fats? Could be a deficiency somewhere that is leaving you hungry
    • Up the carbs at night? How much rice or starchy carb is involved in that dinner?
    • On days you weren’t able to eat enough, chop some of the training that afternoon.
  • Tawnee recently did an interview with pro triathlete Katie Zafares who recently signed on with UCAN, and we talked about Katie’s diet and daily eating habits. Of course she trains and eats like it is her job—because it is—but a couple things stood out that we can realistically carry over into our own practices as amateur athletes with “day jobs” to avoid pitfalls or calorie deficit. Head over to the UCAN FB page and watch/listen to the interview now.
  • Further ideas:
    • No black coffee on an empty stomach. Eat first then sip caffeine. Even better—consider cutting out caffeine all together for a while. (Maybe try decaf adaptogenic mushroom drinks?)
    • If you are eating a whole food-based clean diet for your main meals of the day, try not to over-worry about utilizing supplemental foods, powders, bars and those more snack-type foods to get in those much-needed calories when you’re busy.
      • Eg) Katie talked about her 3 meals a day, which were all whole foods made from scratch, but then between meals she’s using UCAN powders/drinks and bars to make sure she hits her daily needs, and she even mentioned how her coaches are checking to make sure she’s eating enough.
    • Liquid calories are easy. You can sip on this and not have it interfere with your work or covid policies.
      • Julie suggests: Add in a smoothie to sip on when you’re not teaching or during the in-betweens/commutes/RIGHT after working out.
      • Add in a spoon of almond butter before coffee? Or add in MCT oil and collagen to coffee NOT as a replacement of any calories in breakfast but as a supplement of calories that support your training.
    • Using “convenience” foods that are still clean fuels (sooooo many options these days!) is not a diet fail and may mean the difference between healthy vs dysfunctional hormones.
      • Fearing these foods may signify some degree of disordered eating patterns.
    • Covid era and masks—how to navigate putting your health as a priority while being safe to you and those around you with the virus taken into consideration.
    • Maybe explain to your school administration, to your comfort level, the medical reasons for needing to eat more frequently during daytime hours and not have large gaps without fuel.
    • Consider STRESS! What is your relationship with stress right now? Back then? How anxious are you? Food matters, calories matter, but there are other components too—stress is usually a big factor in this equation.
    • On extra stressful days or weeks, try swapping out a run for a meditative/parasympathetic type activity instead! Balance is key. Can’t always keep pushing and expect body to heal or respond favorably.
    • It will behoove you to re-evaluate exercise/training/race goals and/or style of training. Is it serving you in this season of life? Maybe put off “big goals” till body is back to a better baseline, covid life is less stressful and work stress isn’t sky-high.








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