Regular energy slumps could be warning sign of serious health issue, expert says

Eyes Fatigue. Young western freelancer guy massaging nosebridge, tired after working on laptop computer at home office, sitting at desk and taking off glasses, having problems with project, closeup energy slumps
Regular energy slumps could be a telling sign of blood sugar imbalance. (Getty Images)

Do you ever find your energy crashing during different periods throughout the day? Maybe you’re prone to a mid-morning energy slump, or you find yourself falling flat in the afternoon, or you can’t muster up any energy in the evening.

While some energy dips, such as afternoon slumps, are a natural part of our circadian rhythm, others could be a sign of something more serious.

In fact, an expert has warned that regular energy slumps could be a warning sign that our blood sugar is imbalanced.

"Regular occurrences of energy slumps can be a warning sign of blood sugar imbalances," Lucy Diamond, diabetes specialist dietitian and a director on the board for the British Dietetic Association, tells Yahoo UK.

"If you are experiencing these alongside other symptoms such as frequent thirst, increased urination, sudden weight changes, or feelings of irritability, it might indicate that your blood sugar levels are not well-regulated. If this is the case, seek a medical review."

First thing’s first, what actually is an energy slump? Dr Deborah Lee of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy says that it occurs when blood glucose – another name for blood sugar – levels begin rapidly falling.

"We all get them, for example, after eating a large meal of pizza or pasta, which are high in carbohydrates," Dr Lee says. "You might also experience an energy slump between 1 and 3pm when you suddenly find you are lacking in energy, feel tired and flat, and really could do with a nap. In medical terms, this is called the post-lunch dip. It's thought to happen as a natural part of our circadian rhythm – the natural body clock."

Dr Lee adds that, along with our natural circadian rhythm and falling blood glucose levels, other things that can contribute to energy slumps include poor sleep or sleep deprivation, stress, poor diet and lack of exercise.

Cheerful young woman enjoying tea and relaxing at the sofa in the morning.
Lack of exercise can also lead to energy slumps. (Getty Images)

"Energy slumps can often be linked to fluctuations in blood sugar levels," Diamond explains. "After eating, particularly a meal high in simple carbohydrates, blood sugar levels can spike and then drop sharply. This drop can lead to an energy slump."

Imbalanced blood glucose levels can be a sign that you may be heading toward insulin resistance, or even type 2 diabetes. If you notice regular energy slumps along with any other symptoms like unexplained weight loss or frequent thirst and urination, make an appointment with your GP.

Foods containing carbohydrates convert to sugar in your body, which can lead to energy slumps. Dr Lee says that if you have noticed you are craving carbs and have a sugar crash after consuming them, then it is time to address the problem.

"Many nutritionists now believe carbs are addictive in the same way as alcohol or smoking. Eating carbs causes a release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain," she explains.

"We can become addicted to carbs and feel the same cravings, withdrawal symptoms and cravings. You will need to have self-control and self-discipline. Plan your meals, eat small regular meals and don’t snack. Cut out sugary sweet foods and drinks. Drink two to three litres of water per day. Keep yourself busy and distracted from food as much as possible. You will soon notice the benefits. It can take up to four weeks for carb cravings to disappear."

Besides carbohydrates, which can be anything from potatoes, to bread, crisps, biscuits and sugar snacks, Dr Lee adds that processed and ultra-processed foods, energy drinks, alcohol, chocolate, and fried and fast foods can also impact your blood sugar and lead to energy slumps.

blood sugar diet
A balanced diet can help to regulate blood sugar. (Getty Images)

Diamond says the foods that can help to regulate blood sugar and minimise energy slumps include those rich in complex carbohydrates (not refined carbohydrates like those mentioned above), fibre, protein, and healthy fats. She suggests:

  • Wholegrains: "Like quinoa, barley, and oats which provide a slow and steady release of energy."

  • Proteins: "Such as lean meats, fish, tofu and legumes which help stabilise blood sugar levels."

  • Healthy fats: "Found in nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil, which can delay the absorption of carbohydrates and prevent sharp spikes in blood sugar."

  • Fibre: "Fibrous vegetables and fruits like leafy greens and berries are excellent for maintaining fullness and stabilising blood sugar levels."

"By integrating these foods into your meals, you can help maintain more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day, thereby reducing the likelihood and severity of energy slumps," she explains.

"A well-balanced diet, regular exercise, good hydration, adequate sleep and stress reduction all can help avoid that post-lunch slump."