To Feel Better, Low-Fat Diet May Be Best

ByABC News
November 9, 2009, 4:23 PM

Nov. 10 -- MONDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Both a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet such as the popular Atkins program and a low-fat, high-carb diet appear to help people lose pounds over the course of a year.

But as for mood? Only the low-fat diets will result in long-term improvement in mood, according to a study in the Nov. 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

People on both diets consumed roughly the same number of calories.

"Both an energy-reduced, very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet and a conventional high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet are equally effective for achieving weight loss in overweight and obese individuals," explained study author Grant D. Brinkworth, a research scientist with the food and nutritional sciences division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Adelaide, Australia.

"Both dietary patterns also had similar effects on the cognitive domains assessed," which were working memory and speed of processing, Brinkworth added. "However, the conventional high-carbohydrate, low-fat weight-loss diet was shown to have more positive effects on mood compared to the very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet."

Dr. Ewald Horvath, interim chairman of psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said the study was the first "to show both long-term weight loss and improved mood."

"This study looked at one factor, and prior studies haven't focused on psychological factors," Horvath said. "This is a great study focusing on something very important."

Other studies have found short-term improvements in mood in people who lose weight on different diets. And the new study also found such improvements over the first eight weeks of dieting.

But few studies have looked at long-term mood changes among people who lose weight.

Health organizations, such as the American Heart Association, tend to advocate higher-carb, low-fat diets. But many overweight and obese people are propelled toward the high-fat diets such as Atkins, "Livin' La Vida" and "Good Calories, Bad Calories," perhaps because of quick initial weight loss, Horvath said.