Episode 140 Show Notes
Rare unicorn - Jessica Turton is what we like to call a “rare unicorn”, a low carb dietitian. Her previous podcasts with us from 2021 are some of our most popular.
Calorie restriction - It's a widely held belief and also the predominant advice from health practitioners, that eating less and moving more is the best way to lose fat. But is this strategy really effective? Jessica is here to challenge this conventional wisdom and share her personal and professional insights into the pitfalls of calorie restriction.
Jess explains why the idea of a calorie deficit being the only way to burn body fat is a flawed concept, and why it can actually backfire on you in the long run. She discusses her individualised approach with helping her clients achieve their health goals.
Sustainable - Discover why the key to maintaining a healthy weight is to adopt a sustainable lifestyle that you can stick to for the long term. As Dr Lucy says “the thing you do to lose the weight is the thing you do to maintain the weight.” Dr Lucy and Jess dive into why restrictive diets can’t work over time, even with the strongest willpower.
Energy output - We are all tired of yo-yo dieting and Jessica provides a refreshing and powerful perspective on embracing a more balanced, sustainable approach to weight loss. She'll also reveal some surprising insights into how you can actually increase your energy output and burn more calories by eating more of certain types of foods.
The Low Carb Roadshow - Jessica will be a presenter at the Low Carb Road Show in Sydney on May 13th where she will be talking about the unsustainability of the “eat less, move more” mantra in the current Australian health guidelines. She’ll present compelling evidence as to the misconceptions around calorie restriction and give a refreshing and surprising explanation as to how eating more (of certain food types) is far more likely to lead to long term weight loss than eating less of everything. Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to hear Jess in person sharing her wisdom!
Centre for Gastrointestinal Health
Sydney Headache and Migraine Centre
Jessica’s previous podcasts with Real Life Medicine:
The Low Carb Road Show:
Low Carb Road Show Sydney:
Jessica Turton Bio:
Founder of Ellipse Health
Dietitian & Nutritionist
Masters Nutrition & Dietetics
Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Sports Science)
Jessica is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) with postgraduate qualifications in Nutrition & Dietetics and full membership with the Dietitians Association of Australia. She is interested in developing, evaluating and improving dietetic strategies for the management of diabetes but is also passionate about utilising the nutrition care process to investigate the role of diet in a wide range of conditions including gastrointestinal issues, obesity, insulin resistance, the metabolic syndrome, hypertension, PCOS, dyslipidaemia, chronic pain, systemic inflammation, anxiety/depression and disordered eating.
Jessica is proficient in identifying, understanding and applying the latest scientific research in her clinical practice to provide premium goal-oriented nutrition services.
With consideration of her own health background and personal nutrition journey, Jessica has made a commitment to empower as many people as she can with evidence-based knowledge, practical skills and trusted support to experience food freedom for life.
Episode 140 - Can I eat more food and still lose weight?
Dr Mary Barson: (0:11) Hello, my lovely listeners. I'm Dr Mary Barson.
Dr Lucy Burns: (0:15) And I'm Dr Lucy Burns. Welcome to this episode of
Both: (0:20) Real Health and Weight Loss!
Dr Lucy Burns: (0:23) Hello, my gorgeous friends. How are you today? We've talked about the rare unicorn which is the low carb dietitian, and I have another one with us today. And this beautiful woman, you've probably heard before as she was on some of our earlier episodes. Her name is Jessica Turton, soon to be Dr Jessica Turton as she has now completed her PhD. And so we are super thrilled, not only to have her on the podcast today, but we are so excited to hear her speaking at Low Carb Sydney. Jess, welcome to the podcast.
Jessica Turton: (0:57) Thank you for having me, Lucy, it's nice to be here as always.
Dr Lucy Burns: (1:01) Oh I know. And look, I'm going to tell you that your episodes right back at the start, episodes 32, 33 and 34, which were all about your low carb journey, and in particular your history of disordered eating, were amongst the most popular episodes we've had. So really, really, really good stuff. So any of our listeners who haven't gone back to those ones, I would encourage you now to head on back. So Jess, you, you know, as we talked about you’re a low carb dietitian, and you own a clinic, with a number of low carb dietitians working there as well, which is super exciting, and just such a great resource for people in Sydney. Tell us a little bit about your clinic. And also, I would love to hear about your talk for the Low Carb Sydney Road Show because I know it's going to be a ripper!
