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Glucose equals Willpower: Opinions?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 20, 2011 at 6:38 PM

Fascinating article in the NYTimes Magazine about recent research regarding "decision fatigue", willpower, and glucose consumption by various parts of the brain.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html?pagewanted=all

Heatherton???s results did much more than provide additional confirmation that glucose is a vital part of willpower; they helped solve the puzzle over how glucose could work without global changes in the brain???s total energy use.

Certianly explains why I can lift heavier weights when I've got some glucose in my system.

Edit: Yes, there is a lot of conventional thinking in this article, but it's still an interesting article if you can filter the misinformation.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on August 22, 2011
at 03:01 AM

@Don no doubt ;)

11838116de44ae449df0563f09bd3d73

(655)

on August 21, 2011
at 07:52 PM

That would be amusing if the primary driver of LC success was willpower. Quick! someone blog it and get dibs on next year's AHS slot. On a serious note - there's tons of food elimination with Paleo LC. I would expect that as a benefit before super keto power.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on August 21, 2011
at 03:55 AM

I just wanted to say that is wonderful about your son.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on August 21, 2011
at 01:07 AM

I've been thinking about this article for days..

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on August 20, 2011
at 11:50 PM

I tried experimenting with weightlifting either after a 12-hour fast, or the 12-hour fast then taking 10-20 mg dextrose in water 30 minutes before weightlifting. I was definitely going heavier with the dextrose than without. There's no way that such a small amount of glucose could have made that much difference to muscle glycogen. I attribute the difference to a glucose-fueled willpower boost.

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on August 20, 2011
at 11:40 PM

I used to experiment with taking 10-20 mg dextrose in water 30 minutes before weightlifting. I was definitely going heavier with the dextrose than without. There's no way that such a small amount of glucose could have made that much difference to muscle glycogen. I attribute the difference to a glucose-fueled willpower boost.

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on August 20, 2011
at 11:34 PM

Rippetoe talks a lot about the importance of determination in weightlifting. Sounds a lot like willpower to me. I'm betting on the brain.

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on August 20, 2011
at 11:33 PM

Rippetoe talks a lot about the importance of "determination" in weightlifting, which for the purposes of weightlifting, is tantamount to willpower. I'm betting on the brain.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on August 20, 2011
at 11:08 PM

Heavier weights on glucose has to do with muscle glycogen, not your brain.

88905cfc5bb098ad3830671a1af373a8

(803)

on August 20, 2011
at 08:14 PM

but the brain runs on glucose - even if you don't ingest it, i.e. glucose is always in your system. thanks for the link, i will check it out.

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2 Answers

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66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on August 21, 2011
at 01:57 AM

Very interesting article. I for one have become more even tempered and easy going since living the paleo lifestyle.

One sentence stood out in that article: "The problem is that what we identify as sugar doesn???t help as much over the course of the day as the steadier supply of glucose we would get from eating proteins and other more nutritious foods."

I think that is key right there, eating healthy, nutrient dense, nutritious foods keeps both body & mind on an even path, no great deviations due to ingestion of large amounts of sugary / processed foods, no highs and lows of blood glucose. We may succumb to a lessening of our will power throughout the day but having a steady supply of good food in our systems probably lessens this effect.

The article left me wondering how someone who is keto adapted is effected by this. Personally I used to be stressed out by the end of the day, but I have been LC-VLC for years and my stress levels are way way down.

Before my son went paleo (he is 14) he was always good in school but could not make decisions of any kind to save his life, now he was on the honor role last year and can make pretty good decisions when required to. He has even energy all day long he does not crash mid-morning & mid afternoon like his classmates do and he has really started to notice this personally.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on August 21, 2011
at 03:55 AM

I just wanted to say that is wonderful about your son.

11838116de44ae449df0563f09bd3d73

(655)

on August 21, 2011
at 07:52 PM

That would be amusing if the primary driver of LC success was willpower. Quick! someone blog it and get dibs on next year's AHS slot. On a serious note - there's tons of food elimination with Paleo LC. I would expect that as a benefit before super keto power.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on August 22, 2011
at 03:01 AM

@Don no doubt ;)

0
7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on August 21, 2011
at 04:40 AM

(I did not like the article...I think the act of decision making involves stressors other than lack of glucose...too many jumps and leaps unsupported in the article...some liberal gibberish in parts. Like smcdow said, filter out the misinformaton.)

But...in relation to the keto-adapted point Josh brought up I tried to think about my own "decision fatigue" being now LC.

I joke I never take diet advice from a skinny person who was never fat. Fat people will not take just 1 mini candy bar on a cubicle desk in an office...they will go back and get more and then continue to think about them--even after the sugary taste in the mouth becomes sickly. If that fat person can get skinny I think he/she found some way to control the uncontrollable that has nothing to do with willpower.

In my experience, bad food choices, cravings and impulse sugar splurges have always felt beyond my control--like it's built into my genes--like an alcoholic for example. It is only when I'm eating low carb paleo that I don't have to use "willpower" since the craving is not there.

I'm not science-articulate enough to understand the whole glucose thing but I agree with Josh. My mood, self-control, worries and decisions are definitely better now with protein/fat/veggies than when I ate mini-candy bars.

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