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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

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 November 18, 2021

The Importance of a Healthy And Balanced Diet for Energy

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The Importance of a Healthy And Balanced Diet for Energy

Do you feel like you lack energy? Maybe you should start looking into what you eat. A healthy and balanced diet is crucial for everything in our lives. But oftentimes, people get consumed into the marketing of special “supplements,” energy drinks, powders, pills, and the list goes on and on. This happens to the point that we forget to go back to the basics—having a healthy and balanced diet.

Eating healthy is not about doing cleanses, starving ourselves, or even restricting food groups. It is not even about “dieting.” If all this sounds familiar—yet shocking—to you, it’s probably because you may need to start making some changes to your eating lifestyle. A healthy and balanced diet is the solution to more than 90% of health problems, especially energy-related ones.

Keep reading to learn more about the importance of a healthy and balanced diet for energy.

1. A Healthy and Balanced Diet Is Key to Boosting Your Metabolism

When you eat healthily, you’re nourishing your body with everything it needs. Your metabolism depends on all the necessary nutrients to be efficient. We all need enough amounts of protein, healthy fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water. Without any of these elements, your body would not perform well. Whether you want to lose body fat or build muscle, you need to have a healthy and balanced diet.

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2. It Helps Improve Your Memory and Productivity

Studies show that when you have a healthy and balanced diet, your brain works better.[1] This is because you’re feeding your body with all the right nutrients including omega-3, which enhance memory and productivity. When you feel tired, especially at work or even after eating, it’s most likely because you’ve not been eating well or eating too much over-processed food. Eating healthily will also boost your creativity and make your ideas flow better.

3. It Helps You Have a Healthy Weight

This seems like a no-brainer, but again, common “dieting” trends have made people obsessed with extremes to achieve a healthy weight. You don’t have to do any “fad diets” to lose weight.[2] There’s no need to break the bank to eat healthily or even spend on expensive supplements. If you want to get a healthy weight, all you need to do is learn how to eat in a balanced, healthy way. Eat more whole foods from all food groups, and stay away from refined, overprocessed foods.

4. It Can Help With Your Fitness Goals

If you’ve been trying to get fit, get toned, and lose some body fat but keep struggling, take a closer look at your diet. Remember that fitness results are based on 80% healthy nutrition and 20% exercise.[3] When you eat healthily, your energy levels increase and so does your whole body composition. The first thing you need to focus on—before your weight—is improving your energy and metabolism, and the best way to achieve these is with balanced nutrition.

5. It Helps Improve Your Immune System

The thing about having more energy as your diet improves is that it directly affects your immune system as well. When you eat healthier food, you start feeling more energized and getting sick less often. Personally, I’ve experienced more wellness, and I hardly ever get sick. This includes the infamous flu. One of the best things is seeing how your body changes and that you don’t have to depend on medications or shots to stay healthy. If you’re looking to improve your immune system naturally, many foods can help boost your immune system.[4]

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6. It Can Help Save You From Unhealthy Food Cravings

Having a healthy and balanced diet helps reduce food cravings, especially sugar. Eating in a balanced way means that you’re including enough protein and fiber at each meal. Increasing protein in your diet is important not only to increase your energy and boost your metabolism but also to control cravings. Protein is actually the most satiating nutrient, besides fiber.[5] Having healthy fat foods like oils, nuts, seeds, and fruits like avocado will also help keep your blood sugar in check, reduce cravings and increase your energy.[6]

7. It Will Help You Save Money

If you have been spending tons of money on energy drinks to stack up for the day yet still feel awkward, then it’s time to change your eating habits. When you eat in a balanced way that embraces all food groups (AKA colorful plate), then your energy levels will increase. You won’t need to keep buying any more energy drinks or rely on coffee to boost your vitality. Always start with a great breakfast. Starting your day with a balanced meal is the best way to fuel up your body with all the energy you need. Quality whole foods are less expensive than investing in energy drinks and caffeine. By doing this simple change, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your budget.

8. It Can Help You Have Better Mood

Have you noticed how you have constant mood swings when your diet is full of junk food? Well, this has to do with the lack of essential nutrients and the excess of sugar, sodium, saturated fats, and additives. All these substances, especially refined sugars, cause your body to have constant energy crashes.[7] This is the reason why you often feel miserable and tired throughout the day. Start with an easy change, such as including more fruits and veggies, even in your snacks.

9. More Energy Means Better Workout Performance

When you’re heading to the gym, the first thing you usually think about to boost your energy is getting that supplement, those amino acids, or pre-workout shake mix. This is not altogether bad, but did you know that the quality of your diet throughout the day matters more than what you take during workouts? Yes, it’s the foods that we eat during the entire day that will make a huge difference. Therefore, instead of putting all the emphasis on your pre and post-workout snacks only, focus on eating quality meals throughout the day.

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Also, don’t rely on workouts to increase your energy. Remember that exercise is only a component of the whole package, so eat healthier meals, and train according to your goals. When you eat right, your energy levels will increase, which means that you won’t feel unnecessarily exhausted after working out.

10. It Can Help Enhance Your Sex Drive

Sexual health is often overlooked when touching on this topic about eating healthy. But besides the common myths and noise about the aphrodisiac foods that can improve your sex life, a healthy and balanced diet can actually impact your sex drive.[8] A healthier diet leads to a healthier body, thus more vitality to perform well in bed. So, if you need to spark up your energy during sex, start by making healthier food choices overall.

11. It Helps Improve Your Digestion

When your energy increases through balanced eating, it directly impacts your digestion as well. Having a healthy metabolism also helps in digesting and absorbing the nutrients from foods. You can see the difference in how you feel after eating. Notice if you constantly feel bloated, have constipation, and even indigestion. When you eat more healthily, you’ll see a change in your gut health for good. A lot of energy problems are related to a poor digestive system. Good fiber foods like fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, and whole-grain cereals will help improve your digestion and give you more energy.

12. It Helps Protect You From Chronic Diseases

Reducing the risk of suffering from chronic diseases has been by far the biggest benefit of having a healthy and balanced diet. Simple wins, such as not relying on medications to feel well, not having to check in with the doctors regularly because of symptoms, or even saving on medical bills is what I call prevention. This is what I call quality of life.

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When you feel more energized because of a healthy and balanced diet, you are at less risk of suffering from chronic diseases. Problems like heart blood pressure, diabetes, gut issues, obesity, and even cancer are very common. The truth is that something as simple as having a healthier diet can help you avoid most of these problems. Therefore, a healthy and balanced diet for energy should be one of your top priorities if you want to stay away from chronic health issues and doctors.

Final Thoughts

A healthy and balanced diet can improve your life overall, not only your energy. You can have a better quality of life by simply including more whole foods rather than processed. Also, eating enough amounts of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and staying hydrated each meal will keep you energized and improve your mental health.

Quality nutrition is key, as lack of energy is often linked to stress, poor sleep patterns, and anxiety and metabolic dysfunctions. Make sure you include a variety of foods in your diet, and your life will change for the better!

More Tips on Leading a Healthy And Balanced Diet

Featured photo credit: Pablo Merchán Montes via unsplash.com

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Reference

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