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Tired After Eating? 6 Tips to Boost Your Energy

You’ve been looking forward to a delicious lunch all morning. Lunchtime comes and you dig into your meal. It tastes so good. But then afterwards you suddenly feel tired and drowsy.

What is happening in your body?

After you eat, your body really jumps into high gear – it begins with the digestive process: blood flow to the stomach and intestines increases. When this happens, your body decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain. This reduced supply of oxygen manifests itself in the form of fatigue.

What you eat also influences the way you feel: if you eat foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates (e.g. white-flour pasta, white bread), your body releases more insulin. Insulin is a peptide hormone that lowers your blood sugar level – so if your body releases a lot of it, it can make your blood sugar crash. You’ll feel tired, low energy, and unable to fully concentrate. What does that leave you wanting? More sugar! If you want to be more active and productive throughout the day, you should try reducing your sugar intake.

6 tips to avoid fatigue after meals

1. Breakfast is key:

Breakfast in the morning keeps the blues away and staves off hunger pangs throughout the day (which can also make you tired). Plus, if you eat breakfast, you won’t eat as much at lunch. And then you won’t be tired after eating.

2. Hydration is important:

Did you overdo it at lunch? Because you were simply too hungry? Be careful: many people mistake feelings of hunger for thirst. Make sure to drink enough water. You can calculate how much water you should drink per day here:

3. Exercise helps:

A short stroll outside can work wonders after lunch. The fresh air and exercise supplies your brain with plenty of oxygen. If you can’t go outside, open the (office) window and take some deep breaths. Or do 20 squats – they won’t take long and they will get your blood pumping.

4. Schedule your coffee breaks:

If you think you have to drink five cups of coffee to finally wake up, remember this German saying: “Viel hilft nicht immer viel” (a lot doesn’t always help a lot). One caffeinated drink is okay because it stimulates the release of adrenaline. But more than one has the opposite effect – then you’ll really feel tired. If you are looking for a boost of energy, don’t wait too long after lunch to have your cup of joe. Otherwise, you might have trouble sleeping at night.

5. Take a lunch nap:

Of course, not everyone has the luxury of taking a short power nap. But, many companies nowadays have quiet rooms where their employees can rest for 10-20 minutes. This is the maximum length of time you should sleep in order to wake up refreshed. If you sleep longer, you might end up feeling more tired than you did before. Learn more about the healthy benefits of power naps!

6. Eat lunch

Just because you’re tired after eating doesn’t mean you should stop eating. Try eating smaller portions of the right foods. Are you looking for a tasty lunch that won’t sit in your stomach all afternoon? Give the following recipe a try:

Tip:

You can prepare this fruity quinoa salad in the evening and eat it the next day for lunch at work.

Foods that make you tired

Did you know that many foods contain the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan(1)? You should go light on the following foods at lunchtime:

Are you looking for more scrumptious meals for your next lunch break? Have a look at these top 5 quick and easy recipes.

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In countries like Spain, where siestas are part of the culture and late dinners are the norm, that kind of arrangement may be practical. But allowing an hour for lunch and several hours for nap time is not feasible for most companies.

More realistically, a 20-minute “power nap” can often have a rejuvenating effect, Zee said.

William Orr, president of the Lynn Health Science Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and an expert on sleep disorders, said: “It simply isn’t commonly recognized that if individuals are allowed to give in to this natural tendency and take a short nap during the day, then in fact their productivity improves.”

Can a short nap really help?

For some people, yes, and the older you are the less time you need for a nap to be beneficial, Dinges said. But in order to nap effectively, your head must be able to rest on something, he said, like a desk or the back of a chair.

If you can’t take a nap, how can you ease the effect of the post-lunch dip?

Many people self-medicate their way through the dip with coffee, Turek said, which helps explain why caffeine is the most-used drug in the world. But responses to caffeine vary, and for some people it can disrupt nighttime sleep.

Another way to push through the dip is to exercise or to simply get up and move around the room. If you need to talk to a colleague at another desk, this could be the ideal time.

It also helps to arise at the same time every morning, Dinges said. He has found that getting up earlier than usual – even as little as a half-hour earlier – magnifies drowsiness in the afternoon.

Above all, it is important to get a good night’s sleep. With that rest as a backbone, Zee said, “one will naturally begin to feel more alert within a couple of hours” after the dip begins. “Your circadian alerting signal will kick in as the day goes on,” Zee added, “and it gets higher and higher until about an hour or so before bedtime.”

Why Do You Get Sleepy After Eating? These Are the Top Theories

If eating makes you tired, you’ve got something in common with most people—and, for that matter, with most living things. Researchers have turned up evidence of “postprandial sleepiness,” also known as a food coma, in insects, snakes, worms and rats.

“The conservation of this behavior across species suggests that it’s really important for something,” says William Ja, an associate professor of neuroscience at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida who has studied this food coma phenomenon.

Some experts have hypothesized that animals—humans included—have built-in “vigilance signals” that keep them awake and alert when hungry. These signals help them locate and acquire food. It follows that once an animal (or a human) has eaten a lot, these vigilance signals dissipate and are replaced by feelings of fatigue.

Others have theorized that post-meal changes in blood circulation could explain why eating makes some people sleepy. Blood flow to the small intestine “dramatically increases” after a person eats, says Dr. Tomonori Kishino, a professor of health science at Japan’s Kyorin University. And as blood is pumped into the gut to fuel digestion, a corresponding drop in blood flow to the brain could trigger feelings of sleepiness, he says.

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Some past research into this hypothesis concluded that blood flow to the brain does not change after a person eats a meal. But some of Kishino’s recent work found that, among people who skipped breakfast, one measure of cerebral blood flow plummeted after they ate lunch. “Skipping breakfast could therefore place a heavy burden on the body after lunch by causing greater changes in ,” he says. This could lead to sleepiness.

While scientists are still figuring out exactly why food comas happen, they’ve started to home in on some factors that may contribute to post-meal fatigue.

