Episode 164:

Show Notes 


Metabolic Flexibility:
Explores the connection between energy sources and metabolic flexibility.
Metabolic flexibility is the body's ability to switch between carbohydrates and fats for energy. It has implications for overall health, including decreased risk of diabetes and enhanced longevity.

Positive Memories:
Positive memories contribute to emotional well-being and perception of the past.
Reflecting on positive experiences offers joy and fondness, influencing present emotions.

Cognitive Impact on Dietary Choices:
Cognitive processes affect dietary preferences and choices. The "Shrink the Change" technique is a wonderful gradual approach to making small changes for big results.

Energy Sources:
Carbohydrates and fats serve as energy sources for the body. Metabolism burns carbohydrates (kindling) and fats (logs) for energy. Sugar and starch inhibit fat burning and contribute to energy fluctuations.

Benefits of Fat Burning:
Fat burning offers sustained energy, mental clarity, and reduced hunger.
Mitochondria play a crucial role in burning fat for energy. Increased fatty acid oxidation leads to various health benefits.

Challenges and Mindset:
Overcoming challenges in transitioning to fat-based energy is psychological.
Our brains resist change due to perceived difficulties. Gradual changes and reframing thoughts can facilitate the transition.

The episode provides insights into energy utilisation, memories, and dietary choices. A practical approach to enhancing energy levels and overall health is presented.
This episode delves into the dynamics of energy sources, metabolic flexibility, positive memories, cognitive influences, and a strategy for transitioning to fat-based energy utilisation. It offers valuable information for anyone seeking to optimise energy, vitality, and well-being through informed dietary decisions and mindset shifts.


Episode 164: 


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 Mary Barson: (0:23) Hello, lovely listeners! Dr Mary here, and I am joined by my gorgeous colleague, Dr Lucy. Dr Lucy, tell me something interesting that's going on in your life this week.

Dr Lucy Burns (0:37)  Oh, good morning, Miss. Good morning! Well, a couple of things. One of the things that I am managing my mind about is the fact that I've come back to Melbourne, having been away for six glorious weeks in the sunshine. And it's the middle of winter. And my brain is railing against this, and it keeps wanting to be back. One of our favourite places that we visited was called Rainbow Beach; what a beautiful name. So my husband and I always go, “Awwe, we just love rainbows!” And he keeps sending me pictures of anything that's got anything to do with rainbows. So it might be a rainbow-coloured towel, pictures of him in an ice cream shop, and he sent me a picture of rainbow-coloured ice cream. And so it is, yes, rainbow tops, rainbow clothes. Our current message chats are just full of rainbows. So, it's wonderful!

Dr Mary Barson (1:36)  I have so many rainbows about me right now. I just like rainbows!

Dr Lucy Burns (1:40)  They're wonderful! And so it's interesting that we keep coming back to those wonderful times we had. And so it is that idea that reflecting on the past can be great, clearly. You know we've got nostalgia, and we can review the past. Reflecting on the past is unhelpful if it's full of regret and remorse and hashing over things and wanting to change it. But there is some joy definitely in being able to look back and think, “Yeah, that was great”. And sometimes I think you can look back on something with memories even fonder than when you were in it.

Dr Mary Barson (2:21)  Yeah, oh yes! The most beautiful thing I think about being a human is that we own everything inside our heads. Like how we choose to make sense of reality, we own it all.  It's all ours, and nobody else owns it. So yes, absolutely, you can look at the past with great fondness, and our perception of memories can also change over time. Memories are not static; the wonderful thing about owning everything in your head is that you can learn to work with it and get everything inside your head to work for you rather than against you.

Dr Lucy Burns (3:04)  Ah, absolutely! And you know what I'm suddenly thinking of is the thing I'm sure lots of you beautiful listeners have had this experience. Where your first boyfriend, for example, or girlfriend, and maybe the relationship ended, presumably you're not married or still with your very first partner. But you look back on it, and your brain will filter out potentially the dud stuff. And you suddenly have this sort of curated version.

Dr Mary Barson (3:35)  Or the other way round. 

