Foods that trigger afternoon fatigue
At 3pm on the dot, your eyes start to feel heavy, body posture sinks down, and your head nods back and forth. You’re suddenly overcome by a feeling of fatigue and grogginess. This is afternoon fatigue.
It’s no surprise this afternoon slump sets in after lunch. The body’s circadian rhythm dips and rises at different times of the day. This may prompt you to ‘take a nap’ between 1-3pm, but it varies by person. Dietitian, Rachel Fine, explains why eating an energy-fuelled lunch can help you avoid the afternoon crash.
“Eating lunch keeps your body fuelled and your metabolism active. When we fuel our body, we avoid dips in energy that lead to an afternoon of sluggishness and cravings,” says Fine.
It’s also important for your lunch to be rich in nutrients.
“Ideally, your lunch should have a healthy mix of complex carbohydrates for sustained energy, plus protein and healthy fats for satiety. Add some non-starchy vegetables for bulk and fibre,” says nutritionist, Rania Batayneh.
Now, here are the 9 foods to avoid to prevent falling into an afternoon slump.
Potatoes (chips, French fries)
Any salad or sandwich can be made a meal with a drink and a bag of chips or French fries. But, it’s best to skip both of those sides. Not only has intake of fried potatoes been linked to hypertension in a 2016 study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), but they also can be high in fat and low in energy-sustaining protein.
“While there isn’t an ideal macronutrient ratio for everyone – endurance athletes or individuals who are very active might need more carbohydrates, while those who lift weights often might need a little more protein – high-carb diets tend to make you sleepier,” Batayneh says. “After you eat carbs, your blood sugar levels increase; as a result, your body releases insulin to shuttle those sugars from your bloodstream into your cells.” This can trigger afternoon fatigue. Eat too many fast-digesting carbs, like fries or chips, and the resulting spike and fall in blood sugar will likely make you feel ready for naptime.
Just like French fries, you should also steer clear of the mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, and egg rolls, too. “Fried food can make you feel sluggish due to the high-fat nature of the meal, which requires a bit more time to digest,” Fine says. Fat is a challenge for the body to break down, adds Batayneh, “so your body spends more energy on their digestion, which can leave you feeling low in energy.” (Not to mention a 2019 study in the BMJ has found a link between eating more fried foods with a shorter lifespan.)