It’s no surprise that after a heavy meal you feel bloated, sleepy and want to take a quick snooze to reset your body. However, sometimes this sluggish feeling occurs without overconsuming a meal. If you are constantly feeling tired and your energy is depleted, look at your diet to figure out if you are consuming macronutrients that lower your energy levels. An overall healthy and nutrient-packed diet should improve energy levels, as well as our cognitive sharpness.
Foods That Cause Fatigue
If you’re feeling lethargic and tired, you may be consuming the following foods that lower your energy:
- Oats – Oats are rich in melatonin and high in tryptophan – an essential amino acid that assists in the development of Serotonin. Serotonin is linked to regulated sleep. Even 200 calories worth of oatmeal has 40% of your RDI of Tryptophan (That’s 2 packets of Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal!). Consuming oatmeal in the morning may be one reason why you feel sluggish by mid-afternoon .
- Bananas – Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium. Since bananas contain more than 250 mg of potassium in a half cup serving, they are considered ‘high in potassium’ . This can be linked to muscle fatigue where your arms and legs feel lethargic and weak. If you’re feeling physical sluggishness in your muscles, take a closer look at how much potassium you are consuming. Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth that is found in many foods. This mineral helps regulate the body’s melatonin, which can cause you to feel sleepy. It also binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors that are responsible for calming nerve activity . Since potassium and magnesium help relax muscles, regulate melatonin levels and calm your nervous system, eating bananas can leave you feeling sluggish throughout the day.
- Cherries and tart cherry juice concentrate – Since melatonin is a hormone found in plants, it makes sense that cherries are high in melatonin. One study performed by PubMed proved that the consumption of tart cherry juice supplements in a clinical study showed increased time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency .
- Prunes – Prunes are a great source of vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium. This is because they contain higher levels of melatonin, which helps regulate sleep patterns. In particular, vitamin B6 strengthens melatonin biosynthesis, which has therapeutic effects on your body . In addition, calcium uses tryptophan (the amino acid we previously discussed) to help the brain manufacture melatonin.
- Kiwis – High serotonin levels in kiwis help your body regulate its sleep cycle. Kiwis are also rich in antioxidants, like vitamin C and carotenoids, which are linked to calming your body for sleeptime .
- Fatty Fish – Fish like salmon, mussels and tuna are rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which convert to DHA and help the body’s regulation of serotonin. Serotonin has been shown to play a key role in our sleeping and waking cycles, which is why you may feel tired after a nice seafood dinner. Salmon in particular is also high in potassium, calcium and magnesium.
- Turkey – If you have ever wondered why you feel sluggish after Thanksgiving dinner, the reason goes beyond overeating and feeling bloated. Turkey has an abundance of tryptophan. Two servings of turkey contain 410 mg of tryptophan.
- Almonds – Another suspect that contributes to the production of melatonin and better sleep are almonds. These nuts are also rich in magnesium, which makes a strong combination for getting your body to slow down and rest. Almonds contain 19% of your RDI of magnesium in 1 oz .
- Walnuts – Another member of the nut family that can make your body feel tired are walnuts. Not only do these nuts also contain melatonin, but they also contain rich amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Milk – Numerous glasses of milk with breakfast may be a partial cause of your mid-day siesta. Certain compounds in milk contain melatonin and tryptophan.
- Processed and refined carbs – Different types of carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and rice cause a rise in blood sugar, followed by a depletion of insulin levels, which leads you feeling fatigued. When our insulin levels are low, sugar in our blood does not penetrate our cells and our cells do not receive the necessary energy to power our bodies. Carbs also help the body absorb tryptophan. This is why foods like bread and pasta are among the most well known foods that deplete energy.
There are numerous common denominators in certain foods that deplete our energy levels. Foods rich in melatonin, magnesium, tryptophan, potassium and magnesium are the main diet-based reason why your energy is low throughout the day.
Why A Lot of Refined Carbs Make You Tired
Ever wonder “Why does pasta make me sleepy?” Excessive processed carbohydrate intake will lead you to feel sluggish. A common question asked is, ‘why do carbs make me feel tired?’. When you eat simple carbohydrates, the sugars from the food enter your bloodstream and change the way that blood sugar levels are controlled. This hormonal response is what keeps us alive by releasing insulin to take excess sugars from our body’s cells or tissues where it can be used for fuel; but eating too many carbs in one sitting can negatively impact this process.
Talk to a nutritionist to reduce your carb-intake to a recommended amount (275g per day based on 2,000 calorie diet) . It’s important to note that not all carbohydrates have properties that make you feel sleepy. Carbohydrates like legumes, whole grains and fruit are not directly linked to feeling tired.
Low-Carb Diets Like Keto
It’s common to have low energy on the keto diet. Since an adequate intake of healthy carbs turns into energy, the keto diet and other low-carb diets may lead to depleted energy and make you feel tired. Keto dieters may feel sluggish at the start of their diet as the body adjusts from burning calories for energy to burning fat for energy . This is commonly known as the “keto flu” and is a temporary side-effect of the diet.
If you’re on the keto diet plan, read our blog What Vitamins To Take On a Keto Diet to ensure you are supplementing your diet plan with necessary nutrients.
Low Brain Energy Causes
Your brain requires a combination of minerals and nutrients that help convert glucose and ketones into energy. If your physical energy feels fine but your brain energy and focus is suffering, your diet may be missing nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and vitamin C. Having inadequacy of these vitamins in your diet can lead to brain fog and low cognitive function.
In addition, having an abundance of sugar in your diet may also lead to brain fog as blood sugar levels skyrocket and then crash, leaving you feeling tired, moody and foggy.
Best Multivitamins For More Energy
To supplement your diet try the Bioactive Multi multivitamin for adults. Bioactive Multi is a one-a-day supplement that contains all the nutrients your body needs to help avoid deficiencies or low energy levels. The advanced formula can help provide immune support and other important health benefits such as heart health, brain power or bone strength.† It is a gel supplement that contains 100% RDI of important energy-boosting vitamins like vitamin B12 and vitamin C.