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Low-Fat Diet Shown to Be Better for Your Mood than Low-Carb


It has previously been reported that losing weight has a positive impact on the psychological state and mood of obese and overweight people. But Australian researchers at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) pointed out that the effects of a specifically low-carb diet had only been studied regarding weight loss, not mood. The results of their study are at the very least interesting. Keep reading to find out more information.

A Study on the Psychological Effects

The team put together a one year study of 106 overweight and obese people. These people averaged 50 years of age. Randomly, 55 people were assigned a very low-carb, high fat diet. Conversely 51 of the participants were assigned a high carb, low-fat diet. The total mood disturbance, anger-hostility, confusion-bewilderment, and depression-dejection of the participants were measured during and after the year long study.

The low carbohydrate diet was constructed to supply 4 percent of total energy as carbohydrate, 35 percent as protein, and 61 percent as fat. Only 20 percent of the fat was saturated fat. The low fat diet provided 46 percent of energy as carbohydrates, 24 percent as protein, and 30 percent as total fat. Less than 8 g of the fat was saturated fat.

The Results

When the results were gathered, there were some interesting conclusions.
  • The weight loss for participants in both categories was very much the same, averaging just over 30 pounds.
  • During the first eight weeks, both groups reported an improved mood.
  • Those on the low-fat diet maintained the improved mood after the initial eight weeks.
  • Those on the low-carb diet reverted back to the initial more negative baseline mood.

The researchers reported “This outcome suggests that some aspects of the low-carbohydrate diet may have had detrimental effects on mood that, over the term of one year, negated any positive effects of weight loss.”

The Underlying Reason


The study itself was not able to provide a solid explanation for the observation. However, the researchers suggested several possible reasons.
  • The low-carb dieters may have had a greater preoccupation with food, social eating impairment and anxiety than those on the low-fat diets. The Western diet is geared towards high carb food such as rice, bread and pasta.
  • A highly prescriptive diet plan, which set very disciplined quantities of food and regular counseling, may have an impact on mood.
  • Something about the low carb diet could have interacted with the physiological discomfort of a prescriptive regime. This would offer a better explanation considering the low-fat dieters were also on a disciplined plan.
  • The researchers suggested that the low carb diet had some effect on serotogenic functions in the brain. This would make sense since such functions have been associated with depression and anxiety previously. A high carb intake could increase serotonin synthesis; conversely fat and protein intakes reduce serotonin concentrations in the brain.
 
The researchers noted that further studies would be needed to determine a definitive cause for the results.

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