Dr Lucy Burns (3:37)  Yes, it can go the other way around. You can filter out the good stuff, and you just have a curated version of whatever you want it to be. And that is now the reality, which is not really the reality. And so, it is so interesting. And I know that we can do this with food. The memory of something is often, and who's had this experience is so much better than the reality. You were so looking forward to that and then noticed, “Well, not as good as I remembered”.

Dr Mary Barson (4:14)  Absolutely! We're in charge of what we assign meaning to. So we can assign meaning to food and alcohol. But that doesn't mean that it is real, that it's based in reality. We can also change that as well. Yes, I love our brains. I'm managing my brain about fractures. I've probably fractured a bone in my foot. And my daughter has fractured her finger, and coming up with helpful useful beliefs around that is my ongoing challenge. I'd rather be thinking about Rainbow Beach. Yeah, maybe I'll just, well, I've never been there, but I'm going to start thinking about it now.

Dr Lucy Burns (4:51)   Oh yeah, it's beautiful! I think maybe I'm going to start a tourist campaign. So, one of the interesting things coming, just bringing it back to things like food, is our perception that food gives us energy. And I mean, at a very basic level, there's absolute truth in that. That's what food is, a whole heap of other things. But at a very basic level, it does give us the energy to do the things that are body and brain. And I mean, I don't know why we always separate out our brain like it's separate from our body. Our brain is just an organ, like the heart, the liver, the kidneys.

Dr Mary Barson (5:35)  An organ that uses most of our energy.

Dr Lucy Burns (5:38)  Indeed!

Dr Mary Barson (5:40)  A very large amount of it, yes. 

Dr Lucy Burns (5:43)  For lots of people, that you know, when they're tired and their brain will go, “I need energy”. And so we look for something to give us that energy.

Dr Mary Barson (5:54)  Yes, and I love your analogy here, Lucy. So very broadly speaking, our body can use two types of energy, two types of fuel to make energy. So I'm going to bring it back a little bit more. Every single one of our cells, almost every single one of our cells, has got these fabulous little batteries inside them called mitochondria. And mitochondria are these incredibly clever little organelles that make the energy, that powers everything that we need to do to be alive, they make the energy. And mitochondria have the job of taking our fuel from food and combining it with oxygen to make this energy. So we need to breathe and we also need to eat in order to get our energy. And our mitochondria are clever. They can use various types of fuel; the two main ones are sugar and fat. And Lucy, let's talk about sugar and fat and how they do not create equal amounts of energy. They are not created equal. Can you please drumroll… Give us the woodshed analogy to break down energy.

Dr Lucy Burns (7:30)  Indeed, indeed! So when we talk about sugar, most people will think of sweet sugar, which is fine. That's exactly what sugar is. But there are various types of sugar, and we just call them all carbohydrates. So carbohydrates include sweet sugar and your other starchy sugars like potatoes, flour, pasture, rice, grains, and all of those things. And what these do, these are like kindling, if you will. So when you're trying to light a fire, you don't just plunk a log on and try and create a fire, it's not going to work. You have to have some kindling. That kindling will be little thin bits of sticks and twigs and paper and things like that. And it sparks, gives you a bit of energy, and is great. And then what's supposed to happen is that once it gets going a little bit, you then put a log on to keep your fire running all day. So what's the log? So the log in human terms is some fat, preferably, but not necessarily our body fat.

Dr Mary Barson (8:46)  It could also be the fat that we eat, as well. It can be fat that stored or fat that we eat is our log.

Dr Lucy Burns (8:51)  Yeah. So what we want to do is we want to be able to energize our body, i.e., heat our house with a little bit of kindling, and then unlock. And when we do that, that's how our bodies are supposed to run. And that's what we will refer to as the fancy term of being metabolically flexible. But it is how humans are designed to run. And it makes sense how fireplaces are designed to run. So what happens, though, is that if you imagine, just imagine, you've got one of those coonaras that you've only got a certain amount of room.

Dr Mary Barson (9:31)  What's the coonara for those listening at home?

