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Last Updated: 21.06.23

Controlling Sugar Cravings & Metabolism with Science-​​Based Tools

Huberman explains the mechanisms behind sugar cravings, from digestion to the nervous system’s response. He delves into the interplay of sugar, dopamine, and cravings, providing actionable tools to combat the desire for processed sugars. By understanding sugar’s effects and employing effective strategies, individuals can better manage and reduce their cravings for refined sugars.

Key Takeaways

High level takeaways from the episode.

Sugar is not inherently bad, but consuming a lot of refined sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup, can have negative effects on the brain and body.

Ingesting sugar affects neural circuits, impacting focus, agitation, happiness, and depression.

Sugar plays a critical role in achieving goals, but ingesting too much or the wrong forms can impede progress.

Fasting can lead to mental clarity

  • Neurons use available fuels (glycogen, fat, blood sugar) from previous food intake
  • Properly elevated blood glucose levels allow neurons to work best

Fructose reduces hormones that suppress ghrelin (hunger hormone)

  • Increases ghrelin levels, making us hungrier

Eating fruit in moderation does not lead to overeating or weight gain

  • High fructose corn syrup and excessive fructose consumption can negatively impact brain function and appetite regulation

Ingesting something sweet sends signals to the brain, causing a shift in perception of food

  • This shift makes sugary foods and other foods appear more appetizing

Glycemic index measures how quickly blood sugar rises after ingesting particular foods

  • Low glycemic index: <55
  • Medium glycemic index: 55–69
  • High glycemic index: >70

Ingesting fiber and/​​or fat along with food can reduce the glycemic index.

The context in which food is ingested also matters (e.g., after hard training, high glycemic foods like mangoes can be beneficial).

To reduce sugar cravings, consider:

  • Consuming sweet foods with lower glycemic index
  • Combining sweet foods with fiber or fat to reduce glycemic index and slow dopamine release

Studies show that pairing a flavor with maltodextrin (which increases blood glucose) can lead to the flavor alone increasing insulin levels.

Reducing sugary drinks and fruit juices with added sugar is important for overall health.

Ingesting sweet foods can lead to wanting more sweet foods

  • Also increases desire for glucose-​​elevating foods and food in general

Refined sugar consumption is not good for people with ADHD or attentional issues

  • However, consuming no glucose is also not ideal

Omega‑3 fatty acid supplementation can be beneficial for children with ADHD

  • Can also improve mood and cardiovascular health

Lemon juice and lime juice can blunt blood glucose spikes

  • Possibly due to post-​​ingestive effects of glucose in the gut
  • Sour taste on the tongue can change neural response to sweet foods

Cinnamon can help control blood sugar

  • Adjusts the rate of glucose entry into the bloodstream
  • May slow gastric emptying time\
  • Limit to 1–1.5 teaspoons per day due to cumidin content

Berberine is a potent substance for reducing blood glucose

  • On par with prescription drugs like metformin
  • Can cause hypoglycemia if taken on an empty stomach or with low carbohydrate intake
  • Typical dosage range: 0.5–1.5 grams daily

Maintaining low to moderate blood glucose can lead to long-​​standing changes in neural circuits

  • May result in reduced sugar cravings over time

Disrupted sleep can increase appetite for sugary foods

  • Poor sleep quality may disrupt metabolic pathways


Reducing Sugar Cravings


Tools for Reducing /​​ Controlling Blood Glucose Spikes



We recommend using this distillation as a supplemental resource to the source material.

  • Controlling Sugar Cravings & Metabolism with Science-​​Based Tools

    Huberman Lab #64

    Huberman discusses the science behind sugar cravings, including digestion, dopamine’s role, and offers practical tools to manage and reduce cravings for refined sugars.

Full Notes

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