Do Carbs Give You a Boost or Send You Crashing Down?

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Carb up, we’ve been told.

Carbohydrates are energy, we’ve been told.

They’ll give you a boost, we’ve been told.

But, is any of what we’ve been told true?

Let’s take a look.

Researchers from Humboldt University of Berlin, the University of Warwick, and Lancaster University conducted a meta-analysis of 31 studies, including 1259 study participants to determine whether or not carbohydrates have any effect on mood or energy. They published their findings in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews in April 2019.

Their findings may buck that traditional wisdom we’ve been led to believe, so hold on before you down that PBJ for the energy boost you’re looking for.

Upon analysis of the 31 studies, they found no evidence that carbohydrate consumption has any effect on mood, either immediately after consumption or even over an hour later.

In fact, contrary to providing an energy boost, they found that carb consumption was related to lower energy and decreased alertness in the first hour after consumption.

And mood?

No effect whatsoever.

This in spite of the fact that it is assumed that carb consumption is related to an increase in serotonin production.

So, let’s recap the findings.

Carbs showed no effect whatsoever in terms of mood. Neither elevating nor deflating.

So much for the old adage of the “sugar high”.

And in terms of fatigue?

Carb consumption showed to be related to more fatigue, not less, with only one exception. The only instance the researchers found fatigue to be alleviated was during periods of physically demanding conditions, such as strenuous exercise.

They did not find fatigue to be alleviated when participants were under high cognitive load or when inactive. They found the opposite, actually.

So if you are looking to increase your focus, enhance your mood, or stay awake and alert, perhaps carbs are not the trick.

Reference: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763418309175


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