We’ve all felt it at least once in our life. It is that drowsy feeling sneaking in just after a meal. After a good meal, you are full and relaxed, and you are struggling to keep your eyes open.
Is it normal? Or is it not? In any cases, feeling tired after eating a heavy meal is perfectly normal.
However, it is important to note that feeling tired and wanting a nap after most meals could be a sign for a health problem that needs to be addressed. These problems can be related to eating processed foods containing high levels of sugar and carbs, or something else.
With that in mind, it is important to know the difference when you are feeling tired after eating due to allergies, intolerances, health problems, and when it is perfectly normal.
Let’s talk about when it is normal to feel tired, and when it is not.
If you do not remember this lesson from your biology classes, let’s revisit. Your body needs energy to function, to breathe, and perform daily tasks. We can source energy from food, which is later broken down into fuel by our digestive system.
That fuel is glucos, and you also have macronutrients that provide calories and energy to our bodies.
Our digestive system is responsible for other functions. The digestive cycle triggers all kinds of responses, not just breaking down food into energy. Our digestive system releases hormones related to satiety, blood sugar, brain function, and much more.
One interesting hormone to watch is melatonin. Food influences melatonin production, and this hormone induces sleep. Which is why you might feel tired after eating. You just need a little nap.
We talked previously how certain foods can cause problems. You need to understand that not all foods are digested in the same matter. And they all affect our body in a different way. For example, some foods will make you sleepier than others.
For example, high-protein foods like eggs, cheese, tofu, fish, turkey, and so on, contain tryptophan. This is an amino-acid that helps the body create serotonin, a hormone that might be responsible for the post-meal sleepiness.
Cherries, on the other hand, affect melatonin levels, another hormone we discussed is connected to feeling tired after eating.
The good news is that a balanced diet that contains the perfect balance of fats, protein, and carbs, will promote sustained energy. That includes vegetables, whole grains and health fats. Drinking water will also help, as it will help you avoid sugar.
You’ve heard it before a million times. Our body needs at least 6 hours of sleep, and ideally 7 or 8 at night. Not getting enough sleep will make you feel sleepy and tired after eating. Now that you are full and relaxed, your body will feel it needs resting.
To counter this, you need to stick to a regular sleep schedule. That will help you avoid being down on energy through the day. Limit stress, and include exercise as part of your daily routine to get a better night’s sleep.
Carbs and glucose
We talked about how your diet can affect your post-meal fatigue, but let’s talk specifically about carbs and glucose. Carbs cause spikes in your glucose levels, and glucose can affect another compound in the body that affects sleep.
Too much glucose in the body affects orexin, a peptide that controls wakefulness and one that is most active in the hypothalamus. Any carb you consume ends up breaking down into glucose. That means if you eat too much carbs, you can easily feel tired after a meal.
Inflammation also suppresses orexin, the peptide we talked previously. Food allergies and sensitivity to certain foods will cause inflammation. And same as glucose, inflammation will suppress production of orexin.
Inflammation is the most serious and significant cause of feeling tired after eating. The good news is that once you avoid foods that cause inflammation, the post-meal fatigue will go away.
Less blood flow to the brain
This is perfectly normal. When you eat, your body functions differently. The blood vessels increase local blood flow and blood rushes to your stomach in order to start processing the food.
The digestion cycle will demand more blood to the GI system, which means your brain is getting less blood.
As a result of reduced blood flow to the brain, you are also getting less oxygen and nutrients to the brain. The result is fatigue, and feeling sleepy and tired after eating.
Low physical activity
The effects of physical activity on sleep patterns have been documented in a number of studies. Exercise can keep you alert during the day, and reduces the risk of post-meal fatigue. We talked previously that exercise is key to getting a good night’s sleep.
Studies show that regular exercise helps increase energy and reduce fatigue. In other words, while you might think that exercise will make you tired, it will actually make you feel fresher.
Being sedentary does not create energy. In fact, being sedentary puts your body in a slump. Being active is the only way to ensure your body produces enough energy that will push you through the day.
Serious health conditions to consider
We mentioned at the beginning that there are some serious conditions linked with symptoms like feeling tired after eating. On rare occasions, feeling sleepy and fatigued is a symptom of severe health condition.
These conditions include:
- Celiac disease
- Food intolerance
- Sleep apnea
- Underactive thyroid
Your doctor will help you identify whether the feeling of tiredness after a meal is linked with a serious health condition, or it is just something perfectly normal.
How to prevent feeling tired after eating
While being tired after eating is perfectly normal in most cases, you do not want to lose any time in the day due to sleeping. The night is when you need to sleep, and during the day you need energy to help you last.
So, in order to keep you alert and awake during the day, follow these tips:
- Consume more protein with your meals, but do not consume protein only meals
- Get out on the sun, and allow sun exposure to help you improve your metabolism and wakefulness
- Avoid lectins
- Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks
- Stay away from foods that cause inflammation, and consume foods that fight off inflammation
- Consume foods rich in potassium, as the mineral will help you get enough energy to last through the day
The apple cider vinegar remedy
Apple cider vinegar is something we all should consume on a daily basis. There are plenty of reasons for that, mainly because apple cider vinegar helps with digestion.
Made from fermented apple cider, the vinegar is a multi-purpose remedy for improving different ailments. You should consume before each meal to aid digestion. ACV can help with problems like bloating, indigestion, and reflux.
Consume apple cider vinegar on a daily basis will also help your body stabilize the blood sugar levels. People with diabetes thrive thanks to apple cider vinegar.
The simplest and easiest way to consume more ACV is to drink it with water before each meal. Or, you can add it to salads as a dressing. Just make sure to choose organic and unfiltered apple cider vinegar.