Can junk food make you tired?

We’re fast approaching the festive season, which means more outings and less time spent indoors and this automatically means less time to cook your own meals.

We’ve all felt like sloths after rummaging through a bag of potato chips. But, in the world of nutrition research, an age-old chicken-and-egg debate still rages on: Does eating junk food make you lazy and tired?

An impressive 61% of people agree that junk food is the source of their tiredness.

Fast food meals are quick, economical choices for busy South Africans, who often do not have time to prepare nutritious dishes at home after a long day at work, school or now, living the festive season life.

So, what is it that’s in your favourite fast-food burger that causes this? Let’s have a look…

Saturated Fats and Trans Fats.

Saturated fats are found in meats, particularly dark-meat chicken, bacon, beef, sausage and ham. Cheese, butter, eggs and margarine also contain saturated fats. Trans fats are primarily found in shortening used to fry fast food items such as chips, onion rings and potatoes. Saturated fats are difficult for your body to digest. Digesting saturated fats requires the diversion of blood and oxygen to your digestive system and away from your organs and muscles, which can produce fatigue.

Refined Flour

Refined flour, used in fast food hamburger buns, pancakes, etc., is made up of simple carbohydrates. These carbohydrates quickly convert into glucose in your digestive system, and this glucose is rapidly released into your bloodstream. The resulting glucose spike may cause a brief energy burst; however, any energy spike derived from consuming refined flour is typically followed by fatigue.

Refined Sugar

Like refined flour, refined sugar can cause rapid blood glucose spikes and crashes, contributing to fatigue. Fast food offerings such as ice cream, cookies, pies, cakes and doughnuts are typically loaded with refined sugar. Sugar is also a common ingredient in hamburger buns, breading, breakfast waffles and pancakes.


Several ingredients commonly found in fast food fare may cause allergic reactions, including fatigue. Wheat, used to make refined flour, can trigger fatigue. Other potential fast-food allergens include fish, soy, eggs, dairy products, tree nuts and peanuts. Together, these foods are responsible for 90 percent of all food allergies, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

If you’re looking to make a change, cut back on processed foods like margarine, baked goods, frozen pizzas and coffee creamers that contain this kind of fat. You’ll remember to thank us later.

So, if you have a fully decked out schedule this festive season, you might want to relook the kind of food you’re putting in your body at this time.

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