Dr Lucy Burns (9:33)  It’s a  wood burning fire, so it's one of those fireplaces that has got like a box that you put them all the wood in, and then you shut the door.

Dr Mary Barson (9:45)  Limited space. Got it! 

Dr Lucy Burns (9:48)  Yeah, limited space. Thank you! That's what I was trying to say. So yeah, you've only got a small amount of space. So if you fill up that space with lots of tweaks and paper, you won't be able to fit a log in. So then your fireplace starts to burn down, and you literally run out of fuel. And so your brain goes, “Oh my God, I need fuel! ” And so it fills it up again with twigs and paper. And in food terms, that is like filling it up with something quick-acting, so as an example, the marketing, bloody marketing mischief; an energy drink or this is a bit sneakier, a latte. So a coffee with milk, possibly also sugar. And the reason that milk, in particular, will also give you energy is milk just got a lot of sugar in it. It's got lactose, so we don't necessarily recognise it as sugar. But lactose breaks down to glucose. And galactose collectors break down to glucose. So it's just got glucose, which is sugar. So for lots of us, what we're doing is we're tired, we've run out of energy, we're busy, we've got no brain space, we're really not functioning efficiently. So we're looking for these kinds of crutches to give us enough energy to survive the day. And these will be quick-acting, and I'm using air quotes for those listening at home, “energy boosts”.

Dr Mary Barson (11:26)  At a biochemical level, what actually stops us from being able to burn fat, like our logs for that beautiful, long-lasting energy, is sugar. So carbohydrates, your sweet stuff, and your starchy stuff. That actually turns off our ability to burn fat for fuel. Those beautiful, long-lasting logs that would give us quite a lot of energy. And it does this because elevated eating extra carbs short crowds out your fireplace, so your body's going to burn that rather than burning the fat fuel logs. But it also increases your metabolic hormone insulin, which blocks off your ability to burn your own fat stores and literally turns off our ability to break down fat. So not all energy is created equal and not all fuel is created equal. Our bodies are much happier when we are able to burn fat for fuel. Because not only is that a lovely slow burn with a beautiful constant supply of energy and you're not riding that sugar roller coaster of getting sugar hit, have some energy crash. Need another sugar hit, get some energy crash. Need another sugar hit, and get some energy crash. Like that is a terrible, horrible way to live throughout the day! You actually have a nice, steady breakfast, maybe you don't even eat breakfast, and you're not hungry again until lunchtime. And then you're not hungry again until dinner, and you just have this beautiful steady energy, lovely mental clarity, feeling quite fabulous. That's when you're burning fat. So not only does it make sense that we feel better, we are literally far healthier when we burn fat for fuel, going back to those gorgeous little mitochondria inside our cells that are making our energy. When they are burning fat, they are, in many ways, far healthier, far more numerous, far more resilient. When we're burning fat, the fancy term is called fatty acid oxidation because we use oxygen, breathe oxygen, and burn fields, it’s called fatty acid oxidation. So when our fatty acid oxidation rates are nice and high, we are far healthier in myriad ways. We've got decreased risk of cancer, decreased risk of type two diabetes, which would improve longevity—all of these fabulous things, as well as just having lovely energy and increased vitality. And the thing that turns off your ability to burn fat is sugar, which is why energy drinks are dump!

Dr Lucy Burns (14:13)  I know, and I mean, what a brilliant model though! If you own an energy drink company, anything that's got a lot of sugar in it and you market it saying to people, this will give you energy, I mean, it's evil but brilliant. Because yes, it does. It gives you energy, in that moment, in the short term, and then it creates the downhill of the roller coaster. So then it turns off your fat burning so you actually can't access your long stored energy. So now you're back to being tired again. And so you think, “God, I'll have another one. I'll have another one”. And so, you know, It just got you.

