The Hashimoto's Doctor

Why does eating make me sleepy?


I practically fall asleep in my plate after every meal. Why does eating make me so sleepy?


Feeling sleepy after meals is a common symptom of insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.

Starchy foods and too much insulin

Insulin resistance is common today and is a stepping-stone to diabetes. Overeating and eating a diet high in sugar and starchy foods causes insulin resistance. These foods include breads, rice, pasta, pastries, chips, potatoes, soda, sweet coffee drinks, and more.

Converting glucose to fat demands energy

Insulin escorts glucose into the cells to make energy. Starchy foods bombard the bloodstream with too much glucose, forcing the release of insulin to lower it. When a person eats a starchy diet on a regular basis, the body overproduces insulin to lower chronically high blood sugar.

Eventually these constant surges of insulin exhaust the body’s cells and they refuse entry to the insulin, which is called insulin resistance. As a result insulin can’t escort glucose into the cells to make energy and the person feels sleepy.

Also, because glucose can’t get into cells, blood sugar climbs too high. The body lowers it to safer levels by converting excess glucose into fat for storage. This is a demanding process that robs one of energy.

Insulin surges overproduce calming brain chemical

A fluctuation in brain chemistry is another factor that causes tiredness. Carbohydrates provide precursors for serotonin, the “joy and well-being” brain chemical that can ward off depression and also be calming.

However, the insulin surge that follows a high-carb meal overproduces serotonin in the brain, contributing to that need for a post-meal nap. After serotonin levels drop, people then may feel depressed, which spurs cravings for more high-carb foods and sweets to get that pleasurable “high” and start the cycle over again.

Restoring insulin sensitivity

If you feel sleepy even after a very low-carb meal, it could be because you overate or because your glucose metabolism has become too disordered to function properly. While adapting a lower-carb diet is vital, you may need the guidance of a practitioner in using nutritional and botanical compounds that can help restore insulin sensitivity.

  1. Neil | Butterfield Reply

    Thanks for this insightful post.. I am sure that this information will help many people.

  2. Terry Zeta Reply

    I also experienced this, I feel so sleepy everytime I finished my meal, especially after lunch. This post is informational and is helpful to me. I assure other people will also get help through this. Thanks again. :)

    • bshook Reply

      Hi Terry,

      Watch your carbohydrate intake and make sure you have enough protein in your diet, preferably grass fed meat. Your blood sugar is likely to blame for the fatigue, which is inflammatory due to insulin spikes. You should be able to eat and not have fatigue. I don;t know your medical history, but in general, I recommend patients go on a Paleo diet for 30 days, and then see how they feel. Most patients are drastically improved in just about every area…energy, sleep, cognitive clarity….it really is amazing. Make sure you are supplementing with the basics…EFAs (fish or krill oil), Vitamin D, Glutathione Cream (Oxicell by Apex Energetics…Excellent Product) and you should feel better than ever. Make sure to check with your healthcare practitioner to determine what is right for you.

      • eric wallace

        I have read that studies have been done that show that a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in animal foods will lower blood glucose levels, and help to loose weight. Also, remember that there are high levels of the molecule tryptophane in animal foods.
        Thank you.

  3. Wade | Wellness Reply

    Yes it is strange how certain foods affect us differently. This is why it is important to eat a balanced diet.

    • bshook Reply

      A balanced diet is important, but eating foods that we are not sensitive or allergic to is the most important. The most common inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten, soy and eggs lead to numerous metabolic disorders and can push autoimmune conditions by creating a “leaky gut”. Hope this helps. Thank you for the comment.

  4. Laura Reply

    Hi, what if I am suffering these problems but I know I never have and do not over eat, or have too many carbs in my diet (the most I’d have would be a bit of pasta/ rice/ noodles or potato with my evening meal. I get sleepy after pretty much everything I eat, eating more makes it worse and I think it is also worse for carbs, but any food will do it to some extent.

    • bshook Reply

      Hi Laura,
      There could be a number of issues contributing to your fatigue. You really need lab testing and a detailed health history to get to the bottom of the issue. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, thyroid disorders, hormone imbalances, malabsorption, and many more things could be causing your problem. I suggest seeking out a functional medicine practitioner and getting professional help to determine the drivers of your condition. Hope this helps.


    Very informative.

  6. Dawn Wolf Reply

    I have the same problem this chap has. I have had test after test. No one can find anything wrong with me except insulan resistance (which is not really bad)I eat a healthy diet, partially organic, very little if any potatoes, pasta or bread. Only recently I discovered Bread, any kind of bread, makes me feel sleepy, tired, almost catatonic. I read your blog and it doesn’t help much….functional medical practictioners don’t know diddlisquat.

