4 Ways to Lose the Weight and Stay Stress-Free
Anger, Tension, and the "Atkins Attitude"
The Sign: You find yourself whipping smart remarks at friends, coworkers, and perfect strangers for even the most minor infractions.
The Cause: Skimping on key nutrients.
Drastically cutting carbohydrates may lead to increased feelings of anger, tension, and depression -- a side effect some researchers have termed the "Atkins attitude." "The body needs carbs in order to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates mood, emotions, sleep, and appetite," says Judith Wurtman, PhD, director of the Women's Health Program at MIT. "When you significantly reduce your intake of carbohydrates, the body makes less serotonin, and it becomes difficult to be patient or control your anger." Other deficiencies that can affect mental health include a lack of omega-3 fatty acids, which could result from cutting high-fat foods like nuts, fish, and oil from the diet and may contribute to depression. Insufficient intake of vitamins B6 and B12 and folate has also been linked with depression and mood swings.
The Fix: Grab a high-carb snack like whole-grain toast or popcorn, aiming for at least 130 grams of carbohydrate a day, the minimum required to maintain optimal brain function, according to the National Academy of Sciences' Food and Nutrition Board. Two servings of fatty fish per week plus a handful of walnuts a day will provide ample omega-3s. Take a multivitamin as insurance against other deficiencies.
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