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Published on October 6, 2021

Why Do I Feel Tired After Eating? (And How to Avoid It)

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Why Do I Feel Tired After Eating? (And How to Avoid It)

Feeling tired after eating is very common, and it happens more often after lunchtime. Is it normal? Yes. However, feeling constantly tired after a meal could be a sign of an underlying health issue. The good news is that there are simple ways in which we can avoid that constant drowsy feeling after a meal.

So, if you’ve been asking yourself why you often feel tired after eating, you’ll discover the main reasons why this happens and effective ways to avoid it in the future.

Why Do I Feel Tired After Eating?

There are several reasons why you may feel tired after eating. But it may be concerning if it always happens and starts to affect your everyday life. Below are the main reasons why you may feel tired just after taking a meal.

1. You Eat Big Meals

If you’ve ever felt like you’re about to fall asleep after lunchtime, it’s probably because of how much you ate. The answer to this phenomenon is simple: it takes a lot of energy to digest the foods you eat. Therefore, the larger the meals, the more likely it is that you feel drowsy after eating.

2. It’s a Natural Part of the Digestion Process

Our gut takes about 2 hours to digest an entire meal.[1] Because of this, you’ll often feel drowsy after eating. This is especially true after eating lunch since we usually get back to work or continue with our duties shortly after. Besides that, the quality of food you eat also influences the amount of energy you’ll have after a meal.

3. You Eat Too Much Over-Processed Food

Foods that are high in saturated fat, simple carbs, and artificial flavors (like junk food), give you poor nutrition and instead load up your body with lots of calories. Besides the digestion process it takes, the high amounts of carbs and fats make your blood sugar unsteady, creating constant spikes. This is what causes the constant energy crashes in the afternoon time.

4. You Eat Foods That Are Rich in Protein and Carbs

Spoiler alert! You should be eating enough protein and carbs each day. Don’t think that you should eat less protein or eliminate carbs. In fact, these will help to prevent constant cravings throughout the day and keep you healthy overall. However, it is worth the mention that certain foods can cause you to feel sleepy after a meal.

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Protein-rich foods, like salmon, poultry, dairy products, soy, eggs, and seeds, have higher levels of tryptophan. You can also find it in foods rich in carbs, such as pasta, rice, white bread and crackers, and processed pastries. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin, which is the hormone that brings relaxation. Some scientists found that people feel tired after eating because their body is producing more serotonin.[2]

5. You May Be Having Blood Sugar Spikes

While it’s completely normal to have your blood sugar levels rise and fall, unhealthy sugar spikes can cause the infamous energy crash. This happens because there is a sudden high amount of sugar in your blood that forces your body to store it, leaving you with a very low sugar level that will cause you to crave more sugary foods. It’s a vicious cycle you certainly don’t want to be into.

6. You Skip Meals

Not eating enough throughout the day or even skipping meals is also a very common reason why you may feel tired after eating. Sometimes, we don’t realize how our energy levels are so low until we miss a meal.

Studies show that not eating during regular hours (AKA starving) is why you feel tired, have less energy, and have the urge to overeat during your next meal. As a result of that hungriness and your huge meal, you feel drowsy.[3]

7. You Consume Stimulants Like Caffeine

There is nothing wrong with starting your day with your favorite cup of coffee. Coffee is one of those foods that can help us stay alert during the day. But overdoing the coffee mugs can cause the opposite effect and make you feel sleepy.

Why do you feel tired after eating or taking caffeine? Simple: Too much caffeine will eventually make the energy-boosting effect wear off. This happens especially during your next coffee break in the afternoon or after lunchtime.[4]

8. You Lack Exercise

This may sound like it’s not directly related to being sleepy, but it is. When you’re not physically active, your body lacks the energy it needs to perform well and help you stay alert. That’s another reason why you should always include workouts in your weekly schedule. Not exercising will cause you to feel more tired and moody.

