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Why you feel fatigued and sleepy after overeating

It hampers your blood sugar levels too.

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : July 7, 2017 8:29 AM IST

It isn t unusual to feel groggy, fatigued and sleepy after having a heavy meal either during lunchtime or dinner. This is your body s way of telling you that all is not well with you. When you overeat, your body requires more energy to break down the food and your vital organs are in overdrive to store the excess food. Apart from this, various hormonal changes also happen which alter certain physiological processes that make you lethargic and sleepy. Here Luke Coutinho M.D. in Alternative Medicine (Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine) explains to us what goes wrong within your body when you overeat:

Insulin levels increase: The food that you eat breaks down into glucose to provide you with energy. Insulin, secreted by the pancreas helps in the dissemination of glucose. When there is an excess of glucose in the blood, your blood sugar level goes up. This gives you a burst of energy. The pancreas secretes more insulin to disperse the glucose which leads to a spike in insulin levels. So, after a while, your energy levels crash down due to a drop in the blood sugar. This drop in the blood sugar levels makes one fatigued and sleepy. Here is why it is unhealthy to have a nap in the afternoon.

Sleep hormones are secreted: When there is an excess of insulin for glucose dispersion, there are two things that happen: first, tryptophan, the sleep hormone is secreted which goes to the brain and metabolises into serotonin and melatonin. Second, secretion of melatonin, which again is a sleep hormone, makes one more lethargic and dizzy. However, because of the serotonin you don t crash down immediately but feel like taking a nap to rejuvenate yourself. The combined effect of tryptophan and melatonin makes you sluggish and sleepy. This is one reason why you might experience a dip in your productivity levels post lunch. Here are five smart things to do on your lunch break.

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What should you do?

First, don t overeat. When you overeat your digestive system uses roughly sixty to seventy-five percent of your total body energy to digest food. So, with an excess of food, your body starts diverting energy from other parts to your stomach leading to fatigue and lethargy. If you constantly feel sleepy after your meals, this is an indication that you are consuming too many carbohydrates. Get help from a nutritionist to know how to balance your intake. Eat slowly so that your blood sugar levels don't rise quickly. Also, eat in moderation without starving yourself so that your body doesn't have to spend too much energy in breaking down your food and your pancreas produces exactly that much of insulin what is needed to keep your blood sugar levels in check.

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