Monday, August 29, 2005

Is Tingling, Depression And Rage Caused By Low-Carb?

One of my blog friends named Debi Gerbino brought up an interesting subject regarding the low-carb lifestyle the other day in an e-mail that I haven't personally experienced nor have I heard anything about it previously.

She said when she has tried the Atkins diet, her tongue started having a tingling sensation. Has anyone else either experienced or heard about this before? It was news to me. She went to see her doctor about it who referred her to a neurologist to have an MRI taken. But the doctors couldn't find anything that would cause this odd physical reaction to occur.

"When I got off Atkins 6 months ago, the tingling sensation went away (but I never thought anything of it) - until now. As you know, I started Atkins again one week ago today. About two days ago, the tingling sensation returned ... it's awful. I make a connection (I think) and wondered if it could have anything to do with my 'diet' and the huge metabolic change that occurs."

I'll throw the door wide open on this one. Does anyone have any insight they would like to share with Debi about her condition? Is this something you too have experienced and were able to overcome with your low-carb lifestyle? Click on the comments section below and please share your thoughts with us.

Debi also mentioned that she suffers with depression and referenced this article from April 2004 printed in Psychology Today. Debi said she had a co-worker who told her that people who are depressed should avoid livin' la vida low-carb because it allegedly lowers serotonin levels in the brain which can lead to depression.

I admit that I do not suffer from depression and never have. However, my wife Christine does and I have seen the way she is when she doesn't take her Paxil and Wellbutrin. In other words, I am not diminishing those of you who do have clinical depression because I realize it is a very real condition.

With that said, reading through that story I just didn't relate to it at all. It claimed that low-carb programs such as Atkins and South Beach have show "unusually high feelings of anger, tension and depression."

“It’s called the ‘Atkins attitude,’” says Judith Wurtman, director of the Women’s Health Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Adara Weight Loss Center, both in Boston. “It’s very well-documented.”

Excuuuuuuse me? What attitude? I'll show you attitude if you want attitude, but you ain't seen an attitude yet?! LOL! Seriously, what do you make of this? It's "well-documented" according to this so-called health "expert." But not in my experience. What made me have an attitude was when I stayed hungry all day when I was on a low-fat diet. That will really make you irritable and unpleasant to be around.

When I lost weight on low-fat in 1999, I was probably not the best person to be around. My frustration with that failed diet plan, despite losing 170 pounds, eventually caused me to give up on it altogether and gain all the weight back. I talk a lot about my experience on a low-fat diet in my upcoming book because it perfectly illustrates the very clear difference between the low-fat diet and the low-carb lifestyle change.

Wurtman is a very strong low-fat advocate and said her study of lab rats proves serotonin levels decrease when they are put on a low-carbohydrate diet for three weeks. When they got off the diet, Wurtman claims these same rats "binged" on high-carb foods. She added that the depression leads to sadness and eventually rage.

“People feel very angry, and their antidepressants don’t work well, either,” she says.

I guess all of us low-carbers ought to be walking around like psycho maniacs according to Wurtman. Labeling low-carb as "dangerous" to people who are depressed just sounds fishy to me. Am I wrong? Have I totally missed something about livin' la vida low-carb that has never even crossed my mind before?

Thankfully this column also quotes people who are skeptical about Wurtman's findings -- namely low-carb success stories who have never been happier and the doctors who observe those positive change in their patients who lose a lot of weight on low-carb.

My family doctor has seen such a change in my health that he has transformed from being a skeptic into a firm believer in livin' la vida low-carb. The enormous difference that has happened in me from the time I first saw him three years ago until now has been dramatic. He has commented that everything about my health is better now than it was before and the benefits will continue on for many years to come. ALL OF THIS THANKS TO LOW-CARB!

What do you make of this claim that low-carb makes you angry and go into fits of rage? Is there any truth behind this? Do you know anyone who has stuck with the program for more than a couple of months who is emotionally more distraught than they were before they started livin' la vida low-carb? Again, please share your comments with us below. This is new territory for me that I haven't a clue about. Feel free to share any stories about yourself, a friend, or a family member whose attitude has changed for the better or worse since they began their low-carb lifestyle.


