What would you do if blood glucose theory of willpower was true?

bytaw9y22nd Mar 201043 comments


There's considerable amount of evidence that willpower is severely diminished if blood glucose get down, and this effect is not limited to humans. And a small sugary drink at the right time is enough to restore it.

We're talking really small numbers. Total blood glucose of a healthy adult is about 5g and it varies within fairly limited range. Then there's maybe 45g in total body waters. Then there's about 100g of glycogen in liver, plus yet larger amount in muscles and other organs, but which doesn't seem to take part in sugar level regulation. For comparison a small can of coke contains 33g - a really small amounts at appropriate times can make a big difference.

This leads to two issues. First, is blood glucose a good explanation for willpower deficiency and therefore akrasia? I'd say there's significant amount of evidence that some effect exists, but is it really the most important factor? Humans are complicated, science knows very little about how we work, and probably half of what it "knows" is false or at best only half-true. Caution is definitely warranted.

And the second issue - if this theory was true - and by manipulating blood glucose levels you could achieve far greater willpower whenever you wanted, what would you do? It seems that exploiting it isn't that easy, and I'd love to hear if any of you tried it before.