Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and odds are one of your relatives will mention “eating turkey makes you sleepy” at the dinner table. Read on to learn the science behind why this common assumption is really a myth:
The turkey is often cited as the culprit in after-dinner lethargy, but the truth is that you could omit the bird altogether and still feel the effects of the feast. Turkey does contain L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid with a documented sleep inducing effect. L-tryptophan is used in the body to produce the B-vitamin, niacin. Tryptophan also can be metabolized into serotonin and melatonin, neurotransmitters that exert a calming effect and regulates sleep. However, L-tryptophan needs to be taken on an empty stomach and without any other amino acids or protein in order to make you drowsy. There’s lots of protein in a serving of turkey and it’s probably not the only food on the table.
It’s worth noting that other foods contain as much or more Tryptophan than turkey (0.333 g of Tryptophan per 100 gram edible portion), including chicken (0.292 g of Tryptophan per 100 gram edible portion), pork, and cheese. As with turkey, other amino acids are present in these foods besides Tryptophan, so they don’t make you sleepy.
3 Important Thanksgiving Health Tips
1. Eat Breakfast – It will get your metabolism working before the big feast and you won’t be starving, which will help you avoid overeating
2. Walk – Start a new family Thanksgiving tradition by taking a stroll around the neighborhood after eating the big meal. It will allow you to spend valuable time with family while also burning calories, aiding digestion and reducing bloating.
3. Drink Water – Consume a lot of water before and after the big meal. Drinking water before will calm your appetite so you don’t overeat and drinking water after the meal will help flush out your system, including the large amounts of sodium you’ll likely consume.