Is Sugar Powering Your Work Day?

coffee and donut ratherbeeating

Whether you have a desk job, a manual labor position, or a service industry job, we all find ourselves reaching for something to boost our energy throughout the work day. For many of us, though, what we’re reaching for when we feel tired is SUGAR.

In addition to being terrible for your diet, the boost we get from soda and candy is extremely short-lived. An hour later we end up feeling even sleepier than we were before we hit up the vending machine.

That sleepiness is more than just a feeling, however, it’s science. 

The 2011 Wired article “Why Sugar Makes Us Sleepy (and Protein Wakes Us Up)” explains that refined sugars (such as those found in candy and coke) reduce levels of a neuropeptide in our brains called orexin, which regulates an large array of mental properties, from sleepiness to hunger. When we eat these things regularly, we “continually reduce levels of orexin in the brain, which then reduces levels of physical activity.” This means the effects are even more serious than that late-afternoon slump you might feel.

So what are some of the top offenders for sugar content at work?

Top Workplace Sugar Offenders

coke donuts in box

Morning Coffee (with all the flavored fixings): Whether it’s from Starbucks or the office kitchen, adding sugar and creamers and syrups to your coffee (Hellooo White Chocolate Macchiato!) creates a huge calorie bomb that you’re drinking on a daily basis. If you really love your sweet add-ins, try making it a once a week treat.

Meeting Food: Pastries and muffins and donuts, oh my! We can’t avoid meetings (ughh), but we MUST try to avoid the high-sugar, high-carb confections that are a staple of the American office space. Try bringing your own snack to the meeting instead, like a yogurt or protein bar, so you don’t have to just sit and look sadly at the donut tray.

Soda or candy post-lunch: The afternoon slump is real, but no good ever comes from late-afternoon visits to the snack machine. The office candy jar isn’t any better either. That chocolaty boost will only let you back down in 30 minutes or less! Try keeping nuts, a protein bar or raw veggies handy to snack on throughout the day instead.

Sugary energy drinks: Say no to Red Bull; those “wings” will be broken in no time.

Birthday cakes and celebration treats: Nothing wrong with a little birthday cake now and then. The problem is that it’s ALWAYS someone’s birthday! Tread carefully.

So what are the best alternatives to a sugary soda or energy drink to boost your energy?

5 Better-for-You Energy Boosters

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  1. Water – One often-unrecognized source of fatigue is dehydration. Drinking enough water will boost energy levels overall, and all those trips to the bathroom will help keep you awake too.
  2. Vitamin B-12 – This vitamin has been found to boost not only your energy, but also your mood, concentration and circulation.
  3. Green Tea (unsweetened) – A more moderate caffeine boost than coffee, with added antioxidants, green tea can refresh and revive you. Just be sure to avoid bottled
  4. Quick workout – Sneak away for a quick 15-minute HIIT workout at lunchtime, or simply bust out 20 quick pushups. Moving around and getting your blood pumping can energize you for the rest of your day.
  5. Protein* – Now protein won’t necessarily give you energy on its own, however, it has been proven to help prevent the crash we often feel after consuming sugar- or carb-heavy meals by preventing a big spike in blood sugar.

What are some of your worst sugar offenses during the work day? Be sure to leave a comment and share!

— Related post – Sugar: The Gateway Drug


Is Sugar Powering Your Work Day? Plus: 5 Better-for-You Energy Boosters