Of all the things we'd like more of time, sleep, another finger-scoop of cake icing energy is at the top of most of our lists. For almost all of us, energy levels swirl down the day's drain as more hours pass. Slowly leaking. Until. We. Finally. Crash. Sometimes, we don't know what makes us tired, whether it's too little sleep, too little exercise, too much stress, a lack of sunlight, or just the evening news. But we do know many of the cures and they come in the form of what you drink, eat, and pop. So here's a guide to the major myths about energy-boosters, and what you can do to make sure you have energy to spare.
Myth: Sweet snacks give you a sugar high and then a sugar crash.
If you're sluggish at 4 p.m., conventional wisdom says you're hypoglycemic. Your blood sugar's low, and a handful of M&Ms will make those levels and you spike and then plunge. But that line of thinking has as much truth as the Loch Ness legend, without even a grainy photograph to back it up.
"There's no evidence to support the idea that midafternoon tiredness is caused by hypoglycemia, or that healthy people feel normal fluctuations in blood sugar," says Phillip Cryer, M.D., professor of endocrinology and metabolism at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "The threshold for symptoms of low blood sugar is 50 to 55 milligrams (mg) of glucose per deciliter of blood, and it's very, very rare for a healthy person to get to those levels."
Rather than being low on blood sugar, you're low on serotonin the brain chemical that makes you feel focused, attentive, and energetic, says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., a researcher in women's health at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.