Mood Effects of Low-carb Diets

Among those shared their weight loss results while on Atkins diet, 347 dieters reported effects beyond weight loss (or its absence):

* Hunger disappearance or appetite decrease - 178
* Diabetes improvement - 169
* Mood improvement, energy level increase - 158
* Absence of cravings - 149
* Physicians approval for the diet - 129
* Joint and muscle improvement - 125
* Headache disappearance - 121
* Exercise improvement - 115
* Muscle gain decrease - 112
* Fungal/yeast infection disappearance - 111
* Heartburn, bloating disappearance - 110
* Thyroid condition improvement - 119

Reported negative results:

* Cravings for high-carb foods increase - 16
* Inability to exercise - 15
* Low-carb foods dissatisfaction - 14


This particular effect is perhaps the most controversial because it is against the observations, including those conducted in controlled clinical settings, that carbohydrate-rich meals improve mood and energy levels. Apparently, the positive influence reported by the dieters, were due to Atkins diet long-term effects, because during first several days on the diet there were effects consistent with clinical observations on short-term effects of direct intra-gastric infusions of nutrients:

"Hedonic tone was greater and tension lower after the saline and sucrose infusions than after the lipid infusion. From 3 to 3.5 h after ingestion, subjects felt significantly more sleepy after the lipid infusion than they did at these times after the saline infusion, and significantly more dreamy after the lipid infusion than they did after the sucrose infusion. (Physiology & Behavior. 63(4):621-8, 1998)

Another article reporting the influence of nutrients on mood, stress that there were acute and not long term effects:

"Mood improved (a decline in fatigue/dysphoria) following the low-fat/high carb breakfast compared to medium-fat/ medium-carbohydrate or high-fat/low-carbohydrate meals." ("Acute effects on mood and cognitive performance of breakfasts differing in fat and carbohydrate content. "Appetite. 27(2):151-64, 1996)

The short-term positive effects of high-carb meals can be used, for example, for alleviating the PMS syndrome:

"The experimental carbohydrate intervention significantly decreased self-reported depression, anger, confusion, and carbohydrate craving 90-180 minutes after intake. Memory word recognition was also improved significantly." (Obstetrics & Gynecology. 86(4 Pt 1):520-8, 1995)

It is interesting that not all of the clinical studies came to the above conclusion. Study conducted by University of Sheffield, demonstrated that meals, particularly when rich in fat, significantly reduced pain perception in healthy human subjects.( Physiology & Behavior. 65(4-5):643-8, 1999)

Carbohydrate craving obese patients do not improve their mood states through ingestion of a carbohydrate-rich snack. (International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders. 21(10):860-4, 1997)

There were no differences in mood between the groups receiving high-carb drink or water during performance of the military tasks. (Aviation Space & Environmental Medicine. 68(5):384-91, 1997)

The ingestion of sucrose failed to have any substantial effect on mood (Physiology & Behavior. 58(3):421-7, 1995)

"The carbohydrate-supplemented group had a greater total energy intake and carbohydrate intake. No significant differences between carbohydrate were observed in remaining psychological, physiological, or performance-related variables." (International Journal of Sport Nutrition. 5(2):125-35, 1995)

These are rather typical messages:

* I feel great and my energy level has increased. I don't feel sluggish anymore.
* No more mood swings, brain fog, confusion, or depression.
* I feel healthier, more energy (can keep up with the kids, yeah!) and smarter.
* I have a much higher energy level as well as a much more pleasant disposition.
* I have lots of energy and a lot more self esteem.
* I am sleeping like a teenager, and I had sleep apnea before starting the diet.
* I sleep better and I have more energy than my 16 year old daughter
* I'm so infused with energy that I climb the stairs at work without huffing and puffing.
* My energy had increased! Muscle tone had improved even though I wasn't going to the gym.
* When I am eating according to program I feel so much better, sleep better and have more energy
* After the first 3 days the increase in energy was unbelievable, the mental fog and Monday morning blues were gone.
* I have more energy, not so tired anymore, and feel like I'm in control of my appetite.
* I have had a sense of inner peace that I simply can't explain.
* My mood swings have lifted and I'm a much happier person overall.
* I felt better, had more energy, no more brain-fog and I did not feel tired and worn out at the end of the day.


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What low carb plan have you tried the most?
Atkins Diet
South Beach Diet
No White Diet - no white flour, potatoes, white rice
No sugars, high sugar fruit, starchy vegetables
I created my own low carb plan
Total votes: 1076

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