What Causes a Sugar Rush?

Sugar that causes a sugar rush is known as simple sugar. A sugar rush is caused by a sudden high intake of sugar followed by a massive dip in energy. A common analogy of a sugar rush is a roller coaster taking you up before crashing down.


A sugar rush is caused first by the digestion of simple sugars. The foods go into the digestive tract and are quickly wicked away into the bloodstream. Rather than complex carbohydrates such as whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes or beans, which take longer to digest and give level sustained energy, simple sugars result in a massive spike in blood sugar. This spike results in the sugar rush or high that people look for when ingesting energy drinks or sugary foods.


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When your blood levels spike to unhealthy levels your pancreas releases insulin. This insulin helps to regain normal levels of blood sugar by storing it for later use. Over time, poor diet can result in little to no insulin being produced in the pancreas. This insulin deficiency is known as Type II diabetes. Other causes of diabetes exist. This excess of sugar storing leaches energy from the body and energy levels lag, resulting in fatigue.

Sugar Rush Foods

Foods that result in a sugar rush are known as simple sugars. These come from processed or refined sugar items. Baked goods such as doughnuts, cakes, cookies, or brownies will cause a sugar rush. Processed prepackaged foods such as candy bars, packaged snack cakes and soda will also cause a sugar rush. Many prepackaged foods also have hidden sugars that can cause a sugar rush. Look for words like glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltose or corn syrup in the ingredients.

Non Sugar Rush Foods

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Foods that contain natural sugars that will not give you a sugar rush are known as complex carbohydrates. Everyone needs carbohydrates for energy, and there are many that will give you sustained energy and keep you full without feelings of lethargy later. These include whole grain and whole wheat products, legumes, peas, beans, lentils, chikpeas, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes and whole grain cereal.