5 Energy-Draining Foods to Avoid

energy draining foods

We all know that some foods are higher in caloric content than others. Often times, we seek out these higher calorie food items in order to get a burst of energy.

But did you know that some foods – despite having a high calorie count – can actually be total drains on your energy? It’s true!

What’s worse is that you could be consuming some of these energy-draining foods thinking that you’re getting an energy boost, when in reality you’re getting quite the opposite.

Let’s start with one of the biggest, most deceiving culprits: energy drinks.

1. Energy Drinks

energy draining foods

Energy drinks may give you a temporary boost of energy, but as soon as the energy/caffeine buzz wears off, you’ll be feeling more exhausted than ever! This BBC article reveals the results of a very interesting study. Sleep-deprived adults were given sugary energy drinks and asked to perform some monotonous tests.

Another group was given an identical-tasting drink with just the caffeine. After a half hour, results were the same. But after 50 minutes, the sugary energy drink crowd was falling way behind. Read more from NBC about how energy drinks can leave you feeling totally exhausted.

2. Sugary Breakfast Foods: Doughnuts, Sweet Rolls, etc.

energy draining food

Sugar and white flour are awful energy drains. It’s unfortunate that so many Americans start out their days with a sugary breakfast – if they choose to eat breakfast at all.

Essentially, when you consume a lot of sugar, the carbohydrates get used up quickly, blood sugar rises, and then your brain stops producing orexin, which is what makes you feel alert. You can read more about the “doughnut effect” here.

3. Greasy & Fried Foods

energy draining foods to avoid

Meals that are high in fat, like those containing fried foods, don’t do your brain function any good. Studies have shown that high-fat content foods can cause fatigue in the short run and decreased cognitive performance in the long run.

This is apparently especially true for meals that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates, as well as a diet that is high in both saturated fat and refined carbohydrates.

4. Red Wine & Alcohol

energy draining foods to avoid

There’s a reason why a glass of wine before bed has often been recommended to adults who have trouble sleeping – alcohol is a strong depressant that can often result in sleepiness.

However, alcohol’s effects on fatigue go beyond its depressant action. The Huffington Post summarized a brand-new study about alcohol and sleep, which found that alcohol can make your sleeping patterns go haywire and cause ongoing tiredness.

A few drinks can cause you to spend more time in stages of “slow-wave” or “deep” sleep, and less time in the REM stages that are necessary for improving your memory and alertness the next day.

5. Low-Iron Foods

energy draining foods

Anemia, or low levels of iron in the blood, is a main culprit of fatigue, especially for women. While there are a number of causes of anemia, ranging from menstruation to bone marrow diseases, low-iron foods in the diet is an extremely common reason for fatigue.

So instead or reaching for low-iron veggies like carrots, celery, and cauliflower, try dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, or artichokes, which are all high in iron. Instead of a rice side dish, try lentils or chickpeas. Finally, consider occasionally switching low-iron proteins like chicken and fish for red meat.

What energy-draining foods will you be avoiding? What high-energy foods do you love? Weigh in with your comments!


  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5202278.stm
  • http://www.nbcnews.com/id/46764607/ns/health-mens_health/
  • http://www.columbiatribune.com/arts_life/pulse/stopping-the-energy-drain/article_2a299006-bd06-5df0-9ed2-44aedc39eea2.html
  • http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0031938494902607
  • http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306452202001239
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25/alcohol-sleep-rem-nonrem-deep-sleep_n_2537405.html
  • http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-anemia-basics