6 Foods That Can Make You Tired To Avoid If You Want More Natural Energy

When it comes to your energy levels, sleep is important, but it's not the only factor that plays a role in how alert you are throughout the day. Your diet also affects how energized you feel, and certain foods can actually end up making you tired. While some foods provide you with vitamins and minerals that give you a natural boost, other foods contain unhealthy ingredients that deplete your energy and cause you to feel fatigued.

"[Certain foods] will give you a short burst of energy, but this is followed by a blood sugar crash, which will leave you feeling tired and sluggish," says Leading Dietitian Nutritionist Rene Ficek, RD at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating over email. "In order to naturally boost energy, it is important to keep blood sugars stable. Healthy snacking in between meals is important to make sure energy levels get a healthy boost to get you to through the day."

And it's no surprise what types of foods will have you conking out: Research published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that eating a diet high junk food causes people to feel lethargic and fatigued. If you think your diet may be causing you to feel exhausted, try cutting down on these six foods, which can make you feel tired and depleted.

1. Sugar

"Large doses of sugar-rich foods like candy can leave you napping at your desk," says Edwina Clark, MS, RD, APD (Aus) and Head of Nutrition and Wellness at Yummly over email. "Sugary foods, particularly those without fat, are rapidly absorbed by the blood stream, causing a spike in blood sugar and tryptophan. The blood sugar crash that happens thereafter can also leave you tired and foggy."

2. Caffeine

Although coffee can give you a temporary boost of energy, like sugar, it results in a crash, which can leave you more tired than you began. "It can take 10 to 12 hours to eliminate it from your system, so be sure not to have any caffeine after noon since these effects might still be present at bedtime, preventing you from getting a sound sleep," says Ficek. "And we all know that not getting enough sleep is the number one energy drainer."

3. Alcohol

"Anyone who’s enjoyed a midday glass of vino will know that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can leave you sleepy and lethargic," says Clark. "Alcohol also affects sleep quality and quantity, further exacerbating that tired feeling."

4. Refined Grains

"Refined grains such as white bread, white rice, white pasta and potatoes, are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and can have a particularly large and rapid sleep-inducing effect," says Clark. Because they are filled with simple carbohydrates, they cause a spike and drop in blood sugar, leaving you low in energy.

5. Milk

"Milk and other dairy products are often recommended before bed to promote sleep onset," says Clark. "Milk contains a combination of carbohydrates and protein that promotes tryptophan uptake by the brain, as well as sleepiness."

6. High-Fat Foods

If you've ever felt tired after chowing down on some fast food, it may be because you're consuming too much fat. A study published in the journal Sleep found that a diet high in fat is associated with daytime sleepiness. Avoid fats such as trans fat and saturated fat, which are the unhealthy types of fat that can make you feel tired.

Sticking to a healthy diet filled with whole foods can help combat your fatigue and make sure you feel energized and productive every day.

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