Blog By thomasa on 28 February 2018

What is A Food Coma?

Have you ever felt tired after eating? This is known as a food coma. When you eat a lot, or eat at certain times of the day, or eat certain types of food, your body naturally gets sleepy. Dietitians and food experts aren’t exactly sure why this happens but there are three, generally accepted theories.

This article will go over the three theories why experts think food coma happen.

Theory #1 Blood Flow


This theory is the most straightforward. After eating your body works on digesting your food. The stomach and other organs work on breaking down your food so your body can then absorb the calories for energy, the protein for maintenance, and the nutrients for upkeep.

Before it can fully break down the food, your stomach has to do a lot of work breaking the food solids into something that is more useful to your intestines. In order to do that it needs a lot of blood. It is a known fact that when you eat, your body sends a large amount of blood flow to the stomach to help aid in digestion,

Many experts think the food coma is simply a result of overeating and the body sending lots of blood down to the stomach to help the stomach better digest the food. According to this theory, when you overeat, your body needs to use blood for digestion in place of providing the body with plenty of oxygen. This slowing of oxygen to the rest of the body causes the sleepiness known as a food coma.

Theory #2 Tryptophan


Tryptophan is a chemical made famous by Thanksgiving and turkey consumption. Tryptophan is an amino acid that makes you feel tired and sleepy.

Since amino acids are the building blocks of protein, you can consume tryptophan whenever you eat something with protein in it. However, when people eat just protein, they do not normally feel sleepy. That’s because tryptophan is not easily absorbed on its own. When you eat carbohydrates, however, your body turns those carbs into glucose which helps your body easily absorb tryptophan. The more carbs and protein you consume, the sleepier it makes you feel.

This theory does a good job at explaining why you feel sleepy when you eat something heavy like a burger and fries but not after eating a salad. It also gives you a general method for avoiding that next food coma.

If you’re going to eat protein, try to avoid eating it with carbs. And if you’re going to eat carbs with your protein, try to eat foods that are low on the glycemic index. The lower your carb foods are on the glycemic index, the less glucose your body can make. If your body produces less glucose than it will consume less tryptophan.

This is not a fool-proof plan because there are tons of hidden sugars in different foods, but at least it can help you improve your diet to counteract the negative effects of a food coma.

Theory #3 Circadian Rhythm


This theory is a bit less technical. Some experts don’t think that most people consume enough tryptophan to feel sleepy nor do their bodies divert enough blood to make them feel sleepy. Experts who believe in the circadian rhythm theory think that the sleepiness is just a natural part of human biology.

Humans evolved to be omnivores, meaning we eat both plants and animals. We can adapt our diets quite significantly according to what is available to us. We’ve also built homes, heatings, air conditioner and lights to more or less control our environment so it can look and feel however we want it to.

But nonetheless, thousands of years of human biology is still contained in our genetic code. Some experts call this our circadian rhythm. According to these people, we feel tired because our caveman ancestors would naturally rest at certain times of the day to regain their strength for later activities.

According to this theory, there isn’t much we can do outside of eating healthy and getting plenty of rest whenever possible.



No matter what the real reason is, food comas happen. We know there isn’t much we can do about them but we do know that the food we eat has a specific effect on our bodies’. Eating healthy might not totally eliminate our food comas but it will give us more energy throughout the day and allow us to keep certain health factors like weight, cholesterol, and general nutrition in check.

That’s what we try to do at IONutrition. We help you get healthy, well-balanced meals delivered straight to your door. They taste great so your taste buds won’t even care that you’re eating healthy. Learn how our meal delivery system works today and see if our IONutrition meals can help you get the energy you need.