Low Carb Diets are Bad for Your Brain

Low-carbing might help you drop body fat, but it can also drop brain cells!

Researchers at Tufts University, Massachusetts, studied 19 women aged 22 to 55. Half were put onto a low-carb diet, half onto a low-calorie balanced diet. Within just one week, the women on the low-carb diet scored far lower in tests of their attention, long and short term memory, visual attention, and spatial memory. There was no difference in hunger between the two groups.

No surprises there really, if you’re also aware of the findings of the 1945 Minnesota Starvation Study. It said reducing calories for any length of time negatively affects mental, physical, and emotional health, and it takes months for that health to return to balance.

And yet we’re still bombarded daily with the latest miracle diets, lambasting of “fatties”, and hysteria about the catastrophic costs of the “obesity epidemic”. All of which is based on the flawed idea that if you reduce your calorie intake, you can be fashionably thin – genetics be damned.

Anyone who’s had a long-term issue with weighing more than they “should” knows that there’s more going on. Perhaps it is more about leptin-intolerance, artificial hormones from plastics and in our food supply, or something else that we don’t really know about yet. One thing’s for sure, as long as our health continues to be incorrectly linked to our weight and research dollars are directed that way, we won’t find any meaningful answers.

And about the catastrophic costs of the obesity epidemic, is anyone looking at the long-term mental, physical and emotional impacts of dieting? Dieting reduces muscle mass in every part of the body, including the heart. There are definite links to increased heart attack after dieting, as the heart is weakened by dieting – it is a muscle after all. What about the catastrophic cost of depression? it’s an epidemic in our culture, I’m sure it’s diet-related. What about the catastrophic cost of eating disorders on our women, many triggered by dieting?

Keep pushing for balance….


  1. Paul low carb on May 14, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Low carb diets like any other are contentious, some say the brain needs carbs and others say not. The one fact is they work when comes to weight loss.
    The other thing is that these population studies are extremely difficult to get accurate data from and they do not the long term into account so I would take the findings with a pinch of salt.

    • Sandy on June 9, 2012 at 12:50 am

      And Paul, considering that you’re obviously commenting here to get backlinks to your weight loss website, I suggest your comments need to be taken with a truckload of salt.

  2. Healthy on June 20, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    To give off the impression that being overweight does not have a negative relation to the body in various ways would be incorect. Is it the cause of every negative issue one may encounter? No of course not, but holding large amounts of excess weight is definitely taxing on several of the body’s systems. There are plenty of well documented studies showing this. Statements such as dieting reduces the mass of every muscle would be another misleading statement. Any calorie restriction being bad on the heart long term? Similar to saying that exercise that raises the heart rate and puts stress on the heart is also dangerous long term. I am not referring to crazy extreme amounts either, but rather that of healthy exercise. This next part might even be more frustrating, but I do not mean it in that way. There are many many inspirational stories of obese people that made lifestyle changes to add in regular and consistent exercise, healthy eating, and a calorie deficit, and have gone from being overweight their whole lives for some, some just potions, to losing alot of weight, feeling better, and becoming healthier. While genetics certainely play some role, it isn’t what makes one person greatly obese and another a bodybuilder, fit person, etc. Linking excess weight to possibly hormonal changes from eating food in plastic is really just a poor excuse it could seem. Society does have pretty unfortunate and unrealistic standards (especially for women) of what people should look like, but eating healthy, and exercising is good and beneficial. And if one is overweight then lowering bodyfat in a slow manner through a net deficit of calories after consumption and with exercise is healthy and beneficial on long term health. Just my 2 cents

    • Sandy on August 5, 2012 at 12:57 am

      Being very large – or very thin – puts significant strain on the body. However most people who are statistically ‘overweight’ do not have the significant health problems you mention; it’s a distortion of statistics that the whole obesity panic is built on. Studies prove that 30 minutes of exercise 3 – 5 times a week is easily enough to maintain good health regardless of weight. Your statement that many people have made lifestyle changes and lost weight and become healthier needs questioning – making lifestyle changes and adding exercise will increase health in anyone. Just because someone is thin does not mean that they are healthy, that’s the biggest lie about body weight in our culture. A person’s level of body fat is not any kind of indicator of their health. No one is saying that eating good quality food and moving our bodies regularly is not good; it’s what this site advocates. But restricting whole classes of foods solely to change weight is of questionable health value.

  3. Matt on August 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Everyone knows that going into ketosis on low carbs, especially for the first term, causes a short period of grogginess and low energy while your body adapts. This then reverses and people report thinking clearer and having more energy. Studies that last a week are misleading, thats exactly when most people are hitting the carb withdrawal phase.

    I hear going off heroin makes you feel and think really bad after a week too, just saying.

    • Sandy on August 5, 2012 at 12:49 am

      Yes fair point. I’m just generally against restricting any particular food group for reasons of weight loss, so happy for anyone to take my opinions with a liberal pinch of salt. I’m pro-salt too 😉 Good quality mineral rich salt, anyway 🙂

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