I'm a 22 year-old male, been primal since October, slowly cutting dairy out of my diet to make it full paleo over the past couple of months. My health, energy, body composition, etcetera, have all improved immensely. I dropped over fifty pounds of dead weight (230 to 175 at a height of 5' 10") and have never felt better, physically.
However, there has been a distinct change in my mood. I am much more volatile when confronted. I don't know if this is due to an increase in testosterone now that I am not eating processed foods, or if I am simply an overconfident jackass now that I'm no longer the "goofy big guy" in my circle of friends. All I do know is that I have less and less patience with people.
I've tried to reason out whether this is due solely to diet or to extenuating circumstances, because a lot of things beyond my control have made my life very unsettled for the past year. But I do not recall ever reacting so angrily to disagreements, repeated questions or even garden-variety silliness.
Has anyone else ever experienced similar changes in mood when going primal/paleo?
I had this experience about six months into paleo. I became very ... what's the word? ... ruthless (cyborgian :oD) and people's weaknesses became really obvious. There was a point when I was really low-carb where my dreams (during the night and day) were almost always about some sort of active competitive violent sport: fighting, combat, firing, riding.
My mental clarity during this period was incredible, but actually, at the same time, rather frightening. I am not a competitive woman. As a rule, I have hated any kind of physical competition or combat, but woahhhh ... my head changed when I spent a lot of time low-carb. Seriously.
I strongly suspect, after doing some research into other people's experiences on low-carb or no-carb paleo, that it is the diet -- specifically, the removal of dietary sugars and addition of higher levels of vitamins, minerals and protein and how this affects the way your body feels to reside in (more muscle, more physical power must play into your subconscious understandings of yourself) and how your mind then regulates itself. I am convinced "emotionality" is almost entirely down to dietary sugars (and wonder whether the "women = emotions" meme could be down to women culturally eating more carbs than men).
I dealt with it by emotionally detaching myself "by one remove" from people around me. I can care, but not be "involved" ... if that makes sense. I also began a precision activity where that mental space is downloaded into powerful movements where precision is key (ie. I will spend hours perfecting a movement so every time my foot ends up exactly an inch from the floor).
All in all, I strongly suspect that a strict paleo diet version with next to no carbs takes us closer to the mentalities of early humans. When I went no-carb for a while, my ego almost entirely disappeared, which I found fascinating considering some of the theories of the bicameral mind and the start of "civilisation". There kinda was no "I" for a while (it was wonderful :oD No more "radio f-ck up" constantly playing through my head. Just a kind of Zen).
My advice would be to find something that takes your head up onto another plane, somewhere where these spikes of annoyance can go. Remember: "anger is an energy". Use it to improve yourself, rather than throw it away on getting narked by people.
I have. I have gotten irritable and volatile when I wasn't eating enough (without realizing it) and especially when I skimped too much on the carbs. Some people do well with low-carb, others really do not.
Drinking a lot of coffee might harm your serotonin levels, which can have an effect on your mood as well.
And of course, there are also just the effects of cumulative stress, if you're dealing with a frustrating situation at work or other life circumstances beyond your control.
For me the key to steadier moods is: sun exposure, adequate sleep, lots of good food that includes carbohydrates you tolerate, and exercise you enjoy (even if its just walking). If that doesn't take care of it, you might also consider acupuncture. I go occasionally and it does help me calm down a lot.
As a man who is on the cusp of no longer being a fat-man I can relate. I've noticed this sort of snappishness in myself.
For myself I've come to the conclusion that Stress=Stress regardless of cause.
A change in set-point and eating hypocaloricly is a stress as far as your body is concerned.
Doing High-intensity exercise is a stress Changing diets can remove coping mechanisms leaving you more raw and exposed.
My experience with testosterone -
Higher-T doesn't cause aggressiveness. If anything it boosts confidence and leaves you sayin "Dude, whatever..." when someone gets on your case. If you've gone VLC or cycle your carbs you maybe having up's and down's hormonaly and Test withdrawl can make you bitchy and depressed.
My first thought was also the seratonin. For your body to make seratonin on its own I have been told that you need to eat carbohydrates without fat or protein. So, for a non-paleo example...oatmeal with non-fat milk or just by itself. Fat slows down the process and protein interferes with the brain's ability to make serotonin. Seratonin is also at its lowest in the evening, and so for me personally, I need carbs late in the day. I don't like it, but that is my body and after several failed attempts to either go low-carb or full-on paleo with limited starchy carbs of any sort, I have accepted that is just what my body needs. We are all different after all. So, I am primal up to about 4-6pm and then I switch it around and have some carbs. I am going to work with a nutritionist soon to see if there is a way using tubers or something that may provide the same carbohydrate benefit for me. But it is something to consider when creating your meals. I was stunned to know that protein interferes with the body making seratonin. I guess I am just sensitive to it. :) Anyway, something to consider. Plus, ensure you are getting enough magnesium, calcium, vitamin D and B vitamins (and possibly omega 3's, especially if not eating organic grass fed meats)
PS> Congrats on your weight loss. =)
Congrats on your improvement!
Testoserone has this bad stigma that it turns people into pricks. In actuality it's low test that'll do that to you. Doubt at 22yrs old you'll have to worry about low T if you're sleep nutrition & exercise intensity is in check. From my experience I'm going to assume that your irritability is mainly because you are going through some quarter life crisis that you have little control of.
I know this is an older thread but Thank You all so much! I was feeling so alone & worried about my paleo personality changes. I'm irritable, confident, quicker wit, less worried, more moody, more happy, more focused when required, more of an Alpha type female now...things that used to bother me I could care less about...yet things that didn't use to bother me get my hackles up. After years & years of not caring less...suddenly I'm very interested in weapons as sport/hobby again.
I know people around me are finding dealing with the "new" me to be confusing. I'm so glad to know that others have experienced this too and I'm keeping a close eye on how what I eat/drink/supplement affects me as well as trying to stay out of ketosis as that really affects me in a worse way.
I guess I'd say overall I feel like my former shy, over-analytical self has turned into a woman warrior/leader. It's very unsettling to have changed so much.
Switching away from IFing 4 Answers