A New Kind of Hangover — and it's Not What You Think
Most bars and restaurants now have a mocktail menu of custom crafted drinks that resemble their boozier counterparts. They look beautiful and even taste the part but they often come with some consequences we didn’t anticipate. While the alcohol has been removed, the flavor and palatability of the drink is maintained through the use of sugar. Infused syrups, cane sugar and fruit juices become the major ingredients of the mocktail which can result in a higher sugar content then you realize.
Whether created by a mixologist at a bar or from a ready-to-drink mocktail in a can, your “healthy beverage” could in fact be a sugar bomb setting off a big spike and crash in your blood glucose levels, especially if you have more than one.
Let’s put this in context for you. Would you eat two Krispy Kreme donuts during Happy Hour? Well if 20 grams of sugar are lurking in your garnished highball glass, you just did.
Sadly many consumer brands are only interested in making the most palatable foods and drinks that give you an artificially high reward for eating and drinking them. In a way, they are cheap forms of dopamine — a quick hit but with diminishing returns. Sugar is used in food processing as a preservative and for its flavor-enhancing properties.
The most misleading of all marketing is the tag line, “No Sugar Added,” a sneaky work-around that doesn’t have your best interest at heart. For example, fruit juice from concentrate is still sugar but it lets brands slide under the no added sugar label. Additionally honey, agave nectar and maple syrup are alternatives that are comparable to sugar and cause the body to react in a similar way.
In terms of the in-the-moment experience, the immediate absorption of sugar in liquid form can give an initial boost of energy and pleasure from the dopamine rush in our brains, providing a quick high – especially if we’re drinking on an empty stomach at the end of the night. But as blood sugar spikes and then plummets, it’s likely the rollercoaster of symptoms will end with fatigue, irritability and even some jitters.
Throughout the night, blood sugar crashes can trigger the body to feel hungry, despite it being calorically satiated. It’s a biological response to rapidly falling glucose levels that trigger the body to compensate by releasing insulin. When our bodies consistently release extra insulin to combat excess glucose in the bloodstream, we can become insulin resistant.
Transitioning into the evening, when we go to bed with elevated glucose, the quality of sleep is impacted. According to Jessie Inchauspe, the Glucose Goddess, “a common symptom of dysregulated glucose is waking up suddenly in the middle of the night with a pounding heart,” which is the result of the crash while asleep. Just like alcohol, it can contribute to insomnia and sleep apnea for certain people leading to brain fog, poor cognition and low energy levels in the morning. Furthermore, sugar dehydrates the skin by reducing water content in your body’s cells, making fine lines and wrinkles more pronounced.
In the hopes of dodging the dreaded hangover, we avoid alcohol, the first undesirable ingredient, but we ignore the second: sugar. While the short-term effects of sugar-laden mocktails aren’t ideal after an alcohol-less night out, the long-term effects of excess sugar consumption such as obesity, PCOS and diabetes, are even less desirable.
At Little Saints, we formulated our mocktails to taste delicious without the sugar so you can imbibe and indulge without the risk of any kind of hangover. We use monk fruit, a sweetener that doesn’t spike blood sugar, and pack our formulations with mood-boosting adaptogens to make the brain and body feel as good during the party as in the morning.
Want to treat yourself? Save the sugar for your favorite dessert or a piece of whole fruit–ideally consumed after a meal to lessen the impact on blood glucose levels.
We are all about making better (and more intentional) micro-decisions every day that support our emotional wellbeing. With our collection of sugar-free plant magic mocktails, we hope this choice is an easy one and another reason to raise your glass!