You are feeling a little tired around 3 PM. You stroll to the vending machine, grab a candy bar and a soda and await the much-needed burst of energy. We’ve all been in a situation where we’re craving an energy boost or pick me up and we think something sweet will help get the job done. Many have also been in the situation where your child eats something filled with sugar and in no time seems to be bouncing off the walls.

In reality, however, a new study published in the Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews Journal shows that there actually may be no such thing as a sugar rush. The study revealed that sugar actually doesn’t improve your mood and instead may leave you feeling worse than before.

The Mythical Power Of Sugar

The energy-boosting effects of sugar are engrained in many cultures. It’s almost thought to be common knowledge that if you need a little pick me up, grab some sugar and be on your way. We may know it’s bad for us but we do it anyway in search of that quick mental and physical boost. It could be however that all we really need is the mental break of actually getting up to get the snack. The short walk, the excitement over eating something indulgent makes us feel ready to take on the afternoon and refreshed. It may not be the actual snack at all that’s boosting us through the last few hours at the office.

We also tend to have a negative view of sugar when it comes to the effects it has on our children. Many parents fear that after a kid eats birthday cake at a party, for example, their child will be running around with endless energy to then come crashing down only moments later.

It could be in this case for example that it isn’t the birthday cake that’s the cause of the unrest. Birthday parties, family gatherings, celebrations and holidays are all over stimulating times. Kids are often overly excited, busy and blowing through nap times. One thing we do know is that sugar is one of the main causes of obesity and diabetes. With both on the rise in the United States, it’s not shocking we primarily turn to sugary foods and beverages as a source of energy. This is a troubling epidemic that may be fueled by our constant need to wake ourselves up with sugar.

The Study

The study published in the Journal of Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews has analyzed 31 different studies with over 1,250 participants. Researchers studied the effects of soluble carbohydrates such as sugar and starches and their effects on our mood. They studied how moods were affected in regards to alertness, depression, anger, and fatigue.

After consuming sugar, participants reported that within 30-minutes they started to feel fatigued and tired in comparison to those who consumed a placebo. Within an hour, the participants started reporting a loss of alertness. Researchers concluded that any effects we think we feel after eating sugar are short-lived and won’t result in any big mood or energy boost.

The study did show that sugar, in fact, decreased alertness and worsened our fatigue and mood shortly after eating it. Our bodies are incredibly able to regulate our blood glucose. Whether you have low or high blood sugar at any given moment, the amount of glucose in your brain will, in fact, be relatively the same.

Ways To Combat Fatigue Without The Candy Bar

For many people, it’s just too hard to believe that the high we seem to feel after drinking a soda isn’t real. It’s also hard for parents to come to grips with the fact that the ice cream bar your child just ate actually isn’t what’s making him run around the room. We’ve had these notions ingrained in our minds for years. Despite the fact that research has supported this for decades, many people still won’t give up their afternoon treats as a way to boost their energy. The problem is, people just aren’t ready to give up sugar despite the facts.

Researches and the medical community hope that with more published research and widely spread information about the effects of sugar, more people will start to change their habits. The more people that know the truth about the negative effects sugar has on mood and fatigue, scientists are hopeful that we can change the rhetoric around sugar.

If you’re asking yourself how you can possibly get through the day without an afternoon candy, there are many alternatives out there that will actually boost your energy levels. A few alternatives to sugar, include exercise, fresh air, healthy snacks, and mental breaks. A lunchtime workout can be a great way to boost endorphins, get your blood flowing and break up a mundane afternoon.

If your schedule doesn’t allow for a full group fitness class, even a 10-minute walk outside or indoors can do wonders for your mood. You’ll be getting up, maybe getting some fresh air and will get a much-needed mental break. If you’re still craving a snack, choose something rich in fiber and protein to give you energy. Even getting up to get a cold glass of water can help you more than a piece of candy.

Other mental breaks can include reading, running an errand, calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while or checking a personal item off your to-do list. These are all positive activities that will make you feel good about completing them. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and it will provide a nice mental break.