By Korin Miller
At least according to this new study.
While people have been preaching the benefits of a low-carb, high-protein diet for a while now, you’ve probably heard that going low-carb can turn you into a ‘hangry’ beast. Experts say that’s because carbs are the brain’s preferred source of fuel, and depriving our bodies of it disrupts mood-regulating hormones, which translates to hanger.
Now, research is actually suggesting that going low-carb could change the way you make decisions, too. At least, that’s the main takeaway from a new study published in the journal PNAS.
For the study, researchers conducted two experiments to see how people acted after eating a low-carb or a higher-carb breakfast, and the results were pretty surprising.
For the first experiment, the researchers asked 87 people what they had eaten for breakfast that morning and then had them play something called The Ultimatum Game. In the game, one person suggests how to share an amount of money allotted to them with another player (for example, “I’ll take R200, and you get R50”). If the receiver accepts the offer, both players are paid. But if the receiver rejects the offer, neither gets paid. (Studies show that receivers usually reject unfair offers, which is interpreted as a form of social punishment for proposing such a crap offer in the first place.) Here’s what they found: People who had a low-carb breakfast were much more likely to accept unfair offers than those who had high-carb breakfasts.
For the second experiment, 24 people were asked to play the game over two days. On the first day, one group was given a high-carb breakfast of bread, jam and fruit juice, while the other had a low-carb one of ham, cheese and milk. Then, the breakfast was switched on day two. The researchers found that again, people were more willing to accept an unfair offer after having a low-carb meal.
The researchers aren’t totally sure why this happens, but guess that it could be because low-carb meals usually have more protein. Protein boosts levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine in the brain, which is also involved in decision-making. That infusion of good vibes could make you more tolerant – and in this case, more likely to accept a crappy deal.
While these results are freaking fascinating, keep in mind that the study was relatively small and more research needs to be done before researchers can definitively say that going low-carb actually causes people to change the way they make decisions. For now, there’s just a link.
This article was originally featured on www.womenshealthmag.com