Do Bagels Make You Tired? The Bagel-Fatigue Connection

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We’ve all experienced that mid-morning slump when our energy levels take a nosedive. Your eyelids feel heavy, your mind is foggy, and all you want to do is take a nap at your desk. When the afternoon fatigue hits, we often blame a poor night’s sleep, a stressful day, or staring at screens for too long. But could your breakfast choice be contributing to your midday tiredness? Specifically, do bagels have something to do with your lack of energy?

Bagels are a popular breakfast food for many reasons – they’re tasty, convenient, and satisfying. But the combination of refined carbs and gluten packed into a bagel could be the reason you’re dragging by 10am. This article will investigate the potential links between bagels and fatigue, looking at the evidence behind how bagels impact your blood sugar, gluten sensitivity, and overall nutritional value. Read on to learn if your go-to breakfast bagel could be the culprit behind your daytime drowsiness.

Why Bagels May Lead to Fatigue

There are a few key reasons why bagels are suspected of causing tiredness in some people:

Blood Sugar Spikes and Crashes

Bagels are packed with refined carbohydrates and simple sugars. A plain bagel can contain around 55 grams of carbohydrates – comparable to five slices of bread! Consuming so many refined carbs at once can cause your blood sugar to spike rapidly after eating.

This surge of glucose into your bloodstream triggers your pancreas to secrete insulin to remove the excess sugar. The sudden influx of insulin brings your blood sugar crashing down, sometimes lower than where it started. This blood sugar rollercoaster can leave you feeling fatigued and zapped of energy.

Studies have confirmed the link between carbohydrate-rich meals and subsequent fatigue. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that meals higher in carbs resulted in increased fatigue and decreased alertness two to four hours after eating. Participants reported more fatigue after consuming instant oatmeal compared to eggs and yogurt, which contain far fewer carbs.

The spike and crash after eating high carb bagels could be the reason you’re struggling to keep your eyes open by mid-morning. Opting for a lower carb breakfast that contains fiber, fat and protein can help maintain steady blood sugar levels and sidestep that energy plummet.

Gluten Sensitivity

Another component in bagels that may contribute to tiredness is gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye that gives elasticity to dough. Some people have an adverse reaction to gluten, even in small amounts.

Gluten sensitivity exists on a spectrum – on the more severe end is celiac disease, while minor gluten issues cause symptoms like fatigue, brain fog and headaches. Gluten can trigger inflammation in the body for these sensitive individuals. Inflammation uses up a lot of energy and can make you feel drained.

One study found that people with gluten sensitivity who ate a meal containing gluten experienced more fatigue afterward compared to eating a gluten-free meal. The gluten meal resulted in higher levels of inflammation and tiredness.

If you feel especially sluggish after eating bagels but fine when consuming gluten-free grains, your body may be reacting negatively to the gluten. Try switching to gluten-free or lower gluten alternatives and see if your energy improves.

Not Nutritionally Balanced

Bagels on their own are not the most nutrient-dense or well-balanced breakfast option. Since they are high in refined carbs, bagels lack protein, healthy fats and fiber that provide sustained energy. They also don’t contain much of the vitamins and minerals important for energy production and combatting fatigue, like B vitamins, magnesium and iron.

Starting your day with a breakfast deficient in essential nutrients can set you up for an energy crash later on. Your body is not getting the full spectrum of macro- and micro-nutrients it needs for optimal energy levels.

Compare a plain bagel to a breakfast of Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts. The yogurt contains protein, healthy fats, fiber and important vitamins and minerals lacking in a bagel breakfast. This more balanced meal is digested slowly and can provide hours of steady energy.

Evidence Linking Bagels to Fatigue

Beyond the potential mechanisms above, several studies have provided evidence that eating bagels, especially for breakfast, can indeed result in fatigue.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looked specifically at how bagel consumption impacts fatigue levels. Over four weeks, participants consumed a breakfast of either bagels or eggs and yogurt. After eating bagels, they reported higher fatigue levels four hours after breakfast compared to the days they ate the egg and yogurt meal.

The results showed that egg and yogurt boosted energy levels and reduced fatigue throughout the morning. Researchers concluded that the large difference in refined carbs between the bagel and egg meals likely accounted for the disparity in fatigue.

Another study in the British Journal of Nutrition tested four different breakfasts: cornflakes, bagels, eggs and yogurt, or nothing. Mental alertness was measured throughout the morning. Consumption of bagels for breakfast resulted in the lowest amounts of alertness out of all the breakfast choices.

Participants felt more mentally drained in the hours after eating bagels compared to other lower carb options. Once again, the high glycemic load of bagels was suspected to cause the subsequent fatigue.

Beyond scientific studies, there are plenty of anecdotal stories of reduced energy after eating bagels. Here are some real-life accounts of people identifying bagels as the culprit behind their mid-morning slump:

“Within an hour of eating an everything bagel, I’m ready for a nap. My energy feels nonexistent and I have trouble focusing. I never have this issue when I eat eggs or oatmeal instead.”

“Bagels destroy my productivity. I can barely keep my eyes open after eating one, even if I put peanut butter or avocado on it. Now I stick to low-carb breakfasts and feel so much more awake until lunchtime.”

“After years of being confused about why I was so tired every day, I finally realized that the culprit was my daily breakfast bagel and juice. Now I eat yogurt with nuts and fruit and can make it to lunch without yawning.”

While bagels may not make everyone tired, the evidence does suggest they contribute to fatigue and low energy in many people compared to lower glycemic index breakfast foods. The combination of spiking blood sugar, potential gluten reactions, and lack of nutritional balance points the finger at bagels as a suspect for your midday slump.

Tips for Reducing Bagel-Induced Fatigue

If you notice bagels leading to fatigue but don’t want to give up your favorite breakfast sandwich, there are some ways to modify them to lessen blood sugar spikes and energy crashes:

  • Choose whole grain or sprouted grain bagels over plain or refined white flour bagels – the extra fiber helps slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes.
  • Top your bagel with protein sources like eggs, nut butter, or smoked salmon to help stabilize blood sugar. Pairing carbs with protein and fat is always a good strategy.
  • Eat your bagel with fruit or veggies, like apples, berries, or tomatoes, to add fiber and additional nutrients.
  • Opt for smaller “mini” bagels over gigantic ones to reduce overall carbs.
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of water around bagel breakfast time to prevent dehydration that can cause fatigue.
  • Look for lower carb bagel alternatives made from almond flour, coconut flour, or protein powders.
  • If you have gluten sensitivity, try gluten-free bagels made with other flours like rice flour or oats.

Making some simple modifications to add nutrition and slow digestion can help minimize the fatigue-inducing effects of bagels for some people. But the best option is to replace bagels with a more balanced, protein-rich breakfast.


Do bagels make you tired? The evidence says that for many people, bagels may very well lead to fatigue, brain fog, and an energy crash later in the morning. Several factors contribute to bagels’ potential to zap your energy, including spiking blood sugar from carb overload, possible gluten sensitivity, and poor nutritional balance.

If you frequently feel drained and unfocused before lunchtime, your daily bagel habit could be to blame. Try switching up your breakfast routine to see if lower carb, balanced options like eggs, Greek yogurt, oatmeal or nut butter toast provide you with longer lasting, even energy. Your productivity just might thank you!

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