Do you find yourself constantly feeling tired or lethargic? Or maybe your energy levels are like a roller coaster each day, veering from bouncing off the walls to slumped over your desk? Of course, fatigue can be down to a variety of factors but did you know that many of the foods we eat every day can drain our energy? In fact, lots of supposedly “energizing” foods, actually do the exact opposite.

Here are some everyday foods that drain your energy without you knowing it.

Energy Drinks

While most people are now aware that energy drinks are far from healthy (in 2014, the World Health Organization warned that they may pose a threat to public health), not everyone is aware that they can actually drain your energy rather than boost it. The stimulating effects of these drinks come from the large amounts of caffeine and sugar they contain. All this added sugar causes your energy to spike (hence the boost) but then drop sharply, causing you to feel more tired than before. Plus, drinking too much caffeine can interrupt your sleep duration and quality, meaning that you will have reduced energy levels the next day. It’s a vicious cycle.

Fast Food

You may have noticed that after consuming an unhealthy (albeit delicious) fast food meal that you feel incredibly tired. This is because the combination of high fat, low fiber ingredients means that you digest the food more slowly and it takes longer for what little nutritional content the food contains to reach your organs. Plus, whereas foods high in nutritional quality boost your energy, low-nutrient fast food is a big drain.

Low-Fat Foods

In our quest to be healthy, many of us reach for prepackaged low-fat, “healthy” snacks such as low-fat salad dressing, low-fat cookies or bars, and low-fat yogurts. However, the manufacturers of these products have often replaced the fat content of these foods with sugar, meaning that they will once again give you that quick energy spike followed by the large energy crash. Far better to eat full-fat versions in moderation or less processed alternatives.

White Bread, Pasta and Rice

Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of energy. However, not all carbs are created equal. Chowing down on processed white bread, pasta and rice will leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Why? High carbohydrate containing foods such as these boost the production of a neurotransmitter known as serotonin, which can make us feel content and sleepy. The body does this so that it can conserve energy for digestion. Eating carbs in smaller portions can help, as can switching to whole wheat versions which are digested more slowly.

Red meat

Red meat is another food stuff that requires a great deal of energy to digest and so makes you feel tired. While it does provide iron, an energy booster, red meat is also high in fat which is more difficult for the body to break down. Eating a large amount of red meat will definitely leave you tired after a meal.


Rounding off the list is a somewhat surprising one: cherries. Though delicious and healthy, cherries drain your energy because they are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone known to improve the quality of sleep and which can have a slight sedative effect. So of course, enjoy your cherries but perhaps after-dinner rather than after-lunch!