It is normal for your energy level to rise and fall slightly throughout the day. Many factors can affect this natural ebb and flow. These include sleep and stress levels, your level of physical activity, and the foods you eat. In general, having a meal or snack tends to replenish your energy, which helps you feel more energized. However, some foods can actually drain your energy. This article lists seven foods that have the potential to drain your energy.
1. White bread, pasta and rice
Cereals are rich in carbohydrates, which provide the body with a good source of energy. However, processed grains such as those found in white bread, white pasta, and white rice may actually cause more harm than good when it comes to your energy levels. This is partly because the outer layer of the grain, called bran, which contains fiber, is removed during processing. Because of this, processed grains contain less fiber and tend to be digested and absorbed more quickly than whole grains. This is why a meal or snack high in processed grains usually causes a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, followed by a drop in energy.
In contrast, whole grains help you regulate your blood sugar levels and keep your energy steady throughout the day. Processed cereals also lack another important part of the grain: the germ. The sprout contains many important nutrients that can also play a role in maintaining your energy levels. For example, the sprout is particularly rich in B vitamins, which your body can use to create energy.
Therefore, by avoiding processed grains or replacing them with whole grains, you can provide your body with more nutrients and prevent energy spikes and crashes.
2. Breakfast cereals, yogurts and other foods with added sugars
Many foods on the market are loaded with added sugars which, when eaten too frequently, can hurt your energy levels. For example, many people consider breakfast cereals an important part of a healthy and energizing breakfast routine. However, many strains fail to provide the energy needed to start the day. The reason for this is that most breakfast cereals contain very little fiber, but significant amounts of added sugars. In fact, sugars make up 50% of the total carbs found in many breakfast cereals. The combination of high sugar and low fiber can cause blood sugar and insulin to spike, resulting in a surge of energy followed by a crash.
Additionally, some research suggests that eating foods high in added sugars can increase the likelihood that you will crave other sugary foods, which can create a cycle of energy depletion. To avoid the energy starvation effect of high-sugar cereals, opt for varieties with no added sugar that contain at least 4 to 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Flavored yogurts, fruit juices, granola bars, and even some types of bread are other popular breakfast foods that tend to contain high levels of added sugars.
If you’re looking to keep your energy levels high, it’s in your best interest to avoid them or find less sugary alternatives.
Alcohol is known for its relaxing effect. In fact, many people report that drinking a little alcohol at dinner or in the evening helps them fall asleep more easily. Although this may sound positive, it is not necessarily the case. This is because alcohol can reduce the quality and duration of sleep, making sleep less restful. So while alcohol can help you feel more relaxed or fall asleep more easily, depending on how much you drink, it can actually drain your energy, causing you to wake up the next morning feeling less rested. Low to moderate alcohol consumption does not seem to have a great influence on the quality or duration of sleep. Only large amounts of alcohol seem to drain energy in this way. Therefore, to avoid the effects of alcohol on energy, be sure to keep your intake low to moderate. This consumption is defined as one standard drink or less per day for women, and two drinks or less for men. A standard drink is the equivalent of 355ml of beer, 148ml of wine or 44ml of spirits.
Consumed in moderation, coffee can have positive physical and mental effects. For example, studies show that coffee can help reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by 26-34%. An analysis of 18 studies also indicated that each cup of coffee consumed daily by a person can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 7%. Caffeine, the stimulant in coffee, has also been reported to create a boost of energy and short-term brain function, which many people rely on when they feel tired.
That said, if you drink coffee regularly, your body will develop a tolerance, which will reduce the potency of its effects. More importantly, regularly relying on coffee instead of eating or sleeping properly can drain your energy over time. Too much caffeine can also negatively affect your sleep quality, which can lower your energy levels in the long run.
People who drink coffee should limit their intake to about four cups a day.
5. Energy drinks
There’s no denying that energy drinks can give you a short-term energy boost. In fact, several studies show that energy drinks can improve concentration and memory by around 24%, in addition to reducing drowsiness. Energy drink manufacturers include a cocktail of stimulating ingredients in their formulations. However, researchers attribute most of the energizing effects to the sugar and caffeine these drinks contain. When it comes to sugar, many energy drinks contain ridiculously high amounts — sometimes as high as 10 teaspoons (52 grams) per container. As we mentioned earlier, consuming large amounts of added sugars can cause your energy to spike and then crash, which can make you feel more tired than before consuming the drink. Also, as is the case with coffee, people who regularly consume energy drinks can develop a tolerance to the caffeine they contain. This means that the drinker must consume larger and larger amounts to experience the same energizing effects. Additionally, some research shows that energy drinks can reduce sleep duration and quality. If it happens too frequently, expect it to lower your energy levels.
6. Fried and fast foods
Fried foods and fast foods can also rob you of energy. This is because they are generally high in fat and low in fiber, two factors that can slow down your digestion. Slower digestion can reduce the rate at which energy-boosting nutrients enter the body, delaying the energy boost you can typically expect after a meal. Additionally, fried and fast foods tend to be low in vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Nutrient-dense foods help boost and maintain your energy levels, but eating fried foods and fast foods too often can keep them out of your diet. Consuming too many fatty foods at one time can also make you feel excessively full. In some cases, it can wipe out your energy or desire to do anything for the next two hours.
7. Low calorie foods
At snack time, some people opt for low-calorie versions of their favorite foods, believing it to be a healthier choice. However, if you include too many of these foods in your diet, you may not be consuming enough calories throughout the day, which can significantly lower your energy levels. Calories are a unit of measurement used to estimate the amount of energy a food will provide your body after it is digested. Your body uses calories to maintain basic functions such as breathing, thinking, and heart rate. The calories you consume also cover the energy you expend moving throughout the day, including the calories you burn while exercising. Regularly providing your body with far fewer calories than it needs can create hormonal imbalances and slow down your metabolism, leaving you feeling exhausted. Eating too few calories at meals or snacks can also increase cravings. This can lead you to overeat at the next meal, leaving you feeling full and sluggish.
Eating and drinking are generally considered effective ways to boost your energy levels. However, what you eat matters. Specifically, the seven foods and drinks listed above are more likely to drain your energy reservoir than refuel it. Eating these foods infrequently or in moderation is unlikely to have any lasting negative effects. However, if your energy level is consistently low, it is in your best interest to avoid these foods altogether.