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Because carbohydrates supply energy to the body and brain, low-carb diets can leave some people in a bad mood.
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Low-carbohydrate diets have many touted benefits, most notably weight loss. For many people, however, there may be side effects to substantially reduced carbohydrate consumption. These people may experience moodiness and mood swings, particularly when first starting a low-carb diet
The Role of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are most noted for their role in providing long- and short-term energy to the different systems of the body, including the brain and nervous system. Different forms of carbohydrates can provide energy at different rates. For example, simple carbohydrates such as sugar provide immediate energy, whereas slow-burning carbohydrates, such as those found in beans, can be stored by the body to provide long-term energy. Thus, it stands to reason that when the body and brain no longer have a steady supply of energy from carbohydrates, it can result in mood swings for some individuals.
Carbohydrates can possess вЂњfeel goodвЂќ qualities due to the surges in blood sugar that they can provide. This could be the reason many people consume foods high in carbohydrates and sugars when they're feeling down, since they provide a pick-me-up. Although the comforts of carbohydrates may provide instant gratification, CBS News notes that, over the long haul, foods that have a lower glycemic index - a scale that rates foods based on the extent they cause blood sugar to rise -- make blood sugar more stable, which can result in more stable moods. For those who are on low-carb diets, this means that initially cutting those comfort foods out can result in mood swings.
It Depends on the Person
Each person responds differently to nutrition, which means that while some people may have mood swings on a low-carb diet, others can have no issues at all. This is why it is important to find a system that works for you personally. If you don't feel that a low-carbohydrate diet is working for you, it may be best to experiment with modifications to your low-carb diet or different dietary habits altogether that allow you to feel and function at your best.
Improving Your Mood
Before giving up on your low-carb diet, it is important to first give your blood sugar a chance to stabilize and your body a chance to adapt. If, after a month, you're still feeling moody, try adding some healthy carbohydrates back into your diet so that your brain has the necessary fuel to function properly. This can cut down on moodiness. Carbohydrates that don't make your blood sugar spike are best; however it may not be necessary to measure each food against the glycemic index. Dr. Xavier Pi-sunyer told ABC News that the glycemic index can be confusing for people and that simply incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and high-fiber foods is a simpler approach to eating healthy carbohydrates.