You’re probably aware that there are foods that make you sleepy.

You likely know a number of these but may be surprised by some of them:

starchy carbohydrates such as:

  • cookies
  • cake
  • candy
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • enriched white pasta
  • donuts

And other foods:

  • turkey
  • cherries
  • dark chocolate

The reason that the vast majority of these foods cause fatigue is the glycemic index. The glycemic index, or GI, of a food is a gauge for how the body reacts to certain carbohydrates. The higher the glycemic index of a food, the greater affect that food has on your blood sugar levels. Wider fluctuations in your blood sugar levels increase the amount of fatigue you experience.

For example: white bread has a GI of 70, whereas wheat bread has an average GI of about 55. Gatorade has an average GI of 89, whereas unsweetened apple juice has a GI of about 41. Pretzels have a GI of about 83, whereas popcorn has a GI around 65. A baked potato has a GI around 111, whereas a sweet potato has a GI around 70, and a yam, 54.

The lower the number, the less of an affect it will have on your blood sugar levels and your energy.

For sustained energy and metabolism all day, choose carbohydrates that are higher in fiber, lower in sugar, and less processed. Choose whole grains including whole wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, bran, and whole-grain cereal over white pasta, white rice, or sugary breakfast cereal. Eat sweets infrequently.

Check out this article from Harvard Medical School and this article from nutritiondata.self.com for more examples.

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