Why do I feel sleepy after breakfast?

Mid-morning tiredness is the scourge of the office, so what's going on?

If you’re British, there’s a 50/50 chance you aren’t bothering with breakfast today. There’s also a 100% chance you don’t want to read another article about why breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

turkish cilbir is a great example of a high protein breakfast


A Turkish cilbir breakfast we served a few weeks ago

Why don’t you want to read that? Because no matter how much you hear that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight and that eating breakfast apparently improves memory and concentration, if someone waves a pastry at you in the morning you feel like backing into the nearest stationery cupboard. Just, no.

Because no matter what anyone says, eating breakfast makes you feel terrible. Like, dumbbells tied to the eyelids, fog filling the brain, every limb turned to jelly terrible. So we’re not going to tell you to force down a bowl of cereal. We’re just going to tell you why you feel like that.

It’s the carbs

That’s the simple answer. For reasons from price to convenience to some misleading dietary guidelines back in the 1950s, a typical UK breakfast is dominated by high carbohydrate foods like bread, pastries, cereal, honey and fruit juice.

This is a disaster in the mornings. When you eat a lot of carbohydrate, which increases your blood sugar, your body releases insulin to process the glucose. If you eat those carbs when you haven’t eaten for hours, you end up with more insulin in your body than you need and your blood glucose levels quickly drop, which saps away your energy.


That sudden loss of energy is called hypoglycemia, and it’s most common in diabetics. For people with diabetes the symptoms can get dangerous but for the rest of us it’s just a bummer. Apart from the tiredness it can make you irritable, give you a headache and prevent you from concentrating. Not a start to the day at the office anyone wants - no wonder you hate breakfast so much.

How to fix it

No, no, look. We promise we’re not going to tell you to eat breakfast. We’re just going to leave this advice here, and you can do what you want with it. See, we’re not even looking. Just gonna leave this and go over there…

To prevent hypoglycemia in the morning, you can eat high protein foods like eggs, cheese, nuts, yoghurt or meat. You should probably forget the fruit juice, and when you do eat carbs, eat complex ones like porridge oats, which release energy over a few hours instead of all at once.

Our breakfasts

Obviously we offer our own office breakfasts, so what are we doing about it? Simply put, or hot breakfasts are jam-packed with protein.

For example this morning one of our offices had a choice of spicy chickpea and coriander baked eggs with harissa yoghurt and grilled merguez, or mixed mushrooms with cream cheese and herbs with grilled onion bread and poached eggs. Not bad for a work morning.

We like to make sure there are always snacking nuts and whole grains available in our offices, and you can never go wrong with a bit of porridge (that’s a lie, porridge is quite hard to get right imho).

So, if you’re tired of looking at dead-eyed colleagues pre lunch and that sounds like something your office needs, give us a bell.