Eating a big meal may be one trigger. Ja’s research on fruit flies suggests that meal size is a “strong driver” of post-meal sleepiness. So too are meals loaded with salt or protein. But why? He says one long-held idea is that sleep somehow aids digestion. One of his not-yet-published studies—again, on fruit flies—found that sleep changes the way the insects absorbed certain macronutrients, including protein. “This would support the idea that post-meal sleepiness affects gut nutrient absorption,” he adds.

Ja is quick to point out that his work may not translate to humans. But some of his findings—like the idea that certain foods are more likely than others to cause fatigue—dovetail with some recent research on people.

A small 2018 study of truck drivers found those who ate diets rich in vegetables and fats from foods like olive oil and dairy tended to experience less post-meal sleepiness than those eating “Western” diets heavy in processed meat, fast food and soft drinks. “Our results suggested that a healthy diet produces low sleepiness during the day,” says Claudia Moreno, one of the authors of that study and a faculty researcher at the University of São Paulo School of Public Health in Brazil. Her study points to some older research that suggests heavy fat or carbohydrate intake could potentially trigger sleepiness by disrupting the body’s natural circadian sleep rhythms.

Meanwhile, a 2018 study found that a high-fat, high-carb meal led to both sleepiness and an uptick in some inflammatory markers, especially among obese adults. But there’s still a lot of uncertainty and contradiction when it comes specific foods and their effects on post-meal fatigue. “Some human studies show an effect after eating, but others don’t,” Ja says.

His research in flies, he says, helps explain why a lot of the food-coma research on humans is so inconclusive. “We could see because we used hundreds of flies and thousands of meals,” he says, “but these numbers are obviously much harder and more expensive to replicate in humans.

If you want to prevent a food coma, the best advice is to “eat smaller meals,” he says. This tactic may be especially effective at lunchtime. Predictable shifts in the body’s circadian rhythms tend to make people feel drowsy in the afternoon, so if you’re the type who eats a big lunch, you may be in for a double whammy.

Moreno’s research indicates that eating healthy, vegetable-centric meals could also help curb your post-meal fatigue. But the fact is, experts are still teasing out all the ins and outs of food comas.

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Why do you get tired after meals? Some post-meal fatigue is perfectly normal. Science suggests that there are dozens of reasons you may get that middle-of-the-day tired spell or the crushing post-dinner sleepy feeling. Read on.

Why Do People Feel Tired After Eating?

Overview

People often feel tired after eating. Most of the time, this is a perfectly normal, physiological response.

However, the extent to which we may feel tired after meals can vary – from person to person, day to day, and meal to meal.

It can depend on a number of factors, including age, health status, the amount and type of food, the time of the day, and more.

Scientists have many hypotheses about all the reasons why people may feel tired after eating. We’ll try to give you an overview of all the possible explanations in this article. Have in mind that one doesn’t exclude the other and that there’s no single cause of fatigue after meals.

Note: In the scientific literature, post-meal fatigue is known as “postprandial fatigue.”

When to See a Doctor

If you feel like your post-meal tiredness is extreme and it’s impacting your daily life, it would be best to see a doctor.

The following are all reasons to talk to a healthcare professional:

  • Suddenly feeling much more tired and sleepy than usual after meals
  • Indigestion or other gut issues
  • Food intolerances or allergies
  • Prolonged fatigue after meals
  • Mood changes
  • Abnormal eating habits (such as overeating or not eating enough)
  • Not having control over the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Other types of addiction (including marijuana/THC use)

There are many possible causes of abnormal post-meal fatigue. Your doctor should diagnose and treat the underlying conditions causing your current symptoms, taking your medical history and labs into account.

The Hypothalamus Hypothesis

According to one experimental hypothesis, one of the reasons for fatigue has to do with the hypothalamus. This hypothesis has mostly been tested in animals and we don’t know if it holds true in humans.

Scientists suspect that several hypothalamic areas, such as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), lateral hypothalamus (LH), and ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) are implicated in the regulation of sleep, wakefulness, and food intake .

But let’s step back first to brush up on the basics.

Metabolism is the process by which energy that goes in (caloric intake) is used by the body. When energy isn’t used the way it’s supposed to, metabolic problems can arise .

For example, people who are obese do not expend the calories they take in. Instead, they are being stored as fat. The opposite would happen in people who are underweight because they expend more calories than they take in. We can view both as metabolic problems.

Another issue, yet, are diseases like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and inborn errors of metabolism. Therefore, metabolic problems are a broad category.

That said, here’s a list of some of the possible reasons scientists think people may feel tired after eating.

13 Possible Reasons People Get Tired After Meals

Don’t make any major changes to your diet or lifestyle before speaking with your healthcare provider.

1) Sugar and Refined Carbs

We’ve written about orexin and fatigue already.

Research suggests that high blood glucose suppresses orexin, which controls wakefulness. Orexin is most active in the hypothalamus .

Simple sugars and refined carbs will quickly break down into glucose, which may trigger more sudden and pronounced fatigue. On the other hand, complex carbs and other macronutrients will do so slower. Also, swapping refined carbs like white bread for higher-fiber (lower glycemic index) carbs is better for overall health.

2) Inflammation and Food Sensitivity

Researchers believe that another possible reason some people feel tired after meals has to do with inflammation. Inflammatory cytokines like TNF and IL-1b seem to suppress wakefulness-promoting orexin .

Some people have food allergies or sensitivities and get inflammation from specific components of their meals. Anecdotally, people have claimed to resolve excessive post-meal inflammation after getting diagnosed and treated for food sensitivity.

If you suspect that you have a food sensitivity or are curious to learn more, check out these articles:

  • Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance + Why You’re Sensitive
  • Food Sensitivity Symptoms & Common Dietary Triggers
  • Food Sensitivity Testing: Does IgG Predict Intolerance?

3) Acid-Base Balance

Limited research suggests that orexin may be sensitive to minor changes of pH in the blood .

