6 Energy-Draining Foods You Should Avoid

by Kat Kuehl

No matter how productive, energetic, and enthusiastic you typically are, I'm sure we're all at least somewhat familiar with that sluggish, lazy feeling that tends to creep up from time to time. You may just think you're simply running out of steam, but it turns out that certain foods can have a huge impact on your energy level. That's right; there are things you should never eat if you want more energy.

I get tired — a lot. So I'm game for learning about anything that can help give my energy level a boost. But when it comes to food, I tend to only think about one side of the coin. I always reach for food and drink that have a jolt of caffeine and will surely perk me up, rather than worry about anything I might be consuming that could have the opposite effect.

Needless to say, several items on this list surprised me. In fact, a few of them are actually things that I reach for when I'm already feeling low. I always thought I was kicking my energy level in the pants with these items — not depleting it even further.

Curious about what foods you should stay away from in order to maintain your lively and perky attitude? Here are six foods and drinks that are are actually a total drain on your energy level. Thank your lucky stars that coffee isn't on the list (as long as you don't drink too much of it).

1. Sugary Breakfast

It's time to step away from the sugary cereals and those office doughnuts and sweet rolls. You may experience a bit of a buzz right after eating them, due to a sudden jump in blood sugar. But that spike actually shuts down the part of the brain that keeps you feeling alert and awake. You're better off choosing something with protein for breakfast, like eggs.

2. Red Wine

You know that content and sleepy feeling you get after a glass or two of red? Well, it should come as no surprise that this is a beverage you want to avoid when you need to maintain your energy. Alcohol is a depressant, and can quickly suck the energy out of you. Plus, red grapes contain melatonin, which is a sleep-producing hormone. Although let's be honest; it's going to take a lot more than a little grogginess to stop me from drinking red wine. I'll just take a quick nap.

3. Energy Drinks

Well this seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? Yes, energy drinks will help give you a boost in the short term. But the long-term effect will likely have you facedown at your desk. Energy drinks cause your blood sugar levels to drop even lower than they before you had them, leaving you feeling sluggish. Additionally, many of these popular drinks actually dehydrate you, which exacerbates that lazy feeling.

4. Fried Foods

You already know that fried foods aren't the best for your health. Turns out that they aren't great for your energy level, either. Your digestive system needs to work extra hard in order to process the fats in these types of foods, causing you to feel lethargic.

5. White Bread

Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, like rice and white breads, can contribute to a fatigued feeling. These foods don't contain a lot of fiber, so they break down easily. In contrast, whole grains help to give you a steady stream of energy.

6. Red Meat

Say goodbye to your lunchtime double bacon cheeseburger. Red meat is high in fat, which is difficult for your body to digest. In order to properly digest fatty foods, your body must increase blood flow to your stomach. Quite simply, your body is focusing so much of its energy on trying to digest your food that there's not enough left for the rest of you! Do yourself a favor and stick with salmon or salad for lunch.

Images: lauren rushing, vnysia, dorena-wm, Ibrahim Asad's Photography, Daniel Go, Nick Saltmarsh, Pink Sherbet Photography/Flickr