Ask a Nutritionist: Why Am I Always Tired After Eating?

Hi Jess, I’ve been feeling super tired and resisting the urge for a nap after lunch recently. Is this normal or do I need to make dietary changes?

The post-meal food coma, scientifically known as postprandial somnolence, is a relatable experience for many of us. We've all felt that temptation for an afternoon nap after a big lunch, or the need for a moment before tackling the dishes after dinner.

The reassuring part is that we each respond differently to food, and feeling tired after eating is quite common. If you’re wondering why you’re having this feeling, let’s look into a few factors that may play a part.

Digestive process

After a meal, your body kicks into gear to digest the food. Gastric hormones are released that increase blood flow to the digestive system. This diverts some of your body’s energy towards digestion, possibly causing a temporary dip in energy levels as your body focuses on efficiently absorbing the nutrients.

Carb-heavy foods

Carbs, especially those with a high glycaemic index, can cause post-meal drowsiness due to fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Choosing high-quality complex carbohydrates can help to maintain blood sugar stability. Consuming carbs can also stimulate the production of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’, promoting relaxation and sleep.

Tryptophan intake

Commonly found in foods such as turkey and dairy, tryptophan intake can contribute to post-meal sleepiness. It facilitates the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin, neurotransmitters that influence mood and sleep, potentially creating a sense of drowsiness after eating.

Other factors to consider

Here are some other things to be aware of when it comes to post-meal fatigue:

Diet awareness

It’s no surprise that consuming too much in one sitting can lead to fatigue as your body expends energy to digest it. Pay attention to the impact of different foods on your energy levels and make adjustments to your choices, such as choosing meals with a balance of macro- and micronutrients.

Sleeping habits

Unsurprisingly, overall sleep habits naturally contribute to daytime tiredness as many of us fall short of the recommended 7-9 hours per night. Being relaxed and well-fed may lead to daytime tiredness, especially if you're trying to make up for inadequate sleep the night before.

If you notice this tiredness persisting, it might be worth chatting with your doctor to rule out any potential underlying health conditions.


Experiencing the post-meal slump is a common experience for many of us, influenced by various factors, such as digestive processes, carb-heavy foods and tryptophan intake may contribute to post-meal drowsiness.

Being mindful of your diet can prevent overeating and fatigue, and of course, proritising a good night's sleep is crucial. While the post-meal drowsiness is normal, please see your GP if the feeling persists for personalised advice.

Jessica Stansfield, RNutr

Huel nutrition team

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