It’s one-thirty. You’re sitting at your desk, staring at the work on your computer, and for the life of you, you cannot keep your eyes open. What happened? You just had big bowl of quinoa! You shouldn’t be so tired after eating such a good meal. But here you are.

No need to feel in the dark: there are scientific explanations for why your head gravitates toward your desk moments after eating. Here are some of the possible reasons why.

vegetable, pepper, courgette, tomato, meat, ratatouille
Christin Urso

1) You’re not having balanced meals.

Making sure you get all three macronutrients at every meal is essential. Having a pile of whole grain rice at lunch is great, but unless you add some protein and healthy fat, your body is going to burn through the rice quickly and crash suddenly. By adding a side rich in protein and fats, such as an egg, you’ll be able to keep powering through.

candy, jelly beans, sweet, gelatin
Christin Urso

2) It’s the sugar.

When you have too much sugar or too many refined carbs, your blood sugar levels can increase rapidly. Just as quickly, they tend to crash, making you wish you hadn’t snagged that Snickers on your way to class.

avocado, brunch, avocado toast, fries, sandwich, overhead, Meal, vegetable, salad, tomato, sauce, meat, pasta, lunch
Denise Uy

3) You’re eating three big meals instead of several smaller ones.

You’ve heard this debate: to eat three large meals, or several small ones? When it comes to crashing after meal time, the second one takes the cake. When you go five or so hours without eating, and then gorge a heavy meal to make up for it, your body has to direct a lot of energy toward digesting it. This can cause the rest of your body to slow down. So instead of crashing three times a day, try spacing out your meals instead.

water, ice
Jasmine Chan

4) You’re not drinking enough water. 

It’s not unheard of that if you don’t regularly drink water throughout the day, you can end up dehydrated. This can leave you feeling fatigued and drained. If you can’t remember to sip water throughout the day, try downing a glass before every meal to boost your alertness. 

egg, egg yolk, fried egg, omelet, chicken, yolk
Msu Spoon

5) You’re getting a lot of protein.

Some high-protein foods, like soy, spinach, eggs, cheese, tofu, and fish contain an amino acid called tryptophan. This same amino acid is also used by the body to create serotonin, which could be triggering that feeling of drowsiness.

turkey, meat
Sydney Segal

6) You’re eating sleepy foods. 

We’ve all heard about the Turkey Effect - the one that leaves you passed out on the couch every November. But the bird’s not the only food that can make you sleepy: some fruits can have the same effect. Cherries contain melatonin, a sleep-signaling hormone, and bananas are full of muscle-relaxing nutrients like potassium and magnesium. Save these for dinner, and at lunch, opt instead for something energizing, like an orange. 

Jocelyn Hsu

7) You could have an allergy. 

If your body ingests something that it’s allergic to, it has to expend a large amount of energy on getting rid of it. Start paying attention to when you feel most tired, and talk to your doctor if you think you might be allergic to something.


reverend barry on Flickr

8) You might just need sleep.

Maybe you just didn’t have a good night last night. If you’re really feeling tired, try taking a post-lunch nap! Even if you’re short on time, this study showed that a half-hour nap after meals can improve alertness and physical performance. 

tea, coffee, beer, wine
Ava Courtney

On top of making some of these small adjustments, there are always little things you can do to energize yourself after a meal. Do a downward dog, take a ten minute walk, or blast an energizing playlist. Don't let post-meal crashes get the best of you!