When blood acidity temporarily goes down and blood or tissues becomes slightly more alkaline, orexin is more likely to be suppressed and tiredness will ensue.

Fermented drinks like kombucha are hypothesized to be refreshing and energizing precisely because they are slightly acidic (thanks to their lactate content, among other compounds). The same goes for foods like sauerkraut and pickles .

Also, exercise is thought to increase orexin by slightly and temporarily raising lactic acid. Plus, getting regular, moderate exercise is good for overall health – and we know from experience that it makes us feel energized .

However, the human body is extremely good at maintaining blood pH levels within a tight, normal range. It’s uncertain to what extent fermented foods and exercise can impact this to affect post-meal fatigue.

4) The Mitochondria and ATP

Orexin is suppressed by glucose, as mentioned. But some scientists think that when there are enough filled energy-related molecules – including adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and pyruvate – orexin may not be as easily suppressed .

Mitochondria are what control the production of energy-related molecules. Theoretically, this means that issues with the mitochondria can reduce ATP, which may cause fatigue. A direct link between mitochondrial health and post-meal fatigue, though, hasn’t been discovered .

5) Leptin

Leptin increases with fat mass. It also goes up after meals. Thus, leptin has been called the “satiety hormone that causes weight loss,” the “obesity hormone,” and the “starvation hormone.”

In some studies, chronically-elevated leptin levels have been associated with obesity, overeating, and inflammation-related diseases, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease . However, no cause-and-effect has been established.

Meals with carbohydrates and fats increase leptin more than high-protein foods . Some scientists think this may, in part, shed light on why carbs make people more tired than other macronutrients.

6) Low NAD+

Researchers claim that NAD+ is important for DNA repair, stress resistance, and cell death. NAD+ research is still in the early stages, though, and most of these effects remain unexplored in humans .

Limited studies suggest that NAD+ also increases metabolism and acts as a signal for energy balance. In line with this theory, healthy mitochondria produce more NAD+, which might set in motion other signals to increase energy intake and expenditure. Low NAD+ might, theoretically, have the opposite effect. This is still uncertain, however, and mostly based on animal data .

Human studies are needed.

7) Rest-and-digest System Activation

Eating activates the body’s rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) nervous system, which increases blood flow to the gut area. It also stimulates digestive enzymes and liver activity .

8) Circadian Cues

You might notice that you feel more tired after lunch than breakfast or dinner.

This is because there’s a rhythm to wakefulness – the so-called 12-hour harmonic in the circadian system – and at around 1 to 3 PM, you naturally feel more tired. This is a real phenomenon and it’s called the afternoon dip or the post-lunch dip .

Research suggests that the post-lunch can occur even when a person skipped lunch and is unaware of the time of day. This can be worsened by a high-carbohydrate lunch and seems to be more likely to occur in extreme morning-type individuals .

After 10 AM, sleep urge starts to go up, peaking around 2 PM. The wavy orange/red line shows the circadian rhythm of fatigue. The other part (sleep need) illustrates the steady buildup of metabolic products such as adenosine that cause fatigue .

The bottom line is that people are more likely to get tired after lunch for circadian biology reasons.

9) CCK

Some researchers hold that cholecystokinin (CCK) is a significant factor in post-meal fatigue. CCK is a gut hormone that seems to be mainly released in response to a fat-rich or lectin-rich meal. Long-chain fats (saturated, MUFAs, PUFAs) might be potent CCK inducers .

In animals, a high protein diet also increases CCK. Animal studies will often use fatty acids from olive oil to induce CCK release (oleate) .

Scientists suspect that CCK might:

  • Cause sleepiness/fatigue because it directly interacts with the hypothalamus (despite the fact that it activates orexin
  • Inhibit hypothalamic noradrenaline, which is a plausible mechanism for CCK’s fatigue-inducing and appetite-suppressing effect
  • Stimulate the colon (via the hypothalamus), which may cause gas
  • Follow a circadian rhythm
  • Cause gut pain hypersensitivity

Giving a CCK blocker to rats prevented post-meal fatigue, whereas in humans it actually increased post-meal fatigue .

Thus, the impact of CCK on post-meal fatigue in humans is still unclear. Larger human studies are needed.

10) High-tryptophan Foods

The body uses tryptophan to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s involved in sleep and relaxation. Thus, a high tryptophan load may increase serotonin and post-meal sleepiness. One study suggests that this may particularly be the case in people with chronic fatigue syndrome .

11) Insulin-Induced Low Potassium

Insulin causes serum potassium outside of the cells to go inside. This slightly lowers potassium after meals, which is normal, but linked with fatigue. In healthy people, potassium remains relatively constant after meals. Low potassium from insulin is usually seen as dangerous only in people with diabetes and possibly in those at high risk .

12) Marijuana and Alcohol Use

Both marijuana use and alcohol can make you feel more tired. This is true in general, but it can become even more obvious after meals.

One of the side effects of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, is fatigue and sleepiness. Have in mind that cannabis use has been associated with health complications, addiction, cognitive and mood issues, and withdrawal syndrome.

Alcohol can also worsen fatigue after meals. Drinking alcohol before, during, and after meals intensifies daytime sleepiness and worsens the quality of nighttime sleep. Alcohol addiction is a serious worldwide problem .

Don’t hesitate to seek help if you feel like your cannabis use or alcohol drinking is taking a toll on your life.

Why Do I Get Dizzy After I Eat?

Several different conditions and underlying causes have the potential to cause dizziness after eating. Sometimes, you may simply stand up too fast after sitting a long time. This sudden shift in fluid volumes and blood flow can cause temporary dizziness.

Postprandial hypotension

Postprandial hypotension is a condition that occurs after eating. It’s caused by increased blood flow to the stomach and intestines, which takes blood flow away from other parts of the body.

As a result, the heart rate speeds up to pump more blood through the body. The blood vessels also tighten. Both factors can cause a person to feel dizzy after eating. About one-third of older women and men commonly experience this condition.

