Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Credentials / Qualifications:
- Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and Qualified Nutritionist
- Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Sydney
- Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise & Sport Science), University of Sydney
Sports: Forest and beach walking
Favourite PBCo. Product: My absolute favourite PBCo products are the Original Protein Muffins with added 90% dark chocolate chips and the Original Protein Pizza Base loaded with tomato paste, ground beef, capsicum, avocado, cheese and sour cream (Mexican style!)
- Started work as an Accredited Practising Dietitian in private practice at two locations in Sydney (2017).
- Presented at Low Carb Nutrition Perth in March 2018 and Low Carb Sydney in May 2018.
- Published first scientific paper in the journal of PLOS ONE, ‘Low-Carbohydrate Diets for Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review’ (2018).
- Awarded Dean’s Scholar for the Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise & Sport Science) and Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics double degree (2018).
- Founded Ellipse Health (2016).
Jessica is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) with post-graduate qualifications in Nutrition & Dietetics. She is committed to the application of high-quality nutritional science to empower individuals and groups with knowledge and behavioural skills to improve patient-centred care and promote the field of Nutrition & Dietetics. Jessica was introduced to low-carbohydrate, high-fat nutrition in 2012 during her recovery from multiple eating disorders which took over many years of her teenage life and adolescence. By following this simple and sustainable lifestyle which made complete sense on a physiological and biochemical level, she found what she likes to call “food freedom”. Her passion for this metabolic tool was then cemented after her father suffered a heart attack and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She shares more about her personal story during two interviews for the podcasts, ‘2 Keto Dudes’ (listen here) and ‘Keto Woman’.
Jessica successfully completed her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Sydney in 2017 and was awarded the Faculty of Health Sciences Dean’s Scholar Award for her combined degree. Her Masters Research Project was to conduct a systematic review of all low-carbohydrate diets in the management of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus. This paper was recently published in the scientific journal, PLOS ONE, in March 2018. You can read it here. Jessica was also the recipient of the Charles Perkins Centre Summer Research Scholarship in 2016/17 where she was part of a team that conducted analyses to investigate the association of industry-funding and results in published studies examining the effect of whole-grain intake for cardiovascular disease prevention.
Jessica is interested in developing, evaluating and improving dietetic strategies for the management of diabetes and will undertake her Research Doctorate (Ph.D) in this area starting July 2018 at the University of Sydney. Though diabetes management is one of her major areas of interest, Jessica is passionate about utilising the nutrition care process to investigate the role of diet in a wide range of health conditions and symptoms, including obesity, insulin resistance syndrome, hypertension, PCOS, dyslipidaemia, gastrointestinal issues and much more. She writes extensively on various nutrition-related topics and you can read some of her articles here.
Jessica is also a passionate speaker and presented a talk titled, ‘Evidence-Based Practice: Low-Carbohydrate Nutrition in the Literature’ at Low Carb Nutrition Perth in March 2018. In May 2018, she presented a second talk titled, ‘Low-Carbohydrate Diets for Type 1 Diabetes’ at Low Carb Sydney. These events are held regularly at various locations across Australia by Low Carb Down Under and Jessica will also present at Low Carb Thredbo 2018 and Low Carb Gold Coast 2018.
Jessica is the founder of Ellipse Health and enjoys providing premium nutrition and dietetics services to individuals and groups all over Australia via phone, Skype and her creative online programs. Jessica collaborates with general practitioners, medical specialists and other allied health professionals to deliver the most effective dietetic interventions possible. Jessica is also a member of the Zenith Network, an innovative health and wellness network and consulting agency. Visit Jessica’s Zenith profile here.
We recently caught up with Jessica to ask her a few questions…
Why (and for who) do you advocate a low carb approach?
The main reason I advocate a low-carb approach is because I have had such personal success with it. When I was in Year 9 at high school, I became a victim of the low-fat / low-calorie approach to dieting which spiraled into a fully blown eating disorder. Not only did I lost most of the fat on my body, I lost my friends, my happiness and my identity. We have known about the physiological consequences of starvation since the early 1940’s when Ancel Keys performed his semi-starvation experiments. Despite these experiments being deemed “unethical” in modern society, for some insane reason – we continue to perpetuate these exact low-calorie, low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets for optimal health and weight loss. I truly believe that it was the act of restricting my calorie intake, predominantly from fat, that propelled me into the negative, unstable mental state that I was stuck in for many years.
In 2012 I discovered low-carbohydrate, high-fat nutrition after learning about the fundamentals of human biochemistry and physiology during my first year at university. For me, this was a complete game-changer. Over the next 12-24 months, I completely ceased all binge-eating episodes, I significantly reduced my anxiety and depression, I found my healthy weight and have been able to maintain it effortlessly, and most importantly, I found complete food freedom.
In late 2016 my father suffered a heart attack and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This cemented my passion for low-carbohydrate nutrition because it propelled me much deeper into the scientific literature. I spent most of my days researching the role of low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets in the management of major chronic diseases that are plaguing our modern society; obesity, the metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and so many more.
It has been very difficult to fault low-carbohydrate nutrition, but there are still many areas of science that require further investigation. I will continue to evaluate existing research and contribute to the scientific literature in this area of nutrition for many years to come. My PhD thesis involves an investigation into low-carbohydrate diets for type 1 diabetes mellitus because this is a particular population whereby low-carb appears extremely promising, yet high-quality scientific trials are lacking.
At current, I work with a range of clinical populations in my private practice. The main benefits of using a low-carb approach are generally demonstrated in people who are affected by insulin resistance or hyperinsulinaemia (excessive insulin in the body). One of the best and most sustainable ways to lower insulin levels is to reduce total carbohydrate intake. However, it’s important to acknowledge that each individual has a different “carbohydrate tolerance” which means that there is no one-size-fits-all level of carbohydrate intake where everyone will see benefit. That’s why it is extremely important to work with a qualified health professional who can help you design a safe and effective dietary intervention that is specific to you and your goals.
What is one of your career highlights?
One of my career highlights was presenting at Low Carb Sydney in May 2018. This was an extremely special day for me because I was given the opportunity to present my research on low-carbohydrate diets for type 1 diabetes mellitus. The event connected me with so many inspiring individuals who are affected by type 1 diabetes. I was able to enjoy generous conversations with these people and hear their unique stories. It was an incredible feeling to meet with hundreds of people who have either found benefit in a managing diabetes with a low-carb approach or who were interested in learning more about it to improve their health. Finally, I felt proud to see the difference I am making with my research and left the conference feeling fully motivated and ready to dedicate the next three years of my life (at least) to making significant contributions to the field of nutrition.
What’s one thing you’re doing or have done this year that you’d like to share with us?
I created and launched a fully online weight loss program so that I can help as many people as possible effectively burn fat for fuel! The program involves 4 weeks of course content (to be accessed over 3 months) including videos, articles and an amazing Facebook community that allows members to interact with each other and access bonus resources.