Dr Mary Barson (14:58)  You can also get angry too. That hangry like you can actually get quite stressful when you don't have access to that energy stores and you still have that sugar crash. You know the food industry likes to market this as well that I've got the “hangry”-- it's I'm hungry, angry, I need food now! That's what's going to keep you on the sugar roller coaster. And it ain't fun, but pitifully. See if you're just sitting on the couch right now, or you're driving to work, but you're dropping the kids off, or you're at work, and you're just like, “I'm just sick and tired of being exhausted”. So it's all very well,  Dr Lucy or Dr Mary telling me that sugar is turning off my ability to burn fat and that if I stopped eating sugar, I could turn my body into a fat-burning machine and have this beautiful energy and one, that'd be great. Well, that's fantastic, except right now I'm exhausted. And I'm reaching for my energy drink. And the idea of just giving up sugar and carbs is just exhausting. What would we say to these gorgeous people?

Dr Lucy Burns (16:05)  So this is a super interesting thing about our beautiful brains. So our brain will only change what we're doing when the pain, again more air quotes, “the pain of staying where we are, is greater than the pain of moving”. And if you think about anything, if you think about a giant rock, a boulder, some enormous thing, and you try to move it, the first bit is always the hardest. You know, it's not until you get momentum, does it become easy to move. So our brains go, “Oh, my God, there's no way I could do this. There's no way. I don't want to give up sugar, I don't want to give up my car, I don't want to do that!”

Dr Mary Barson (16:48)  Latte, I'm not giving up my latte! 

Dr Lucy Burns (16:52)  Yeah, absolutely! And we always say, you know what, our brains want to make it hard. It's weird. I mean, why would your brain want to do that? But they're complex. They are complex things and it will look for the reasons why it's hard. And I think that probably lots of you have seen that amazing picture. It's a great graphic, and it's a picture where there are two ladders side by side, and one has a little person running up to the top of it, and it's got lots and lots of little rungs. And the other one has a ladder, the same size ladder but it's got much fewer rungs. And in fact, the person is still stuck at the bottom because they can't even reach the first rung. And part of the reason they can't reach the first rung is because their brain is saying to them, “You can't do this is too hard. You can't! What sort of life are you going to have without sugar? What are you going to do when you go to the movies? What are you going to do when you go out with your friends? What are you going to do? You're not going to be able to do this? Don't. Oh god, why would you do that?” And it'll give you this scenario about how terrible it is. So our reckoning with this, and we do this in all of our coaching. We love this concept, and it is amazing, called Shrink the Change. Because remembering our brain loves to magnify the hardships. And look, the reason why is it doing that? Because you go, “What? Why would I do that?” And again, this is another thing we talk about. And it's a conversation for another day, but it does this to keep us safe. So it says, “Yeah, don't, that's too hard. Don't bother with that”. If you try that and you'll fail, you'll feel terrible. And you'll be in some shame spiral. So don't do that, because that's too hard. So we go, you know what, why don't we just stop that conversation and move into the Shrink the Change conversation?

Dr Mary Barson (18:44)  Yes, do something really doable! Take your goal and if your goal is to turn your beautiful body into a fat-burner so that you've got more energy, so they've got more vitality, and so that yes, you can lose weight. If you've got a weight loss goal as well, you want to reduce your sugar and starch, you can start off with something really simple and doable. Take the change that you want to do, and shrink it right down to something really little. And because this is such a powerful strategy, we've got something really doable, really shrunk down. And I'm all ready to go, all ready for you. It is our Seven Day Sugar-Free Reset. It's totally doable, it's just seven days. And in these seven days, Dr Lucy and I, we are there doing it with you step by step. It's designed to really easily fit into your life. And it's something that you can do, like your brain is unlikely to baulk at the idea of doing something for just seven days. And it's also just $7. So another reason why your brain wouldn't baulk at this fabulous, doable reset?

Dr Lucy Burns (20:10)   Absolutely! And look, it's interesting because our brains has to talk about their love to go into the “this is too hard story”. And here you go, "You know what brain? How about we give it a go? How about we do an experiment”. And even within that seven days, like we were not literally holding your hand because otherwise I'd have to drive to your house. But we are in there. Because there are people that go out, “What if I don't do seven days, then I can't even do that tiny change”. And then this is the story that you can talk to yourself about. Something is better than nothing. So we've been conditioned to have this all-or-nothing phrase. So your brain goes all or nothing. “No, I can't do that seven days because, you know, I've got a morning tea on at work, and what if I bugger it up?” And so again, this is where we go. Well, two things. One, you might not bugger it up. If that's the word you want to use, or even if you do, it's still six days, and 23 hours and 30 minutes, where you have been able to let go of sugar.