Jessica Turton: (1:51) Thank you. Yes, so the clinic that I work at is Ellipse Health. So we are a group of dietitians. And we practice online, so we consult with people across Australia. And then we also practice within other clinics. So we work at the Centre for Gastrointestinal Health, which is in Castle Hill, Bowral and Bella Vista, we've got a few places. And then we also work out of the Sydney Headache and Migraine Clinic, which is in the Sydney CBD. So we have that online and in person availability. And we essentially practice medical nutrition therapy. So it's highly individualised. We don't kind of have a one size fits all approach. We don't even do low carb and keto with everyone. But the way that we kind of work is focusing on people's nutritional requirements. So what are they not getting enough of that they need more of, and then also what are those things that they're getting too much of that they need less of. And then we sort of formulate a diet based on that. And a lot of the times that ends up looking like a real food, low carb diet, you know, we get there, but it's not necessarily like that one size fits all that we give out to everyone. Well, that's the majority of what I do now. I finished my PhD as you said, I used to split my time 50/50 between research and practice. And now it's just all practice, which is nice, because I love doing that. I love working with individuals. And then for the Road Show, I'm going to talk about, I guess, the opposite of the Eat Less Move More movement. So we know that for weight loss specifically, the number one strategy is calorie restriction. Doctors, healthcare practitioners, dietitians, the Australian dietary guidelines, all kind of promote this idea of ‘if you eat less, and you move more, you will lose weight and you will maintain a healthy weight.’ But personally, in the research and practice, I've basically just not seen that to be the case. And in fact, I feel that there's actually quite a lot of detrimental health outcomes from following that advice. I've experienced it. I've seen it. And it's also well documented in the literature. People don't really talk about it.
Dr Lucy Burns: (4:13) No, no, in fact, people do love love love talking about calorie restriction. And it's alluring isn't it? Like when you were just explaining it then, you know, eat less move more, I'm thinking yeah, yeah, yeah, that sounds reasonable. Like it sounds reasonable. It just doesn't work.
Jessica Turton: (4:27) It sounds logical. It's like, well, yeah, if I eat less calories, I expend more calories, and my fat is calories, then surely I'll just use body fat, right? But your body is not that simple. Your body doesn't work mathematically like that. You know, there's hormones and enzymes and all these other things going on. So basically, in my talk, I want to talk about how eating more can help you lose weight.
Dr Lucy Burns: (4:56) Absolutely. And in fact, Dr Mary, she loves this phrase which is weight loss is chemistry, not maths. And I think it's right. I mean, as you said, we're not buckets of calories that just pop some in, move some out. And all you need to do is eat less and move more. Because if that, honestly, if that worked, we would all be thin.
Jessica Turton: (5:14) Yep. And I think deep inside people who have tried to lose weight before, they know it doesn't work, because they've done it. And I have some patients who will even say, oh yeah I went on this, you know, 800 calorie fasting diet, and it worked so well. And they're like, I lost 10 kilos in such a short amount of time. And then I'll be like, so what happened after that? And then they'll say, Oh, well, you know, I couldn't sustain it, I couldn't keep going with it and I ended up gaining the weight back, but it was a really good diet, you know, I should do it again. And like, that didn't work. You know, even though it worked in the short term, you lost weight, you couldn't sustain it, you gained all the weight back. So therefore, the diet did not work. And I think we get drawn to that quick weight loss but we forget that it's the weight loss maintenance that's really important.
Dr Lucy Burns: (6:04) Oh, absolutely. No point losing weight, just to, you know, I do a little cheeky quip, which is, you know, I'm happy to lose five kilos just for a short time said no one ever. Like no one wants to do that, no one wants to lose weight, only to put it back on again. But I think what happens is people, because the logic sounds so reasonable, they feel like if it's not working it, it must be something they did wrong.
