Tired After Eating? 5 Causes and Prevention Methods

More often than not, some of our best naps are those stolen in the afternoon, particularly after a good lunch. However, you might agree they can be a little inconvenient at times.

Ever had a deadline to meet by the evening and found yourself drowsy and unable to focus? Or maybe you had a lunch appointment and wanted nothing more than to crash in a bed after the meal while your guest went on and on about his colleague? Do you find yourself repeatedly wondering, “why do I get so tired after I eat?” 

Well, get ready for some answers!

Why Do I Get Tired After I Eat?

Woman eating a burger.

Getting tired after eating is a natural phenomenon for most people. In medical terms, we call it postprandial somnolence. Although a bit inconvenient at times, it is a perfectly natural thing most of the time.

Here are some factors that may lead to you feeling tired after eating

1. The Type of Food You Eat

Are you constantly eating a variety of meats and starchy foods? Meals like these are rich in proteins and carbohydrates, both of which can lead to drowsiness.

Tryptophan is an amino acid used in the synthesis of the hormone serotonin. Alongside regulating mood, serotonin induces sleepiness.

Your body breaks down the proteins in your diet into various amino acids, including tryptophan. Carbohydrates allow your cells to take up this tryptophan more efficiently. Therefore, this tryptophan produces increased amounts of serotonin, leading to you feeling tired after eating.

Protein-rich foods include fish, various meats, eggs, beans, and lentils, whereas carbohydrate-rich foods are bread, rice, noodles, potatoes, and sugary desserts.

2. The Timings of Your Meals

Irregular mealtimes affect your body in more than one way. Not only do you end up eating way past the required amount, but you also suffer from fatigue afterward.

Have you tried skipping meals to avoid drowsiness afterward? Did you end up regretting it as exhaustion hit you like a ton of bricks once you finally ate? We assume you circled back to the question we started with, i.e.:

Why do I get so tired after I eat? Well, the phenomenon is known as postprandial hypotension.

When you eat a hefty meal after not having eaten regularly for a while, your blood rushes to your gut to aid fast digestion. This leads to low blood pressure in the rest of your body, making you feel lightheaded. Cue getting tired after eating.

People practicing intermittent fasting often report feeling tired after eating as they mostly skip breakfast and eat a heavy lunch.

3. Fatigue

In case you are constantly getting tired after eating, your body may be under a lot of stress. A common example of this is the adverse effects on sleep that our routines during the COVID-9 pandemic have had.

Perhaps you are overworking or not getting adequate rest. Whatever the cause may be, the minute your body receives its required nutrients and releases the hormones, drowsiness overpowers you.

Fatigue and sleepiness go hand in hand. Adding a good meal to the mix acts as a stimulant in convincing your body to get some well-deserved rest.

4. Consuming Alcohol With Your Meals

Ever returned from a nice lunch party and had the best nap of your life? Maybe you were tired, or perhaps you drank an extra mimosa or two.

Alcohol is a sedative that causes your mind and body to relax. Moreover, alcohol leads to fatigue.

So, if you are still thinking, why do I get so tired after I eat? Well, maybe alcohol is becoming a regular at your lunch table. Although a little wine here and there is fine, slightly larger amounts are likely to contribute to your drowsiness.

5. Your Mental Health Status

Although commonly believed to reduce your appetite, many mental health problems lead to heavy food consumption and emotional eating. Many people use food as a coping mechanism during times of distress.

As mental distress already has you fatigued, adding a heavy meal to the mix will only lead to more exhaustion. Moreover, the food one consumes during distress is mostly unhealthy and high in carbohydrates and protein.

What Can I Do About It?

Although it’s normal and understandable, feeling tired after eating can be quite an inconvenience. Here are five things you can do to avoid it.

1. Eat a Well-Proportioned Diet

Balancing your macros is important when it comes to glycemic control. Additionally, consuming adequate amounts of fiber will help slow your digestion and keep you satiated without adding to feelings of tiredness.

2. Stay Hydrated

Perhaps it is time you replaced a little of that alcohol with water. Dehydration can cause excessive daytime sleepiness. Meals further exacerbate this drowsiness.

3. Eat Regular Meals

The key to healthy eating is consuming small meals at regular intervals. Better glycemic control due to this habit will lead to decreased post-meal fatigue.

A woman eating a sandwich.

If you are fasting intermittently and cannot do this, remember to eat in small amounts after breaking your fast. Spreading your meals out during your eating window can go a long way in helping you stay alert.

4. Exercise a Little

Although regular exercise is good for every aspect of your life, it is notable that moving around a little can help tackle post-meal drowsiness. A vital tip to remember when you have work to finish!

5. Establish a Routine

Our sleep-wake cycle depends on our body’s natural rhythm. To rest well during sleeping hours, it is essential to follow a disciplined routine. This prevents drowsiness and fatigue during waking hours.

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Where to Start

Although a lifestyle change requires time and energy, building small habits does not. You can start by incorporating more green vegetables into your diet and cutting back on sugar and alcohol. Adding little, periodic ten-minute walks to your routine can also do wonders.

The Bottomline

Getting tired after eating is not something to worry about unless it is accompanied by other symptoms. These might include vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. In this case, we recommend you visit a doctor.

However, in case you feel healthy and just need something to be more active during the day, we hope this article helped you find some perspective.

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