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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 Jun;101:45-67. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.03.016. Epub 2019 Apr 3.

Sugar rush or sugar crash? A meta-analysis of carbohydrate effects on mood.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.
3
Department of Psychology, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK. Electronic address: e.a.maylor@warwick.ac.uk.

Abstract

The effect of carbohydrate (CHO) consumption on mood is much debated, with researchers reporting both mood improvements and decrements following CHO ingestion. As global consumption of sugar-sweetened products has sharply increased in recent years, examining the validity of claims of an association between CHOs and mood is of high importance. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the relationship between acute CHO ingestion and mood. We examined the time-course of CHO-mood interactions and considered the role of moderator variables potentially affecting the CHO-mood relationship. Analysis of 176 effect sizes (31 studies, 1259 participants) revealed no positive effect of CHOs on any aspect of mood at any time-point following their consumption. However, CHO administration was associated with higher levels of fatigue and less alertness compared with placebo within the first hour post-ingestion. These findings challenge the idea that CHOs can improve mood, and might be used to increase the public's awareness that the 'sugar rush' is a myth, inform health policies to decrease sugar consumption, and promote healthier alternatives.

KEYWORDS:

Acute; Carbohydrates; Meta-analysis; Mood; Sugar

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