You know the sugar crash. We’ve all had them. You’re feeling fine, then all of a sudden, you can’t keep your eyes open. It’s almost as if you are narcoleptic, nodding off at your desk or on the couch. Then you realize the only thing you’ve eaten is a Kit Kat Bar.
As we get older, the sugar crash can get worse. While it sucks we can’t eat treats like we used to, there are ways to enjoy sugar responsibly without the crash.
The sugar crash occurs because of your body’s response to sugar intake. A sugar spike causes an insulin spike, which then causes the crash, as explained in Does Sugar Make You Tired, Lethargic? Here’s Why.
The key to avoiding the draining sugar crash is to make sure the blood sugar/insulin spike cycle doesn’t occur. It is entirely possible to have your cake and eat it too!
Don’t eat sweets on an empty stomach
Eating dessert after a meal usually doesn’t cause a sugar crash. Why? Because our bodies are busy digesting complex proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. The sugar takes longer to get into the bloodstream and enters more slowly, so there is no insulin spike. If you are going to have sugar, do it after you’ve eaten something nutritious.
Don’t eat sugar by itself
OK, no one’s spooning the white stuff directly into their mouths. But you can choose to eat sweets in combination with more nutritious foods. For example, nuts are a great source of fat and protein. Eat some whole nuts with chocolate, a la chocolate peanut clusters or bars with whole nuts like a Kind bar. Fruits have a lot of sugar too, but they come in a high fiber package. These sweet snacks have less of an impact on blood sugar so you can enjoy a sugary treat but avoid the sugar crash.
Know which sweets have the most (and least) sugar
Chocolate is the quintessential sugary treat, but not all chocolate is created equal. Dark chocolate has way less sugar than milk chocolate, and different brands add different amounts of sugar based on the desired flavor outcome and the process they use. No matter what your weakness is – be it chocolate, ice cream, or gumdrops, do a little research to find treats that will satisfy your cravings with less sugar. A simple swap can save you from the sugar crash.
Make sure your sugary treat has real sugar
There are many studies on the effects of artificial sweeteners, and the results are very bad news for the body. The powerful brain will get the body ready when it knows something is coming, like when you start salivating at the thought of the chimichangas at your favorite Mexican food restaurant. When your brain senses it is getting sugar from something sweet, it readies the body for that influx of fuel. When there is no fuel because you consumed some other chemical that just tasted sweet, it can have negative effects on your blood sugar regulation.
Never drink your sugar
Sugary drinks such as soda have no nutritional value at all. A bunch of sugar in liquid form will go right to your blood and initiate the insulin/blood sugar cycle faster than you can say “liter-a-cola”…. Super Troopers style.
It is true that if we got rid of all the sugary treats and drinks in the world, we would be a healthier human population for it. But the fact is we like sugary stuff. Nobody would be making it if we weren’t buying it. But despite the seeming lack of possibilities, it is possible to enjoy sugar responsibly.