Does eating sugar make you tired? Unable to focus? Drained?
If you have a human body, sugar can make you tired. And it happens to children, too, despite the initial energy boost.
My stomach churned as the school bus bounced through the turns on its way to the museum. I hadn’t been on a school bus in years, but it was exactly as I remembered. The brown, clammy benches with no safety belts, cloudy windows that only open halfway, and the unmistakable aroma of foot stink and plastic.
I chaperoned three kids. At lunch, we found a great place outside under a giant grizzly bear statue to eat our sack lunches.
Delicious, sugary snacks filled the kids’ tummies: fruit roll-ups, cookies, granola bars, fruit punch drinks, flavored yogurts, candy bars.
Of course, the healthier. yet half-eaten turkey sandwiches, lunch meat, and apple slices filled the trash.
The three pint-sized balls of energy ran back into the museum and I thought to myself, “So this is what you’re supposed to feel like after you fuel your body.”
But 30 minutes later the poor kids slumped over a table and watched a woman demonstrate tiny square robots without much focus. They CRASHED.
And that is NOT what you’re supposed to feel like when you fuel your body.
The same thing happens to adults. That donut from the break room tastes soooo good – but a little while later, you’re sitting at your desk and can’t even remember what you’re doing. Can’t you just take a nap first?
What’s going on here? I thought sugar was supposed to give us energy.
Why would sugar make you tired?
The body does use sugar for energy. Simple sugars from processed foods and desserts are powerful fuel sources – so powerful, in fact, that eating them is like adding jet fuel to your car. It is more fuel than your body can handle.
When that jet fuel hits your bloodstream your pancreas releases insulin. Yup, the same insulin from diabetes fame. Insulin’s job is to get that sugar out of your blood and into your cells.
When you eat simple, processed sugars, your blood sugar gets really high, really fast, which causes the pancreas to release a ton of insulin. Then insulin does its insulin thing and brings your blood sugar back down to normal.
But here’s where things get a little crazy.
Since SO MUCH insulin is released, it hangs out in your blood for a long time, even after it does its job. The insulin keeps pushing sugar out of your blood and into your cells which causes a condition called hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
Without enough sugar in the blood, your body and brain slow down to save energy. You feel tired, lethargic, ready for a nap.
Thirty minutes after that donut, you get up for another cup of coffee because you can’t focus. Or worse, grab another donut and the cycle starts all over again.
Now if you have time to watch someone demonstrate tiny robots all day, that might be okay. But for a driven, productive person like you? You should probably skip the donut. Or learn some tricks to eat sugar without the crash.