Can Sugar Trigger Headaches?

Working up a sweat and getting your reps in is one of the best ways to work your way towards the body of your dreams. But as much as we wish it was as easy as whipping out your Gorilla Bow every morning and doing some resistance training, there’s another component that’s equally important in achieving ultimate fitness.

The food you eat, or your diet, is an essential component that can make or break your progress. Eating the right foods can completely change the way your body looks for the better. And eating the wrong foods can make it worse. Between working against your physical gains and your mental health, there is a bitter truth about sugar and the human body. 

One food in particular that can turn your six-pack abs into a six-pack of beer belly is sugar. And believe it or not, that might be the real reason you’re feeling some headaches throughout the day.

Let’s take a deep dive into the intricacies of sugar to see how it affects your wellbeing, as well as how you can enjoy the sweet stuff in moderation.

The Sugar Problem

When you were a kid, your dentist probably gave you the lecture about not eating too much Halloween candy so you’d avoid cavities. And while it’s true that sugar can wear away your enamel, it can have some other dangerous effects on your body as well.

The thing is — not all sugars are bad. Sugars occur naturally in foods that contain carbohydrates. This includes vegetables, fruits, dairy, and grains. So does that mean you should throw away your apples and give the milk back to the farmer?

Not at all. Consuming whole foods with natural sugars is perfectly fine, and plant foods are especially high in other nutrients that will help you obtain the body of your dreams.

The problem comes when you’re eating too many foods with added sugars. These are things like candy, ice cream, cake: all the fun stuff. However, you need to be careful. Added sugar is also in tons of protein powders, flavored yogurts, breakfast cereals, and other seemingly harmless foods. Sugar can hide out in the places you’d least expect it to be. 

Eating too much added sugar can increase the risk of heart disease, impact your blood pressure, and much more. But can it also give you a head-pounding headache?

Sugar and Headaches

Sugar can do a lot of bad stuff to your body, including giving you some pounding headaches. This is mostly because of the glucose levels in your blood. Blood sugar, or glucose, is actually the body’s main source of energy. That’s right... you need sugar to survive.

Your body maintains proper glucose levels by breaking them down with a substance called insulin. However, when you consume too much sugar, it makes it difficult for your body to properly maintain adequate levels. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels affect your brain more than any other organ, which can lead to some migraines if you’ve eaten one too many candy bars.

Conversely, not eating enough sugar can be the root of some headaches too. Hypoglycemia is a condition where your blood sugar is too low, and it’s usually marked by lightheadedness, sweating, hunger, and anxiety. Hyperglycemia means your glucose is too high, and it’s often marked by the frequent need to urinate or frequent thirst.

Typically, if your blood sugar is a little off, you can correct it by eating a nice balanced meal. But if symptoms last for a while or you notice that they worsen, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Give Me Some Sugar

If you’re trying to avoid the headaches and other health problems associated with sugar, you actually need to be eating a lot less sugar than most people do.

The American Heart Association recommends that adult men consume no more than 36 grams of sugar a day (25 grams for women). However, the average American consumes almost three times that at 77 grams per sugar a day. That’s a serious problem, and it’s one of the many reasons for the obesity crisis in America currently.

With that said, you don’t need to punish yourself for enjoying an ice cream cone every now and then. Consuming a balanced diet mixed with daily fitness regimens will give you some breathing room to treat yourself every now and then.

Avoiding Added Sugar

Since added sugar is the real enemy here as opposed to natural sugars, you can live a healthy lifestyle by just trying to cut out as much added sugar as possible. Nutrition labels will tell you how much added sugar is in the product, but there are some other foods that are a bit more elusive.

Some foods where added sugars are frequently found include:

  • Corn syrup
  • Fruit juices
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Brown sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup

Additionally, try not to add sugar to foods and beverages. Next time you get a cup of coffee or tea, try drinking them without any additives. And if you need to, try to use some milk or cream in lieu of sugar.

Sugar Substitutes Are No Substitute

Some people try to get the best of both worlds by ditching whole sugar for sugar substitutes because they think it’s a healthier option. The reality is that this might not be the case.

In fact, many animal studies have found that artificial sweeteners can cause weight gain, brain tumors, bladder cancer, and many more health problems. Arguably, they might be even worse than just using real sugar in the first place.

Our Favorite Foods for Before and After a Workout

If you’re ready to ditch the sugar, we’re happy for you! You’re taking some serious steps towards a happier and healthier life. But you need to make sure you’re giving your body all of the nutrients it needs to stay afloat, especially if you’re frequently working out.

Here are some of our favorite foods to consume before or after a workout:

Pre-Workout

If you’re a morning exerciser, you’ve probably done your routine on an empty stomach. If you’ve ever felt like you were sluggish or lightheaded during your reps, it’s probably because your body didn’t have enough energy to get you through it.

This is where carbs are your best friend. And even though they get a bad rap these days, they are essential for bringing your body the juice it needs to keep your fuel tank pumping.

Some healthy, complex carbs that we love to eat before a workout include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Bananas (great for cramps!)
  • Quinoa
  • Sweet potatoes

Whatever you do, don’t eat any added sugars. They’ll give you a quick spurt of energy that will fade and turn into sluggishness, tiredness, and just overall lousiness. Plus, it might give you a headache.

Post-Workout

When you’re done with your routine, there’s nothing more satisfying than chomping down on a post-workout snack. And at this point, protein is where it’s at.

High protein foods help with muscle recovery, which you’ll need after your hardcore resistance band routine. And after a workout, there’s a time period of around an hour where your body becomes particularly absorbent of protein. Eating protein after a workout can help heal small muscle tears and make you even more prepared to take on your workout the next day.

Some great high protein foods include:

  • Low sugar protein bar
  • Lean meats, like chicken and fish
  • Tree nuts, like almonds and walnuts
  • Nut butters
  • Greek yogurt

Sugar Can Be a Headache

Sugar is in all the foods you probably love most. But unfortunately, it’s not doing any wonders as a pre or post-workout snack. In fact, sugar can lead to tons of different health issues for your heart, as well as your head.

Sugar headaches occur when you eat too much sugar, as glucose fluctuations affect your brain more than any other organ. Additionally, having too little sugar in your body can have a similar effect.

Avoiding sugar isn’t as hard as you might think, especially when fruits, vegetables, and dairy all contain healthy sugars that your body actually needs to survive. Just make sure you don’t try to use sugar substitutes, as they might be even worse than the real thing.

Looking to amp up your fitness routine without the cost of a personal trainer? The Gorilla Bow All-Access Membership brings all the benefits to the palm of your hand. Max out your workouts with live and on-demand classes that will get you giant leaps towards your goals.

 

Sources:

​​The sweet danger of sugar | Harvard Health

Blood Sugar | MedlinePlus

Foods Containing Added Sugars | Heart.org

How much sugar is too much? | Heart.org

Sugar substitutes: Health controversy over perceived benefits | NCBI

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