Self-control is critical for achievement and well-being. However, people’s capacity for self-control is limited and becomes depleted through use. One prominent explanation for this depletion posits that self-control consumes energy through carbohydrate metabolization, which further suggests that ingesting carbohydrates improves self-control. Some evidence has supported this energy model, but because of its broad implications for efforts to improve self-control, we reevaluated the role of carbohydrates in self-control processes. In four experiments, we found that (a) exerting self-control did not increase carbohydrate metabolization, as assessed with highly precise measurements of blood glucose levels under carefully standardized conditions; (b) rinsing one’s mouth with, but not ingesting, carbohydrate solutions immediately bolstered self-control; and (c) carbohydrate rinsing did not increase blood glucose. These findings challenge metabolic explanations for the role of carbohydrates in self-control depletion; we therefore propose an alternative motivational model for these and other previously observed effects of carbohydrates on self-control.


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That is entirely unreadable, ow. Anyone want to put up the PDF?

tl;dr: The alternative explanation is that carbs in the mouth trigger dopamine release in the brain and the latter enables more self-control.

Rinsing your mouth with sugar water is known to help with running performance. It sounds like the same mechanism. I remember recently reading a longer article about the running thing, where swishing the solution in the mouth improved the times even for professional athletes, who were probably already pretty motivated and experienced at going all out. So it seems likely that whatever mechanism is at work here is pretty low-level and is doing stuff a bit beyond what's easily accessible with just trying really hard.

Wonder how hard it would be to control the involved pathway more directly than with the sugar water thing. Just make the brain constantly think that it's okay to go all-out with the willpower, there's lots of fuel available if we need it.

Also, aren't there theories floating out that the placebo effect is something similar? The brain is blocking top performance when it's unsure about the energy reserves, and it blocks the most efficient healing when it's unsure about whether there's a nice, long-term safe place where you can go on the mend and just sleep and eat a lot instead of foraging for food.

You are right, just willing harder is probably not going to cut it. But there might be alternatives like, having some fun conversation, reading something interesting, a hug, etc... that might equally trigger the right brain chemistry.

Very interesting! This seems to suggest that sugar substitutes might do the same, though.

There is a study that actually compared sugar substitute ingesting people to sugar ingesting people. The people who ate sugar showed more rational behavior. >_> but maybe this is different from self control.

No, sugar substitutes were not triggering the dopamine release, so they don't work.

Formatting: There's a span style="color: #403838; starting just after "energy model" and never closed, making the text lighter.

That is a needed thing especially when it comes to our wellness bothering things takes our fitness to the next level which is prettry cool according to me. I have been into the same stuff and it always worked for me because of the kinda care i have taken it worked for me.

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