alissa vitti genius life

Biohacking for Women – Alissa Vitti on The Genius Life, Hosted By Max Lugavere

Check out The Genius Life Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • It’s equally important for women to optimize their lives around the infradian clock as it for everyone to optimize their lives around their circadian clock
  • “Nature has designed women to feel good during each of the four cycle phases” – Alissa Vitti
  • Pre-menopausal women shouldn’t intermittent fast beyond the 12-hour window between dinner and breakfast
  • Fitness advice for women:
    • In the first half of your cycle, do more high-intensity training
    • In the second half of a woman’s cycle, her metabolism speeds up—she needs more calories and there’s more cortisol present, so she should do basic strength training without the cardio” Alissa Vitti

Books Mentioned

Products Mentioned

  • FLO Period & Ovulation Tracker allows women to accurately track their menstrual cycle (it’s also the most downloaded health & fitness app in the world)

Intro

  • Alissa Vitti (@FLOliving) is a functional nutrition expert and the founder of FLO Living, a company dedicated to helping women understand and utilize their hormonal and neurochemical patterns
  • Host – Max Lugavere (@maxlugavere)

Ignoring a Biological Rhythm

  • Despite an abundance of information and technology:
    • 50% of women struggle with their hormones
    • 60% of women are sexually unsatisfied
    • 90% of moms feel exhausted
    • 54% of women are unhappy at work
  • “What is the real root cause of this? Why are all of these disparate areas of life not working for women? … From a chronobiological point of view, we’re ignoring a biological rhythm that governs absolutely all aspects of our lives, and we’re not basing any of our self-care, our time management, our fitness, and our diet around that biological rhythm.”Alissa Vitti

The Infradian Clock

  • Women, from puberty to their last bleed, have a second biological clock governing their body: the infradian clock
    • The infradian clock governs a woman’s metabolism, stress response system, immune system, microbiome, and nervous system (as well as their reproductive cycle)
  • It’s equally important for women to optimize their lives around the infradian clock as it for everyone to optimize their lives around their circadian clock
    • Caring for your infradian clock will pay dividends for your health and longevity (just like proper sleep and nutrition does)

The Four Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

  • Follicular Phase (the 7-10 days after menstruation)
    • During this time, a woman’s egg is maturing and preparing to be released during ovulation
  • Ovulatory Phase (the middle of the cycle)
    • In this phase, a woman’s egg is released from the ovaries and viable for up to 48 hours
      • (In comparison, optimally healthy sperm can live for 5 days outside the testes)
  • Luteal Phase
    • The lining of a woman’s uterus is held in place for 10-14 days (until the body is certain there hasn’t been a conception)
  • Menstrual Phase
    • In this phase, the soft tissue lining of the uterus is expelled from a woman’s body over the course of 5-8 days
  • Alissa expands: Each phase provides a unique gift to women
    • For instance: “When I was in my ovulation phase, I scheduled that week to record my audiobook because the verbal centers of my brain were being passively stimulated by the influx of estrogen surging at that time” – Alissa Vitti

Correcting Menstruation Misconceptions

  • 1) A hormonally-healthy woman’s cycle will occur regularly and is something that can be planned for weeks in advance
  • 2) “Nature has designed women to feel good during each of the four cycle phases”Alissa Vitti
    • Alissa expands: The second half of a woman’s cycle (menstrual and luteal) shouldn’t be burdensome and/or painful. Side effects such as brain fog, moodiness, and energy crashes stem from a woman not living in sync with her cycle.
  • 3) Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a serious health issue, and left untreated, can lead to many serious inflammatory diseases
  • 4) Fact: Cycling syncing is more likely to occur with groups of women in environments that lack artificial lighting

The Necessity for Women in Research

  • In a 1960s Thalidomide drug trial, a link between women participants and future childbirth defects was discovered. This pushed America to effectively exile reproductive-age women from medical studies.
  • In 1995, the National Institute of Health created a directive to address the lack of women participating in medical trials
    • The reasoning behind the directive: Without a solid female database, researchers and medical professionals can’t be sure how certain medicines and treatments distinctly affect the female body compared to the robust male database
    • (A follow-up 2016 report found that not much progress had been in regards to this initiative)

Advice for Women: Optimizing Fitness Based on the Menstrual Cycle

  • “If you work with the infradian rhythm and these different phases of your cycle and plan for things around them, you can architect a peak flow state” – Alissa Vitti
  • A few basic guidelines for women:
    • In the first half of your cycle, do more high-intensity training
      • Why? – Slowed metabolism and increased estrogen levels = more endurance and energy
    • “In the second half of a woman’s cycle, her metabolism speeds up—she needs more calories and there’s more cortisol present, so she should do basic strength training without the cardio” Alissa Vitti
      • Alissa expands: High-intensity training done in the second half of a woman’s cycle “turns on” fat storage and muscle-wasting, increases the production of cortisol (when it’s not needed), and decreases the production of progesterone, all making PMS symptoms worse

Thinking About Intermittent Fasting? Be Careful…

  • “I want women to know, if you’re not eating a diet that’s supporting your infradian clock, you’ll disrupt your reproductive system, you’ll disrupt your microbiome, you’ll disrupt your metabolism, you’ll disrupt your stress response system, and you’ll make your whole body perform sub-optimally”Alissa Vitti
  • There’s no question intermittent fasting provides great benefits, but the effects aren’t universal:
    • “A study in 2005 in obesity research concluded that intermittent fasting enhanced insulin sensitivity in men, but worsened it in women”Alissa Vitti
  • “What I personally use, and what I’ve recommended to women for years: the only safe fasting schedule that’s effective in your reproductive years is a 12-hour fast between dinner and breakfast”Alissa Vitti
    • Many pre-menopausal women experience adverse side effects when fasting beyond this 12-hour window
    • Alissa advises pre-menopausal women: You can extend your fast during your follicular phase, but not during others

What does living a genius life mean to Alissa?

  • “To me, it’s about using the information we have on hand to feel better and live smarter. For me as a woman, that means living in the flow of my infradian clock while it’s active.” – Alissa Vitti

Additional Notes

  • Birth control profoundly alters brain chemistry and affects many of the body’s natural processes, not just fertility
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Notes By TD

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