Do you ever wake up and feel absolutely exhausted for no reason? I know I’ve had days where no matter how much sleep I get at night, how much I nap during the day or how many cups of coffee I have, I still feel downright exhausted. 

I never knew why I felt so depleted, and never thought about how it could be what I was eating. But after some research, I realized that my diet was to blame. Here are 15 foods that might be draining your energy (because they were definitely draining mine). 

1. Pasta

vegetable, macaroni, sauce, basil, pasta, spaghetti
Shun Matsuhashi

Ah, carbohydrates. They can give you a boost of energy, but refined carbs can cause a rise in blood sugar and a drop in insulin. This is what may cause that fatigue and weakness you feel the next day after an all-you-can-eat pasta dinner at Olive Garden.

2. Orange Juice

orange squash, milk, ice, smoothie, orange juice, cocktail, sweet, juice
Jocelyn Hsu

If you always have a glass of OJ in the morning with your breakfast, well, that might be why you feel so drained later on. A lot of orange juice has high-fructose corn syrup, added sugar, and artificial flavors and colors. Even the healthier brands still contain high levels of sugar, and all of that sugar can cause the cells that control your energy levels in the brain to slow down. So ditch that glass, peel an orange and eat that thing fresh.

3. Yogurt  

chocolate, cream, milk, sweet
Taylor Treadway

Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, holds many health benefits. But, most non-fat yogurts should be avoided. These types of yogurt contain high levels of sugar to make up for the lack of natural fats that in turn will slow you down. 

4. Alcohol

stout, alcohol, liquor, beer
Alex Frank

Yeah, alcohol may make you pass out and sleep until the next afternoon, but that sleep that you’re getting isn’t actually reloading your energy levels. Alcohol reduces the amount of time that a person spends in their REM (rapid eye movement) cycle.

According to an interview with Dr. John Shneerson for DrinkAware, “As the alcohol starts to wear off, your body can come out of deep sleep and back into REM sleep, which is much easier to wake from. That’s why you often wake up after just a few hours sleep when you’ve been drinking.”

Drinking alcohol can cause people to go straight into deep sleep, which makes them miss the first stage of REM. So, instead of having the usual 6-7 cycles of REM, alcohol may reduce that to only one or two. This is what takes away from your total amount of “real” sleep. That raging hangover isn’t the only reason you’re barely crawling out of bed.

#SpoonTip: Red wine has high levels of melatonin, so even if you don’t drink ‘til you pass out, a glass of red wine will be sure to make you feel drowsy.

5. Cereal

breakfast, pouring milk, milk, Cheerios, cereal
Jocelyn Hsu

Many cereals are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, genetically modified corn, and more unhealthy chemicals and refined carbs, especially the really tasty cereals. While you might have a sugar rush for a little bit after having those Lucky Charms, the crash will be on its way. 

6. Iron-Low Foods

farmer's market, local produce, fresh vegetables, swiss chard, vegetable, lettuce, kale
Sam Jesner

Not getting enough iron in the diet may cause a person to feel tired and weak. Foods with high iron content include dark leafy greens, organ meats and red meat.

#SpoonTip: If you think you’re lacking in iron, a good alternative could be iron supplements. But keep in mind that too much iron intake isn’t healthy either.

7. Soda

liquor, alcohol, juice, soy sauce, beer, wine
Christin Urso

Soda is obviously filled with sugar. Similar to coffee and cereal, soda will cause blood sugar levels to rise for a little while, and then crash. According to an article in Psychology Today, the lingering effects of caffeine can “diminish sleep quality.” Soda can change what kind of sleep you get. Even a full night of sleep may not give you the liveliness you need during the day. And like coffee, that crash may lead to wanting more. More soda, more problems.

8. Bagels

dough, flour, bun, wheat, bread
Monica Milberg

Love food comas? Eat some bagels. High in refined carbs but lacking enough nutritive value, bagels can take away the stamina you need to get through the day.

9. Turkey

Rachel Davis

Turkey has a natural sedative in it called tryptophan. It’s an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. Turkey skin also takes a lot of energy to digest, so the body redirects blood to the digestive system. This takes away blood flow from the rest of the body, also taking away your energy while it’s at it. Turkey isn’t the only reason so many people feel tired after a Thanksgiving meal, but it’s a factor.

10. Coffee  

cappuccino, milk, espresso, coffee
Kelsey Emery

I know what you’re thinking, how can the only thing keeping my eyes open in the morning be what’s actually taking away my energy? While coffee gives you that needed boost of energy to get your day started, it takes it away in the long run once you start to crash.

Also, coffee loaded with syrup and sugar or artificial sweeteners will suck that energy out of you later. So, before you down that venti white mocha with two espresso shots, three packets of Splenda, and an extra pump of vanilla, just remember that I warned you.

11. Fried Foods

ketchup, french fries

Fried chicken, calamari, French fries, and potato chips — all sound delicious, but only if you have a day to just lie around. Fried foods make your digestive system work extra hard to process all the fats. Overworking your body will take away from your well-being.

12. White Bread

wheat bread, sandwich, flour, rye, cereal, bread, wheat, toast
Christin Urso

Refined starches result in high blood sugar levels, and eating white bread will surely exhaust your energy levels. Instead, try looking more for whole grain or sprouted grain bread. High-fiber bread slows down digestion, which helps keep blood sugar balanced. 

13. Fruit Smoothies

ice, sweet, cream, strawberry, ice cream
Alyssa Cronin

Fruit smoothies are credited with giving us our daily doses of fruits in an easy to drink and delicious blend. But, they contain high amounts of fructose, and usually a lot of added sugar as well. Most smoothies are not as healthy as you really want to believe they are, but if you can't give up your smoothie addiction, make your own at home.

Of course, avoiding eating all of these foods, some of which might be favorites of yours (um, hello pasta), can be difficult. But if you know you have a big exam coming up and you need to be on top of your game, watch out for these foods and make sure to eat a balanced, healthy diet. 

#SpoonTip: Avoiding a meal will rob you of your energy as much as, if not even more than, these foods will. When a person doesn’t eat for a while, their body starts to conserve energy because it thinks you’re in a famine. Don’t lie to your body, it won’t react nicely.