Sugar Won’t Get You Amped, So You Can Skip the Sweet Energy Drink
Your parents may have been reluctant to give you a sugary snack or drink because they thought you would be bouncing out of control. They might have blamed your high-energy friend’s hyperactivity on that last can of soda he drank.
Since many of us grew up believing that sugar gives us an extra supply of energy, we might add extra sugar to our coffees when we’re up late studying for exams, or drink a heavily sweetened energy drink before a workout.
We have come to believe that sugar gives us energy and that we can harness its power for good when the occasion arises.
It’s true that the body uses carbohydrates for energy since they do break down into smaller sugars (e.g. glucose) specifically for this purpose after they are consumed. Then, whatever glucose that’s not needed right away gets stored in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen.
To maintain energy balance your body will pull from whichever source is available. If you need energy your body will use the smaller sugars it produced from your most recent carbohydrate consumption. If you don’t have any available it will use your glycogen reserves.
Let’s use a gasoline powered motor vehicle for our analogy. Your car’s engine needs gas to operate and do the things that a car needs to do. Whether you have a full tank of gas, or the tank is nearly empty your car will run the same. Adding extra gasoline beyond the tank’s capacity will not get your vehicle ready for the Indy 500 but you might be responsible for cleaning up the spill.
While you ultimately need carbohydrates to produce energy, extra sugar won’t give you any more available energy than you would have had otherwise. In fact, once your body’s glycogen reserves are fully stocked, the excess carbohydrates you consume will be stored as fat.
To clarify we are not advocating a low-carb diet, or any other diet in this particular post. This is merely one opportunity to let go of sugar consumption when it is entirely unnecessary. Many of us have will add extra sugar to our diets prior to workouts, study sessions, or other physically or mentally demanding activities with the belief that it will enhance our performance. It won’t.
Since we are about making a Little Change at a time that will lead to a state of better physical and emotional well-being, this is an easy one.
Use healthful foods and beverages when you want extra stamina, instead of turning high to high carbohydrate options as a way to enhance your energy levels.
Hint: They won’t give you more energy anyway.
There is no shortage of good medical research in journals and throughout the internet to warn us of the complications of consuming too much sugar over time.
While some of us have made the Little Change of reserving desserts strictly for special occasions, we may have been unaware of this popular occasion where we readily consume sugar. Ironically, many of us do this with the belief that it’s necessary and good.
Sugar & Mental Health
If you need a little extra incentive to reduce your sugar intake, consider the negative impact that sugar has on mental health.
According to this same article:
choosing nutrient dense foods that are low in refined ingredients, such as sugar, and high in omega-3 fatty acids, can relieve the symptoms of depression. Scientists believe the power of these foods lies in promoting good brain health.
Letting go of high-sugar foods or beverages when you need energy is one Little Change you can make without sacrificing energy. And you’ll be setting yourself up for the benefits associated with reduced sugar intake!
But I ‘Know’ Sugar Gives Me Energy
In the beginning we mentioned that many parents believed that sugar would make their kids hyperactive, but the research suggests otherwise. When parents had the expectation that a sugary drink would turn their children into little bodies of unbridled energy, even artificially sweetened beverages met that expectation.
Conversely, when parents were told their children were provided artificially sweetened beverages (even though the kids had already consumed sugary drinks), this didn’t prevent parents from perceiving their kids as being better behaved and much calmer.
At the end of the day much of the energy you have been getting from sugar may be a matter of expectations and the power of the placebo effect, and not the sugar itself. But these are the subjects of another article.