What is Ketosis: Talking With a Top Nutritionist

The Best Things You Can Eat, what is ketosis Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with David Grotto. Talk about an interesting life: going from a health food store owner to registered dietician. David's also a pretty darned prominent RD having been the spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). David has turned his attention toward completing his second master's degree, this time in nutrition and wellness and writing, and just last month he released his third book, "The Best Things You Can Eat". (Amazon affiliate link) I interviewed David both for this blog and for my food blog, True Food Movement. So when you're done reading this piece, head over there for a further discussion about school lunch programs. For this article, I basically asked him all the questions that were bugging me about ketosis.

What is ketosis?

A ketogenic diet is, in essence, anything that will restrict carbohydrates where ketones are formed and there is a rapid fat breakdown. Fat becomes a preferred source of energy in the diet. This approach has been used successfully for seizure disorder, some metabolism issues, and there is some research to suggest multiple sclerosis patients may do well eating this kind of diet.

Is ketosis good for weight loss?

From a weight management stand point, if you look at what happens when the body undergoes ketosis, it is a natural process, but it precedes death. It's not for people who are living well. If you look at what cultures around the world are following a ketogenic diet, the answer is no cultures around the world. And that's since the Stone Age.

Is there a benefit to ketosis?

The benefit is that you can rapidly reduce weight and you can really reduce risk factors for heart disease in a short period of time. There is a therapeutic benefit for getting the ball going and there is a lot of research that people who lose weight quickly are motivated to keep going. So I think a ketogenic diet may have benefit. Long-term, though, what we're seeing is increased inflammatory markers that could lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.

How long should someone be on a ketogenic diet?

Apart from one's health is the sustainability of following a ketogenic diet. You've got to work within the space of what you think you can do long-term. If I have someone who is morbidly obese -- a BMI over 30 -- I think that's a very powerful motivator and can reduce risk factors very quickly, maybe six months to a year. If I'm working with someone trying to lose a few pounds, I might start them off for a month to rapidly mobilize fat loss and then transition into a healthier diet. South Beach is an example of that.

Are carbohydrates bad?

If you look at the vast bulk of people on the planet, most of them are eating a carbohydrate-based diet focused primarily on potatoes and white rice and a lot of them have done fairly well on that. We've been looking at resistant starch lately. If you take potatoes and rice and cook them, that increases the resistant starch and may protect against colon cancer. With potatoes and rice, if you cook them and then refrigerate them, this increases the resistant starch more and decreases the glycemic index. Carbohydrates are also linked to mood. It's the food that regulates serotonin. It's going to help us feel sexier ... it's the happy hormone. If you're not getting enough carbohydrates, you're not going to feel as happy. ------ If you'd like to know what's best for you to eat, be sure and check out David's book! "The Best Things You Can Eat" covers how to create the best, most nutritious environment for yourself and your family. Just to be clear, David does not recommend a ketogenic diet on a regular basis, and considers it a case-by-case discussion in his private practice. You can learn more about David at his blog, David Grotto's Nutritional Housecall. Cheers, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.


4 Responses to What is Ketosis: Talking With a Top Nutritionist

  1. Bridget February 28, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    I knew it!!!! Carbs = Seratonin.

  2. Lisa Johnson March 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    Yep … it’s true Bridget, if you’re bloody cranky, have a piece of bread. L–

  3. Laura October 9, 2014 at 6:20 am #

    I’ve been on an extremely low carb diet now for 4 weeks. Not only am I losing weight and developing healthier eating habits, my anxiety and OCD symptoms have DECREASED IMMENSELY. I am much happier now.


  1. School Lunch Programs: Top Nutritionist Gives an Update - February 27, 2013

    […] If you’d like to read another great interview I did with David, please check out my post on Lisa Johnson Fitness where we talk about “What is ketosis?” […]

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