Blood sugar crashes weaken willpower

A new study reveals that even slight drops in your blood sugar levels not only stir cravings for fatty, caloric treats but also leave you less resistant to their alluring powers.

Researchers from the University of South California in the US noted that this was especially true for obese people, who in the study were even less able to fight off temptation after a blood sugar, or glucose level, drop.

"Obese individuals may have a limited ability to inhibit the impulsive drive to eat, especially when glucose levels drop below normal," said study researcher Kathleen Page in a release.

The researchers scanned the brains of 14 people - five were obese and nine had a normal weight - as they looked at images of high-calorie foods (such as ice cream and hamburgers), low-calorie foods (salads), and other nonfood items such as a chair or lamp. Participants' blood sugar levels were manipulated by an IV.

Dips in blood sugar levels activated areas of the brain involved in motivating us to act, while areas  associated with controlling impulses became less active.

Interestingly, for subjects with average weight, brain activity returned to normal as soon as blood sugar leveled out. For the obese subjects, this didn't happen - the activity in their prefrontal cortex, responsible for impulse control, remained reduced in both low and normal blood sugar states.

On September 19, the study was published online in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Prior research has revealed that junk food can affect your brain in ways similar to hard drugs, signaling dopamine receptors and changing behaviors so that eating junk food becomes a top priority.

One way to avoid the junk food temptation, experts say, is to avoid going long stretches of time without eating and watch portion sizes when you do indulge in a junk food treat.

For your meals and snacks, select high-protein, high-fiber foods lower on the glycemic index, which refers to how quickly foods affect blood sugar. Low-glycemic foods can stabilize energy levels to keep your blood sugar from dropping. Foods higher on the index (sweets, white rice, white flour breads) spike blood sugar but then subsequently lead to an energy crash.

 

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

    Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

    £24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

    Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat