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JUSTBIRDY SparkPoints: (0)
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3/30/11 12:09 A

Serotonin receptors are found in many places, mostly in the gut, but also in the brain. There are many functions.
If some people are very low in serotonin, substances (like SSRI's) that recycle or preserve it might not work as well. Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin, which helps people sleep.
Dr. Calvin Ezrin discusses serotonin and sleep as it relates to weight loss.
He also has information in his books, which can be previewed. Read this article carefully, it's quite meaty.
Serotonin can't cross the blood brain barrier. Here's an article that explains it somewhat, and how carbs are can be involved:
As I understand it, carbs don't make serotonin. They raise insulin which allows tryptophan to get into the brain and then the brain takes over from there.

THEAMAZINGKAT SparkPoints: (2,630)
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3/29/11 10:28 P

Reading this I've learned a lot just because I have a lot of issues with sleeping too. But one thing I don't understand at all is the carbs producing serotonin which causes you to be sleepy. From all my research in serotonin from when my boyfriend was starting his serotonin reuptake inhibitors (basically anti-depressants which caused more serotonin to be in his body), he was having a bigger issue with sleeping. The doctors told him to take melatonin to help sleep. (Which by the way if you are trying to sleep... it works awesomely, but if you take too much of it you get crazy dreams)

So how does carbs making serotonin cause someone to be tired? When serotonin is supposed to work the opposite way around and cause you to be awake? I know from my college psych class we did cover how you need serotonin to engage melotonin production... but serotonin is more produced during the day and keeps you alert, lacking in it causes you to feel groggy and not so uppity.

It might be too technical of a question for anyone to answer... but I don't know I'm confuzzled...

3/29/11 9:53 P

Carbohydrates produce seratonin which keeps you calm and helps you sleep. Another reason why you'll get extremely irritable if you cut out too many carbs. However, the carbs don't have to be cake and ice cream, whole grains are the best of both worlds.

LUAPINA SparkPoints: (0)
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3/29/11 9:15 P

I still eat carbs and have a fairly "regular" diet, but I cut out fructose from my diet about 3 months ago and insomnia is now a thing of the past.

JUSTBIRDY SparkPoints: (0)
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3/6/11 1:37 P


Edited by: JUSTBIRDY at: 3/7/2011 (13:31)
JUSTBIRDY SparkPoints: (0)
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3/5/11 6:47 P


Edited by: JUSTBIRDY at: 3/7/2011 (13:31)
JUSTBIRDY SparkPoints: (0)
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3/5/11 6:42 P


Edited by: JUSTBIRDY at: 3/7/2011 (13:31)
KILCHERM SparkPoints: (0)
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3/5/11 6:35 P

Hey Bearclaw6,

Thanks so much for taking the time to explain that! I really appreciate it. That makes a lot of sense too.

No offense at all by the way, I could sort of tell that there was a tone (so hard to read through text, right?) but I didn't get it.

Thanks again for posting the answer to my question! You are awesome!


3/5/11 3:41 P

Just to clarify...

A slice of white bread has a glycemic index of 71, while table sugar has a glycemic index of 68. Both are considered a HIGH glycemic index food and very close in their effect on blood sugar levels.

This SP article has more of the pros and cons of the Glycemic Index in relationship to weight loss and diabetes control. In fact, based on research, a low gylcemic index diet is NOT recommended for weight loss or weight maintenance as part of a comprehensive weight management program, since it has NOT been shown to be effective in this area.

And for blood sugar control with diabetes, TOTAL carbohyhdrate intake at meals and snacks is still the gold standard used.

SP Registered Dietitian Becky

BEARCLAW6 SparkPoints: (0)
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3/5/11 3:06 P

Kilcherm, bread is worse in terms of glycemic index because processed wheat is basically poly-glucose that is broken down to glucose very quickly. Table sugar is a disaccharide made up of glucose AND fructose. When table sugar is broken down, the fructose half has basically no glycemic index since it is sent to the liver to be turned into fat rather than causing an insulin response. So, table sugar actually has a lower glycemic index in general than most 'white' grains due to the fructose half.

And sorry about the 'cut it out' comment. I was actually being sarcastic since the nutritionist on SparkPeople tend to be militant in their opposition to low-carb plans (even the relatively high, low-carb plans like 40% carb calories).

