Any bodybuilder who’s ever dieted knows that it can adversely affect mood. Studies confirm that it’s not all in your head, although that’s the scene of the action. Following a lowfat diet for a month leads to increased anger and hostility, perhaps due to a lower intake of fats that positively influence mood, such as the omega-3 fatty acids. A diet that reduces energy intake is bound to affect your mood sooner or later. A recent study examined the effects of minerals on mood during diets that are intended to reduce blood pressure.
Both diets used in the study were high in potassium and calcium but differed in sodium content, one diet being moderate in sodium and the other low in it. Ninety-seven men and women stayed on either diet for four weeks, then went on a two-week control diet, followed by switching to the other diet. That’s known as a crossover study.
The subjects showed greater improvement in mood, as expressed by less depression and tension and more vigor, on the low-sodium diet. Their increased vigor was also linked to increased magnesium. Interestingly, cortisol counts rose, which seemed to impart feelings of less fatigue and more vigor. Past studies have found a relationship between cortisol and fatigue and depression. Decreased sodium is known to boost cortisol, likely a minor stress effect.
The main point of the study, however, is that a higher potassium and magnesium intake, coupled with a lower sodium intake, is associated with improvements in mood. The practical application: Make sure you supplement with minerals—with the exception of sodium—when dieting. Taking minerals should make dieting—or at least your perception of it—a bit easier to take. IM
Torres, S.J., et al. (2008). Dietary electrolytes are related to mood. Brit J Nutr. 9:1-8.