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Home/Blog/Occasionally Get Tired After Eating? 4 Tips for Fighting It

Occasionally Get Tired After Eating? 4 Tips for Fighting It

By Ethan Boldt

February 8, 2024

Tired after eating

You have a delicious lunch, go back to work but suddenly start yawning. What is going on? Hmm, well, if you occasionally feel tired after eating, you probably want to know if this is common and if there’s anything you should specifically do to help avoid this happening.

Feeling sleepy after eating is actually common, such as after lunch — where we get the phrases “the afternoon slump” and “food coma”! It’s also the time of day when one can crave sugar and caffeine to get a kick in order to battle that afternoon tiredness.

The issue is that sometimes being tired after eating can also affect your work productivity, your motivation and focus, so it’s a problem that you want to get on top of. But instead of overdoing sweets and coffee, learn how to help combat feeling tired after eating by changing how you eat, along with other tips. 

As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen. 

Causes of Occasionally Being Tired After Eating

Called postprandial fatigue, or postprandial somnolence, being tired after eating most often occurs after a big meal — especially one high in fat and refined carbohydrates, including sugar. In some ways, it’s the “crash” that hits after the sugar rush goes away. 

Indeed, one of the main causes of occasionally feeling tired after eating is a normal drop in blood sugar. After consuming a meal full of carbs, you experience higher insulin levels but then an hour or later your blood sugar drops. Of course, this is a normal bodily response, but it can elicit feelings of lethargy, tiredness, cravings or even occasional brain fog

In fact, a carb-heavy meal can also cause more serotonin (your “happy chemical) to be released, and this can also make you feel more relaxed and even drowsy.

Meanwhile, your parasympathetic nervous system is in charge of “rest and digest” processes, and after a meal it will make you feel more relaxed. We literally have “vigilance signals” that keep us awake and alert when hungry. These signals help us locate and gather food. But once we’ve had our fill, these signals decrease and are replaced by feelings of relaxation and fatigue. 

In addition, eating causes blood to be rushed to your digestive system to aid with digestion. Breaking down food requires your body to work, and this digestive process can cause your mindset to waver and energy levels to drop. 

Lastly, your circadian rhythm, or “internal clock,” programs your energy levels throughout the day. Most people often feel a little tired in the afternoon as part of that circadian cycle, but not after the evening meal. 

Is occasionally being tired after eating normal? Yes, it’s relatively normal to occasionally feel tired after a big meal, especially in the late afternoon. However, you should always consult your healthcare professional if you have any concerns or have a medical condition.

How to Help Fight Feeling Occasionally Tired After Eating

1. Remove foods that can cause fatigue

You don’t need to remove carbs from your diet, but you want to avoid consuming meals that are dominated by carbs, such as a huge plate of pasta. Instead, you want to also be sure to consume protein and fat as part of a balanced macronutrient meal.

Big, heavy, high-fat meals — especially those that include processed foods like fried foods — can also contribute to that afternoon slumber or the post-dinner snooze in front of the television. 

Also be aware that a food sensitivity may cause your post-meal sleepiness. Potential food sensitivities or allergens can include wheat/gluten, dairy, nuts or shellfish.

Alcohol can also interfere with your mindset and ability to focus, so skip the alcoholic drinks if you know you need to be up and running soon after eating. 

2. Practice meal timing

Meal timing is usually habitual and also determined by the family as a whole, but some routines can be counterproductive to attempts to avoid that afternoon slump. For example, the massive lunch after a tiny breakfast may want to be reconsidered. Instead, have a healthy, good-sized breakfast so you’re not starving come lunchtime. 

And there’s no need to overeat at lunch if you also know you’re going to have a healthy mid-afternoon snack, such as energy balls or chocolate protein bars, that provide you a little pickup. 

3. Eat a balanced meal

Try to strike a balance by including some high-fiber foods, healthy fats, protein and vegetables rather than just simple carbs like white bread, pasta and white rice. 

Add some vegetables to a protein dish, such as sautéed chicken or fish, and incorporate some fat, such as olive oil or avocado slices, to round things out. Keep in mind that some types of protein may cause some people to feel lethargic, possibly because of tryptophan in foods like turkey, milk, meat and eggs.

4. Eat energizing foods

Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin for supporting healthy energy levels and works as a natural energy booster. It also supports cognitive and neurological health. To maintain healthy vitamin B12 levels, it’s important to consume foods like wild-caught salmon, beef liver, nutritional yeast, feta cheese and eggs.

For your red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues effectively, you need to maintain healthy levels of iron. The best way to do this is by eating iron-rich foods, like grass-fed beef, lentils, spinach, liver, spirulina and eggs.

You also want complex carbs — such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit — instead of simple carbs. These can also give you a quick supply of energy; just don’t overdo it.

Finally, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (and not too much caffeine, alcohol or sugary drinks), since hydration is key for feeling your best. Multi Collagen Advanced Hydrate Powder (lemon lime or mixed berry flavor) supplement helps you achieve rapid hydration for your skin and body. 

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