    • bshook Reply

      Hi Dawn,

      Sorry to hear about your struggles with fatigue after eating. Insulin resistance is a significant problem and I encourage you to read a book, “The Fat Switch”. It discusses some new research on fructose and how it turns on your body’s fat storage mechanisms, but specifically, what fructose does to insulin levels. Whoever told you or suggested that insulin resistance isn’t much of a problem has mislead you…it is pre-diabetes and not something that should have been minimized.

      As for fatigue after eating bread, just eliminate it for 30 days and see how you feel. Go on a Paleo Diet, and then add bread back into your diet at the end of 30 days and see how you feel. If you feel bad or fatigued, don’t eat bread. Many people have food sensitivities or allergies that they are unaware of, an allergy to gluten is one of the main problems. By adding bread back into your diet at the end of 30 days you will have essentially performed an elimination diet. Light exercise is also essential to lowering insulin levels, decreasing blood sugar, improving insulin sensitivity and it’s anti-inflammatory. Exercise utilizes a biochemical pathway to reduce blood sugar and insulin that can only be triggered with exercise, it is an extremely powerful and useful tool.

      There is also a compound formed during the metabolism of gluten…it is gluteomorphine. The important part here is “morphine”. During the metabolism of gluten, one of the primary proteins in bread, a byproduct is gluteomorphine. Gluteomorphine is an opioid peptide formed during the metabolism of the gliadin component of gluten…the protein in bread. It stimulates the addiction centers of the brain. Can you imagine what it may be like coming off of an addictive substance? I imagine one would be tired, irritable and not feeling well. Could this be what is happening when you eat bread?

      Hopefully this is some helpful didilisquat. Thanks for your comment, let me know if you need some additional assistance or direction to other resources. This does not constitute medical advise, and is purely informative. If you have specific questions about your health, please seek the advise of your healthcare provider. If you would like assistance with your problem, we will put you on a waiting list to be notified when we have a new patient spot available.
      Dr. Shook

  7. Rikki Reply

    Dr. Shook: Thank you so much for providing this information. I have noticed that when I eat certain foods, especially bread, I get so sleepy. Not sluggish but sleepy! I have also noticed that after I eat, if I drink water right after eating, I don’t feel as sleepy or sleepy at all. Is the water helping to regulate something?

    I am in the process of menopause but I am not having a problem with things such as hot flashes & mood swings. I do take vitamin suppliments, get some walking in, yoga, zumba, drink plenty of water & try to have at least 1-2 BMs a day. I have a complete physical every year which includes blood work & I ask for a print-out & an explanation of the doctor’s findings. My Thyroid has been fine but during my blood work, we noticed that my Triglyceride Level was a little over 100 which I didn’t think was too high but I was told that I was a Borderline Diabetic. I sense that I need to work on keeping my bloodsugars down.

    Based on the information you supplied, I will work on my eating habits & look into some of the products you mentioned & incorporate into my diet. because my goal is to be healthy.

    Thank you! Rikki

  8. Rita Reply

    Very helpful information. I have suffered from chronic sleepiness for many years. I would like to learn more. I suspect I have low thyroid.

  9. Rita Reply

    Would like to receive your newsletter.

    • bshook Reply

      No problem, all you need to do is sign-up on the home page for my free report of the Top 5 anti-inflammatory supplements. You will then be placed on the newsletter.
      Dr. Shook

  10. julie Reply

    I have had this problem since I was a child, I fell asleep in my plate, at the dinner table quite often. When I was 10 I ate dinner, then we had watermelon and I blacked out. I was told I was on my way in the house, the last thing I remembered was being in my own driveway….I woke up in the neighbor’s driveway with my brother over me and slapping me to wake up. He said I went stiff as a board and I swelled up and I was looking straight up. I spent the night at the hospital and they found nothing wrong.
    The second time it happened I was pregnant and was having the dizzy and blackout moments come on, I didn’t make it to the chair and fell and hit my head and seized up and I remember waking up out of a night mare, it was only a matter of a minute or less. And then when I was early twenties I skipped my breakfast and kept putting off eating and fell and had a slight concussion.
    I’m now 48 and I haven’t had any episodes as I’ve learned to be careful. I do have low blood sugar attacks but much less frequently
    I take VD3, chromium, and krill oil. I don’t eat much simple carbs but I don’t eat a high fiber diet either. The thing that happens to me now is falling asleep. If I eat fish and rice it’s like taking a sleeping pill. I can eat a steak and big salad and have a low blood sugar attack. So I make sure to have a carb of some sort and that stopped.
    I once drank a large protein shake and my day was ruined, just tired and couldn’t recover.
    Today I ate a large bowl of home made cereal made with almonds and walnuts and oats. I ate too much and my day was totally ruined. Couldn’t snap out of it.
    I was an extremely picky eater as a child and into my adult life. I have developed food intolerances to broccolli, bananas, raw almonds, roasted pumpkin seeds, now raw walnuts, cantaloupe. The list keeps growing….eggs, unless they are boiled or over cooked. It’s difficult to solve because I am still picky. I am reading up on the Glycemic Index and I just need to be more committed.

