Why does eating turkey make you so tired on Thanksgiving?

This article is dedicated to my boyfriend who refuses to eat anything with turkey for fear that he will become narcoleptic upon first bite….Guess what? I’m right–for a change. Turkey isn’t the culprit behind your food coma!

Everyone every year gives turkeys a bad name, bad mouthing them saying that they make us sleepy–saying they’re packed with tryptophan! What’s the deal? Turkey is often fingered as the culprit of your food coma but you might be interested to know that other food contains as much or more tryptophan than turkey (0.333 g per average edible portion), including chicken, pork, and cheese. As with turkey, other amino acids are present in these foods besides tryptophan, so they don’t make you sleepy.

Well, L-tryptophan is found in turkey and other dietary proteins, but it’s actually the carbohydrate-rich (as opposed to protein-rich) meal that increases the level of this amino acid in the brain and leads to serotonin synthesis. Carbohydrates stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin. When this occurs, some amino acids that compete with tryptophan leave the bloodstream and enter muscle cells. This causes an increase in the relative concentration of tryptophan in the bloodstream. Serotonin is synthesized and you feel that familiar sleepy feeling.

Other reasons you’re feeling so tired after your big feast may include drinking alcohol, overeating and just relaxation (especially all you cooks out there who slaved all day!)

So stop blaming the turkeys for your overindulgence, blame the right animal, all you little piggies out there!!

Thanks to the folks at About.com for teaching me about turkeys and Tryptophan!!

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  1. Ross

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