Monday, February 15, 2010

Mood Food?

Could a diet make you happier? A neat study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine late last year may help answer that question. Researchers took about 100 people who were overweight and randomly put them on either a low fat/high carbohydrate diet or a very low carbohydrate/high fat diet. If you're interested in the specifics about the study and the diets, go to our website: www.uab.edu/nutritiontrends.


What made this study so interesting was that the researchers looked at changes in the dieters' moods. After eight weeks, both groups of dieters experienced a positive boost in their moods. This initial boost was possibly caused by losing weight. But only the high carb dieters still had this mood boost after following the diet for a year. The average weight loss in each group was about the same - an average of 30 pounds.

I think you'll start seeing a lot more research in the area of food and mood. The study was not designed to figure out why the mood changes happened - only that they did. But it's interesting to take some guesses why the high carb dieters maintained their increase in positive mood for a year. Could it be that higher carbs boosted their serotonin levels? Serotonin is a brain chemical that can lower anxiety. Could it be that staying on a low carb diet for a long time is just depressing and difficult? The low carb dieters were only getting 4 to 8% of their calories from carbs. That's really low - equal to one or two slices of bread. Not all low carb diets sink to that level! Think about the foods that you would have to restrict to lower carbs that much - fruit, bread, rice, potatoes, cereal! Thanksgiving would not have been much fun.
So, this study adds to what little we know about food and mood. It also may make you think twice about going on a really low carb diet. You may want to eat some carbs to keep you - and those you love - happy!

Tell me what you think about this. Have you ever tried a really low carb diet? How did you feel on it?

1 comment:

  1. I know this for a fact. I am a 140 pound loser/struggling to maintain for years with good success. When I don't eat carbs, I am depressed, feel hopeless and have a "just can't do it attitude". I eventually will head for a binge on sweets. If I eat plain potatoes, whole wheat bread etc and factor in calories my diet, I am able to be consistent and not need to binge. My attitude and sense of well-being is much, much better when I eat good carbs. Consistency is the key to a life-style change so you must find what works for you and your body.

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