Dr Mary Barson (21:31)  Absolutely. Just starting is the most powerful thing you could do. If you're standing up there staring at that wrong way out there, trying to jump for it knowing you'll never reach it. That's no good. Tidy little, just take that first of all step. Even if you take eight steps up a little ladder and you take two steps down doesn't matter. You're still six steps up higher than you were before.

Dr Lucy Burns (21:57)  Absolutely, absolutely. And part of the reason we've chosen seven days is two reasons. One, it's doable, easy, and your brain will go, “Okay, yes, I can do seven days”. The second thing is that powerful things happen over those seven days. You will find that you get your energy instead of feeling exhausted all day, and particularly, I mean, who of you gets that after-lunch slump, which again, is marketing. You know you get that, so that's why they're advertising to you. But after seven days, you won't have that. I used to have this afternoon fatigue where, honestly, I'd be in my clinic. And if you've ever been, of course, you've been in a doctor's room, the examination couch is not particularly a comfortable-looking bed. But to me, by the time 2:30 came, and I was tired, that bed was looking like some amazing cloud bed of recovery. And I would almost be like just shutting the door, putting the lock, and just dreaming of having a beautiful snooze on it. And now I never get that. I never, ever, never get it. I could say to me that's a miracle in itself that I never get that afternoon slump.

Dr Mary Barson (23:18)  It is because your little mitochondria are oxidizing those fatty acids. You're a fat burner, which is a beautiful thing to be. Not only is it great for your energy, it's also great for your health. So seven days can be that first step to getting your body to be a fat-burner for increased energy, increased vitality, and it's just a much smoother day.

Dr Lucy Burns (23:46)  Absolutely. And that's what we all want. A smoother day through the day with plenty of energy so that we can ride life's bumps because we can't always control the bumps, but we can control how we ride them.

Dr Mary Barson (24:02)  So gorgeous people. If you would like to join us for this freely powerful Seven Day Sugar-Free Reset, check out the link below. Lucy and I, we do three live master classes. They’re live Q&As, and you can ask us questions. We've got a wonderful supportive Facebook group which will also go into each day to answer your questions. We've got a wonderful, guided medical hypnosis, a beautiful, supportive community. Like everything you need to take that first step to becoming a fat burner and having that fabulous energy. So check out the link below!

Dr Lucy Burns (24:41)  And you know what else? I'm just going to add in, don't forget 60 sugar-free recipes.

Dr Mary Barson (24:46)  Of course, a fabulous sugar-free recipe!

Dr Lucy Burns (24:48)  So when your brain goes, “I can't give up my cake”, you don't have to.

Dr Mary Barson (24:52)  No. You don't have to give up your cake. You definitely don't have to give up your coffee. We've got a family-friendly version. And you can still have your wine and treats if you want to. You absolutely can. We've designed it so that it's extremely doable. It kicks off on August 26th, check out the link below, and we would absolutely love to see you in there!

Dr Lucy Burns (25:17)  Thousands. We've had thousands of people. I'm sort of blown away by this, but we have had thousands of people from all over the world doing the sugar-free reset. We've had various names for it, but we're pretty happy with this one, the Seven Day Sugar-Free Reset, with the link www.rlmedicine.com/nosugar. Seven Bucks!  Like seriously, it's the best seven bucks you'll ever spend. And I'm super looking forward to seeing you in the reset. Alright, lovely listeners. We will talk to you next week. Have a beautiful beautiful week. Bye for now. See ya!

Dr Lucy Burns: (25:59) So my lovely listeners, that ends this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. I'm Dr Lucy Burns…

Dr Mary Barson: (26:07)  and I'm Dr Mary Barson. We’re from Real Life Medicine. To contact us, please visit rlmedicine.com

Dr Lucy Burns: (26:18) And until next time… Thanks for listening! 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.


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