Some studies however indicate that eating excess
carbohydrates may actually increase the amount of stress. Stress and a high
carbohydrate diet together may increase the chances of obesity.
The feeling of being rewarded by food is perceived
by the brain in two forms, 'liking' and 'wanting.' 'Liking' refers to the
pleasure derived through the oro-sensory stimulation of food. 'Wanting' on the
other hand, refers to the appetite, craving or motivation to obtain the food.
A study was conducted on 19 men and 19 women to test
the effect of two different types of food, high protein or high carbohydrate on
stress-induced changes in mood, the perception of 'liking' or 'wanting' by the
brain and post-meal energy intake.
The participants of the study were examined on 4
occasions. On one occasion, they underwent a stress session (by taking a
stress-causing computer exam) and were then given a high-protein diet. In
another session, they received stress session with a high-carbohydrate diet. In
the remaining two sessions, they received a high-protein or a high-carbohydrate
diet at rest without any stress.
Pre- and post-meal 'liking' and 'wanting' were
tested using a computer test. Appetite profile was measured with visual
analogue scales, mood changes were measured with the help of questionnaires and
post-meal energy intakes were measured.
The participants were found to be depressed or
anxious during stress. The high-protein intake, when compared to
high-carbohydrate intake, reduced subsequent 'wanting' and energy intake at
rest only in patients with high disinhibited eating behavior (Disinhibited
eating behavior is when a person eats too quickly and is repeatedly
unsuccessful during dieting). However, this effect disappeared during stress. In all other cases, the two diets had
similar effects on stress-related mood and eating behavior.
effect of diet on stress-related eating behavior is the same irrespective of
the type of food, according to this study.
1. Lemmens SG et al. Lack of effect of high-protein vs. high-carbohydrate
meal intake on stress-related mood and eating behavior. Nutrition Journal 2011,