Blogger Regina Wilshire said...

>>>I'll throw the door wide open on this one. Does anyone have any insight they would like to share with Debi about her condition?<<<

Three things come to mind - B3) Niacin; B12 and Folic Acid.

If she's following Atkins, she can get all these boosted by making sure she eats 10g net (deducting fiber) from leafy greens and other veggies on the Induction Foods list. Many make the mistake of limiting their veggies to just 2 cups salad and 1 cup vegetable even though Atkins says this is APPROXIMATE....if you look at the counts on the veggies, you often need to eat more (depending on what you choose) to meet that MINIMUM 10g NET (deducting only fiber) for vegetables as required in the Rules of Induction.

Best bets for B12 - red meats, fish, yogurt (plain)

Best bets for Folic Acid - leafy greens, asparagus, squash

Best bets for B3 - fish, asparagus, liver, turkey, leafy greens

Also good to supplement with a good, high quality multi-vitamin with high B-Complex and atleast 800mcg of Folic Acid

8/29/2005 10:31 AM  
Blogger Kevin Kennedy-Spaien said...

The only diet that ever put me into an actual "rage" was when, as a teen, my mother put me on the Beverly Hills Diet. If I recall correctly it was a fruit-only, all-you-can-eat diet. The trick was you could only eat one kind of fruit each day. AARGH!

After two weeks, I actually smashed a plate of grapes against the wall.

8/29/2005 12:28 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

One of the things I have noticed when low-carbing (and I'm a huge advocate for low carbing, having lost 45 pounds myself on Atkins and formerly leading a local LC support group) is that I do not have vivid dreams when low-carbing. Or put another way, if I have a sugar binge after a long period of low-carbing, I find that I dream very vividly, where I wake up and distinctly remember the dream, and it's often much more "out there" than I otherwise have. Someone once told me that this had to do with seratonin levels.

However, during the day, my moods are on a much more even keel if I'm low-carbing. I will have mood swings transitioning from being off plan to an induction or OWL state, while my chemistry gets into whack and I transition into the state of ketosis, but otherwise, I'm much more stable when I'm low-carbing.

8/29/2005 6:58 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Thanks Jimmy! I really appreciate your shedding light on this subject and will anxiously check back for comments on this posting!


8/30/2005 1:17 PM  
Blogger LCforevah said...

I have never heard of bad emotional stuff from low carb -- temporary fatigue from the change of diet or low potassium, but never anything else.
Kevin, I remember that fruit only diet -- it left me light-headed!
I find that I'm much calmer on high protein than on any other WOE, and that low fat high carb left me hungry, jittery, and snappish!
The funny thing is, I'm eating more fruits and veggies than I ever have and that probably contributes to my feelings of well-being.

8/31/2005 2:37 PM  
Blogger Kalyn said...

I haven't experienced any of the symptoms described, nor do I know anyone else who has. I do think the tip to be sure you are getting enough vitamins is a good one. Costco carries a great product called B-50. It provides 50mg of all the B vitamins. I swear by this product. The label says "promotes energy" and it really does increase energy.

9/02/2005 9:20 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

First, to respond to Kalyn's comment - I *love* the B-50 at Costco. Great vitamin. I feel a tangible, physical difference when I take it vs. when I miss a dose.

I take Celexa for depression. I've been on it since before starting low carb and it's the reason I had to try low carb. Zoloft (same class of med as Celexa - and Paxil) packed on the pounds. I believe the weight gain resulted from carb cravings caused by the medication, and this seems to be a side effect of all the drugs in the SSRI class. It could also be what's responsible for my binge days, when low carb just isn't cutting the cravings enough.

Like Christine, you don't want to see me off medication, and I've pretty well resigned myself that I'll have to stay on medication my whole life. Depression caused by a chemical imbalance is never healed; it can merely be controlled with meds. And so I will have to deal with the cravings always as well. A very low carb diet (like Atkins) can help control the cravings, but sometimes they break through anyway.

