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Foods That Cause Fatigue

author image Jill Armayor
Jill Armayor started her professional writing career in 1996, publishing Web articles on weight loss for the Cooper Aerobics Center. She has continued writing Web content, marketing copy and articles for other companies along the way, including Tessera Performance. Armayor holds her Master of Science in exercise and sports nutrition from Texas Woman's University.
Foods That Cause Fatigue
Man with hands over eyes, feeling fatigued. Photo Credit: Images

Fatigue can be a feeling of sleepiness or lack of energy. Many of you have experienced it for a short while, or maybe for a long period of time. Fatigue can be caused by a number of reasons such as stress, lack of sleep, a medical disorder, intense exercise or even your diet. Some foods improve energy level, while others may hinder it. By eating certain foods in moderation, or combining them with other foods, you may find that it decreases the amount of fatigue you experience after a meal.

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What Foods Are Known to Cause Fatigue?

The foods that cause drowsiness include sweets and starchy carbohydrates such as cookies, cake, white rice, white bread, and enriched white pasta. These foods can cause your blood sugar levels to go haywire. You may have noticed that eating a donut, for instance, gives you a short-lived sugar high, followed by a sluggish, tired and hungry feeling. You may be tempted to eat another donut to get your sugar high back, but this only leads to energy highs and lows -- a vicious cycle.

The Science Behind Foods that Cause Fatigue

The body’s reaction to carbohydrates can be explained by the glycemic index. The higher the glycemic index a food has, the more fluctuation occurs in your blood sugar levels when you ingest the food. When your blood sugar levels are high, the hormone insulin is released from your pancreas to combat the sudden rise in blood sugar to bring it back to acceptable levels. Wider fluctuations in your blood sugar levels increase the amount of fatigue you experience.

Better Food Choices

Since carbohydrates are a must in any healthy diet, the types of carbohydrates you choose can play a huge part in controlling your blood sugar levels. Choose whole grains instead of white starchy products and eat sweets infrequently. Whole wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, bran and whole-grain cereal are much better choices than white pasta, white rice or sugary breakfast cereal. A good rule of thumb is to choose the foods that have a higher fiber content.

Eat Your Favorites in Moderation

Of course, this does not mean that you have to permanently cut out all of your favorite foods to avoid fatigue. If you immensely enjoy eating cookies, then do so in moderation. The best time to eat a cookie is after a meal balanced in protein, fat and carbohydrates. With a balance of macronutrients being digested at the same time, your blood sugar levels are less likely to go through the roof, resulting in the subsequent "food coma."

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