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9. You Have Poor Sleeping Patterns

Another reason why you may feel tired after eating is you may not be sleeping well at all. If you think of it, our body needs enough rest to perform well and keep us with enough energy. Because of this, not sleeping enough the night before will make you crave more food the next day and cause you to be sleepy around the afternoon hours.

10. You Drank Alcohol

Even though alcohol per se is not one of the main reasons why you may be tired after eating, you may want to look into your drinking patterns. What this means is that having alcohol with your meals or drinking the night before can make you feel sleepy. According to Harvard experts, alcohol is a sedative and can lower your energy.[5]

Other Health Problems

There may be other underlying health issues related to feeling tired after eating. Excess tiredness after eating could be a symptom of the following health problems:

Diabetes

Diabetic patients could struggle with feeling tired after eating due to unusual blood sugar levels. When it’s too low or too high, there could be dizziness, less energy, and increased fatigue.

Anemia

When you lack certain nutrients in your body, such as iron, folate, and vitamin B-12, you could experience symptoms of anemia. This happens when the number of red blood cells in your body is too low. One of the main signs is feeling extremely tired and dizzy.

Food Intolerance or Allergies

If you didn’t know, that extra drowsiness could be a sign of a food allergy or intolerance. Having digestive issues, such as diarrhea and vomiting, is not always a sign of allergies. Food intolerances could manifest in different ways. That’s why it’s always best to check with your local doctor and confirm any diagnosis.

Thyroid Problems

People who also have hormonal imbalance related to their thyroid show excess sleepiness or sleep disturbances. This is on top of weight loss, irregular bowel movements, and even muscle weakness. [6]

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a rare condition in which you have problems breathing while you’re sleeping. This constant sleep interruption can make you feel extra tired the next day. There are many factors why sleep apnea happens, but in most cases, it has to do with obesity and high blood pressure.[7]

Celiac Disease

Being gluten intolerant is another reason why you could be more tired than usual, especially after eating. This happens because your body has problems digesting gluten foods. Therefore, you absorb fewer nutrients and your gut is constantly irritated. One of the main symptoms of this disease is fatigue.

How to Avoid Feeling Tired After Eating

Feeling tired after every time you eat can be annoying and may sometimes even have a significant impact on your lifestyle. Below are some tips on how to avoid feeling tired after eating.

1. Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is key to keep your body working well. When you hydrate your body, your metabolism is boosted and you have less fatigue and hence, you also have more energy.[8]

2. Eat More Whole Foods and Cut Back on Refined Sugars

One of your objectives is to balance your blood sugar levels. To do this, you have to make sure that you’re eating enough whole foods and less over-processed foods. Eating whole foods can lower the risk of those sugar spikes, heavy cravings, and that energy crash.[9]

3. Eat Enough Food During Each Meal to Keep You Satisfied

Practicing intuitive eating is very effective. It not only helps you stay in shape, but it also aids your digestion and boosts your energy.[10] You must eat until you’re satisfied, not until you’re full. Eating too much food than what your body asks for in one sitting will only cause you to overeat and give you that sleepy sensation.

4. Avoid Starving or Skipping Meals

This is another big problem you want to avoid. When you eat at regular hours, your body will have more energy throughout the entire day. Don’t try to stand hunger because then you’ll overeat in the next meal and feel more tired than you should be.

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5. Exercise Regularly

Stay active as much as you can. You don’t have to run a marathon to stay healthy, but engaging at least in some regular basic exercises can already help raise your energy levels.

6. Get Enough Quality Sleep

Sleeping enough is key for your body at all times. Good quality sleep is at least about seven to nine hours. Try not to eat too late at night before you go to bed, turn off distractions (including your cell phone), and block off excessive light to help you develop a good sleeping habit.

7. Drink Caffeine in Moderation

If you enjoy starting your day with your favorite cup of coffee, go for it! But bear in mind that drinking about two to three cups a day should be enough to get that energy in. More than this can cause problems if you are not careful.

8. Have a Balanced Diet

Eating enough nutrient-rich foods will make your body work more efficiently and boost your energy. Aim at getting protein, healthy fiber, and healthy fats in all of your meals. Make your plate balanced and colorful.

