The Impact of a Low Carb Diet on your Mental Health

mental low carb

As I want to be open and honest with you all, I have struggled with mental health issues since I was a teenager.  So when I originally started my low carb diet, I decided that it would be a good idea to do some research into how this type of diet may or may not impact my current mental health condition. I was very surprised to find out how critical a well-balanced and healthy diet can be to not only your physical health, but also your mental health and well-being as well. If you are interested in learning more about low carb diets and how this type of diet is linked to your mental health, then I encourage you to read on.

Do low carb diets have an impact on your mental health? Following a low carb diet has a number of impacts on your mental health. Consuming less unhealthy carbs can influence your mood, including depression, anxiety, and self-esteem. Despite the benefits, it is important to consult a mental health practitioner for professional advice.

Many people say, “you are what you eat.” When you think about it, there is a lot of truth to this commonly thrown around statement. If you consume large meals filled with unhealthy high-carb foods like refined and processed sugars and starches, then you cannot realistically expect to look like a GC (Gentleman’s Quarterly) model. On the other hand, if you consume healthy meals with limited carbs, you will not only change your looks, but also your mood and self-esteem. Not only this, but mental health symptoms related to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (commonly known as ADHD) can be impacted too. This has been demonstrated anecdotally, but also proven by scientific research studies.

Low Carb Diets, Your Mood and Well-Being

As stated above, my research that I conducted on low carb diets found that there is definitely a relationship between low carb diets and your mood. My goal is to present this complicated research information to you in an easily understood fashion. In layman’s terms, this is what some of the research says:

  • Low carb diets are linked to less helplessness and hopelessness
  • Low carb diets are linked to more engagement in physical activity  
  • Low carb diets have an ant-inflammatory effect on your brain (i.e., this diet allows your brain to heal more efficiently)
  • Low carb diets can improve mood and overall well-being

These are only some of the research findings that link low carb diets to your mood and well-being.

Low Carb Foods to Include in your Diet to Help Improve your Mood

mood low carb

There are several low carb food options to ensure you include in your low carb diet in order to have a positive impact on your health. Fish is one of the best foods you can include in your diet, especially for dinner. Not only does it taste good, but fish also contains beneficial oils that may help lift your mood. Does this sound fishy to you? Well, here are some fish that are rich in these oils (known as omega-3 fatty acids):

  • Herring – 1 fillet of herring has 0 grams of carbs and 3.4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Mackerel – 1 piece of mackerel has 0 grams of carbs and 1.4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Salmon – 150 grams of salmon has 0 grams of carbs and 3.2 grams of omega 3 fatty acids
  • una – 6 ounces of fresh albacore tuna contains 0 grams of carbs and 2.6 grams of omega 3 fatty acids

These fish oils have been known to improve cardiovascular health, lower triglycerides, and increase serotonin levels, which is sometimes referred to as the happy chemical due to its contribution to well-being. But, you do not really like the taste of fish? That’s okay, because I do have alternatives for you to consider:

  • Flaxseeds – 1 tablespoon (1 serving) has 1,597 mg of omega 3 fatty acids
  • Chia seeds – 100 grams of chia seeds has about 18 grams of omega 3 fatty acids
  • Walnuts – for every ¼ cup of walnuts, there are about 2.72 grams of omega 3 fatty acids
  • oybeans – for every half a cup of dry roasted soybeans, there are about 1,241 mg of omega 3 fatty acids

I hope you like some of these options. If you do not, I have one final suggestion I would like to share with you: fish oil supplements. These supplements are becoming more common, so give them a try if you absolutely will not eat any fish and cannot find suitable alternatives, like the ones that I have listed above.

How do low carb diets impact your mind? There are a few reasons why a low carb diet may have an influence on your mind. By reducing high carb foods, you will find that you will not have spikes in your energy. Thus, a low carb diet may help stabilize your energy levels, which keeps your brain happy. Secondly, a low carb diet improves neurogenesis, which has been linked to depression. For those of you that do not know, neurogenesis is when your brain creates new brain cells. Hey, I’m no scientist, but this sounds like something we all should want to keep doing, especially into old age.

Do low carb diets have any negative impacts on your mental health? Although low carb diets have many positive effects on your health, including your mental health and overall well-being, there have been some reports of negative effects. Some people have reported feelings of being irritable when consuming too few carbs. There is limited research out there though to explain why. It is possible that this is simply a minor symptom of adjusting to the low carb diet. Consider the analogy of the smoker attempting to quit smoking after engaging in this activity for their whole life. Although they are irritable when first stopping, if they quit smoking long enough then it becomes the norm and the irritability tends to go away. Thus, as mentioned previously, always be sure that you consult a medical professional, like your general practitioner, before changing your diet too drastically.

Overall, I am glad I did my research into how diets, in particular low carb diets, can impact mental health and well-being. I feel like I have a bit more control over my challenges with mental health, as I can switch my diet and watch what I eat to help. I have never been a huge fan of fish, but after learning the benefits of fish oil, like omega 3 fatty acids, it is obvious that I need to be more open to eating and trying new types of fish. This is so important as they contain no grams of carbs. So fish really is the perfect food for anyone wanting to follow a low carb diet. Although I plan on trying to be more open to eating various fish, I know that if it does not work out, (I can be a picky eater sometimes) there are always alternatives, like chia seeds, walnuts, and fish oil supplements. In the end though, when it comes to my mental health I make sure to consult with the professionals that have helped me along the way.

Ahmed Matar

Not just food lover, I also like to write about foods and diets, especially keto! Finding low-carb food is fun for me regardless of how others find it difficult. Besides having an interest in foods & diets I also like exercising and walking long distance regularly :)

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