Long-term effects of provided low and high glycemic load low energy diets on mood and cognition

Physiol Behav. 2009 Sep 7;98(3):374-9. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.06.015. Epub 2009 Jul 2.


Energy-restricted low glycemic load diets are being used increasingly for weight loss. However, the long-term effects of such regimens on mood and cognitive performance are not known. We assessed the effects of low glycemic load (LG) and high glycemic load (HG) energy-restricted diets on mood and cognitive performance during 6 months of a randomized controlled trial when all food was provided. Subjects were 42 healthy overweight adults (age 35+/-5 years; BMI 27.8+/-1.6 kg/m(2)) with a mean weight loss of 8.7+/-5.0% that did not differ significantly by diet randomization. Mood was assessed by using the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire. Cognitive performance was assessed by using computerized tests of simple reaction time, vigilance, learning, short-term memory and attention, and language-based logical reasoning. Worsening mood outcome over time was observed in the HG diet group compared to the LG for the depression subscale of POMS (p=0.009 after including hunger as a covariate). There was no significant change over time in any cognitive performance values. These findings suggest a negative effect of an HG weight loss diet on sub-clinical depression but, in contrast to a previous suggestion, provide no support for differential effects of LG versus HD diets on cognitive performance.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Caloric Restriction / psychology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight / diet therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Loss


  • Dietary Carbohydrates