This question is asked most often after Thanksgiving dinner in the United States, but it is also wondered by many people regularly throughout the world. People question why their body feels tired after eating a large meal. They wonder why they feel tired and unproductive during the afternoon at work, and they wonder why they feel like taking a nap or watching television after a good home-cooked dinner. This question especially applies to competitive eaters after finishing a large quantity food challenge or competing in a long eating contest. Resting is one of the main steps to recovering after eating competitions which can be found in both Recovery From Quantity Food Challenges and Recovery From Spicy Food Challenges. These are all of the reasons why:

Reasons Why Your Body Feels Tired After Eating A Lot

1. All of your body’s energy is being used by your digestive system – Your digestive organs, especially your large and small intestines, require a large amount of energy to work effectively and function properly. After a big food challenge meal, your body is going crazy trying to digest and process the thousands of calories you just quickly consumed. To do this, your brain diverts most of your body’s energy and focus towards digestion. This sends red blood cells over to help break down the food and carry the nutrients throughout the rest of your body. As your intestines spend hours and hours working overtime to metabolize your challenge meal, the rest of your body slows down and relaxes. This is why you feel fatigued and tired during the few hours after your challenge. Your body is exhausting all of its energy trying to digest the big meal. This does not only apply to large quantity food challenges though, and it can sometimes apply to spicy food challenges too. To digest the extremely spicy food you just ate, your body will have to spend a lot of time and energy as it breaks everything down and metabolizes the capsaicin (spicy chemical), which may make you tired. This process obviously cannot be avoided, but you can help speed it up by drinking plenty of water and also Supplementing Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics.

2. You are experiencing a “carbohydrate crash” or “sugar crash” – Your body may feel a little bit more fatigued after challenges filled with carbohydrates, particularly simple sugars. Ice cream, milkshake, pasta, and pizza challenges are filled with carbohydrates, so the feelings after these challenges may be worse than high protein challenges such as steak challenges and omelettes (without many hash browns). Not to get too scientific, but a “sugar crash” is the result of eating a large amount of simple or high-glycemic index carbohydrates, which can cause you to be very lethargic. To digest all of the carbohydrates, the hormone insulin gets released from your pancreas to help store the sugar or glucose you just consumed as glycogen. As a result, an abrupt drop in blood sugar ensues and you are left physically fatigued. You can experience this after just a few pieces of cake, pie, or candy. Imagine what this crash is like after a big food challenge!! If your challenge includes a really large bun, loads of potatoes (mashed, baked, or fried), or anything else loaded with simple carbohydrates, expect some extra fatigue afterwards. Don’t waste your time trying to find a challenge that uses 100% whole grain breads, because you definitely won’t find any. Just drink plenty of water, relax, and let your body take care of the rest.

3. You may be dehydrated from not consuming much water – In our Stomach Capacity Training section, we recommend that you stop drinking water and other liquids over four hours before you are scheduled to begin your challenge. You typically cannot get up to go to the bathroom and you don’t your stomach filled with liquids before you begin eating your meal. You want your stomach to be empty, and not drinking any liquids for multiple hours before your challenge will allow this to happen. Because of that, and especially if you didn’t drink much water before you stopped drinking liquids, your body may be a little dehydrated. If your muscles and organs are not properly hydrated, then you will not be functioning at your maximum potential, and will be more susceptible to feeling fatigued. You may have consumed plenty of water with your challenge meal, but it will take a while to hydrate your body, just like it will take some time to process and metabolize all the calories. Just be patient!!

4. You are fatigued from all the training and stress beforehand – Another reason you may feel fatigued after consuming a large food challenge is simply because your body is tired from all the training and activities you were doing to prepare for the challenge. If you did not get much solid sleep, worked out and exercised heavily, or performed any other “energy-draining” functions such as traveling, your body will of course need some rest. Unlike the three points above, this one really does not have much to do with your digestive system. You would experience this fatigue whether you consumed a large meal or not. Just relax and let your body recuperate.

For these four reasons above, you are highly likely to experience some fatigue and tiredness for a period of time after your challenge. The length and intensity of these feelings depend on what foods you ate, what liquids you drank, how much of each food and liquid you consumed, and how your body personally reacts to those foods and liquids. Every situation is different and you cannot expect to feel the same way after each challenge or long eating competition that you attempt. You may feel extremely tired after one challenge, and you may not even experience much fatigue after another challenge. After your first few events though, before your body has time to adapt to your new competitive eating lifestyle, plan on feeling tired and lethargic. We recommend that you don’t schedule anything important after your larger eating events, especially after your first few heavy and calorie dense challenges. As you continue to gain experience, you will soon be able to understand your body and know how you will feel afterwards, before you even take your first bite. Please note that this article does not just apply to competitive eaters only. After a big buffet, Thanksgiving dinner, continental breakfast, family gathering, or after any other large meal that a person consumes, these principles apply, and especially the top two. Digestion is a very energy intensive process that your body performs regularly, and extreme meals require your body to work extremely hard to process and metabolize everything. Therefore, you need to understand that if you want to attempt food challenges and consume large meals, fatigue afterwards is just something you will have to deal with. If you don’t want to feel tired after eating, consume a high protein, lower carb, smaller meal.

Thanks for reading why your body feels tired after eating a lot and for checking out!!

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