Everyone has heard that turkey has tryptophan and that’s why you are so tired after your Thanksgiving meal. However, turkey has less tryptophan than salmon, chicken, and cheddar cheese. Let’s look at tryptophan and what occurs in the body. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid with several purposes, like nitrogen balance in adults and the growth of infants, and it is used to produce niacin which is essential in creating serotonin. Tryptophan is metabolized into melatonin via the serotonin pathway and Vitamin B3. The recommended level of tryptophan is 4 mg per kg or 1.8 mg per pound. If you weigh 150 pounds the recommended daily intake should be 270 mg.
Let’s compare the levels in a few items:
- 6 ounces of Chicken Breast = 687 mg
- 6 ounces of Roast Turkey Breast = 488 mg
- 6 ounces of Lean Pork Chop = 627 mg
- 1 cup of Firm Tofu = 592 mg
- 6 ounces of Salmon = 570 mg
- 1 ounce of Pumpkin Seeds = 164 mg
- 1 ounce of Cheddar Cheese = 155 mg
So, what is the real culprit to why you’re sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner? It’s a complex situation, however, let’s look at the rest of the table. For most Americans, the table consists of high-carbohydrate foods including mashed potatoes, sweet yams, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Too many simple carbohydrates can cause a spike in your blood sugar, raising your insulin, then causing a huge drop in your sugar levels making you want to sleep. Overeating pulls blood to your digestive tract so that it can work properly, and your brain feels that shift. Thanksgiving is a time of enjoyment with family and friends and for many people watching football, board games, or lounging around after we eat which also causes us to relax and enjoy the moment whether we are sitting on a comfy couch or not. Alcohol can also make you tired especially after a nice meal together. Stress is also a big component and finally getting the opportunity to relax after a long day of preparation can contribute to being tired.
If you don’t want to fall asleep after the meal here are some helpful hints. Eat and drink in moderation, make a plate for tomorrow so you won’t feel inclined to have your fill today, feast on vegetables, stretch, go for a walk, or play a safe sport outside. Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a nice meal with family and friends just limit the servings. Ultimately turkey isn’t the culprit causing you to be tired after your Thanksgiving dinner, plus it’s a wonderful source of protein to prevent you from getting hungry. In the end, time relaxing and enjoying the holiday season with people is a bonus and there is no real right or wrong in how you celebrate just be mindful of the day and choices available.