9. Moderate Your Alcohol Intake

When you limit alcohol, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your energy levels overall. This especially applies to when you eat your meals during the day. Focus on no more than one to two glasses of wine a day. Drinking alcohol with meals can make people feel more tired.

Final Thoughts

Even though feeling tired after eating is normal, there are still some lifestyle habits you can improve to reduce this situation. If you’re feeling more tired than usual after your meals, make sure you work on quality nutrition, daily movement, proper rest, and do regular healthcare check-ups.

More Tips for Staying Energetic

Featured photo credit: Dollar Gill via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Zola Johnson

Nutritionist and Aesthetician

What Supplements Should I Take Daily To Stay Healthy? The Importance of a Healthy And Balanced Diet for Energy Why Do I Feel Tired After Eating? (And How to Avoid It)

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Published on December 15, 2021

What Supplements Should I Take Daily To Stay Healthy?

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What Supplements Should I Take Daily To Stay Healthy?

Having quality nutrition every day is key to staying healthy and fit. Many people wonder if taking supplements is needed to supply their needs. The answer to this question lies in a lot of factors. Here’s the thing: there is no black and white approach when it comes to taking supplements, but if you’ve been wondering whether you need supplements or not, I will help clarify some of your concerns.

Sometimes, having too many options of supplements on the market can be overwhelming. If you’re still asking yourself what supplements to take, then keep reading.

What Supplements Should I Take?

When you reach for that bottle of vitamins or fish oil, for example, you wonder if any of these will work and if they are safe. Well, the main thing you should be asking yourself is if you need them in the first place. And the truth is, there are tons of supplements for different needs.

Our body requires all the necessary nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fat, and fiber every day. The best source for these nutrients is real food. Nothing beats having a balanced lifestyle that includes quality whole foods. But the reality is that most people are not meeting the minimum requirements of certain nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals.

Even with fiber, people struggle to eat enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, for instance. That’s why you can see many symptoms like digestive issues and lack of energy.

Supplements come into the picture to help your body meet all the necessary nutrients. They also help avoid any deficiency. Supplements can even strengthen your body and enhance your metabolism. There are many benefits of taking supplements. The answer to whether you’ll need to take them depends on many other things.

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Should I Invest in Supplements?

Before I suggest a list of the types of supplements you should take, this is what you should bear in mind. Supplements are just an aid to a healthy eating lifestyle. In other words, you should always aim to eat healthier, vary your plate, and have enough whole foods in your diet. That is crucial to ensure that you are meeting at least the minimum nutrient requirements.

You shouldn’t invest in supplements to get your main nutrition. Always focus on quality foods before you supplement your diet. Now, supplements can reinforce what you’re lacking in your eating lifestyle. Because of that, I love to always have some sort of multivitamin complex.

In general, if you have a proper eating lifestyle, it’s not mandatory to invest in supplements. However, there are specific cases, for example, pregnant women, in which we recommend taking supplements. Always make sure that you check with your doctor or nutritionist before taking any form of supplement.

Why Do I Need Supplements? Which Ones Are Important?

Below are the most common reasons why you may need to take supplements and which ones you should try.

1. Restricting Eating Lifestyles

As a nutritionist, I rarely recommend anyone going through a restrictive diet. In fact, I discourage it altogether. The best thing is that you embrace a balanced eating lifestyle since this is the way to ensure you stay at a healthy weight and have a good metabolism. That’s the reason why I don’t like removing entire food groups from people’s diets.

However, I also understand diverse eating lifestyles. For example, there is a vast majority of people that are actively changing to a vegan lifestyle. If you’re a raw vegan or strictly plant-based, you may need to supplement certain vitamins. Because animal foods like dairy, certain meats, and poultry have essential vitamins and minerals like B12, iron, and folic acid, then you may have less intake of these in plant-based foods. There is much debate in this area related to plant-based diets, but basically, experts recommend taking supplements.

