Most everyone has experienced it.
Your day is going perfectly fine and then it hits you…
A wave of fatigue engulfs your body.
All too often when the tiredness over takes you, you’re not in a position to take a power nap.
Your only option is to soldier on.
Which could result in you making errors and mistakes, a decrease in your motivation and and overall lack of productivity.
This leaves you open to potentially serious repercussions depending upon the tasks you have on your to-do list that day.
Now while there are many potential causes of fatigue during the day (lack of sleep, lack of physical exercise, too much alcohol to name a few) today I’m going to look at how unhealthy eating habits might be contributing to you being tired during the day.
First I’ll identify you the three categories of food you should especially avoid. Then you’ll discover four foods that are known to cause drowsiness.
The three categories of food you should avoid are…
1. Refined Carbohydrates – Refined carbohydrates are carbohydrates that have the nutrients and fiber removed. They are known as “empty calories.” The problem with refined carbs is that they can cause a spike in your blood sugar level. This prompts your pancreas to create insulin which is released into your bloodstream. Now while this does provide you with a jolt of energy, it doesn’t last long. The insulin rapidly lowers your blood sugar level making you feel fatigued.
Eating refined carbohydrates also increases blood fats called triglycerides. This puts you at risk for a heart attack, stroke or diabetes. So whether you feel tired or not during the day, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of refined carbs you consume.
The two main categories of refined carbs are 1) processed sugars (including high fructose corn syrup) and 2) refined grains. It’s extremely important that you pay attention to the sugar level on the label of products like yogurt, breakfast cereal, soft drinks, juice etc. Plus avoid products made with refined flour such as white bread, crackers, breakfast cereals, donuts and so on. Always opt for 100% whole wheat products when possible. (Note:Refined carbohydrates are also referred to as simple carbs and processed carbs).
2. Highly Processed Foods – Highly processed foods have very little or no nutritional value. They are often made with refined flour and lots of sugar, salt and various types of fat. They are popular because they appeal to the taste buds and offer a high level of convenience and shelf life. Here’s the thing though. Your body has difficulty digesting highly processed foods. Plus because these foods contain very little nutritional value, they give you a short burst of energy after which you feel tired. Plus they don’t satisfy your hunger for very long which puts you at risk of overeating. On the flip side, an apple or an orange is easily digestible into your blood stream and will energize your cells with actual nutrients.
There was an interesting psychology study done by the University of California, Los
Angeles. It involved rats (rats are used in these studies because their genetic, biological
and behavior characteristics closely resemble those of humans). After three months they found that rats who were fed a diet of highly processed foods (low quality, high sugar) were significantly fatter than the group who were fed relatively little or no processed foods (ground corn and fish). Plus, and here’s the kicker, they found that the fat group of mice were significantly lazier. What they determined from this was that the common thinking that being tired and lazy makes people overweight was actually wrong. They believe it’s the other way around. People become tired and lazy because they are overweight.
Note: Fast food and junk food are highly processed and included in this category.
3. Fatty Foods – Similar to highly processed foods, fatty foods are harder for your body to digest. They require more energy from your body which can make you feel zapped. Plus fat takes anywhere from six to eight hours to digest which is a long time compared to other types of food (for example, carbohydrates digest in one to four hours). What’s more, blood from your arms and legs actually goes to your stomach to aid with digestion. Having less blood in your extremities will make you tired.
In addition to these three food groups, here are four specific foods that can make you feel tired during the day:
Bananas – Bananas are high in magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral that aids with sleep. Dawn Napoli, R.D. who works for Orlando Health, says that “High-magnesium foods like banana, pumpkin seeds, and halibut can make you tired. This mineral is actually a muscle relaxant, so it’s great before bed but could affect your energy during the day.” So the good news is if you do have trouble sleeping, a banana before bed could help you get to sleep quicker.
Cherries – Cherries contain melatonin which is a hormone known to improve the quality of one’s sleep, which means you might want to save them as a snack near bedtime. “Cherries will actually help regulate sleep, so it’s great as an aid but may be poor as a midday snack,” says Napoli.
Salmon (and Halibut) – These fish are a source of the vitamin B6. B6 is what the body uses to make melatonin which makes sleep more inviting. Pamela Peeke, M.D., an
internationally renowned expert and speaker in women’s health, fitness and nutrition,
says, “If someone is naturally low energy and wants to maintain peak energy and attention, have salmon at night when its sedative effects can be used effectively. The same goes for halibut.”
Oatmeal – Oatmeal, of course, is a breakfast favorite for many people. But if you feel tired later on, it could be the culprit. Cynthia Pasquella, CCN, CHLC, CWC says, “Oats are also rich in melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps you fall asleep.”
It’s not a coincidence that the three categories above (refined carbohydrates, highly-processed foods, fatty foods) consist of foods you’ll want to limit eating as part of a healthy diet. That said, if you sometimes feel tired during the day, it could have something to do with what you’re eating. Cut down on the above and focus more on whole foods and you can’t help but have more energy throughout your day.