    • bshook Reply

      I’m sorry you are having these problems. Your condition needs further investigation to get at the root case of your problems. If you would like the name of some doctors in your area just send me city and state where you live. You need diagnostic testing and at least a complete CBC, extended thyroid panel, and an adrenal salivary test at the very minimum. After you have those basic tests a plan could be developed or the results could suggest other underlying problems that require additional testing. I would probably order a complete 2105 through metametrix to learn about your gut health, and Arrays 2, 3, and 4 at Cyrex labs. This would be your startin point, and you would need certain tests performed every 30 to 45 days until your markers improved. The problems you are reporting should not be minimized or dismissed. Just let me know if you would like further assistance.
      Dr. Shook

  11. Diane Reply

    I went on the hcg diet a few months ago, and recently started reverting to old habits. Last night I ate some bread with dinner and immediately afterward, went to bed for the night! Without eating bread I had so much more energy. I never noticed this before, but I do have low thyroid (hashimoto’s disease) and recently was told I am borderline diabetic.

    • bshook Reply

      Hi Diane,
      I understand, old habits can be hard to break. I advise patients on their diet based on several factors, and the goal is to remove all foods that they may be sensitive to as they drive inflammation and autoimmune conditions. We often place patient’s on elimination diets and order the Cyrex labs “cross-reactive array” which tests you for 24 common foods that you may be having an immune response to that will make your autoimmune condition worse. With hashimoto’s you absolutely need to to be focused on regulating and normalizing immune system function to reduce future attacks and thyroid tissue destruction.

      Did you have your hemoglobin a1c checked? The a1c shows fluctuations in your blood sugar over a 3 month period and is the best indication of what is happening to your blood sugar. You absolutely have to reduce inflammation in your body, regulate and balance your immune system, keep your ph at an optimal level, and perform appropriate exercise. There are so many things that could be driving your hashimoto’s and pre-diabetes. I practice functional diagnostic medicine with the goal of helping you identify the drivers of a disease process. This approach is very holistic, and considers diet, nutritional deficiencies, hidden infections, bio-accumulative compounds like plastics, chemical exposure, heavy metal toxicities, parasites, intestinal bacterial overgrowth, fungal infections, neurotransmitter imbalances and several other factors that can drive autoimmunity and poor health.

      You can find information on this site that will help you. If you would like assistance with your diet and regulation of your immune system just let me know, I work with many patients remotely. Take care.

  12. william long Reply

    i have theproblem most of the people do i am very appresative of reading about what you had to say and they said i think i have to get my doctor to check me out like you said because it has gotten so bad i don/t like to eat and i have another problem because i am im in a wheelchair and makes it touge for exercise and i have gut problems

    • bshook Reply

      I’m sorry you are having difficulty with fatigue. Due to exercise being more difficult, your focus likely needs to be on diet. I can’t comment on your health specifically because I don’t know about your specific health challenges. There are a lot of things that can be done, diet, nutraceutical supplementation, mind/body (meditation, prayer, biofeedback – to address the neuroendocrine connection to fatigue and blood sugar regulation). If you have use of your upper extremities, you can use a UBE (hand bike) and they work extremely well from a cardio perspective. There are likely some options that would work for you. If you would like further assistance just let me know. Have a great day.

  13. Rosie Harsch Reply

    Thank you for your information. All the comments and your suggestions are exactly what happens to me. I actually prefer not eating or barely eating so I can work during the day.

    • bshook Reply

      Sorry that you are having these difficulties with your energy levels. There is a reason that you feel this way, and you should be able to, and need to eat throughout the day. Not eating can lead to a lot of other problems that can make you worse. You really need to work with someone that will help you investigate why you get fatigued when you eat, rather than just put you on a medication. You need to get to the root cause of the problem so that you can be truly healthy. I have created numerous resources on this website in the form of educational videos and a newsletter, please look over this information and empower yourself. If there is anything I can do for you please let me know. If you think you would like professional assistance, I work with people around the world using telemedicine. We work together via Skype and telephone, and I am able to order labs and any testing needed in all states except NY. Take care and have a great day.

  14. Hbird Reply

    I have this problem whenever I eat anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. But I’m perfectly healthy 5’1″ weighing 110 pounds. I work out and eat well but I’m eating less and less because I hate the extreme sleepiness that comes afterward. I doubt it’s insulin resistance but I don’t know what it could be.

    • bshook Reply

      Hi Hbird,
      Have you been to a doctor for this? You should at least have your blood sugar checked and be examined. A dietary history as well as symptomatic history regarding when it starts, does anything improve it, do any foods make it worse, is it every-time you eat, or more at a specific time of day. That is where I would start. If those answers don’t provide an answer, or reasonable starting place then I would order more labs.

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