In addition to dizziness, a person with postprandial hypotension may have these symptoms:

  • angina (chest pain)
  • feeling faint
  • nausea
  • visual changes

In rare instances, postprandial hypotension can cause ministrokes. These are also known as transient ischemic attacks. People with high blood pressure are at risk for postprandial hypotension.

Doctors haven’t yet found a cure for postprandial hypotension but can recommend dietary and lifestyle changes that can help reduce the condition’s incidence.

Nondiabetic hypoglycemia

Nondiabetic hypoglycemia is a rare condition that can cause dizziness after eating due to a sudden drop in blood sugar.

A person with nondiabetic hypoglycemia can have reactive hypoglycemia, which is where blood sugar drops instead of increases after eating.

Doctors don’t fully know the underlying cause of this condition, but they suspect that the food causes the body to release too much insulin.

Insulin is a hormone responsible for processing blood sugar and lowering glucose levels. As a result, a person’s blood sugar levels drop too fast and they feel dizzy.

Symptoms associated with nondiabetic hypoglycemia include:

  • confusion or nervousness
  • feeling anxious
  • feeling very sleepy
  • hunger
  • irritability
  • shaking
  • sweating

In some cases, this condition can be treated surgically and cured. Where it can’t be treated, dietary changes can help manage symptoms by reducing the likelihood that a significant drop in blood sugar will happen.

A doctor may also encourage you to check your blood sugar levels after you eat so that you can eat a snack to boost your blood sugar levels before they get any lower.

Dietary triggers

Sometimes something you ate can trigger a condition (temporary or chronic) that makes you feel dizzy. For example, eating certain foods has been linked with migraines, one symptom of which is dizziness.

Examples of foods known to cause migraine headaches include:

  • alcohol
  • chocolate
  • milk products
  • foods with monosodium glutamate
  • pickled foods
  • nuts

Drinking caffeine-containing products such as coffee or sodas may also contribute to dizziness in some people. Sensitivity to caffeine varies widely.

Caffeine is a stimulant and can increase your heart rate. Those with a history of heart-related problems and those who are older may not be able to tolerate these changes in heartbeat. Dizziness may be the result.

Some people with conditions like vertigo or Meniere’s disease may also find their dizziness gets worse after eating certain foods. These conditions involve the inner ear and can affect your balance. Trigger foods may include those with a high salt content, alcohol, and foods known to trigger migraines.

11 Weird Signs Your Body Might Not Tolerate Sugar Well

Not everyone has a problem with sugar. Plenty of people add it to their coffee, or have a slice of cake, and feel a-OK. But then there are the ones who don’t tolerate sugar well and feel sick, and possibly even experience strong cravings, after eating and/or drinking it.

While that may sound a bit dramatic, it is a pretty common reaction. “When you consume sugar, blood sugar levels in the body increase, which leads to the release of insulin from the pancreas,” Kimberly Hershenson, LCSW, a NYC-therapist specializing in eating disorders, tells Bustle. “People get a burst of energy and feel good momentarily, however blood sugar levels rapidly decrease.” This is what’s known as a “crash,” and it can leave you feeling bad.

Apart from affecting with your blood sugar levels, a diet high in sugar can also lead to inflammation, and may even mess with your hormones. Keep in mind, though, that not all sugars are created equal. “Most human beings are ‘sensitive’ to simple sugars because they hit the bloodstream so quickly,” Amanda L. Dale, M.Ed., M.A., a personal trainer and nutritionist, tells Bustle. This is why you might feel sick or crave more sugar after eating chocolate or drinking a sugary coffee, but not necessarily after eating a piece of fruit.

If you suspect your current eating habits might be negatively impacting your health, then you might want to consider limiting your sugar intake, or consulting with your doctor on how much sugar is a good amount for you. Read on for some symptoms to watch out for, according to experts.

1. Your Skin Has Been Breaking Out

While there are many contributing factors when it comes to acne, eating many sugary foods is often one of the main culprits.

“Skin is incredibly sensitive to sugar,” Laura McGevna, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Vermont, tells Bustle. “We know that ‘high glycemic index’ or foods that increase blood glucose easily are associated with worsening of acne. This is likely due to an insulin response that stimulates a cascade of endocrine and hormonal events that cause inflammation on the skin.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t have sugar. But if your skin is bothering you, you may want to consider what you’re eating. “If you notice that your skin seems more inflamed, you are developing new rashes or breakouts, and you’ve been burning the candle at both ends this is a strong indication that you need to back off, listen to your body, and put your health first,” McGevna says.

2. You Can’t Get To Sleep At Night

Again, there are many factors to consider here, like your caffeine intake, stress levels, etc. But a lifestyle high in sugar might also be what’s keeping you up at night. As Hershenson says, sugar can prevent the body from getting into deep sleep mode.

Studies have shown a connection between shorter sleep and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. While new research needs to be done, it won’t hurt to limit how much sugar you consume during the day, but especially before bed. Like caffeine, it isn’t something you’ll want to have in the evening, in particular.

3. You’ve Been Feeling Emotional Lately

An unstable mood can be caused, in many ways, by blood sugar fluctuations, which Hershenson says can impact how you feel. Studies have also shown a connection between the intake of sweet foods, beverages and added sugars, and symptoms of depression.

What you eat really can play a large role in how you feel overall, including mentally and emotionally. While speaking with a therapist will always be a good idea if you aren’t feeling like yourself, it can also help to pay attention to what you’re eating on a daily basis.

If you’re consuming a lot of sugar, you might notice a big difference if you balance out meals in a way that keeps your blood sugar even. Or by lessening your sugar intake and seeing how that makes you feel.

4. You’re Always Exhausted After Eating

Take a moment to think about how you feel after eating a sugary (or carb-heavy) meal. If you need a cup of coffee or start to fall asleep at your desk at work, it could be due to wavering blood sugar levels.

“People who process sugar normally and quickly tend to feel energized, satiated, and calm after ingesting sugar,” Dale says. “People who are more sensitive to it feel tired, irritable, and tend to actually crave more sugar (the withdrawal/addiction response).”

