Consuming sugar regularly (aka carbohydrates) causes a lot of anxiety. How do we know this? Well, many people often discuss how much better they feel on a high fat, low carb diet as opposed to a high-carb diet. Just read the Body Reboot book to see what we mean. Many people associate stress with continually being on the go and getting caught up in endless to-do lists. Luckily it doesn’t have to be that way. By going on the ketogenic diet, it’s possible to prevent anxiety and instead, feel better mentally and physically. Let’s take a look at a few success stories as well as why carbs cause stress in the first place.
Healthful Pursuit explains what signs to look for to find out if carbs are stressing you out. For many people, eating too many carbs (especially the bad ones) can result in a lack of sleep, not feeling well, and even experiencing anxiety and depression.
Signs That Carbs Are Stressing You Out
Here are some signs that it’s time for an adjustment to your carbohydrate intake:
Dark Eye Circles
Puffy, Stiff and Sore Body
Afternoon Energy Lulls
How Do You Reverse This Vicious Cycle?
For many, a whole food-based eating style that’s lower in carbohydrates and stimulants is essential to allow the adrenal glands time to rest and recover.
This doesn’t mean eliminating all carbohydrate sources. It just means less, far less, than what we’re eating. A “clean” whole foods lifestyle can range anywhere between 50-60% of our total intake from carbohydrates. If you are in the business of following a stress-free eating style, 20% of total intake from carbohydrates is a great first-step.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone with your cravings. With a couple of small adjustments, you can kick those cravings to the curb and start to feel good!
Yes, we know that it’s depressing thinking about the harmful side-effects of carbs. While it’s impossible to cut them out altogether, implementing a high-fat diet can vastly improve your health. That’s why Mission.org recommends going on the keto diet, and one author explains the positive side effects he experienced while being on the diet:
Since being on the diet my social anxiety seems to be waning. At first, I thought this might be a placebo effect because I’d heard that ketogenic diets can have a positive effect on anxiety and depression.
Having said that, I started to notice these changes in the first week of the diet and they have persisted in the two weeks that followed. It would have to be one hell of a placebo for it to last this long.
The most recent changes in my anxiety include:
- Having full-on conversations with cashiers that exceed beyond “hi”, “thanks”, and “bye” when I’m shopping
- Being out in public for more than a few hours without caring who is walking past me or looking at me
- Slouching less as I walk through the streets and actually looking people in the eye as I talk to them
- Not lowering my voice to a faint murmur when there are people nearby, making it easier for me to speak to people over the phone on public transport
These were all things I struggled with before and although I still have problems I need to work on, it’s interesting to think that many of the issues I related to my childhood isolation could actually be linked to — or at least exacerbated by — my diet.
I decided to look into the ketogenic diet more to find out exactly what the science was behind me regaining some of my mental stability.
A 2008 study in the journal Epilepsia showed that a ketogenic diet can reduce inflammation in the brain due to both carb restriction and an increase in ketones.
Glutamate, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the brain, and GABA, one that reduces brain stimulation, must be balanced in order for the brain to function properly.
When you have too much glutamate in your brain and not enough GABA it can injure susceptible neurons and cause brain fog.
In addition to the positive results the author experienced above, Health does a beautiful job explaining the theory behind inflammation. It turns out inflammation is due to carbs, but by lowing your carb intake, you reduce inflammation. The result is you create a natural mood stabilizer and feel better overall.
The theory behind the plan is that inflammation, gut distress, and neurotransmitter imbalances can lead to and amplify anxiety—while anti-inflammatory foods, the keto diet, and gut-friendly foods can reduce it.
How does the super trendy keto diet help? By going low-carb, you can change the rate of glucose metabolism in the brain so there's a more active conversion of glutamate to GABA, the neurotransmitter linked to relaxation. “Because GABA is a mood stabilizer, the idea is that the ketogenic diet acts as a mood stabilizer,” says Feller. Anecdotal reports have also suggested that following keto can help reduce anxiety symptoms, fear, and depression, adds Feller.
As for how inflammation and anxiety are linked, Miller says that people who have anxiety tend to have a high amount of inflammatory chemicals in the body. That “causes a surge of excitatory neurotransmitters, which creates even more anxious thoughts and feelings,” she explains. And since 90% of serotonin is made in the gut, when the GI tract and gut are inflamed, production of serotonin may be hindered. That in turn increases feelings of stress, she says.
In the end, I’m pleased with how I feel internally and externally. The anti-anxiety diet was a somewhat intensive undertaking, but I still really feel more grounded (and I've lost some belly bloat too). Oh, and I no longer feel the need to Google various versions of the phrase “how to get over anxiety.” So I’d say the results made the diet worth it.
Well and Good adds to all fo the thoughts above by providing yet another positive experience from a keto dieter. He explains how he made keto work for him as well as how it helped transform his way of thinking. The diet also helped him combat depression and improve his mental health.
To make the ketogenic diet sustainable for me, I’m pretty strict about sticking to it during the week, but on the weekends, I ease up and eat what I want. But a couple weeks in, a funny thing happens: I realize I feel way better during the week than I do on the weekends.
Maybe it’s the power of the placebo effect, but I honestly feel amazing when eating within the ketogenic guidelines. “It’s all about managing blood sugar levels,” Dr. Passler tells me when I press him for an explanation. The diet cut out all the things that spike blood sugar. Not experiencing those consistent ups and downs make it easier to manage anxiety.
“I also want to point out that you don’t need to be in full ketosis [when the body burns stored fats instead of glucose for energy] to experience the effects,” Dr. Passler says. “You still ate whatever you wanted on the weekends and felt less anxious. The key is being aware of how food changes your mood. Then, you can decide for yourself what’s worth it and what isn’t.”
“You don’t need to be in full ketosis to experience the effects.”
For me, the mental differences are enough. Now, over two months later, I’m sticking to a ketogenic diet—while still being a bit more YOLO on the weekends. As for that 7 percent body fat? After a month, I was down 2 percent and three pounds. Not a huge number, but Dr. Passler points out something interesting to me when he takes a look at my cells: My water weight is up, so I have actually gained intercellular water weight (water within the cells), which is a good thing. The more water your cells have, the less inflamed they are.
My inflammation is down and so is my anxiety. I certainly can’t speak for everyone with anxiety, but for me, this is one change that’s truly helped—inside and out.
Incredibly, there’s a diet out there that can help improve your mental health, and we want to encourage you on your journey. For more information on the diet and what you should eat and more, check out the Body Reboot book. All you have to do to get your FREE copy is cover shipping. Visit this page to get your copy ASAP.
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Discover how to activate your body's “Reboot Switch” that flips on a fat burning inferno so you can finally get healthy and achieve your weight loss goals!