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Which diet makes you happy?

In the ongoing debate about which diet is the best, here's a question you may not have heard before: Which diet is most likely to make you happy?

A new study, surprisingly, indicates that when it comes to elevating your mood, not all diets are created equal.

Grant Brinkworth of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization-Food and Nutritional Sciences in Adelaide, Australia, and colleagues studied 106 overweight and obese subjects. Fifty-five of them were put on low-carb, high-fat diets, and 51 were put on a high-carb, low-fat diets.

After a year, both groups had lost about the same amount of weight--an average of about 30 pounds per person. Both groups also scored about the same on tests that measure general thinking abilities. And both groups reported feeling an improvement in mood after the first eight weeks.

But only those on the low-fat diet continued to feel better after that. The moods of those on the high-fat diet fell back to where they were before their diets, the researchers reported in the Nov. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The findings suggest that something about the low-carb diet negates the positive effects of losing weight on mood. They're not sure what that might be. They speculate that it's just too difficult to eat a low-carb diet in a culture full of pasta and bread. But maybe there is something about the effects of protein and fat on brain chemicals such as serotonin.

By Rob Stein  |  November 11, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  General Health , Mental Health , Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity , Psychology , Women's Health  
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A friend of mine just died of a heart attack at age 41.

The diet that makes me happy: the one that WON'T make my wife a widow any time soon.

No hyper-marketed cheeseburger, candybar, or syrup-water is worth it.

Posted by: DupontJay | November 11, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

The diet that makes me happy: one with healthy servings of common sense and moderation, totally free of denial and self-flagellation, and seasoned with occasional indulgences.

Explained in detail in the great book "Intuitive Eating".

Posted by: Californian11 | November 11, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

If your diet has an adverse effect on your mood, change diets.

Posted by: SteveParkerMD | November 11, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

the diet that makes me happy is a vegetarian one. not eating the flesh of other creatures makes it easy to fully enjoy any meal. it tends to be healthier too, though i confess to occasionally going nuts with sweets. i was a voracious carnivore before becoming vegetarian about four years ago, and i feel much better physically now than i ever did before. i also think it is easier to stick with a "diet" if you have ethical/ moral reasons for doing so. if your only motivation to diet is to fit in a certain size, it's going to be hard to stick with it.

Posted by: anniesang | November 11, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

I went on a variant of the low carb diet years ago, and to tell you the truth it made me feel miserable. It made me feel cold and kind of vaguely nauseous most of the time. Now this was a diet probably somewhat more restricted than the diet currently used as low carb - it was basically all very lean protein. I think that kind of diet and the ketosis it causes feel pretty bad. Just my opinion. By contrast, a low fat diet just feels good to me.

Posted by: catherine3 | November 13, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

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