It’s this craving that’ll send you pawing through your desk, looking for candy or cookies or something to help you get through the rest of the day. And that can be a sign sugar isn’t agreeing well with your body.

5. You Get Shaky Or Lightheaded

If you suffer from low blood sugar, you might have a condition called hypoglycemia, which can leave you “feeling tired, hungry, weak, shaky, lightheaded, and anxious,” Kelly Leveque, holistic nutritionist and author of Body Love, tells Bustle. “As a result, crave sugar and carbohydrates, thinking they will pick back up. In reality, they start the cycle all over again.”

So if you find yourself in the vicious cycle of having a sugar snack, then getting lightheaded, then feeling better after having a sugary snack, let a doctor know.

6. You’ve Been Struggling With Sinus Issues

Have you been feeling extra stuffy as of late? “In the large majority of people, thesesymptoms are coming from candida overgrowth,” Dr. Jacob, Teitelbaum, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now!, tells Bustle. A lifestyle high in sugar can cause candida, or yeast, to get a bit out of control in your body, leading to sinusitis, congestion, and other chronic nasal issues.

While the research is limited, one study noted that higher sugar consumption may be associated with increased inflammatory stress and sinonasal symptoms. When in doubt, it won’t hurt to do an experiment of your own, and see how you feel when you cut back on sugar.

7. You Seem To Be Bloated All The Time

If you have bowel issues, such as IBS, gas, diarrhea, or constipation, it could also be due to a sugar-induced candida overgrowth. “Yeast grow by fermenting sugar, and when you are firing up a fermentation tank in your gut,” Teitelbaum says. “And fermentation makes lots of gas. And so will you, if you drink a lot of sugary drinks.”

It’s fine if you don’t mind the side effects of sugar intake, or want to risk it in order to have the occasional sugary drink. But what you eat can obviously have an impact on how you feel in the abdominal region, including how bloated you become as a result. And it just might not be worth it.

8. You Feel Distracted & Scattered Throughout The Day

You’ve probably heard of a little thing called brain fog, which is that fuzzy out-of-it feeling that causes you to space out at work or forget where the heck you put your keys. As Sharla Mandere, CHHC, a holistic health and wellness coach, tells Bustle, sugar can cause these issues, and even lead to a lack of focus.

And this is particularly true if you have symptoms of adrenal fatigue, Dr. Carrie Lam, MD, DABFM, who is board certified in family medicine, tells Bustle. “When you eat too much sugar it forces your body to make extra insulin and cortisol,” she says, which can wear you down over time.

If you haven’t been feeling like yourself — checked out, tired, and lacking motivation — cutting back on sugar may be a big help.

9. You Have Cravings & Are Often “Hangry”

If you constantly crave sugar, or can’t seem to feel “full” despite eating plenty of food, it may be that what you are eating has you on a sugar rollercoaster. As Mandere says, cravings — usually for sugar — can be caused by sinking blood sugar levels. “This can be translated into the afternoon pick-me-up of sugary coffee, drinks, or sugary snacks,” she says.

Sound familiar? If so, replacing that afternoon sugar hit with something that keeps your blood sugar stable, like protein, can make all the difference.

10. Your Knees Have Been Hurting

Aches and pains — and other general health issues — are oftencaused by inflammation in the body, which is another negative side effect of consuming a lot of sugar throughout the day. “Regular blood sugar spikes can eventually lead to general inflammation, which can then contribute to premature aging, digestive abnormalities, joint pain,” Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, a nutritionist, tells Bustle. Basically, if you feel like you’re fallin’ apart, it may be time to make some changes.

11. You Constantly Run Out Of Motivation

Aside from flagging energy levels, take note if you’ve been lacking motivation lately. “If you feel drowsy and tired after eating a sugar heavy snack, then you should realize that your body is not burning or storing glucose at the rate you are consuming it,” nutritionist Parker Condit, tells Bustle. “In addition to this being a lousy way to live, it’s also an indicator that something is wrong If all you feel like doing is sleeping and lounging around, then it’s time to start being more aware of what you are consuming.”

It may be that eating a lot of sugar isn’t working for you, and that it’s officially time to consider eating and drinking less of it. It can certainly take some time to get used to the change, and it doesn’t mean you can’t have sugar on occasion. But sometimes the payoff is worth the initial adjustment phase, especially when it comes to your health.

Studies referenced:

St-Onge, Marie-Pierre. (2016). Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Advances in Nutrition. 7(5): 938–949. doi: 10.3945/an.116.012336

Knuppel, Anika. (2017). Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorders and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05649-7

Experts:

Kimberly Hershenson, LCSW, NYC-therapist specializing in eating disorders

Laura McGevna, MD, board-certified dermatologist

Amanda L. Dale, M.Ed., M.A., personal trainer and nutritionist

Kelly Leveque, holistic nutritionist and author of Body Love

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now!

Sharla Mandere CHHC, holistic health and wellness coach

Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, nutritionist

Parker Condit, nutritionist

11 Foods To Eat If You’re Tired, Because You Don’t Have To Rely On Just Coffee For Energy

When we feel tired, we usually go straight for a cup of coffee. Although that caffeine boost is undoubtedly great, you can also increase your energy through your diet, and there are certain foods to eat if you are feeling tired. Whether you need a morning pick-me-up or you’re falling into that dreaded afternoon slump, eating the right foods can help combat that fatigue and have you feeling more energized, focused, and alert — without having to load up on five cups of coffee.

“As a dietitian, I recommend eating the right combination of foods together when you are tired versus eating a single food,” says Deanna Segrave-Daly, registered dietitian and blogger at Teaspoon of Spice over email. “This way, you can get the best combination of those macronutrients — carbs, protein and fat — to help you fight fatigue initially and keep your energy levels up so you aren’t crashing and burning a few hours later.”

Keeping your energy levels steady is important if you’re feeling exhausted, so it’s always best to opt for whole foods over a sugary bar or a quick processed meal. If you’re feeling low on energy, try loading up on one of the below 11 foods, which can help combat tiredness naturally.