Jessica Turton: (6:29) Yes, I think so. And it's still perpetuated, I think, even within the low carb world, there's this idea that your body has to be in a calorie deficit in order to burn body fat. And in some ways, that is true, right, you want your energy output to exceed the energy coming in. However, if you do that, if you achieve that by just simply restricting calories, you're ignoring the fact that your brain, your heart, your organs, your muscles, your nerves all rely on energy to function. And so if you restrict calories too much, which is what everyone does, because they have no idea how much energy their body needs, they're like, I'm going to just eat 1200 calories a day. And that should work. Right? So if you restrict calories too much, that would be too much by the way, 1200 calories, your organs literally don't have enough energy to function. And so your body is going to respond to that calorie deficit by reducing energy output. So you might lose weight in the short term, but then your energy output just goes down and down and down. Because your body's trying to conserve energy for what's really important, like your brain and your heart, most important, your gut, not really important, right? So there's some things where your body's like, Oh, we don't need to put energy there, we're conserving it. So energy output goes down. In the same sense, you can actually increase your energy output. So eating more of certain types of calories, eating more protein, getting more micronutrients, building more muscle, these are all ways that you can actually increase the energy that your body burns each day. So you can create a calorie deficit by eating more. And not, I guess, restricting, which is a long term solution. Because if we're talking about eating more, you're giving your brain, your organs, your gut, everything, as much energy as they could possibly need, you're not going to run into nutrient deficiencies, because you're eating more, not less. So there's nothing that's going to stop you, you can just keep moving forward, you don't have to stop what you're doing. Because if you're calorie restricting, you have to stop. You know, you can't do that forever.
Dr Lucy Burns: (8:44) No, we have a little phrase that goes, the thing you do to lose the weight is the thing you do to maintain the weight. But because we're so wedded in diet culture, the diet culture is that, you know, you'll do something that's hard, restrictive, but it's okay, because it's a short term. And then something magical happens at the end of that weight loss. And the magical thing is, you get to eat more again. And so your brain and your body are all hanging out for that time where you get to eat again, because you know, that's what you do in maintenance, apparently. And then we wonder why we're starting to put weight back on again. And it's like the same thing, the thing you do to lose it, so I always say to people, because people sometimes go you know, and I know you you see these people too Jess, that when people have got a lot, a lot of weight to lose, it can feel like, oh my god, I'm gonna have to do this forever. And I just go, well, newsflash, yeah, everybody does though, whether you've got 50 kilos, or five kilos. You just do this forever. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Jessica Turton: (9:43) But I think it has to be a safe strategy that you can do forever. Doing it forever would be the thing, like the good thing to be able to do. But if you're going down the typical route, which is eat less and move more, you can't do it forever. And even if you have like super strong willpower, you know, I've been there, I've done it, I've restricted my calories to 1000 calories a day. I did a great job, you know, I didn’t even have a bite more than I should have. And even if you have the best willpower, physiologically, you can't maintain it. Because you're either going to die, or your body's going to tell you that you can't keep doing this. And then you move more towards that binge eating overeating response where you're not in control anymore, physiologically your body drives you towards binge eating, because that's the survival mechanism that kicks in. So I think being able to do something long term that’s safe and effective is really what everyone should be striving for.
Dr Lucy Burns: (10:42) Yeah, totally agree. And if that means that your weight loss is a little slower, doesn't actually matter. Doesn't matter. Because, you know, and this is , ah humans are funny aren’t they? So much comparison. You know, people will say, Oh, but my friend did this and she lost 10 kilos in six weeks, and I've only lost three, it's not working. And it’s like okay, well why don't we look at it in a year's time and see how we're going? Because I reckon the friend that's lost the 10 kilos in six weeks probably put it all back on again. I mean, some people do have rapid weight loss with a low carb, and particularly high protein lifestyle. But most people, particularly women, who have done long dieting, don't. And that's the bit that's tricky.
Jessica Turton: (11:22) Yes. Yes, yes. So your dieting history, that weight loss, regain, that yo-yo dieting, the more you've done that, the deeper into that you've been, the harder it is to manage your weight over the long term. And it comes back to what we were talking about before, where you do those low calorie diets and your body adapts by burning less energy. And so like when in doubt, like losing muscle, your body's burning less energy, you could be restricting calories, but you're not losing weight, because your body is just adapted. And so that’s a really tricky place to be in. And it's where a lot of people are actually, as you say, a lot of people are in that place, because they've had that history of dieting. And I think so what I'm going to talk about, eating more, that's how you get out of it. So if you're feeling like you're stuck, and oh my gosh, I'm restricting calories, I'm still not losing weight, I can't restrict any more, then you need to start doing the opposite.
Dr Lucy Burns: (12:15) Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Which is different, though, to running out and eating four litres of ice cream, for example? I think it's gonna be really great. One of the things that I'm finding is, sometimes people, they just want kind of a, like a roadmap, they just want the solution that’s just going to work for everyone. And I think that what you're saying as well is that that just doesn't exist, that there's solutions. It's like, you know, there's low hanging fruit if you like, which is getting rid of processed food and sugar and processed carbs, that's everyone should do that. And then you go up the tree a bit to get to your next level, if that isn't enough for you. And that's, I guess, where you guys are, you know, the experts in doing that individualised nutrition.