KILCHERM SparkPoints: (0)
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3/5/11 1:13 P

Hey Bearclaw6,

I'm not sure I'm understanding correctly. You restated what I already introduced in more detail, right? I totally agree with everything you said! And I see your point about the 40%. 40-60% IS low when compared to the possible 70-80% in many people's diet.

I didn't understand this part: " It must make sense to someone, then, or you better cut it out!"

A biochemist huh? What do you do? I considered pursuing biochemistry in grad school, but I've decided to go with the nutrition route. Biochemistry is so much fun!!

Question: Could you explain why bread is worse than straight up table sugar? If you would rather send this to me in a private message, please feel free. :)



ANARIE Posts: 13,205
3/5/11 11:57 A

You know, I think there's a very, very simple answer to this question.

You're hungry. You're not eating much and you're exercising a lot, so after not eating for 6-8 hours, you get hungry and it wakes you up.

Eat a snack before bedtime. Don't overthink it; just eat something you want. If it has a balance of macronutrients, that might be better, but it probably doesn't matter. Just try a bedtime snack for a week and see if that doesn't solve the problem. If it doesn't, then you can start worrying about low-carb/high-carb/whatever yada yada, but try the simplest thing first; food before bed so you don't get hungry.

(By the way, most people I know who have lost weight and kept it off DO have a late-night snack. Could be coincidence, but it's pretty universal in the successful maintainers.)

3/5/11 11:11 A

Just to add some clarification...our Sparkpeople program uses ranges for protein, fat and cabohydrates that are set forth by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, the National Academies. These guidelines are evidence based and set forth for overall health and well being of the general population, and are very much appropriate for the majority of our 5 million SP members. This SP article gives more on this:

With a fat range of 20-35% of calories, our SP eating plan would be considered anywhere from a low to a moderate fat intake.

With a carbohydrate range of 45-65% of calories, our SP eating plan would be considered a moderate carbohydrate intake.

As the Registered Dietitian for SP, you will actually see me suggest to some of our members to drop to about 40% carbs based on medical conditions, for example PCOS.

Most health organizations consider a low carb diet to be less than 35% carbohydrates. Regarding weight loss, it appears that a lower carb diet can bring about a faster weight loss for some people when evaluated during the first 6 months. However, by one year the weight loss in dieters with a lower carb intake (less than 35% of calories) and dieters with a moderate carb intake (45-65% of calories) has been shown to be very similar in weight loss results. Therefore it is key that when one is trying to lose weight, they initiate an eating plan that they can comfortably stay on for the rest of their life.

Thought this might help to clarify those terms such as low and actually applying some numbers to the situation.

To the ORIGINAL POSTER...there could be several issues that may be causing your insomnia. It could be the result of NOT eating enough food throughout the day (too few calories). It could also be related to your ultra low carb intake. During the night, your body may be reacting to a very low drop in blood sugar levels. The body responds for safety by having the liver release sugar into the blood stream. Often this can awaken the person, they may feel dizzy, lightheaded, sweating, unable to sleep, etc.

SP Regiatered Dietitian Becky

Edited by: DIETITIANBECKY at: 3/5/2011 (11:21)
REDSHOES2011 SparkPoints: (0)
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3/5/11 9:45 A

2 suggestions,
1.never remove essential items from the food fruid or suffer at some stage lacking vitamins and immune system crash..
2.unless your drinking excessive amounts coffee- it may just be you need less sleep..

As we get older alot of people can survive on less sleep- this is nothing to do with our nutrition..

Many people like me power sleep and get by without excessive sleep.. Many people over sleep and suffer all day being groggy..

Like others have said, if you get too much carbs a person tends to be sluggish not awake and rearing to go at 4 am..

Edited by: REDSHOES2011 at: 3/5/2011 (09:46)
BEARCLAW6 SparkPoints: (0)
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3/5/11 9:03 A

Kikcerm, from the point of view of the typical low-fat diet that SparkPeople advocates, 40% of your calories from carb IS low carb. You are eating low carb! It must make sense to someone, then, or you better cut it out! Ask the experts on here and they will tell you that 45% carb calories is the lower limit. Those experts are wrong. Some people can actually lose weight that way, but many cannot due to how insulin works on fat retention.

