Will power: a self-fulfilling prophecy?

An interesting NY Times opinion article discusses the limits of will power. The article references scientific research which suggests that “willpower is limited and depends on a continuous supply of the simple sugar glucose.” The writers of the article have a different theory which they validated in their research; that will power is only limited if you think it is.

What about the glucose idea, which seems supported by so much science? Dr. Baumeister and Mr. Tierney describe studies showing that giving people glucose (in the form of a sugar drink) restores their willpower. But in our latest research we found that when people believe in willpower they don’t need sugar — they perform well whether they consume sugar or not. Sugar helps people only when they think that willpower is sharply limited. It’s not sugar we need; it’s a change in mind-set.

A self-fulfilling prophecy essentially occurs. Increased intake of glucose is not the solution to keep your day moving. Women especially do a lot of stress eating which involves consumption of simple carbs and unhealthy animal fats which promote high sugar levels. The best way to control yourself, and not make bad food choices, is to eat more food earlier during the day to give yourself the energy you need for the day. Eating lots of protein keeps you fuller longer, and more energetic, whereas sugar does the opposite. It will help maintain your willpower!

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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