1. Oatmeal

When it comes to energizing foods, whole grains are the way to go. A study from the International Journal of Food Sciences And Nutrition found that people who eat a breakfast high in complex-carbohydrates feel the most alert compared to people who eat a just a breakfast high in fat.

2. Bananas

Bananas are high in complex carbohydrates, natural sugar, amino acids, making them a great natural energy booster. The fruit also contains tyrosine, an amino acid that helps produce norepinephrine, which can help improve your level of alertness, according to Rice University.

3. Nuts

Whether you eat a handful of trail mix or spread some almond butter on toast, nuts make a great snack for decreasing tiredness. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that nuts can increase your satiety as well as maintain your energy levels, as they contain a healthy balance of fat and protein to keep blood sugar levels steady.

4. Curry

Your first thought may not be to eat Indian food when you’re feeling sleepy, but curry contains a spice called turmeric that contains an active ingredient called curcumin that can improve mental function and boost your overall energy levels, according to multiple studies.

5. Eggs

There’s a reason so many people enjoy eggs in the morning: A study from the International Journal of Obesity found that people who ate eggs for breakfast had more steady energy levels throughout the day than people who ate just a bagel. Eggs contain the B vitamin choline, which can improve verbal and visual memory, according to Medical Daily.

6. Avocado

“Avocado has healthy fats to help with satiety and energy, plus the fatty acids may help with inflammation which has been linked to fatigue,” says Marci Clow, MS, RDN, Senior Nutritionist at Rainbow Light over email. A study from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a diet high in monounsaturated fats helps improve energy levels compared to a diet high in saturated fats.

7. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a great choice if you’re feeling tired because like coffee, it contains caffeine. Eating dark chocolate can also improve your cognitive functions, according to research from the journal Appetite.

8. Berries

A study from Tufts University found that berries such as blueberries can help improve motor performance as well as working memory. “Berries are a favorite for energy, as they supply a healthy dose of carbs to rev energy without adding too much sugar,” says Clow.

9. Leafy Greens

“Dark green leafy veggies provide energy, protein, and fiber and are loaded with antioxidants,” says Clow. Try eating greens such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, or collard greens for a healthy boost of energy.

10. Salmon

As if we needed another excuse to eat sushi. “This fish contains a hefty dose of protein which is needed to fuel metabolism and increase energy,” says Clow. “The fatty acids in salmon may help reduce inflammation which, has been linked to fatigue.”

11. Water

Last but not least, it’s important to drink lots of water when you’re feeling tired. Research from the Journal of Nutrition shows that even just mild dehydration can cause fatigue and moodiness, so drink up to help feel your best.

The more balanced meals you eat, the less tired you will feel, and try to stick with foods that are high in nutrients, which can help keep your body functioning optimally.

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Four Afternoon Snacks to Keep You Awake

Try putting these eats in your mouth to keep your eyes open—no coffee required!

It’s 3:00pm and you’re tempted to reach for that office candy stash or hit up the vending machine before that afternoon meeting. It’s only natural to feel a slight drag in energy in the midafternoon.

But stay away from the empty afternoon calories and reach for these healthy snacks instead. These five items won’t give you the big crash afterward that coffee is known for (or the increase in heart rate!). Below, find out what to put in your mouth to keep your eyes open when you want to stay alert. (Don’t worry—all of them are delicious!)

Green Tea. Dehydration can make you feel sleepy, but getting plenty of fluids will help boost alertness. Water is your best bet for hydration, but if you must have caffeine, opt for green tea instead of coffee. It has less caffeine (about 35 milligrams compared to about 200 milligrams) so you won’t have the same come-down once it wears off. Also, it’s loaded with good-for-you antioxidants.

Chocolate. Cocoa beans naturally contain alertness-boosting caffeine, but not as much as coffee. Bonus: Chocolate also has heart-healthy flavonoids. Remember, the darker the chocolate, the more the caffeine it has.Just don’t use this as an excuse to overindulge – dark chocolate, like almost anything dessert-worthy, is best consumed in moderation.

Whole Grains. Your body converts carbs to energy, and whole grains break down more slowly than simple, refined sugars (such as white bread or white rice), giving you a more steady energy release. Try noshing on brown rice, oats, barley, and rye. If you want a topper for some whole grain toast, try natural peanut butter and half a banana.

Fruits. Fruits have sugars for a quick energy burst, but they don’t boost your glucose levels as much as say, candy, so you won’t crash and burn. Try fruits packed with vitamin C, such as oranges and pineapple, which help your body convert fat to energy, so you can ward off fatigue.

Protein. Protein offers a slow energy release. Try lean meats. Even though turkey has a reputation for making you sleepy because it contains tryptophan, a small amount may give your body the fuel ‘boost’ you need to get through a long afternoon.

Before eating, try to take a walk around the block and expose yourself to natural light (which can keep your body reminded that it’s time to stay awake) or do a few jumping jacks at your desk to get blood flowing again. Sleepy people are more likely to be hungry, so if you wake up a bit, you will feel less tempted to overindulge.

Tired After Eating? Here’s Why

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Lunchtime rolls around, you sit and eat, and within 20 minutes, your energy levels begin to fade and you have to fight to concentrate and keep your eyes open. There are a few reasons you feel tired or sluggish after lunch, but with a few changes, you’ll start feeling completely energized and pumped.

Eat This

Foods that are high on the glycemic index (carbs that raise your blood sugar levels) are big no-nos as the glucose in these foods gets quickly released, causing insulin levels to spike. They may initially make you feel hyped up and energetic, but when the sugar leaves your bloodstream, you’ll experience that oh-so-familiar energy crash. Foods that are high in the glycemic index include processed foods and foods made with refined carbs like white bread, pasta, white rice, bagels, low-fiber cereals, crackers and pretzels, baked goods, as well as instant oatmeal, russet and sweet potatoes, juice, soda, and surprisingly, dates, melons, pineapple, raisins, and bananas.

