Myth Busting – Is a 'sugar rush' a real thing?
Eating sugary sweets won't make you more active or alert, but you will experience a sudden siesta rush
This old myth goes way back: if you feed your children with something sweet, they will experience a "sugar rush" and will become hyperactive. We're so stuck with this nonsense, that when we feel a bit sleepy, we'll reach for a candy bar or an ice cream. But don't rush for that chocolate just yet, because science has the answer – and it's not sugar.
If you were to eat a big bag of candy and guzzle a large soda, you might expect to feel a “sugar rush” followed by a warm glow of saccharine satisfaction. In reality, the complete opposite happens, according to a new study.
The scientists of the research, published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, pored over dozens of different studies on sugar consumption and the effect on people's mood. They found that sugar does not improve any aspect of your mood and, if anything, it can actually leave you feeling glum.
No! This doesn't happen in real life! Credit: Cabot Health
The idea that sugar can improve your mood has been widely influential in popular culture, so much so that people all over the world consume sugary drinks to become more alert or combat fatigue. The findings of this wider study very clearly indicate that such claims are not substantiated - if anything, sugar will probably make you feel worse!
What really happens:
The meta-analysis research reviewed 31 different studies, accounting for over 1250 participants, that investigated the effects of soluble carbohydrates, including sugars and starches, on various aspects of mood, including anger, alertness, depression, and fatigue.
Within just 30 minutes after eating sugar, most people started to experience a sense of tiredness and fatigue, compared to those who took a placebo. One hour after sugar consumption, the majority of people started to experience lowered alertness. It seems that any neurological triggers that are stimulated in our brain's reward system after we eat sugar are very short-lived and won't result in any substantial level of boosted satisfaction or sense of wellness.
Not only is the idea of a sugar rush a nonsense - the researchers argue, it could also be a factor in the rise of obesity and diabetes. Because we tend to reach for sugar when we're stressed out, we tend to go overboard with our consumption and this factor alone may account for as much as 50% of all diabetes and obesity cases worldwide!
Credit: Hipps Hearts
The rise in obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in recent years highlights the need for evidence-based dietary strategies to promote a healthy lifestyle across our human lifespan. The findings of this study indicate that sugary drinks or snacks do not provide a quick "fuel refill" to make us feel happier or more alert. The researchers hope that their findings will go a long way to dispel the mythical "sugar rush" and inform public health policies to decrease sugar consumption.
So instead of reaching for a candy bar and soda, get your hands on some fibre-rich nuts, a yogurt or even Omega-3 rich fish (salmon works best). Those foods would satisfy the needs of your brain for his favourite supplements and in a form of gratitude, you will be rewarded with plenty of Dopamine (the happiness hormone). The science behind the "sugar rush" is clear and conclusive, and this long-standing myth has been...