Jessica Turton: (13:06) Yeah, because what someone needs to do is heavily dependent on what they've already done in the past, what they're already doing now, and what they can even do practically. Like there's no point telling someone to do something if it's not practical, right? So that's why it has to be individualised because like, you know, if you just do some like automated online programme, you might already be doing some of those things, right? or all of those things. And so like, if you were speaking to someone individually, they would be able to go, Alright, you're actually ticking a lot of boxes already, I need to dive deeper, I need to find something else. And that's kind of what we do, because we have a lot of people coming to us who are already doing low carb. And maybe they're, you know, already doing, they've been doing it for years. And maybe it did work for them at the beginning. But now it's not working. And so we would look at things that they haven't already addressed that need to be addressed. And I think one thing I am going to talk about in my presentation as well, when it comes to eating more to lose weight, I guess a lot of the reasons we need to eat more actually comes back to the stress that we're all under. It's really interesting because I mean, even though I would never want to work as a dietitian in a hospital, when we had to do our placements there, if you're in the ICU, and you're like calculating energy requirements for someone who needs to be fed through a tube, you apply something called a stress factor, which is, you work out their energy requirements, and depending on how much stress their body is under. And obviously this is, you know, acute stress like burns, or something like that, you have to increase the energy that you give them because the more stress the body is under the more energy it needs, the more nutrients it needs, the more protein it needs. And even though like on a day to day basis, our stresses are a little bit different, it's chronic stress. Like a lot of people, most people I would say, are under some form of chronic stress. And it doesn't matter whether it's positive or negative, right? Like you might love your job. You might love your family, but it might be stressful.
Dr Lucy Burns: (15:17) Yeah, yeah, yeah. The word stress is not always used within that medical context of it being a physiological process, you know, people go, Oh I’m so stressed when what they actually mean is that, you know, I'm emotionally overwhelmed. But the physiological stress, which can be a result of, as you said, injuries, operations, surgery, car accidents, but also intense psychological pressure will give you a physiological stress response. And for a lot of people, their only solution to that is to remove the stressor which they can't do. And so then they don't think there's any options for them.
Jessica Turton: (15:57) Yes, yes. I love that. And I agree. And whenever I bring up the word stress to my patients, they always just like, start getting really upset and disappointed because they're like, Well, I can't change the stress in my life, I can't take my job away, I can’t take my family away. So they just think they're doomed. But what I'm really trying to say to them is alright, you've got these stressors in your life that we can't remove, okay? So let's try to support your body to better manage that stress, so that you're not dealing with high stress hormones and you're not dealing with a body that's storing away fat instead of burning fat, and you're not dealing with brain fog and low energy levels. We want to make sure that we give your body what it needs to manage the stress so there's no negative consequences for you.
Dr Lucy Burns: (16:43) Absolutely. I love that Jess, I love that. Gorgeous ones. Seriously. If you're looking for individualised nutritional advice, Jessica Turton is most definitely your girl. You can find her at Ellipse Health on all the socials. She will be speaking at the Low Carb Road Show in Sydney, which is May 13, the Saturday before Mother's Day in Australia, and her talk will be inspirational and powerful. So you will find that at lowcarbroadshow.com. And of course, all the links will be in the show notes below. Jess, thank you so much, again, imparting your wisdom, helping our community and you know, just I guess helping people live their healthiest life, which is what we all want.
Jessica Turton: (17:26) Absolutely. Thanks for having me, Lucy. It's great to be here.
Dr Lucy Burns: (17:29) You're welcome.
Dr Lucy Burns: (17:35) So my lovely listeners, that ends this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. I'm Dr Lucy Burn…
Dr Mary Barson: (17:43) and I'm Dr Mary Barson. We’re from Real Life Medicine. To contact us, please visit rlmedicine.com
Dr Lucy Burns: (17:54) And until next time…
Both: (17:56) Thanks for listening!
Dr Lucy Burns: (17:58) The information shared on the Real Health and Weight Loss podcast, including show notes and links, provides general information only. It is not a substitute, nor is it intended to provide, individualised medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor can it be construed as such. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.