HomeUncategorizedThe idea of sugar rush is just a myth: Nutritionist Luke Coutinho

The idea of sugar rush is just a myth: Nutritionist Luke Coutinho

Do you often reach out for that chocolate energy bar during your workday using sugar rush as an excuse? Think again… Luke Coutinho, nutritionist and adviser on integrative lifestyle and nutrition at, speaks to The Optimist…

For the uninitiated, sugar rush is a sudden and short burst of energy an individual experiences after the consumption of high sugar content through foods or beverages. Thus, people often make sugar rush an excuse when reaching out for sugar-based foods for an instant source of energy. But a recent study published in the Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Journal says that sugar does not improve mood, but contributes to lethargy and fatigue after consumption.



Unfortunately, the energy created by sugar rush does not last long and leaves you feeling dizzy and, eventually, hungry. A study by the National Institute of Health more than a year ago had concluded that there is no connection between hyperactive energy and sugar, adding that the concept of sugar rush is nothing more than a myth.

The Sugar Rush Concept

The concept of selling sugar-based products for energy can be found during wars at the beginning of the 20th Century when the diet of troops at war was fortified with sugary food for energy to help them perform better on ground zero. Soon after came a band of brands selling such sugary food as candy bars, energy drinks and so on, advertised as an easy source of energy for adults during a busy workday.

It was not until the late-’80s and early-’90s that questions were raised on the link between sugar and energy, especially with respect to hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder (ADD) in children. Since then, many studies and researches have been conducted to find out if sugar intake affects cognition and health.


Luke Coutinho, nutritionist and adviser on integrative lifestyle and nutrition at


Sugar acts as a super-stimuli lighting up pathways that are linked to drug addiction. Our brain releases dopamine, a hormone in the reward system which makes us perform that activity over and over, leading to more cravings. When we eat sugar, our brain craves more sugar.

The constant rise in the number of people suffering from such non-communicable diseases as diabetes, obesity and hypertension calls for the need to explore diet-based interventions to promote a healthy lifestyle. Consumption of sugar-based food and beverages promoted as quick-fuel-refill can be the cause behind these rising numbers.

Study that Breaks the Myth

The study published in the Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Journal was conducted using data collected from 31 studies published previously that involved almost 1,300 adults. The study investigated by doctors at the Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, was to find the effect of sugar on an individual with respect to mood, anger, alertness and fatigue. However, the researchers did not find any substantial evidence that sugar has any effect on mood. On the contrary, the findings did reveal that consumption of sugar led to tiredness and being less alert among people who had sugar than those who had not. The findings of this study may help build better public health policies to lower the consumption of sugar.

Reality of Sugar Crash

Although there is no conclusive evidence to support the concept of sugar rush, the concept of sugar crash is real — at least for diabetics. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, consumption of sugar in low blood sugar condition, also known as hypoglycemia, can cause blood sugar levels to spike, leading to instability and, eventually, a crash. Extreme low sugar can result in seizures — and even coma, in certain cases. Also, consumption of high amounts of sugar is known to be the primary cause of diabetes and obesity among a host of other health problems.


Sugar and Gut Microbiome

Sugar harms the gut microbiome in two ways — first, where it inhibits good bacterium by blocking the production of a protein called roc, which helps colonisation of the good bacterium. Second, sugar helps bad bacteria thrive and harms the barrier function of the intestinal wall leading to a leaky gut.

Managing Blood Sugar Levels

Diet-based intervention can help people better manage their diabetes by understanding and being aware of food that affects blood sugar levels. Eating in moderation and making informed choices by inclusion of non-starchy vegetables, wholegrain food, healthy fats and high-protein foods with moderate carbs in your diet can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Pure nutrition supplements, such Fensugen, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Green Coffee Bean with Chromium, can also help you manage glucose, improve blood sugar levels and reduce symptoms of diabetic neuropathy among diabetics and pre-diabetics, as well.

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