Why a High Fat Diet Can Make You Sleepy
Everyone has had the experience of getting sleepy after a midday meal, but if your post lunch drowsiness is hurting your productivity you might want to consider if what you’re eating has something to do with it. According to some recent Australian research, eating a diet that is high in fat might be enough to make you more tired than normal.
To test this out the researchers had some people eat 135 grams of fat a day while the other group ate 58 grams per day. The people who were eating the higher fat diet were actually 78 percent more likely to experience sleepiness during the day than the people with the lower fat diet, which is pretty significant.
According to the study author Yingting Cao, Ph.D, this occurs because eating a lot of fat on a regular basis can lead your digestive system to create more neurohormones which ultimately makes your brain react more slowly. Not only can eating a lot of fat make you feel sluggish and tired right after eating it, but it can also disrupt your nighttime sleep as well.
Eating a high fat diet can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea, which is where you repeatedly stop breathing for a second throughout the night. (In fact people who eat high fat diets are about three times as likely to develop this than people who do not.) Naturally this wakes you up each time and prevents the body from going into a deep enough REM cycle to get the rest and recovery that you need to feel alert and stay healthy. Many people experience this without knowing why it is that they’re actually waking up.
It also might depend on what type of fats you’re eating, since saturated fats and trans are thought to be particularly inflammatory. Having chronic inflammation in the body is thought to increase the risks of developing sleep apnea as well.
If you get a decent amount of sleep each night (like seven hours), and are still experiencing extreme fatigue during the day you might consider eating less fat and see what happens. It’s important to get a certain amount of fat in the diet, but it should always come from healthier types of fat such as monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. A good rule of thumb to follow on amounts is getting around half a gram of fat for every pound of the weight that you want to be. That will ensure that you get enough to get the benefits without going overboard.
The easiest way to make sure that you’re getting healthy fats in your diets but steering clear of unhealthy ones, is to eat as cleanly as possible. Foods that have been processed are the ones that are full of the bad fats, since those are added to be shelf stabilizers and to enhance the taste. But foods in their natural state such as olives, salmon, and nuts are all great sources of healthy fats to be embraced.
About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.