Biologically, low carb makes complete sense. As a biochemist, I just wish that I had paid more attention to my professors in graduate school when I learned about fat metabolism. I would probably have started losing weight a decade earlier.

The reason that a low-carb diet makes sense is that simple carbohydrates get converted to sugar before they even hit your bloodstream, and this happens fast. Anything with a high glycemic index (bread is even worse than straight sugar!) hits your blood and spikes your insulin. High insulin forces fat cells to retain fat and convert sugar to fat. The only way to keep your insulin from spiking all the time is to either eat the same amount of carb every three minutes all day and all night or to eat very little carb. White rice is essentially worse for you than Ding Dongs since Ding Dongs at least have some fat in them to help you stay sated for a little while, too. And no, I don't advocate eating Ding Dongs, I advocate avoiding ALL simple carbs.

ALLISONSB1 Posts: 33
3/5/11 8:50 A

I eat 20 or less grams of carbs per day. I find that since switching to low carb I have a lot of energy and sometiems it hard for me to wind down. I have a bedtime routine that helps me wind down and get much needed sleep. I usualy read for about 30 minutes before turning off the lights. I also do not take naps anymore.

NUTMEG1125 Posts: 2,002
3/5/11 3:10 A

How much carb are you getting everyday?

Are you tired and unable to function during normal waking hours? Work, school, taking care of family, etc. Is it messing with that- like are you falling asleep in the middle of the day? What time are you going to bed?

KILCHERM SparkPoints: (0)
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3/4/11 8:54 P

I second what ALIAKAI said. The low carb thing makes no biological sense. Do not cut out entire macro-nutrients. Your body needs carbs. You should be trying to balance your insulin throughout the day. So that is my first bit of advice: eat enough carbohydrates!
That said, cutting out PROCESSED CARBS is definitely a good idea. Ideally, around 40% of your daily calories should come from carbs, 30% from healthy fats, and 30% from protein.
[4 calories in 1 gram of carbs, 4 calories in 1 gram of protein, 9 calories in 1 gram of fat]

I don't know about the whole sugar thing. I cannot argue with someone who says it is tried and true.... but it doesn't make sense to me. Many sources of protein contain tryptophan, which does get converted to serotonin. So by that logic, eating a bit of protein a while before bed would make more sense. In fact I have heard this from my biochemistry professor, and also a registered dietitian.

Another note on that: The presence of insulin in the blood inhibits the release of human growth hormone which of course is very important for staying youthful and fit! So you should avoid carbs (including sugar) 3 hours before bed.

Maybe you can try some sleepy-time tea, a warm bath or shower, reading etc to wind down?

Good luck!


ALIAKAI SparkPoints: (0)
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3/4/11 8:04 P

Low carb dieting is absolutely terrible for the body...don't avoid fruit! The veggies and such are good for you, but can you see yourself eating this way for the rest of your life, or do you plan to go "off the diet" eventually? If so, you're going to need to develop a more realistic, sustainable eating plan. That said, I am glad the weight is carving off for you, hopefully you can find a way to keep it off.

JUSTBIRDY SparkPoints: (0)
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3/4/11 7:00 P


Edited by: JUSTBIRDY at: 3/7/2011 (13:30)
-POOKIE- Posts: 22,528
3/4/11 8:08 A

Its more that carbs make you tired and sleepy, rather than the lack of them causing a new problem.

That tired and sleepy from carbs isn't good, so you are wiating on your body to develop natural sleeping habits rather than the zonking out from carbs your body might be used too.

3/4/11 6:59 A

So i've been dieting for some time, but recently switched to ultra low carb / low sugar diet (minus oatmeal for breakfest or some carb in the morning for energy). I avoid fruit, but eat tons of veggies, vish, chicken.

That weight has been peeling off, but I wake up almost every night in the middle of the night wide awake. I'm writting this at 4:AM my time. Also, I excersize cardio at least a hour a day (5 x a week) + 3X str a week. I'm getting amazing results just cant sleep anymore.

Anyone have this problem or any advice? (and dont say workout more pls)

Humbly yours,

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