Watching the news and reading online I have seen lots of talk about the recent study in Australia comparing a Low-Fat to a Low-Carb diet in an effort to determine how it would effect mood.
Details of the study can be found here:
The basic method was as follows...
61% Fat (20% Saturated)
Objective to restrict carbs to less than 20 grams per day and increase to 40 per day after 8 weeks.
30% Fat (<8% Saturated)
Ojective to restrict saturated fat intake to less than 10 g/d for the study duration and with the inclusion of an approved food exchange (equivalent to the energy content of 20 g of carbohydrate) between weeks 9 and 52.
Both diets were designed to be moderately energy restricted (approximately 1433 kcal/d for women and 1672 kcal/d for men), with the total energy intake and energy deficit planned to be isocaloric.
The study used questionares at weeks 0(baseline),8,24,40 and 52 to asses mood, including tension, anxiety, anger, etc.
Both groups lost roughly 30 pounds and there was no statistical difference regarding LC vs. LF. In each group they found that all particpants mood scores improved from week 0 to week 8. However, both groups mood scores declined from weeks 8 to 24. During weeks 24 to 40 the LC groups mood scores continued to decline while the LF groups scores showed little change. Finally both groups showed some improvement from weeks 40-52 but for the LC group it really only returned them to scores that were roughly equal to what was measured at Week 0 (baseline).
So what does all of this mean. I can tell you from my experience eating a low carb diet for almost 2 years I find it often challenging to eat this way. If you talk to people that have been eating LC for some time you will get a feeling it's them against the world. I think this comes from LC lifestyle being such a deviation from mainstream. For me I would often put up my shield as soon as someone asked about my food choices.
I could absolutely see how this could cause anxiety as I can attest how difficult it can be to go to family functions, dinner or other events and say no to almost everything. Packing your food everywhere you go can be a drag. I find that I am constantly asking questions about the recipes people bring to gatherings which is not only uncomfortable for me but likely also for the friend.
Secondary to this is many LC eaters feel like they have a need to set the world straight regarding food choices. As if LC is the only logical choice and all other methods are foolish. Many will try to educate those non believers and rant about how crazy they are for trimming the fat from their steak or chicken.
Bottom line...I have said it before and I will say it again. LC works for me and I am comfortable with it as a lifestyle. However, I would not recommend to everyone as it's can be stressful and difficult to manage.