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As a Registered Dietician, I wanted to answer this question because it’s fairly common, especially among athletes and bodybuilders who eat a lot of eggs to fulfill their daily protein requirements.
Why do eggs make you tired? Eggs make you tired because they are high in tryptophan, which is an amino acid that produces hormones such as serotonin and melatonin. Both of these hormones tell your body to relax and that it’s time to sleep. Also, eggs are high in protein, and protein can take longer to digest, making you feel lethargic.
If you’ve managed to identify why you are getting tired and sluggish when eating eggs, there are several solutions for you.
In this article, I will explore all the possible reasons you are getting tired from consuming eggs and how to prevent these symptoms from arising so that you can continue to include eggs into your diet.
3 Reasons Why Eggs Can Make You Tired And Lethargic
1. Eggs Are High In Tryptophan
Eggs are made of protein and protein is made of amino acids. Tryptophan is one amino acid found in eggs that, when consumed, gets converted into serotonin (also known as the happy hormone). Once it is converted, this causes a relaxing state, which can make you feel sleepy.
At the same time, tryptophan is also responsible for the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Our body naturally produces melatonin, especially when it gets dark at night to trigger the body to go to sleep. But, melatonin can also be produced by eating certain foods that are high in tryptophan, such as turkey, cheese, or eggs.
Research shows that the tryptophan dosage doesn’t have to be very high to make you feel tired and lethargic. It’s said that only 1 gram of tryptophan can be enough to make you want to crawl back to bed.
One egg contains 170 mg of tryptophan, which means that for you to get 1 gram of tryptophan, you would have to consume around 6 eggs.
While eating 6 eggs is not common for the average person, many competitive athletes and bodybuilders who have higher protein and caloric requirements will eat 4-6 eggs in a single meal.
2. Protein Takes Longer to Digest
Protein (along with fats) takes longer to digest than carbs. Eggs have both macronutrients, proteins, and fats. Thus, they take longer to digest, which means they stay longer in your stomach.
Since your body is focused on digestion, it can take away from feeling like you have a lot of energy. This is one of the reasons why it’s not a good idea to consume a high protein or a high-fat meal before working out.
This is not to say that you want to avoid foods that take longer to digest, since eggs do have many benefits, but you’ll certainly want to be mindful around eating these types of food when you want your body to be involved in physical activity or need to have higher energy levels.
3. You Have An Egg Intolerance
Finally, another common reason why you might be feeling tired and sluggish after having eggs is due to egg intolerance.
Egg intolerance is when your body reacts to a protein found in the egg whites, yolk or both. You might experience other symptoms like bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea, or nausea.
To determine if you have an egg intolerance, you need to pay attention each time you eat eggs.
I often recommend having a food journal where you write down everything you eat and the symptoms you get. This way, you can find a pattern on which foods are causing you to have these reactions.
While a food journal is always handy, it doesn’t replace a visit to your doctor. If you have any concerns about whether or not you have an egg intolerance, consult your doctor to do an allergy or intolerance test.
Related Article: Eggs Make Me Gassy & Bloated: 4 Reasons & How To Fix
Struggling with food intolerances? Let a FeastGood nutrition coach help you.
Tryptophan In Eggs Compared With Other Foods
In the following table, we can compare the tryptophan content in 100 g of each food and how it’s different from eggs.
|Food||Tryptophan Content (mg)|
Eggs are certainly not the highest in tryptophan content, cheese and pumpkin seeds are the highest with more than 500 mg per 100 g.
This means that if you are looking to prevent getting tired and lethargic from eggs, it’s a bad idea to combine your eggs with cheddar cheese, which many people prefer.
There is also a slight difference between egg whites and the whole egg in tryptophan content. Whole eggs have 170 mg of tryptophan, while egg whites have only 125 mg.
Alternatively, I like to mix 1 whole egg with 3-4 egg whites, which would reduce the tryptophan content but still give you some of the flavors from the yolk.
Ways To Avoid Getting Tired And Lethargic From Eggs
Pick Foods Low In Tryptophan
To avoid getting tired and lethargic after eating eggs, it’s better to eat low tryptophan foods. This means that instead of having whole eggs, switch to egg whites.
For example, if you are used to having four eggs for breakfast, this means having 680 mg of tryptophan per meal (not counting any other foods that might have tryptophan like ham or cheese). If you switch to egg whites, you would only consume 250 mg of tryptophan with the same protein content, lower in calories and fat.
Additionally, make sure not to combine several high tryptophan foods. For example, if you were having a salad with pumpkin seeds, salmon, and hard-boiled eggs, I can assure you this will make you very sleepy.
Have Eggs At Night
To prevent getting tired and lethargic during the day, you should include eggs only when you are supposed to go to bed.
If you are not having a good night’s sleep, you might want to have high tryptophan foods to ensure you get tired and go to bed.
Do An Egg Detox
If you are getting several symptoms from consuming eggs, including feeling tired and lethargic, it’s better to avoid them for a couple of weeks. Start by eliminating them for four weeks. This gives it enough time for the body to have a “reset.”
Once that time has passed, you can slowly start adding eggs to check if you still have symptoms. I often recommend trying the egg whites first, then the yolk, and finally both.
If one egg doesn’t seem to be a problem each day, you can add one egg at a time, as long as you pay attention to your symptoms. If you eat 5-6 eggs and have symptoms, you’ve found your daily tolerance. Make sure never to surpass this intake.
Do An Egg Substitute
For those still feeling tired and lethargic when eating eggs, the best solution would be to replace them. There are several egg substitutes that you can find.
You can mix one tablespoon of chia seeds or flaxseeds with two tablespoons of water for a homemade approach. This will create a similar consistency to eggs, which you can use in any recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Eggs Cause Low Energy?
Eggs can cause low energy due to their high tryptophan content. Tryptophan produces serotonin and melatonin, which helps reduce stress and increase sleep. While it might not happen to everyone, consuming more than 1 g of tryptophan (6 eggs), could make you feel low in energy.
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More Egg Related Articles
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- How Many Eggs Should I Eat Per Day To Gain Weight?
- Drinking Egg Whites: Are There Benefits & Is It Safe?
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About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.