The Connection Between Dieting and Mental Health (broken down by type)

I suppose it seems logical but dieting doesn’t help depression and can amplify mental illnesses that you take medication for, here is why (and which ones in which situations).

That said, you kind of know this going in right, even though you might not have made a direct connection? Look, if you need to manage your weight it’s best to know this before you start so that you realize why diet cycles need to be shorter and more precise.

Diets are stress after all. That stress is meant so that you lose stored body fat but precision is impossible so a lot gets affected in the process.

Some of it is vitamin deficiency, when you eat less, even if you take a multivitamin (which might help a bit) it’s not JUST quality that makes a difference.

It’s also quantity. If you are eating say 2,000 calories as opposed to 1,000 there is just a lot of missed opportunity for vitamins.

That said, it’s not just vitamins.

This is from the first article posted in comments (Facebook moves the comments around so I will mark them article one and article two)

“Carbohydrates are naturally occurring polysaccharides and play an important role in structure and function of an organism. In higher organisms (human), they have been found to affect mood and behavior. Eating a meal which is rich in carbohydrates triggers the release of insulin in the body. Insulin helps let blood sugar into cells where it can be used for energy and simultaneously it triggers the entry of tryptophan to brain. Tryptophan in the brain affects the neurotransmitters levels.”

When the article says blood sugar it simply means the blood sugar that you eat or even the blood sugar that your body produces through a process called gluconeogenesis.

I think most people are aware that Tryptophan helps us get to sleep but what wakes us up is the stress hormone Cortisol. Cortisol and Insulin do a dance in your blood stream. Cortisol thrives when insulin is not present.

While this would point to low carbohydrate diets being a main culprit not so fast. Even with a balanced calorie deficit you are still susceptible to these kinds of problems.

This is why just eating as low as possible as long as possible is a bad idea.

When our clients are in a deficit we view it in levels, their lowest calories don’t show up until deep into the cycle. Furthermore, the sooner your calories are at their lowest the less progress you will make.

You just hit a wall and this is a big reason why most people fail dieting. They simply go too hard too fast.

Both of my daughters are vegetarians with my full support. That said, when you get protein from plants to fill in the gaps you actually need more TYPES of proteins to fill that gap. This is not the case for COMPLETE proteins from meats sources or dairy products like whey protein.

A lot of people that go vegetarian to lose weight don’t often realize they need to consume MORE food to meet their basic needs (referring to macronutrients). While fats and carbs change, for most programs protein tends to stay the same. Once again, from article one:

“Plant proteins such as beans, peas, and grains may be low in one or two essential amino acids. Protein intake and in turn the individual amino acids can affect the brain functioning and mental health. Many of the neurotransmitters in the brain are made from amino acids. The neurotransmitter dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine and the neurotransmitter serotonin is made from the tryptophan.[5] If there is a lack of any of these two amino acids, there will not be enough synthesis of the respective neurotransmitters, which is associated with low mood and aggression in the patients.”

“So low fat diets are OK?”

Nope, from article one.

“The brain is one of the organs with the highest level of lipids (fats). Brain lipids, composed of fatty acids, are structural constituents of membranes. It has been estimated that gray matter contains 50% fatty acids that are polyunsaturated in nature (about 33% belong to the omega-3 family), and hence are supplied through diet.”

So what is the answer, what if you need to lose weight for either your health or even to look better on the beach this summer.

First as you eat less your diet should have balance. Naturally that balance will decrease as your calories go lower but just starting at your lowest and hoping that fixes the problem is a significant piece of why people fail. They hit a wall and they have nowhere else to go.

Exercise is an important piece of the puzzle. Not only does it allow for more calories it has a lot of positive downstream effects brain wise.

You have to know that you aren’t just playing with your calories, you are playing with your brain chemistry. The best answer to fix this is to mostly whole foods in appropriate amounts and fill in the rest with foods you enjoy. That’s what your brain prefers.

I say it a lot because it’s important:

The first rule of dieting is that you shouldn’t be dieting all of the time.

Not just for your physical health but for your mental health as well

Even the programs that reverse don’t do a good job because they cave to the fear of their clients or they let AI (artificial intelligence) do the work.

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Paul Nobles Jr
Nov 3, 2021

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