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As I said about restrictive diets, eliminating entire food groups can cause you to suffer certain problems like lack of energy, constipation, less muscle, and lower brain function.[1] Before you try any type of diet out there, make sure you have a better relationship with food and check with a health professional. Overall, a good multivitamin complex should be good enough to supply all your needs. Go for the ones that provide vitamin B complex and minerals like iron, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

2. Reinforcing Nutrient Intake

It’s true that eating the right foods is essential for your body. Apart from that, certain processed foods, like dairy, cereals, and others are fortified with certain vitamins and minerals. Take advantage of these types of healthy foods as well.

If you feel like you could lack a certain nutrient, then taking multivitamins is a good option. Not only because it will help you meet your goals, but it will also ensure that your body has more energy and better performance. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with taking a supplement to reinforce your healthy eating lifestyle. Apart from multivitamins, you could also take fiber supplements in case you struggle with digestive issues or you feel like you’re not eating enough plant-based foods.

3. Special Conditions

There are certain cases or stages in life when you may need to take supplements. For instance, pregnant women require higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals, like iron and folic acid.[2] Elderly people should also consume some supplements since their body absorbs less nutrients compared to younger people.[3] That’s why certain protein drinks, multivitamins, and omega-3 are prescribed to this age group. Also, people who have certain chronic health problems or underwent surgery may need supplements.

Women going through menopause are also often required to take supplements.[4] If you belong to this age group, you may need to talk to your doctor about supplements to balance off your hormone levels. Remember that not all supplements are made equally, and some ingredients may have side effects. This is especially true if you’re on prescriptions. Always check first.

4. Fitness Goals

Who doesn’t want to boost their fitness results? People that train at the gym often ask if they need to have protein supplements. It all goes down to the basics: eat healthily and put that as a priority. However, you can also take supplements based on your goals.

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Whether you want to burn some fat, build muscle, or are an athlete, supplements can reinforce and speed up your results. But here’s the thing: you should always do it the right way and not rely only on supplements for fitness results. Everything goes hand in hand, and it’s a matter of balance and moderation.

Now, here are some supplements you can take to improve your muscle performance, growth, and fat burn:[5]

  • Whey protein
  • L-glutamine
  • Branch chain amino acids
  • Multi-vitamin complex and fish oil
  • MCT oil

These supplements, coupled with a good diet, help provide steady muscle development, shed fat, and keep a healthy metabolism for better results. You have to be active to see their benefits, though. This will ensure your body is using up the nutrients effectively and not stored as fat.

There are some other great supplements made to boost energy levels and increase muscle efficiency. Here are some examples:[6]

  • Guaraná
  • Gingko biloba
  • Ginseng
  • Creatine
  • Citrulline

These are natural energy boosters. Caffeine also does a good job when it comes to improving your energy levels. These supplements should be a compliment to a healthy diet, or if you struggle with low energy performance when working out.

Speaking of energy, sometimes, simple lifestyle habits like sleeping better can make a huge difference in how you feel. So, make sure you are also working on these other areas of your life and not relying exclusively on supplements.

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5. Beauty and Self-Care

You can also find supplements for personal care. Some help to enhance your skin health, others are for hair and nails growth.

For example, collagen and multivitamins are commonly used for beauty and skincare. Because collagen is our skin’s main protein, we need to ensure our body has enough to stay glowing and healthy. Collagen also has powerful effects on skin beauty and anti-aging. You can easily add this protein to your drinks and foods to enhance your own skin’s collagen.[7]

If you didn’t know, adding collagen to your regimen after you’re 25 can help slow down the effects of aging. At that age, our skin produces less collagen, and we lose skin elasticity. Therefore, it’s a nice addition to your supplements and skincare routine.

Final Thoughts

You should always aim to have a healthy eating regimen before thinking about what supplements you need. Second, assess what are your lifestyle and health goals. Also, determine if your health and/or fitness condition requires you to add supplements.

Remember that your objective is to get enough protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If your diet lacks any of these, look for an assessment on how to get these nutrients.

More Tips on Taking Supplements

Featured photo credit: Mika Baumeister via unsplash.com

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Reference

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