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Got the Midday Sleepies? Try Cutting Back on Dietary Fat

May. 31, 2013|620 views
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Are you tired of the midday slump? Do you find yourself reaching for coffee to stay alert throughout the busy day? New research suggests you might want to think instead about what you’ve been eating. That’s because a diet high in fat has been linked to feelings of daytime sleepiness, while a diet loaded with carbohydrates is associated with feeling more alert throughout the day. Surprisingly, protein intake has no apparent affect on sleepiness/alertness.


Of course, it’s important to get adequate sleep, regardless of diet. Sufficient sleep is an important part of health and well being. It affects everything from the ability to think and react quickly, to mood and immune system function. But new research suggests that, regardless of age, gender, or the amount of sleep a person gets, fat in the diet may conspire to make you feel drowsy midday. A diet rich in carbs has the opposite effect. Previous research has shown that obese people are more likely to struggle with “excessive daytime sleepiness.”


The study, to be presented at a conference of medical sleep professionals this June, found that regardless of caloric intake, age, gender or total amount of sleep, healthy, non-obese subjects reported feeling drowsy after high-fat meals, and more alert after high-carbohydrate meals. Noting that fatigue is widespread in our society, the investigators speculated that diet may represent an important opportunity to improve subjective alertness throughout the day.



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Kritikou I, Pejovic S, Vgontzas AN, Fernandez-Mendoza J, Basta M, Bixler EO. HIGH FAT INTAKE IS ASSOCIATED WITH PHYSIOLOGICAL SLEEPINESS IN HEALTHY NON-OBESE ADULTS. Psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, USA.


Holt SH, Delargy HJ, Lawton CL, Blundell JE. The effects of high-carbohydrate vs high-fat breakfasts on feelings of fullness and alertness, and subsequent food intake. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 1999 Jan;50(1):13-28.


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Tags:  health tips, obesity, mediterranean diet