Tired After Eating Bread? Here’s Why and What to Do! A Guide

Posted May 5, 2021 by Prescription Hope - See Editorial Guidelines(Last Updated On: July 27, 2023)

Feeling tired after eating bread? You’re not alone. Many feel this after eating bread, so we’ve decided to tackle this phenomenon and provide you with the causes and what to do about it.

Tired after eating bread? After carbohydrates in bread are digested, the sugar enters your bloodstream. This triggers the release of insulin or a possible insulin spike. Fatigue is your body’s response to high insulin levels, which could be a sign of diabetes or gluten intolerance. If symptoms persist, consult a doctor.

If you feel tired after eating bread, chances are you’re responding to changes in blood sugar or brain chemistry caused by higher levels of insulin. 

Other factors could also be a reason for bread-induced lethargy. Gluten intolerance may be one such influence on why you might be feeling tired after eating bread. 

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Tired after eating bread

Let’s explore in a little more detail why bread makes you feel tired.

Why does bread make you feel tired?

Tired After Eating Bread

One of the main reasons you are likely to feel tired after eating white bread is the quick release of insulin triggered by refined grains.

This prompts amino acids such as tryptophan to stay in your blood and enter your brain.

As a result, more serotonin is produced, and you feel sleepy.

Here’s more information on whether insulin can make you tired.

How does bread make you feel tired? 

After you eat bread, your body will break down the carbohydrates into glucose. The glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream. This triggers the release of insulin, which transports extra sugar out of your blood. 


However, insulin affects not only blood sugar but also amino acids circulating in your blood, resulting in more tryptophan accessing your brain. 

The body uses tryptophan to help make melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and serotonin helps regulate mood, pain, sleep, and appetite. 

As brain levels of tryptophan increase, more serotonin is produced. So, this might be a reason why after eating bread, the serotonin effect may make you feel calm, tired, or sleepy. 

There are many types of foodstuffs that are known as high-tryptophan foods and may result in you feeling tired if you eat them along with your bread such as: 

  • Cheese 
  • Eggs 
  • Turkey 
  • Chicken
  • Peanut Butter 
  • Fish

Bread raises blood sugar levels

Most bread contains some form of carbohydrates in them. After you eat the bread, your body will start to break down the carbohydrates to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

In those that do not have diabetes, insulin will naturally be produced to move the glucose from the bloodstream into muscle and fat cells to be used for energy.

However, if you have diabetes, then the glucose will remain in the bloodstream, causing hyperglycemia. When your blood sugar is high you can start to feel the onset of fatigue and tiredness.

Patients with diabetes can see how their blood sugar is affected by various types of bread by easily checking their blood sugar with a glucose test strip.

Certain bread may also have a high glycemic index, which means it’s digested very rapidly. This can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, leading to the feeling of being tired.

a sliced loaf of bread served on a table
a sliced loaf of bread served on a table

Other foods with a high glycemic index

Here’s a list of other types of food with a high glycemic index…

  • White and whole wheat bread 
  • White pasta and rice 
  • Refined grains
  • Processed foods 
  • White rice 
  • Breakfast cereals and cereal bars.
  • Cakes, cookies, and sweet baked 
  • Potatoes and fries.
  • Chips and rice crackers.
  • Watermelon and pineapple.
  • Dried fruits such as dates, raisins, and cranberries.

It’s interesting to note that although whole grains, in general, have a lower glycemic index, wholewheat bread is still likely to make you feel tired after eating in the same way that white bread does. 

You are also more likely to feel tired after eating bread if you have a diet lacking in protein or healthy fats during your daily eating plan or if the bacteria in your gut and body are struggling to digest the energy source for some reason.

Much academic research has been carried out on the effects of high glycemic foods such as bread and how they affect many aspects of well-being, such as feeling extra tired or lethargic. 

A 2006 study found that high glycemic diets, with food such as white bread, were associated with fatigue, tiredness, depression, and mood disturbances, compared to those who enjoyed a low glycemic diet

While these findings were especially true for overweight or obese individuals who might feel tired after eating bread, the results also showed that healthy adults were also impacted. 

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Gluten intolerance 

Gluten is a family of proteins found in wheat and other grains, such as rye and barley. 

It’s what gives the dough its elastic, stretchy composition, making it easier to bind together.

According to experts, wheat products are now the main source of carbohydrates in the Western diet. 

Many people struggle to digest gluten fully. So, it’s not surprising many experience symptoms after eating bread, such as feeling tired, lethargy, and brain fog, along with stomach cramps and diarrhea.  

So now you know why you feel tired after eating bread, you might be wondering how to combat those effects. 

How to stop feeling tired after eating bread 

Tired After Eating Bread

To combat the need for a nap or the effects of fatigue after eating bread, you can choose whole-grain options to trigger a slower release of insulin, thereby stabilizing blood sugar, releasing serotonin gradually, and keeping your energy levels up. 

There are other ways to reduce your glucose levels too. So, at the end of the day, you don’t have to give up bread or your favorite sandwich to prevent the ensuing need to snooze. 

You can prevent the sleepiness associated with bread by choosing high-fiber whole-grain options, which slow down digestion and, in effect, keep your blood sugar more balanced to keep you feeling more energized and crash-free.

Eating whole grains reduces tiredness after eating bread 

Foods that sit lower on the glycemic food index are digested slowly and result in a more gradual rise in your blood sugar.

These foods include:

  • Oats
  • Bran 
  • Lentils

And here’s a whole list of fruits that also have a low glycemic index.

Look for loaves clearly labeled “whole” on the packaging and check the label to be sure whole grains appear as one of the first ingredients.

If you're tired after eating bread, follow our guide
If you’re tired after eating bread, follow our guide

Other ways to combat tiredness after eating bread 

  • Eat several small meals a day: The easiest way to avoid post-meal coma is to eat several smaller-portioned meals throughout the day. This will keep your body fueled regularly and may even help you lose weight.
  • Nutritionally balanced meals:  Instead of choosing processed foods and starchy sides, make sure that your meal is balanced and healthy by choosing a range of colorful vegetables as the largest portion of your meal and a serving of whole grains and lean protein. 
  • Limit caffeine: Although a sandwich and coffee are a good combination, too much caffeine isn’t good for your body. Caffeine is okay in moderation, and it has been shown to have some health benefits.

    However, although it provides a short-term boost, it doesn’t actually provide the body with energy. The first sips may give you a wake-up hit, but if you’re not providing your body with good nutrition and balanced meals and snacks, you’ll eventually feel run down. Opt for black coffee or unsweetened tea.

    Also, sodas and energy drinks are full of refined sugar and artificial ingredients that can cause you to crash, feel tired and lethargic, and lead to other health issues. 

Along with the above, there are other ways you can reduce feeling tired after eating bread.

For example, avoid consuming large portions of simple carbohydrates. Stick to a balanced diet and try to stick with complex carbs that have a low glycemic index.

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Tired after eating bread – Final thoughts

We hope this has provided you with the answer to the sometimes puzzling issue of feeling tired after eating bread.

Also, consider talking to a nutritionist if you have more questions surrounding your diet and would like specific guidance.

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