Sugar high is the urban legend-turned-diagnosis used to describe the energetic behavior experienced after eating sugary foods. In reality, however, sugar does not cause hyperactivity — in children or in adults.
When consumed, the carbohydrates and starches found in foods like rice, white bread and sweet fruits like pineapple are easily broken down into the molecule glucose. In moderate amounts, glucose levels in the bloodstream are completely normal and can actually have a calming effect on the body. How? When glucose is present in the body, the pancreas kicks into gear and releases insulin, the hormone responsible for causing the cells of the body to absorb sugar from the bloodstream. Through this absorption, the molecule tryptophan — the sleep-inducing culprit of Thanksgiving dinner — is converted into serotonin, or as some scientists call it, the “happiness molecule.” It’s only in severe cases when the bloodstream is completely overloaded with glucose that insulin works too quickly and results in a sugar low, a condition known as hypoglycemia. Quite the opposite of a sugar high, hypoglycemia will leave you feeling sad, fatigued and in some cases depressed.
So regardless of any “sugar high” you may think you’re going through, energy levels after any carb-load remain relatively unchanged unless you really go wild and put yourself in a sugar low.