Sugar Rushes Aren't Real After All—How Sweets Actually Affect Your Mood Might Surprise You
As it turns out, sugar doesn't actually impact energy levels, but new research found that consuming it may impact how you feel.
Whether you reach for an energy bar or a handful of candy in the late afternoon, you may be doing so in the hopes that the sugary treat will boost your energy and help you power through the rest of the day. While office snack bar staples like cookies and chocolate-covered pretzels are certainly convenient, researchers have found new evidence suggesting that sugar-filled bites are not actually revitalizing your energy or productivity at all-in fact, consuming sugar may have the opposite effect, ultimately making your mood worse as the day drags on.
A new study, published in the June issue of Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, analyzed the relationship between the immediate consumption of carbohydrates (sugars are a "simple" carbohydrate) and a person's overall mood. Using data provided by 1,259 subjects in 31 published studies, researchers came to the conclusion that a "sugar rush" is scientifically impossible, suggesting that sugar consumption didn't provide any positive effects on mood whatsoever.
Furthermore, carbohydrate consumption was associated with a decrease in overall alertness within an hour after eating, in addition to an increase in fatigue 30 minutes after consumption.
"The idea that sugar can improve 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," Dr. Konstantinos Mantantzis, the study's lead author, said in a press release. "Our findings very clearly indicate that such claims are not substantiated-if anything, sugar will probably make you feel worse."
If you feel confused by the findings (doesn't everyone love an afternoon pick-me-up?), there's a silver lining: In the study, data demonstrates the immediate effect of sugar consumption in healthy adults, but it doesn't account for how the response may be in populations outside of this demographic. The team behind the study also shared that they feel more research is needed to better understand how sugar interacts with other nutrients to induce effects in other people. Plus, the study is inclusive of all sugar-including those found in fruits and starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes.