Is Your Diet Making You Sleepy?

You may be able to avoid the need for an afternoon caffeine kick by ordering a lunch that won’t sap your energy levels.

A recent study conducted by Penn State College of Medicine found that consumption of fat and carbs influenced how easy it was to fall asleep. Eating higher amounts of fat caused participants to doze off faster, while eating more carbs helped them stay alert longer. These findings are consistent with previous studies.

One possible explanation is that it’s much harder for the body to digest fat than carbohydrates. During digestion, blood flow is directed toward the stomach and away from the brain, causing sleepiness. Carbs, on the other hand, are digested quicker, leaving you with more energy. But to avoid the “crash” from carbs, it is important that you are eating those that are high in fiber.

RELATED: If you take your midday meal to work with you, try these healthy and tasty nutrition experts' favorite brown-bag lunches.

Ideally your meals—especially lunch—should be well-balanced, with high-fiber carbs, lean protein, and healthy fat. Here are a few that will help you from falling asleep at your keyboard:

  1. Turkey sandwich on 100-percent whole-wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, and mustard
  2. Grilled chicken and avocado sandwich on 100-percent whole-wheat bread with lettuce and tomato
  3. Grilled chicken or shrimp salad with chickpeas (or another legume) and lots of raw veggies, topped with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and vinegar
  4. Egg-white omelet with feta cheese, spinach, and tomato, and a slice of very lightly buttered 100-percent whole-wheat toast
  5. Tuna salad made with low-fat Greek yogurt stuffed in a 100-percent whole-wheat pita, with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber
  6. 4 ounces broiled salmon or other fish, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, and 1+ cups cooked vegetable (such as broccoli, string beans, or asparagus)
  7. Ground white-meat turkey or veggie burger on a 100-percent whole-wheat English muffin or sandwich thin, topped with tomato, lettuce, and avocado, and a side salad
  8. Egg-white salad made with plain hummus in a 100-percent whole-wheat tortilla with cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and red onion

I would suggest adding a piece of fruit with all of these options as dessert to give that extra “energy” from a healthy carbs and help fill you up. Also, it is key to stay hydrated through out the day, as dehydration can also cause you to be sleepy, so be sure to drink water.

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