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Low-Carb Diet May Negatively Affect Mood

Researchers from Australia recently made an interesting discovery regarding low-carb diets. They found that low-carb and low fat diets appear to perform the same when it comes to losing weight but that low-fat diets have a better effect on your mood.

Their findings were published in the November 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study included 106 overweight and obese individuals with an average age of 50.

55 of the study participants were randomly assigned to follow a very low-carb and high fat diet, and 51 followed a high-carb, low fat diet for one year.

The low carbohydrate diet provided 4% of total calories as carbohydrates, 35% as protein and 61% as fat (20% of which was saturated fat). The low fat diet provided 46% of calories as carbohydrates, 24% as protein and 30% as total fat (less than 8g saturated fat).

Throughout the year long study, the researchers measured participant's levels of mood disturbance, anger-hostility, confusion-bewilderment and depression-dejection.

Both groups experienced an improvement in mood during the first 8 weeks. However, after 8 weeks, participants in the low-carb diet group reverted to an initial, more negative baseline mood, while those in the low-fat diet maintained their improved mood during the entire study.

Additionally, at the end of the study the researchers observed no difference in weight loss between the two groups.

The study did not look at the specific reasons behind these results but the researchers believe that the low-carb diet may have an effect on serotonin levels in the brain. Low levels of serotonin can cause anxiety and depression and high-carb intakes have been shown to increase serotonin levels.

These findings add to a growing body of evidence highlighting the potentially negative cognitive effects of a low-carb diet.

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