Sugar is an essential part of any diet. It's a form of carbohydrates, which provide energy. However, refined, processed sugar—found in cookies, cakes, soda and candy—can bring on unwanted symptoms of a sugar rush.
People tend to reach for sugary foods for the instant energy boost that simple sugars offer. Increased energy, alertness and giddiness may feel good, but they're also associated with the upswing of a sugar rush. Unfortunately, the initial boost only lasts from 15 to 40 minutes before it leads to an inevitable crash.
Sugary food takes energy to digest, leaving you with less energy than before you ate. Since simple sugars provide no nutritional benefit, your body gets no nourishment from them, and all you're left with is fatigue or sleepiness once the sugar rush is over.
When you eat foods that are high in sugar, your body creates a high dose of insulin to combat the sugar high. Once the sugar rush ends, the insulin leaches additional sugar from the body, consequently causing low blood sugar. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can make you feel hungry even after eating.
Eating a lot of sugar can elicit a craving for more sugar. In a study out of Princeton, rats were given a sugary drink and a piece of whole wheat bread. Within a month, the rats doubled their consumption of the drink and went without the nutrients from the bread. The professor overseeing the study concluded that humans react similarly.
Sugar cravings can be just as intense as the craving for coffee or drugs and potentially lead to withdrawal symptoms. Be mindful of your intake of refined, processed sugar and opt for nutrient-rich carbs like vegetables and fruits instead.
Errin Reaume started writing in 2005 for publications including college brochures, camera informational websites and vegetarian food blogs. Reaume is pursuing a Master of Arts degree at the University of Florida.