Sugar is present in far too many things these days. From baked goodies to coffee to sodas to vending machine snacks, nearly everything you can buy at work is going to be loaded with sugar. These sugary foods aren’t just unhealthy, but they can actually stop you from being productive!
How is this possible?
Why Sugar Stops Productivity
When you eat sugary foods, you are consuming glucose in large quantities. Sugar is turned into glucose by the human body, and while this is good in many cases, too much glucose can be bad.
Glucose is used by the human body for energy. It’s what your body stores in your muscles, so that they can be activated when you are doing exercise or just need to pick up a box. Your heart burns glucose with each pump, and your digestive system needs the energy produced by glucose in order to digest your food properly.
Glucose is used by your brain, and it’s what keeps your thinker working away. Let’s say you eat an apple, which contains roughly 100 calories. A portion of those calories are pure sugar, as fruit is very high in sugar. However, the fiber in the apple slows down the absorption rate of the sugar, so you get glucose at a steady rate. This goes to fuel your muscles, your systems, and your brains.
However, what happens when you eat something that contains a lot of sugar and very little fiber? For example, let’s consider a donut–delicious, but definitely not nutritious. Donuts are made with white flour and sugar, and there is nothing in the donut to stop your body from immediately breaking it down and digesting it quickly. Within about 20 minutes of your licking the last traces of glazing from your fingers, the donut has already been mostly broken down and is now being absorbed into your body.
The white flour is pure carbohydrates, which is absorbed as easily as sugar. Your body is absorbing both sugar and carbs, and they go straight to the liver to be turned in to glucose. Once your liver has produced the glucose, it sends it throughout your body. Some of it reaches your brain, and you get a nice little sugar rush–a spike of energy that increases your brain activity.
However, after about 20 minutes, your body takes steps to correct the very high levels of blood sugar (glucose). Insulin is produced, and this hormone lowers your blood sugar to safe, healthy levels. Unfortunately, it continues to lower it beyond those normal levels, and you experience a sugar crash when your blood sugar levels dip.
This is when you feel sluggish, tired, and drowsy, and your brain struggles to work as well as it did before you consumed the sugar. You’ll find that it’s much harder to focus, and your mind is much more easily distracted once your blood sugar levels have been lowered. Until you eat something to raise your blood sugar levels again, your brain just won’t work as well as it once did.
So, what is the point of telling you all this? Simple: if you’re worried about being productive, stay away from sugar. If you’ve got an afternoon of work, don’t drink that soda or eat that candy bar. It will give you a quick buzz, but in the long run you’ll just end up making your work even harder. Stick with a piece of fruit–natural sugar is great for a slow energy burn–or perhaps a cup of tea can help. Whatever you do, resist the urge to down that chocolate or candy bar!