Eating a healthy diet is obviously good to help you feel your best, but eating well can affect more than just you probably think. Certain foods can help keep you focused and motivated, while other foods can zap you of your energy. These foods are usually processed and filled with sugar and other unhealthy ingredients, so the less you eat of them, the better you'll likely feel.
"Generally speaking, if you feel tired, fatigued, and need a nap about 30-45 minutes after a meal, you may need to change the composition of your food," says Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Cindy Santa Ana over email. "By that I mean switch up from simple carbs to more protein, fiber, and fat, which keep you fuller longer and balance your blood sugar. I ask my clients to keep a food journal and write down how hungry they are before a meal and how they feel after 30-45 minutes of eating. This really tells a complete story."
Eating a balance of different foods can help prevent you from feeling drained, but if you're feeling tired and lethargic and think your diet might be to blame, consider down on these nine foods, which could drain you of your energy.
1. Fried Foods
As delicious as they taste, fried foods aren't exactly the easiest on your body. "Greasy foods can make you feel tired because your digestion has to work harder to process the fat, leaving you feeling a tad drowsy," says Marci Clow, MS, RDN at Rainbow Light over email.
2. White Bread
"White bread has a high glycemic index, which causes your blood sugar to rise quickly, then rapidly fall," says Clow. But this doesn’t mean you need to fear carbs. "Your body needs them to generate energy," she says. "Jst go for whole grains, as they are loaded with vitamins and minerals and higher in fiber, which will allow for a more lasting slow-release of energy."
"A quick buzz is usually followed by a crash, which is why some people have to keep drinking coffee, energy drinks, etc.," says Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, CLT over email. "Their bodies rely on stimulants for energy and need regular shots of caffeine."
"Foods loaded with sugar are known to be energy zappers," says Clow. "They cause blood sugar levels to rise and you’ll feel a sudden burst of energy — but what goes up, must come down."
5. Sugary Beverages
Just because it's not a pastry doesn't mean it's not loaded with sugar, and many drinks can leave you feeling sluggish. "Sodas aren’t the only offender in this category," says Clow. "A can of cola has around 10 teaspoons of sugar, but beverages you might consider healthy, like energy drinks or some bottled iced teas, have greater than 10 teaspoons of sugar."
"Alcohol can put you to sleep, or at least zap your energy so you don’t feel like doing much," says Angelone. One study from the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that alcohol decreases the amount of time that people spend in deep sleep, which can leave you feeling tired the next day.
Like white bread, pasta is made with white flour, which doesn't give you sustainable energy. "Enriched white flour spikes insulin levels and causes those sugar crashes," says Santa Ana. Stick to whole grain options or consider other alternatives instead.
Like fried foods, red meat such as steak has a high fat content, which takes a lot of energy to digest. You're better off sticking to a lean meat or fish, which provide protein but are easier on your stomach.
9. Salty Snacks
Sugar isn't the only culprit when it comes to foods that drain you of energy. Salty foods can make you tired as well, as it they leave you thirsty and dehydrated. Even just mild dehydration can cause fatigue, according to a study from The Journal of Nutrition.
Not one food will cause you to feel chronically fatigued, but the healthier your diet, the more energetic you'll feel.
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