It’s best to skip the white bread sandwiches, wraps, and pasta altogether and go for whole-grain bread or actual whole grains like quinoa or barley, or if you do eat them, be sure they’re paired with protein (20 to 30 grams) and the good carbs (50 to 65 grams total carbs) and fiber (eight grams or more) found in veggies and fruits. Here are some perfect lunch ideas.

  • Hummus and veggie sandwich on sprouted whole-grain bread with a medium apple: 430 calories, 69.2 grams carbs, 16.8 grams fiber, 12.9 grams protein
  • Roasted sweet potato, black bean, and quinoa salad: 484 calories, 63.5 grams carbs, 12.6 grams fiber, 15.8 grams protein
  • Baby kale sesame chicken salad with half a cup of blueberries: 456 calories, 69.9 grams carbs, 10.8 grams fiber, 30.3 grams protein
  • Veggie burrito bowl with nine salted cashews: 466 calories, 62.9 grams carbs, 11.1 grams fiber, 24.1 grams protein
  • Maple-cumin tofu with farro: 381 calories, 62.4 grams carbs, 11.4 grams fiber, 18.3 grams protein
  • Butternut squash lentil soup with a medium pear: 356 calories, 68.2 grams carbs, 22.5 grams fiber, 18 grams protein
  • Lemon-soy edamame barley bowl: 541 calories, 62.4 grams carbs, 14.5 grams fiber, 21.9 grams protein
  • Strawberry banana spinach smoothie and 12 raw almonds: 414 calories, 48.1 grams carbs, 10.4 grams fiber, 19.2 grams protein
  • Grilled chicken (or tofu), beet, apple, spinach salad: 460 calories, 39.4 grams carbs, 8.3 grams fiber, 34.3 grams protein
  • Mexican tempeh quinoa salad with one cup of raspberries: 417 calories, 60 grams carbs, 17.8 grams fiber, 18.9 grams protein

Be Mindful of This

Remember Thanksgiving? It’s not just the turkey that makes you feel tired-it’s the fact that you’ve probably eaten two (or more!) meals worth of food at one sitting. Keep lunch to between 400 and 500 calories and your body won’t get overtired from working overtime to digest hundreds of extra calories at once. Drink water or seltzer instead of soda to save 100 calories, choose real fruit over fruit juice for added fiber, and don’t forget about the extras like that slice of cheese you added to your sammy, that bag of chips, and the post-lunch Starbucks latte or cookie-those count too!

Do This

Digesting your meal takes energy, so help things along by taking a short walk 15 minutes after your meal. Studies show that a post-meal stroll not only improves digestion, but also helps clear glucose from the bloodstream, lowering post-meal blood sugar levels. It doesn’t take much; 15 to 20 minutes is enough. You can take a brief walk to a park or cafe, enjoy your lunch, and then walk back. Plus the endorphins released from a little burst of exercise can also help clear your head and make you feel more energized.

  • By POPSUGAR Fitness @POPSUGARFitness

Food as Fuel: 10 Things to Eat on Tired Mornings

Do you wake up not feeling well rested?

Are you someone that needs multiples coffees to get you through the morning? Have energy drinks made their way into your routine? How about that 4 p.m. crash when you start searching for sweets and refined grains?

If any of these ring a bell for you, take a look both at the quality and quantity of sleep you’re getting, and how you fuel your body every day.

Resorting to processed foods with added sugar for energy will only make us feel worse. Natural whole foods can provide us with the boost we need to keep us feeling light and energized… without the crash.

Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and foods high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants flood our body with nutrients that help counteract fatigue and sustain us throughout the day.

Take a peek at my favorite foods for a burst of natural energy!

1. Avocado

Avocados are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that give our body energy that will last for hours. They contain lots of fiber, keeping our blood sugar stable so we can avoid those sugar highs, followed by the lows.

Try adding avocado to your morning fruit plate, throw it into a smoothie for a delicious creamy consistency, or pair your eggs with sliced avocado for an extra boost.

2. Watermelon

Even minor dehydration can cause you to wake up not feeling your best.

It’s important to pack your diet with high water-containing foods (think fruits and veggies), and watermelon is one of our best sources. This yummy fruit is 90 percent water, provides a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and houses the amino acid L-citrulline, which may help reduce muscle soreness.

Start your day with a bowl full of watermelon for the ultimate hydration and a burst of energy.

3. Almonds

Almonds are a great source of high-quality protein, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fats. They’re packed with B vitamins which help your body convert food into energy, and are rich in magnesium which helps fight muscle fatigue.

Add almonds into your morning granola or grab a handful as a mid-morning snack.

4. Kale

Kale is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that we need for energy.

It’s a great plant-based source of iron which carries oxygen to our tissues and cells which is needed for us to thrive. Kale is also a wonderful source of calcium, folate, and B vitamins.

Throw this cruciferous veggie into your morning green juice or smoothie, or add it to an omelet and skip that second cup of coffee!

5. Bee pollen

A natural superfood, bee pollen can significantly enhance energy and physical endurance.

It’s high in B vitamins, amino acids, and an antioxidant called rutin that’s key in supporting healthy blood vessels, improving circulation, and fighting inflammation.

Add bee pollen as a topping to your morning smoothie bowl for extra energy.

6. Banana

Bananas are your go-to fuel when on the run. This potassium-packed fruit includes a good amount of fiber, which slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, and provides a great source of magnesium and B vitamins.

Add banana to your coconut parfait breakfast or grab a whole banana as an easy snack on the go.

A ripe banana will provide more readily available energy in the form of sugar, compared to an unripe banana. They should be freckled and yellow rather than green. That’s how you know the starch has converted into sugar you can properly digest and use for energy.

7. Spinach

Spinach is a great source of vitamin C, folate, and iron. Adequate amounts of these vitamins and minerals are essential for energy production. Lower levels of iron in particular can cause major fatigue.

Pair your morning eggs with sauteed spinach, and add a squeeze of lemon juice to enhance iron absorption.

