No such thing as ‘sugar rush’ — ‘Sugar crash’ is more like it

photoImage by jan mesaros from Pixabay

Everyone’s heard of the “sugar rush” but researchers now say it doesn’t exist. In fact, sugar does not improve mood and it can make people less alert and more tired after its consumption, according to a new study by European researchers.

“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,” said Dr. Konstantinos Mantantzis, from Humboldt University of Berlin, who led the study.

“Our findings very clearly indicate that such claims are not substantiated — if anything, sugar will probably make you feel worse,” Mantantzis said.

The researchers said that sugar does not improve any aspect of mood and can even worsen it, according to their study published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. They used data from 31 studies and found that sugar consumption does not have a beneficial effect on mood. Instead, sugar increases tiredness and lowers alertness within an hour after its consumption.

They also considered how factors such as the quantity and type of sugar consumed might affect mood, and whether engaging in demanding mental and physical activities made any difference.

The researchers found that:

  • sugar consumption has virtually no effect on mood, regardless of how much sugar is consumed or whether people engage in demanding activities after taking it.
  • people who consumed sugar felt more tired and less alert than those who had not.
  • the idea of a ‘sugar rush’ is a myth without any truth behind it.

“The rise in obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in recent years highlights the need for evidence-based dietary strategies to promote healthy lifestyle across the lifespan. Our findings indicate that sugary drinks or snacks do not provide a quick ‘fuel refill’ to make us feel more alert,” said Dr Sandra Sünram-Lea of Lancaster University.

The full text of the study is available online.