Why you feel tired after eating was originally a short post written for the “Bites” section, but it has been such a popular post, that I decided to re-vamp it by making it into a full length post. I have added some extra information to help you to fully understand why we sometimes feel tired after eating, as well as some great short videos from Jon Gabriel of The Gabriel Method explaining the insulin connection.
Most of us have felt the effects of feeling tired after eating a particularly indulgent meal, but have you ever wondered why? I don’t eat a lot of sugar anymore, and I can eat the occasional couple of biscuits, piece of chocolate, cake or dessert with no problems. But, if I eat a whole bag of lollies (140 grams), the quick sugar fix makes me want to go to sleep within 30 minutes.
What makes us feel tired after eating?
We now know that the culprits making us want to catch a few z’s are the processed carbohydrates and sugar. We normally think of sugar as something that we eat to give us energy; however recent research has shown that sugar decreases the activity of the cells in the hypothalamus (a small pea sized part of the brain that you can see in the picture) that produce the hormones orexin and hypocretin. Hypocretin and orexin both promote wakefulness and orexin also regulates food and water intake and the sleep-wake cycle. In effect, when we eat highly processed carbs and sugar, the production of orexin and hypocretin are shut down which makes us feel tired after eating.
Any time that we eat refined carbohydrates and sugar, it slows our activity levels down. We begin a cycle of eating sugar to give us energy, but it just makes us feel more tired. We then become too tired to exercise, eat sugar to “give us energy” but instead the sugar makes us feel tired again so we don’t exercise because we feel tired, and then we start to put on weight. Do you get the picture?
If you add sleep deprivation and stress into the equation you have a double whammy because the production of cortisol is increased. Cortisol is yet another hormone which increases your appetite and makes you crave the sugary comfort foods that help produce the feel good hormone serotonin to help you calm back down.
How can we stop feeling tired after eating?
After all, we have to eat! One strategy is to limit the amount of processed carbs that you eat with a meal or better still, cut them out altogether. Eat protein with every meal and increase the amount of salad and vegetables that you eat.
Protein stops you feeling fatigued after lunch by activating the orexin system (promoting wakefulness) and even eating a small amount of protein can reverse the effects of feeling tired after eating a meal that contain sugar and processed carbs, providing they are eaten at the same time.
How insulin can make us feel tired after eating
The affects of insulin can also make us feel tired after eating. Highly refined carbs such as sugar, white rice and white bread are digested and processed quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar levels. Your pancreas will keep releasing insulin until the sugar in your blood stream has been brought back to normal levels. It does this by taking the sugar into your cells to be used for energy or into your fat cells to be stored if it is not needed immediately. If your blood sugar levels drop too quickly this can also make you feel tired after eating and ready for a nap.
These short 5-6 minute videos by Jon Gabriel from The Gabriel Method explain about insulin resistance and how it contributes to making you fat.
Insulin – video 1: Insulin, blood sugar and Type-2 diabetes
Insulin – video 2: What happens when your body becomes insulin resistant
Insulin – video 3: How to balance your blood sugar levels
If you need help quitting sugar, Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar ebook is an eight-week program which will guide you through quitting sugar week by week for eight weeks. Now available on Kindle and supported by Sarah’s Kindle I Quit Sugar Cookbook.
|Download includes PDF (printable) + formats for all e-readers. Purchase both ebooks and save $5||Kindle version only||Kindle version only|