Does Drinking Soda Give You More Self-Control?

The mental effect of glucose may boost your willpower


Would you believe that a swig of soda could make you put down a donut? Or get back to your desk and work? A new study shows that the quick shot of sugar may be enough to boost your self-control. 

Sounds crazy? It kind of is, but the science backs it up: According to the researchers at Australia's Curtin University, "self-control relies on glucose metabolism." In short, that means that self-control uses up your brain's supply of glucose, which is necessary for brain function. So taking a quick swig of a sugary drink can trick the brain into getting motivated. 

The researchers tested their theory with a "glucose mouth rinse" and an artificially sweetened drink. After the participants depleted their self-control with a series of tasks, they were asked to swish each of the drinks in their mouths. They found that the participants who had the sugary sweet drink performed better on the mental tasks thereafter. What's key here, the researchers found, is that you don't actually have to ingest the sugary drink — the sugar is just enough to trick the brain into motivation. Wrote researcher Martin Hagger in Science and Religion Today,  "Drinking glucose may replenish it and boost self-control reserves. However... just tasting glucose has the same effect, suggesting that the effects may be perceptual rather than metabolic." 

However, it doesn't mean tthat the more soda you drink, the more self-control you have. Hagger notes it might just be the opposite: "People who drink a lot of sugary sodas may, ironically, have low self-control, as they find it difficult to resist the temptation of lots of sugar." Still, if you've got a big to-do list at work today, it might be worth it to grab a Coke and take a sip — or run out for that necessary Starbucks. 


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