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No matter how productive, energetic, and enthusiastic you usually are, I’m sure we’re all at least somewhat familiar with that sluggish, lazy feeling that tends to creep up on us sometimes. You may just think you’re simply running out of steam, but it turns out that certain foods can have a huge impact on your energy level.

You want to make sure you avoid these foods that drain your energy if you want to keep your energy levels up:

Refined Carbohydrates:

Both refined carbs and hidden sugar in “health foods” that have little to no fiber content aren’t doing us any favors. White pastas, breads, crackers, candy, juices, granola, etc. Foods like oatmeal and rice can absolutely be healthy but can affect everyone differently. That being said, oatmeal is a great source of fiber and other nutrients, just be sure not to buy those instant packets full of sugar and flavorings. Make your own at home, and add some protein like nut butter or a hard-boiled egg on the side to control blood sugar and nutrient absorption, making sure you stay fuller longer. 


Alcohol is actually a depressant, which is why it makes you feel calm and sleepy. Alcohol has been shown to affect our circadian rhythm by decreasing the important (!) REM stage of sleep. Studies have concluded that increased inability to get into quality REM sleep is associated with increased levels of anxiety and depression—which can be exhausting! A nice glass or two of wine with a fantastic dinner or to celebrate isn’t going to hurt us. Oh, I’m gonna have me a glass of wine! But making it a habit to consume more than two drinks regularly (like, five-plus times a week, regularly) is a bit of a problem.

Overconsumption of  Caffeine / Coffee:

Caffeine actually blocks the hormone adenosine that makes us sleepy. So when the caffeine wears off and we have high levels of adenosine, we’ll feel the fatigue again. Caffeine also stimulates the release of cortisol, aka our major stress hormone, and having too much cortisol can cause stress and fatigue.

Red Meat:

Red meat contains a high amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that makes serotonin and melatonin, which regulates our sleep cycle. Red meat can also contribute to fatigue if we’re not digesting it properly, leaving us at risk for imbalanced gut health and increased inflammation. This sounds just like the “itis” to me! lol

And the way most red meat is processed, we aren’t able to digest it properly. It’s smart to purchase red meat thoughtfully, i.e. grass-fed beef, organic, minimally processed, and eat it with a salad, veggies, or other forms of fiber first to pave the way. Not to mention, a heavy meal like this is not a great idea for a demanding midday meal.

Here are two food journals to help you plan better eating:

If you are in the NYC area, here are some great vegan restaurants to try.

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