One of the worst parts about dieting or following any restrictive meal plan is the mood swings that we tend to get. Cutting out carbs can often bring on strong mood swings, but the truth is that just about any type of diet can wreak havoc with our moods. Between hunger and anger pangs (hanger) and the irritation that sets in after a few days or weeks of not eating certain foods, it can be tough to keep up with a diet when the mood swings set in. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to avoid diet mood swings:
Eat A Little More
If you’re seriously restricting your calorie intake (to less than 1500 per day) and doing exercise to burn calories, your body will be at a huge caloric deficit. Seriously calorie restrictions can lead to changes in your brain chemistry, particularly in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in your mood. Consistent hunger, caused by drastic underconsumption of calories, can lead to fluctuating levels of serotonin, which in turn causes drastic mood swings. If you’re going to do a lot of exercise on a low-calorie diet, eat a few more calories to make sure you’ve got enough to keep your body functioning and your serotonin levels steady.
Don’t Fully Cut Carbs
Fully cutting carbohydrates out of your diet will lead to some serious mood swings. Our bodies are currently very dependent on carbs for energy, so cutting carbs completely can leave our bodies feeling deprived, even if we get enough other nutrients and total calories. A lack of carbs can impair our production of serotonin, which can lead to mood swings. Stick with one or two servings of carbs per day to keep your carb intake low, but still have enough that your moods don’t start fluctuate.
Embrace the Fat
Fat is critical for those who are going on a low-carb diet, as it provides your body with enough energy to keep functioning throughout the day. But that’s not all fat does! Omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in our moods. Simply put, a lack of Omega-3s can lead to hostility, anger, and depression. If you’re cutting carbs, make sure to add more healthy fats to your diet, particularly those fats rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, sardines, flax seeds, and walnuts are all going to help you to avoid diet mood swings!
Make Workouts Short and Intense
Workouts that last longer than sixty minutes can drastically decrease your blood sugar levels, which in turn will affect your mood. You may even find that it impairs your ability to think clearly, and for longer than a few hours—up to a day or more! Your best bet during your diet days is to stick with short, intense workouts, something that lasts for 30 to 45 minutes and pushes your body hard in that time. High Intensity Interval Training can be one of the best options to help you burn through an intense workout without burning all your body’s stored blood sugar.
Don’t Totally Deprive Yourself
Did you know that depriving yourself of all good things can actually negatively affect your emotions on a physical level? It’s not just your mood that plummets when you see someone else eating or drinking something you can’t have—your blood sugar levels can drop, too, leading to hypoglycemia, which can trigger irritation and nasty moods. Allow yourself an occasional treat, and change your mindset so you don’t feel like you’re “depriving yourself” when you pass on foods you know you shouldn’t be eating.