8. Dates

In addition to their amazing sweet flavor, dates are easily digested by the body and provide an instant boost of energy. They’re a great source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.

Add chopped dates to your morning fruit plate, throw a couple into your smoothie for extra sweetness, or dip them into almond butter for a yummy snack.

9. Chia seeds

Small but mighty, these guys are a great source of energy. Chia seeds soak up fluids and can expand to as much as 10 times their size in the stomach after being digested. This helps you feel full for longer periods of time.

They’re packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, protein, fat, and fiber.

Experiment with chia pudding or sprinkle chia seeds onto your next smoothie.

10. Eggs

One egg contains high-quality protein and healthy fats, which in combination keeps us satiated and offers sustained energy throughout the day.

Eggs are a great source of a variety of vitamins and minerals, including iron, choline, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12.

Don’t forget to always eat the whole egg! The yolk is the most nutritious part, containing the majority of the egg’s vitamins and minerals and a good amount of the total protein. If you’re worried about cholesterol, don’t be. Research has shown that cholesterol coming from food isn’t correlated with cholesterol in blood.

The bottom line?

It’s time to stop fighting the endless battle with chronic fatigue by reaching for caffeine and sweets.

Packing your diet with healthy whole foods and making small changes to what you fuel your body with throughout the morning can make major differences in stabilizing blood sugar and improving energy levels.

Try incorporating these foods into your morning routine to fight fatigue and feel energized all day long.

Additional research, writing, and editing contributed by Chelsey Fein.

Nathalie is a registered dietitian and functional medicine nutritionist with a BA in Psychology from Cornell University and a MS in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She’s the founder of Nutrition by Nathalie LLC, a private nutrition practice in New York City focusing on health and wellness using an integrative approach, and All Good Eats, a social media health and wellness brand. When she isn’t working with her clients or on media projects, you can find her traveling with her husband and their mini-Aussie, Brady.

The Best Foods to Fight Fatigue and Get a Natural Energy Boost

1. Water

2. Chia Seeds

Talk about something small but mighty. Chia seeds help with hydration by absorbing 10 times their weight in water. Plus, they have the right ratio of protein, fats, and fiber to give you an energy boost without a crash.

3. Bananas

4. Quinoa

With all its protein, fiber, and iron, quinoa is the perfect thing to reach for when you’re looking to recharge. And if you need an on-the-go upper, whip up these quinoa muffin bites and grab ’em before hitting the road.

5. Green Tea

By now, it’s no secret that green tea has a slew of health benefits. You can add “putting some pep back in your step” to the long list. The combination of caffeine and L-theanine gives you energy without the jitters. Bonus: Research suggests that green tea boosts brainpower as well, which may come in handy when you’re down to the wire at work.Green+tea+extract+enhances+parieto-frontal+connectivity+during+working+memory+processing.+Schmidt+A,+Hammann+F,+Wölnerhanssen+B.+Psychopharmacology,+2014,+Mar.;231(19):1432-2072. Take the time to brew the tea yourself because store-bought varieties often have lots of added sugar.

6. Oatmeal

The cozy breakfast food—though, let’s be honest, you can enjoy it any time of the day—will keep energy levels up. That’s because it’s high in fiber and comes with a decent dose protein. Plus, oatmeal has a low glycemic load, a fancy scientific way of saying it stabilizes blood sugar levels. (Just make sure to steer clear of instant oatmeal packets, which can be packed with sugar and salt.) Oatmeal is also super versatile—just take a look at these 30 delicious recipes to keep food boredom at bay.

7. Almonds

Certain kinds of fat are friends, not foes, particularly when you’re talking about replenishing your energy. And almonds are packed with healthy monosaturated fats that are just what your body needs for a pick-me-up.

8. Beans

Beans keep you going thanks to a stellar trio of carbs, protein, and fiber. The protein fills you up, the carbs provide energy, and the fiber helps regulate blood sugar. Black beans in particular are your BFFs when it comes to an energy boost—try this black bean soup recipe next time your tank needs refilling.

9. Whole-Wheat Bread

Your body needs carbs for energy, but not all carbs are created equal. Whole-wheat bread is great for a long-lasting energy kick. It’s a complex carb, meaning it raises your blood sugar gradually instead of hiking it up at turbo-speed.

Avocado

Avocado contains naturally occurring omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which fight bad cholesterol and increase blood flow to the brain. Not to mention, they contain more protein than most fruit, making this combination of nutrients an amazing energy booster.

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Apples

Apples are very high in the body’s preferred energy source, fructose. This super fruit provides a steady supply of energy to your brain and body for longer.

RELATED: Doing This First Thing In The Morning Can Boost Your Energy Levels

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Sprouted grains

Sprouted grains are simply whole grains such as brown rice, oats and buckwheat that have been soaked and left to germinate which makes them more easily digested. The result, B vitamins, vitamin C and folate more readily available to the body, resulting in more energy.

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Macadamias

Macadamia nuts are a rich source of Vitamin A, iron, protein, thiamin and folates. Basically they’re a nutrient dense power house providing your body and brain with tonnes of energy. Plus their high fat content leaves you feeling satiated for longer.

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Blueberries

Blueberries contain manganese which plays a key role in helping your body perform certain metabolic functions. Plus, they’re high in antioxidants which have been shown to assist in slowing down the ageing process.

RELATED: What’s Worse: Skipping A Workout Or Skimping On Sleep?

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Matcha

Unlike coffee, matcha is slowly absorbed by the body, giving you an all-day energy boost. Plus, it’s made form the whole tea leaf which means it’s packed with all the powerful minerals, antioxidants and amino acids found inside the leaf.

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Kale

Kale is high in iron, essential for vegetarians and vegans who are more likely to be low in this essential mineral. Low levels of iron in the body can lead to exhaustion and feelings of tiredness.

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This article originally appeared on InStyle.

RELATED: 7 Reasons You’re Tired All The Time

Feeling tired after lunch

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