Have you ever noticed after eating, sometimes you feel really tired and want to take a nap? Have you ever had that mid-afternoon slump where you just want to lay down? Do you wake up under-rested and the first thing you think about is going back to bed?
If you’ve ever had Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner you probably have felt tired and napped after eating. “It’s that damn turkey” I hear you say.
It has nothing to do with the sweet potatoes covered in melted marshmallows, the four beers beforehand, the stuffing that you’re eating like it’s a condiment and the sugar filled dessert afterwards.
People always blame it on the turkey. This is a myth. Turkey does have tryptophan, a chemical that produces serotonin that is converted to the chemical melatonin which is a sleep inducing hormone.
It sounds like turkey should be to blame, however, turkey doesn’t have any more tryptophan in it than any other meat. It is the consumption in abundance of carbohydrates and alcohol that is most likely knocking you out.
It is not only the amount of food, but the combination of foods. When we eat carbs, fats and animal protein together, they end up competing for digestion and absorption.
What’s really going on?
Think about what most of us typically do when sitting down to eat. We start on the meat and then make our way to the vegetables and starches almost every time.
Immediately our bodies get ready to break down the protein and then the carbs and fat to follow leaving the body working extra hard just to digest the food.
Even if we start with vegetables, we rarely eat all of the veggies and starches first and then leave the protein until the end. Proteins and starches need different enzymes and different levels of acidity to be digested.
When eaten together, your body is forced to make a choice to digest protein, but not starches. All of this catabolic work to break down the foods not to mention the insulin response wears the body down and make us tired.
What should I do?
Any time you’re going to have a big meal, try eating a salad first, then your veggies and then your protein. We would do this in order of simplicity with regard to digestion and absorption.
By eating your complex carbohydrates first, the body will break down and absorb them first without much work or insulin response. Then move on to the foods that will take a little more energy to digest.
Using this approach the body is not fighting as much internally to digest 6 different foods at once.
One of the reasons we feel sleepy after eating can be due to allergic reactions or intolerances to certain foods. These intolerances also have a huge effect on our body.
The body has to work to fight these allergies from creating free radicals and causing toxicity and eventually, if not fixed, disease.
What should I do?
Try doing an elimination diet. Oh no. Not another diet! Don’t worry. This will not be a diet. You simply have to pay attention to when you feel tired and log the foods you ate.
Cut this food out of your menu for the week and reintroduce it a week later. If it makes you feel tired, you are probably allergic. Foods we are typically allergic to will be eggs, wheat products/processed grains/white flour, dairy products, excessive animal protein and nuts.
What else is making me sleepy?
Look at our habits. We wake up, drink coffee, most of the time with sugar filled creamer, eat a bagel, toast or cereal all which causes a stimulus via the adrenals and blood sugar spike which initially gets us going.
Along with this blood sugar spike is an insulin spike. This insulin response remains in the body trying to absorb the sugar/bad carbs for the next few hours and then the blood sugar drops.
It is then we experience the midafternoon crash, which is when we go for another cup of coffee or stimulant and the cycle begins again.
Sometimes we don’t even eat breakfast which can be good if you’re intentionally fasting, but it can lead to overeating at lunch or eating rubbish, fast food which again can cause havoc on your insulin levels and digestion.
At least drink some water and maybe have an apple as your breakfast. Quick easy and you can have it on the go.
Combinations of foods
Other foods that can put us in a drowsy daze is the combination of fruit and meat, like cranberry sauce on your turkey is not a great idea if you like to keep your gut and energy levels on point.
Fruit doesn’t combine well with other foods. The reason is that fruit contains simple sugars that require no digestion. This means they will not stay long in the stomach.
Foods high in fat, protein and starch, however, will stay in the stomach for longer periods of time because they require more digestion.
So, if you eat fruit with hard-to-digest proteins, the fruit sugar will stay for too long in the stomach and ferment causing toxicity, one of the 2 main reasons for fat storage.
The surf and turf combo will also leave you feeling tired because of excessive protein which will sit in the stomach for up to eight hours. Again, this is a lot of work for the body to break down.
The key is to pay attention and log your food. Log how you feel afterwards to decipher how and what foods affect you. Make changes and body fat will fall off and you will become the lean, mean, lifting machine you are built to be.
Let me know what you think and please do like and share.