Sugar and Productivity

By: Shane Bender

If you are a business owner or highly functional person, you desire for more productivity. As a business owner and entrepreneur, productivity and effectiveness can bring more business, increase value to clients, and even create more time to focus on areas of growth or to spend with family.

While on vacation last month, I started a 30-day challenge of no sugar. Check out 30 Days Sugar-Free for more information on this challenge. I must admit that I focused on obvious sugars such as desserts, sugary drinks, and anything with more than 2-3 grams of sugar per serving. It can be challenging to worry about all condiments. I was mostly concerned with getting rid of 90% of the sugar. It was difficult at times, especially at some work lunch events where desserts were complimentary.

After 30 days, I chose to take my kids to Sonic for a milkshake. I got myself a Reese’s Peanut Buttercup shake with a peanut butter funnel. See the picture below:

sonic-shake

Before your mouth starts watering, let me tell you how this affected me after 30 days of a no-to-very-low sugar diet. Not only did I feel sluggish and kind of sick to my stomach right after I ate it, but I woke up feeling tired and unmotivated. I didn’t have a good a night’s sleep.

Below are 5 reasons why sugar is not good for business owners, entrepreneurs, or anyone who desires a productive day.

1. Decreases energy

Most people know that sugar gives a high at first, but then there is a crash. It is difficult to realize this when you are used to eating sugar. You can simply just keep eating more and more sugar and not ever come down off the sugar high. Eventually, you will crash or start feeling bad. Overall, your energy level will be lower which obviously affects productivity. If you think that eating a dessert will keep you from getting 2 hours of work done which translates to money, would you eat the dessert?

2. Decreases mental effectiveness

Having a good memory and alertness is essential for adding value to others in business or just to life in general. I know that my self-confidence and ability to provide good client service is down when I am in a fog. Sugar definitely puts you in a fog. Once again, when you are eating sugar, you may not realize you are in a fog until you get off of sugar for a while.

3. Increases depression

This is probably more of an indirect link to no sugar which is harder to discern. Here is my thought. If you have sugar and it decreases energy and mental effectiveness, then you are simply going to be sluggish and less motivated. Deep down we all know that we need to accomplish or want to do a better job, so there this anger at ourselves which can produce depression. I know this is very deep and psychological for a fractional CFO to be writing about, but it is important because depression and lethargy among yourself or your employees can have a significant impact on your business.

4. Decreases creativity

Sugar has a compounding effect through less energy and alertness. Creativity requires focus, alertness, and energy. If all of the above three points are happening, then creativity will fall by the wayside. Professor Thierry Burger-Helmchen argues that sugar decreases creativity “because the consumption of sugar increases the dopamine level and pushes us to find more sugar, rather than concentrate on the creative task”.

5. Makes you want to do nothing. 

Have you ever had pancakes or donuts for breakfast and then just felt like doing nothing? The end result of decreased productivity, less alertness, and lower creativity will result in more laziness. Why do we start our day with such high amounts of sweets? The amount of sugar in the morning can set the pace of how much we need for the day. Krista Sheehan states that low blood sugar, poor sleep, and bad habits are the reason we “Crave Sugar in the Morning“.

What is the business purpose of all this? It is all about productivity. It is about increasing value to more people in less time. It is about being the best you can be mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Try cutting sugar for 30 days and see how this affects you. I felt much better and so did my wife. It was even more apparent when I felt so much worse after I had the milkshake. Now, if I can just stop eating the candy corn.