Why Is Sugar So Hard To Resist? – Part 1

by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.

Not so hungry, but you’re still having that biscuit?

Why do you find it so hard to stop until the entire pack is empty, crumbs included?

There are many ways to answer these questions – and they all relate to neuroscience.

Let’s start by understanding your brain on sugar in this week’s Science Report:

Grab “Why Is Sugar So Hard To Resist? – Part 1″ below:


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Conveniently download this 23-page science report. Contains links to extra reading materials and scientific references.

Topics covered in this report:

  1. Can’t stop until the pack is empty
  2. Carbohydrate chemistry 101
  3. Sugar = short carbohydrate chains
  4. Room for thought, not fuel
  5. Too crowded to fit anything else
  6. A table cloth folded in your head
  7. No room for energy storage
  8. Evolution made “fuel” tasty
  9. Searching for gold
  10. The brain’s reward systems
  11. Stimulating pleasure centres
  12. The anatomy of reward
  13. And now a bit of sugar
  14. Is sugar a… drug?
  15. Addiction and the way to solutions
  16. Your key takeaways
  17. Learn more
  18. References and resources


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We would love to hear from you in the comments below:

  1. What's your number one discovery from this report?
  2. What does it mean to you and those you help?
  3. Are there any action steps you would take, or things you would change as a result of this report?

Share your own insights with us and your fellow readers!

Alex Ruani leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where she and her team make sense of complex scientific literature and translate it into easy-to-understand practical concepts for students. She is a Harvard-trained scientific researcher who specialises in cravings and appetite neurobiology, nutrition biochemistry, and nutrigenomics. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition science, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free Science Catch-ups every other Thursday.
Connect with Alex via email.

Every other Thursday we share our research and actionable advice to help you and those you care about. If you enjoyed this, join our FREE updates.


  • Dana

    Reply Reply April 23, 2015

    this is so true!!! that is me, once I open the pack I won’t stop until it is all gone…… I think more people have this even if they don’t admit it or don’t even know!! I love to learn about the brain and learnt lots from your report, thanks a bunch, can’t wait for Part 2!!

    • Alex

      Reply Reply April 23, 2015

      Dana – most people feel there’s something wrong with them when in fact there isn’t. Raising awareness is your and our duty. Part 2 in the works :-)

  • Pamela

    Reply Reply April 23, 2015

    I look forward to reading your articles every Thursdays because there’s always something specially for me. Thank you. Waiting patiently for part 2

    • Alex

      Reply Reply April 23, 2015

      Pamela – thanks so much for your lovely words!

  • Tonya

    Reply Reply April 23, 2015

    Thank you, Alex! I love the way that you were able to put all of the right information together without overwhelming the reader!!! I think we have entered the “sugar age!” People world wide have grown accustomed to consuming so much sugar that they don’t really think about it. But, when they do stop and focus on what they are putting into their bodies, folks are shocked into doing something – eliminating the culprit! My husband and I have taken sugar out of our diet for about 2 months and we both feel amazing. We have so much more energy to do the things that we need to do! We have both lost weight and have started exercising more regularly. We have to make it a point to empower others by gently sharing this information –especially with the next generation. Sugar is addictive and we cannot pretend that it is not.

    • Lillian Parker

      Reply Reply April 23, 2015

      Yes Alex and Goulven what an amazing explanation! I wake up every Thursday like xmas morning excited about my new science report. As addictive as sugar!!

      Tonya you are right i find it difficult to control myself when temptation is all around us…

      Vending machines at work are the worst there are no healthier alternatives and most of my colleagues end up pumping sugar to keep their brains functioning. Same problem in schools. Children dont even have access to drinking water but of course can buy coca cola and fanta!

      I am going to pass this link to my employer. They need to do something to stop getting people addicted, me included.

      • Alex

        Reply Reply April 23, 2015

        Lillian – great initiative, go for it! It’s up to those of us who have the knowledge to make a difference :-)

    • Alex

      Reply Reply April 23, 2015

      Tonya – 2 months and all that energy, fantastic achievement! By just writing this comment know that you’re inspiring tens of thousands of people. Hope to hear more from the both of you!

  • sam

    Reply Reply April 23, 2015

    My experience has been that if you are very hungry and your eyes get hold of that box of cookies or whatever sugar “junk” ( to the hungry souls have now termed as “goodies”) that you can reach it is natural reaction of the brain to satisfy such hunger to devour all to the crumbs but then rationality steps to say that is not enough nutrient for the day so you try to get your regular and perhaps overcompensate and indulge. However, if the situation is reverse in that one takes the proper main course mail and leave the so called “goodies” for desert then you will then to consume less and the additional instant energy can be burned out quickly while the main course finds its way through the digestive system

    • Alex

      Reply Reply April 23, 2015

      Sam – indeed, when we are truly hungry (ravenous), just about anything would do. That said, the feeling of being full (the psychological “full”) involves more than a full stomach and we’ll be navigating exciting research on this in a new report coming up soon :-)

  • Martha

    Reply Reply April 23, 2015

    Great article! Yes, sugar is very addicting and in everything. I have many clients that don’t realize they need to detox their body or mindset around sugar. The education process and accountability process is just that…a process. It is an addiction that will brand your cells to say “I had a cookie yesterday and it was so good…I might just have another cookie!” I say to them, well, are you having wine later this evening or do you want the cookie?
    At the end of the day, weeks, year…they are full of sugar cravings, imbalance, hormonal imbalance and mood swings. We are setting up the perfect storm for Cancer to have a hey day with Sugar!

  • Krisztina Vari

    Reply Reply April 26, 2015

    Hi Alex! This subject was very interesting for me. I have just started the nutrition therapist course, I am a new student, and not long ago I watched a program on the bbc, about high sugar diet vs high fat diet. Twin brothers were on these different diets, I remember the man on the high sugar diet could do better brain work, better sport exercises, glucose in the blood immediately have been used, the another man on high fat diet was straggling to do any sports or brain works. The sugar is a straightaway fuel in our blood. I am from Hungary, I came to England 8 years ago. And I noticed I drink my tea with much more sugar then the english people. I like my tea with fresh lemon juice and 6 spoons of sugar. In Hungary we don’t drink tea with milk. When I was young child my parents make my tea and I like that sweet sour taste, and early morning I want to taste that sugary lemonie green tea taste. I am not over weight, and I don’t eat much sugar daytime, if I eat most of them fruit, and the chocolate covered cereals with milk in the morning. That’s why I thought: how the parents feed their children, the child will like that taste later. If you don’t put sugar into your child tea, he won’t look for that taste later, and probably he will find it too sweet with sugar.

  • kristene

    Reply Reply May 3, 2015

    This is so interesting to read as I have recently been diagnosed with diabetes. I have cut out all sugary(junk food) from my diet and try not to add any sugar to my drinks and food. It has been four months now and I am going strong, but every now and then I struggle with cutting the sugary food out. I think it’s very easy to become addicted to sugar and I guess this is something I wander about, if I allow myself to have one treat every now and then.

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