1/23/2006 8:13 PM  
Blogger Rodney Robbins said...

I am under medical advice to eat 60-80 grams of carbs per day to keep my insulin level low and stable. This is to control a rare muscle disorder called periodic paralysis. It is a channelopathy that causes weakness or paralysis from potassium ions shifting in and out of the muscle cells. Eating low carbs makes my muscles feel wonderful, but after a day or two, I'm ready to scream! Horrible mood swings, anger, frustration, sounds that hurt, light sensitivity and nasty migraine headaches. Sorry guys, but low carbs isn't for everyone. Sometimes it has to be about CONTROLLED carbs. For other people it has to be about (gasp) low fat because that's what works for them. But as to your original question about low carbs and mood swings--oh yeah!

6/26/2006 9:04 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for sharing your comments, Rodney. I agree with you that low-carb is NOT for everyone and to find whatever works for you to make your health the best it can be. That's what I talk about all the time at my blog and make it very clear.

BTW, your symptoms of being on low-carb (or controlled-carb which is nearly synonymous when I talk about "low-carb" in this forum) sound like the Induction phase and not what happens over the long-term.

THANKS for visiting and best wishes as you keep on livin' la vida low-carb.

6/26/2006 9:41 AM  
Blogger Eli said...

Thank you for bring this up - my sister mentioned this to me knowing I maintain a low/controlled-carb lifestyle (for 8 years now).

I am always interested in true science and want to know the truth when it's established. If it turns out that there's proof that low-carb is bad for you in some dimension, I want to know it and make judgements based on facts. Unfortunately, most of the negatives put forward are not scientifically established, but more typically loosely posited as possible based on some oblique findings.

The first thing that really got scientifically tested - the effect on lipid profile - turned out the opposite of what detractors and the researchers expected and posited. Three studies now demonstrate that in an actual lab controlled environment (I believe Duke, Cincinnati and Penn) - with something akin to (but not precisely the same as) double-blind placebo-controlled methodology - low-carb produced a lipid profile that was more desirable by cardiology standards than a low-fat regimen - higher HDL, neutral LDL, and much lower triglyceride levels (aka very low density lipids or VLDL - ostensibly the worst for you). If there's any similar scientifically based finding with similar methodology that contradicts this, please post.

Now, with respect to this seratonin issue, I went to the MIT website and read all the underlying research I could locate with Google, which was frankly pretty sketchy. First of all, I could find nothing similar to the studies done on lipid profile, i.e., a human study done in a lab controlled environment with rigorous methods that actually even establishes the fact that a low-carb regimen compared to other dietary approaches results in differential seratonin levels. Studies on rats, while sometimes a good first step, are often not helpful given the significant differences in rats and humans in numerous dimensions. What is found to be true for rats may just as easily prove to be untrue for humans.

Secondly, this hypothesis (low-carb=low seratonin) doesn't seem to address variability. If true for humans (still waiting to see the science and methodology behind this) is this a strong correlation? Does it effect all people the same? how much of a difference is there in individuals?

Until I can see some real science backing up this proposition - which I would be happy to know if true - this falls into the same category as all the pre-study conjecture over the supposedly terrible lipid profiles that would result from low-carb. I'm not afraid of the facts and am willing to adjust to them as they become known.

But there are still many people out there with either ignorant and uninformed prejudices against low-carb or competing (profit-driven) agendas. I will note that it appears the Wurtmans (researchers and promoters of low-carb=low seratonin) have their own weight loss center - Adara Weight Loss Center (for profit?).

Bottom line - those of us who believe that we have experienced positive changes with a low-carb life need to be open to new facts as they become established; but equally, we need to remain skeptical of loose conjecture, oblique correlations presented as cause and effect, uninformed prejudices, and agenda-driven attacks not grounded in real facts.


