Sugar cravings aren’t so sweet… are they? Frequent consumption of sweeteners may cause a host of different health problems.
Although there’s no contest over an occasional indulgence, is it true that longevity could be at the cost of routine added sugar (or any sugar spike)?
Let’s consider that “come down” feeling from a sugar rush, an irritable or restless reaction. The sense of discomfort can be attributed to chemical fluctuations inside the body, spiking insulin, inflammation, and cortisol just to name a few.
Is Sugar Crash Bad?
While a sugar rush (and crash) may pass after some time, it’s when that “up and down” becomes a habit that serious health issues can arise.
These harsh fluctuations are damaging, and as we’ll also discuss, that flux may stem from more than sweets, a little known detail.
So what health problems should we watch for? And what are tips to avoid too much added sugar, even similar culprits (and what are some examples)?
Too much added sugar | Coffee bad for you?
Refined sugar might have the most familiar bad rap for health, but when consumed often it highlights a number of negative changes to metabolism – some even possible in the absence of added sugar – a quick example is coffee.
The sole-kick of caffeine signals your body to ramp up metabolism, an effect which can surge blood sugar (even if you drink your coffee unsweetened!), and then drop off in a couple hours – just like a sugar crash.
The result is a short boost of energy, followed by a hard crash. Furthermore, most energy drinks and coffees do have added sugar, intended to stave that inevitable crash just an hour or two longer.
As for anything which spikes blood sugar – from unsweetened coffee all the way to sugary soda – one negative relationship that researchers are confident in is that between cortisol, insulin, and inflammation.
We’ll focus primarily on added sugar below, but it’s key to know that ‘hard stimulants’ like coffee can negatively interact on this 3-way axis: raising cortisol, increasing insulin, and elevating inflammation. 
- One systematic review reports that acute negative effects on blood glucose and insulin may be observed in coffee drinkers. 
First up – How to Get off Coffee? Choose matcha for daily energy
The most popular coffee alternative is matcha. Matcha caffeine benefits the body by offering energy without harmful effects; authentic matcha has no added sugars, and is jam-packed with potential health benefits.
In fact, matcha may be able to keep a healthy balance of cortisol, and improve glucose response. That’s especially good to know if you’re making the move from coffee, or looking to recover from a diet with too much added sugar.
Matcha can also help curb sugar cravings due to appetite-regulating abilities, but it can’t do it all.
Here’s some other steps to take:
Cook at home to cut down on sugar
There’s nothing wrong with eating out every now and then, but many take out and dine-in options can have lots of added sugar, as well as unhealthy fats.
Opt to cook at home more frequently for an easy change of pace.
Skip the soda and sugary drinks
One of the leading causes of obesity and diabetes is sugary drinks, often sodas and sweet coffee lattes.
If you’re not careful, you can drink more calories than you’d first realize, and the total intake of added sugar can be substantial. Stick more to water and naturally delicious matcha tea.
Know your Ingredients | How to read the label for sugar
Knowing the different names for sugar can be an important part of your health journey. There’s more than 15 names for added sugar, some which sound surprisingly innocent.
Reduce Stress for Cortisol, Inflammation
Feeling stressed can be a common cause behind sugar cravings, but it may also make the added sugar you do consume more problematic. High stress levels are associated with raised cortisol, which on its own may negatively impact insulin response.
If you’re stressed, then your metabolism may be already primed to not tolerate sugar as well as possible.
This amplified effect might increase inflammation and lead to other problems like obesity and a suppressed immune system.
The good news is making changes to your daily fuel (ready to drop coffee?) and diet, it’s possible to work out of that cycle. Also practicing stress management, such as with daily mindfulness, your body may have a stronger foundation to make these changes.
Set a limit on added sugar
It’s natural to want an enjoyable and palatable diet, and people may be more likely to stick to a diet that agrees with the occasional treat. For that reason, don’t jump right to cold turkey, set a daily or weekly limit instead.
To do so, again it’s important to read the label and know your sugars. It’s also helpful to choose foods which provide long lasting energy, such as healthy fats–rather than sugars–which are a short-lived boost.
Also, matcha is a great source of endurance energy, with a mental and physical boost lasting up to 6 hours.
Be careful of Artificial Sweeteners
It’s reported that some artificial sweeteners can impact glucose and insulin levels, similar to real sugars. If you’re choosing an alternative sweetener, do your research!
Also, consider if there isn’t a more natural, low-glycemic option available, such as a dash of maple syrup.
How to Feel Energized without Sugar?
Modern diets are unprecedented for the abundance of foods, but just because it’s available doesn’t mean sugar should be the leading source of energy. A balanced and healthy diet may better include a range of healthy fats, proteins, complex carbs, and naturally occurring sugars.
Besides the right choice of foods, also be sure your preferred ‘energy drink’ isn’t doing the opposite. Most energy drinks (even plain coffee) give a quick rush, with a dragging crash not far behind.
If that sounds like you, but maybe you like the taste or are unsure of an effective alternative, then give matcha green tea a try! The natural sweetness and savory flavors will make the transition to this superior energizer an easy one.
Check out our guide to switching from coffee to matcha.
Antioxidants, amino acids, energy to focus. All the good, without all the bad!
-Team Matcha Kari
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- Switching from coffee to matcha: everything you need to know
 Gavrieli, A., Yannakoulia, M., Fragopoulou, E., Margaritopoulos, D., Chamberland, J. P., Kaisari, P., ... & Mantzoros, C. S. (2011). Caffeinated coffee does not acutely affect energy intake, appetite, or inflammation but prevents serum cortisol concentrations from falling in healthy men. The Journal of nutrition, 141(4), 703-707.
 Reis, C. E., Dórea, J. G., & da Costa, T. H. (2019). Effects of coffee consumption on glucose metabolism: A systematic review of clinical trials. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 9(3), 184-191.