You’ve been looking forward to a delicious lunch all morning. Lunchtime comes and you dig into your meal. It tastes so good. But then afterwards you suddenly feel tired and drowsy.
After you eat, your body really jumps into high gear – it begins with the digestive process: blood flow to the stomach and intestines increases. When this happens, your body decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain. This reduced supply of oxygen manifests itself in the form of fatigue.
What you eat also influences the way you feel: if you eat foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates (e.g. white-flour pasta, white bread), your body releases more insulin. Insulin is a peptide hormone that lowers your blood sugar level – so if your body releases a lot of it, it can make your blood sugar crash. You’ll feel tired, low energy, and unable to fully concentrate. What does that leave you wanting? More sugar! If you want to be more active and productive throughout the day, you should try reducing your sugar intake.
6 tips to avoid fatigue after meals
1. Breakfast is key:
Breakfast in the morning keeps the blues away and staves off hunger pangs throughout the day (which can also make you tired). Plus, if you eat breakfast, you won’t eat as much at lunch. And then you won’t be tired all the time after eating.
2. Hydration is important:
Did you overdo it at lunch? Because you were simply too hungry? Be careful: many people mistake feelings of hunger for thirst. Make sure to drink enough water. You can calculate how much water you should drink per day here:
3. Exercise helps:
A short stroll outside can work wonders after lunch. The fresh air and exercise supplies your brain with plenty of oxygen. If you can’t go outside, open the (office) window and take some deep breaths. Or do 20 squats – they won’t take long and they will get your blood pumping.
4. Schedule your coffee breaks:
If you think you have to drink five cups of coffee to finally wake up, remember this German saying: “Viel hilft nicht immer viel” (a lot doesn’t always help a lot). One caffeinated drink is okay because it stimulates the release of adrenaline. But more than one has the opposite effect – then you’ll really feel tired. If you are looking for a boost of energy, don’t wait too long after lunch to have your cup of joe. Otherwise, you might have trouble sleeping at night.
5. Take a lunch nap:
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of taking a short power nap. But, many companies nowadays have quiet rooms where their employees can rest for 10-20 minutes. This is the maximum length of time you should sleep in order to wake up refreshed. If you sleep longer, you might end up feeling more tired than you did before. Learn more about the healthy benefits of power naps!
6. Eat lunch
Just because you’re tired after eating doesn’t mean you should stop eating. Try eating smaller portions of the right foods. Are you looking for a tasty lunch that won’t sit in your stomach all afternoon? Give the following recipe a try:
You can prepare this fruity quinoa salad in the evening and eat it the next day for lunch at work.
Foods that make you tired
Did you know that many foods contain the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan(1)? You should go light on the following foods at lunchtime:
- Meat: pork, chicken, beef
- Fish: tuna, mackerel, salmon, halibut, trout
- Cheese: Parmesan, Emmental, Edam, Brie, Camembert
- Cereal products: oats, products with spelt flour/millet/(buck)wheat
- Nuts: hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts
Are you looking for more scrumptious meals for your next lunch break? Have a look at these top 5 quick and easy recipes.