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5 Worst Drinks That Make You Feel Fatigued, Say Dietitians

Stay energized during the day by steering clear of these beverages.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

The mid-afternoon slump…we've all been there. Our focus decreases. Our energy slips. And feelings of grogginess take over. Soon enough, we're seeking out some sort of pick-me-up that will revive us from our state of fatigue.

While our diet plays a major role in our energy levels, what we choose to drink has a significant effect, as well. Although there are several drinks known to boost energy, there are also plenty that can have the opposite effect.

To learn more, we asked a couple of dietitians to help us pinpoint the worst drinks for fatigue. Here's what they had to say, and for more health tips, check out The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science.

1

Sweetened coffee

caramel macchiato coffee
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While countless people rely on this beverage to kick-start their day, the caffeine content, along with the way in which it's prepared, can have a major impact on your energy levels. In other words, those sweeteners, syrups, and flavored creamers aren't doing you any favors.

"Starting your morning off with a super sweet coffee beverage will likely cause you to crash after an intense sugar and caffeine high in the morning," says medical expert board member Sydney Greene, MS, RD. "Be expected to feel tired around 3 to 4 p.m. as your blood sugar and cortisol take a major dip."

2

Soda and sweetened iced tea

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Aside from coffee, sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and tea can make you feel tired as well.

"These drinks contain refined sugar and can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar, leading to fatigue," says medical board expert Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim.

In addition to wreaking havoc on your energy levels, regularly consuming sweetened drinks can increase your chance of disease. In a study published in Diabetes Care, participants who consumed 1 to 2 sugar-sweetened beverages per day had a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who drank less than one serving per month.

3

All-fruit smoothies

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Fruit is an essential component of a healthy diet. From reducing inflammation to supporting a healthy gut, this vitamin and mineral-packed food group has a wide range of health benefits.

However, when it comes to adding it to a smoothie, it's crucial to have a balance of ingredients, as fruit contains natural sugar.

"It is important to know that fruit alone in a smoothie will cause your blood sugar to spike and fall relatively quickly, leading to fatigue, irritability, and hunger," Greene says.

To help extend your blood sugar curve, Greene recommends adding protein powder and peanut butter to your smoothies. For more recipe inspiration, check out the 8 Best Smoothie Recipes to Manage Blood Sugar, Say Dietitians.

4

Canned energy drinks

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Despite their name, these caffeine powerhouses only have a temporary impact on your energy levels. Plus, they can cause several negative side effects, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, poor sleep quality, and tooth decay.

"Although these beverages might give you a quick burst of energy, they will likely bring on heavy fatigue later on in the day, leading you to reach for another one or need a nap," Greene says. "These drinks also cause dehydration, which adds to fatigue."

5

Alcohol

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There's a reason why an evening drink is called a "nightcap." Because alcohol depresses the central nervous system, it has a sedative effect that can make you feel sleepy. However, drinking alcohol before going to bed can also worsen sleep quality, as alcohol increases your body's level of epinephrine—a stress hormone that ramps up heart rate and stimulates the body. This can ultimately cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.

Additionally, alcohol-induced drowsiness isn't specific to nighttime.

"[Drinking] alcoholic drinks like wine or beer during the day can make you feel fatigued," Young adds. "Just one drink can make you lethargic, especially if you didn't sleep so well the night before."

Looking for an energy boost? Here are the 30 Best Foods That Give You All-Day Energy, According to Experts.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is the Editorial Assistant at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna
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