12/31/2006 7:58 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Wow man, I was just blogging about carb anger and decided to google it. I thought my boyfriend made it up but I'm thrilled to find out it's for real.

It's only been a week and a half without carbs and I'm totaly down in the dumpster...


5/11/2007 4:45 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Hi Jimmy!

Googling for this topic today and what do I find! Well, I'm experiencing crabbiness, irritability and depression again after 2+ yrs. of being off my meds. In fact, the other day, I decided to try and locate my old bottle of Wellbutrin. I'm not about to stop eating low carb, so I hope there are some answers for this problem.

8/16/2007 2:58 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey Stephanie! I hope you stick with livin' la vida low-carb because most of those symptoms are only short-lived during the first few weeks of the diet. It gets MUCH better after that, so don't give up hope just yet. :)

8/16/2007 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Carrie Ann said...

thanks so much for that last comment jimmy. I am almost 3 weeks in (my fourth time doing under 20g/day, lost 10-ish lbs each time) and ready to give up, but I think I'll go another week and see if my mood improves. I remember feeling a bit crummy the other times I low-carbed, but not this bad. I have a little 2-yr-old and a wonderful husband and was starting to feel that it's unfair they have to suffer with my moodiness, but if I can last another week and my mood improves, my whole family will be much happier. Thanks again. And to those who may be wondering, I don't normally suffer from depression (except one medicated bout of postpartum) so I notice myself being a "downer" for pretty much this entire 3 weeks since I started. If you're feeling this way too, try to trust Jimmy's comment that after the first few weeks, it gets MUCH better. I'll try to remember to re-post in another week or two in case anyone is wondering if there's been a change. I hope others continue to post notes on the subject too, if only to support those of us who do feel down when low-carbing.

6/26/2008 10:45 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS Carrie Ann! You WILL do this and I encourage you to come to my low-carb discussion forum for support as you continue this journey to better health.

6/27/2008 10:05 AM  
Anonymous flame said...

I find if I drink diet sodas with aspartame that my tongue tingles almost doesn't do that with Splenda products..just sayin, it may be something as simple as that too..

and it will tingle for a few days after I stop drinking aspartame laced drinks.

7/27/2008 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I usually get on meds in the winter to help me with depression. Something about when the sun comes out just changes me and I no longer need them in spring & summer. Vitamin D I guess! Anyway, I started a low carb diet in September. I really never thought much about it until yesterday. I have not been faithful to the low carb diet since spring break just because I gave into temptations lately. My moods have changed as well as my patience with everyone. I have been a real peach to be around. I thought back to what a happy mind set I had had up until then and without meds at that. I wondered if there was a relation to depression and carbs for me. Anyone ever experience this?


5/09/2009 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I low-carbed for 2 years. In that time, I became very moody/angry. This is unusual as I’m very low keyed and happy. I thought it was pre-menopausal symptoms, and took 5HTP. That helped wonderfully!! Last year (year two of low carbing) was my worst year. My moods were up and down, my relationships suffered, no sleep, stressed out, and I attributed it to pre-menopausal symptoms and stress at work, again. After Christmas I started eating carbs. I gained back all the weight I lost (50 lbs), but my mood went from night to day. My mood improved, I didn’t stress about things like I had been, just like my old self. I’ve recently put 2 and 2 together and just did a search on 'mood and low carb' and found this article. What I know for sure: Every ‘body’ is different when it comes to food, loosing weight, moods, etc. For me, low carb is not the diet I need to follow.

9/05/2009 12:14 AM  
Blogger The Vintage Farm Girl said...

I know this is an old post, but I found it googling. I am 3 1/2 weeks into keto and have not cheated even once. It has been difficult as I struggle with headaches, fatigue, inability to run or workout like I was, etc. I am taking a lot of supplements and chicken broth as suggested but it's not helping much. The worst part for me has been how moody and angry I feel all of the time. I feel like a different person. It's scary. I keep hoping it'll improve as I'm doing keto for PCOS, but each day I feel worse.

3/01/2016 2:51 PM  

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