There’s an age old myth about Thanksgiving that’s gets reinforced every year when we sit down for that giant feast: Turkey makes you tired. Everyone knows that the big bird is to blame for your sleepy, bloated fatigued feeling; it’s the reason why you loosen your belt, kick back on that couch and start nodding off . Well guess what, here’s the reality: Turkey actually makes you energized.
But dosen’t science back up the myth? Turkey is high in tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to soothing seratonin in the brain and then eventually to melatonin, which puts you to sleep. So it makes “sense”, but it is incorrect. What actually happens is that when you eat proteins high in tryptophan you are also consuming other aminos that counter the effect, such as tyrosine, phenylalanine and valine which lead to dopamine – an energizer. These other amino acids out compete the tryptophan in transport to the brain leading to less seratonin production. So ultimately these proteins deliver you the excitement neurotransmitter instead – dopamine.
What then is to blame for the drowsy, lethargic response you experience with that annual pig out? It’s most likely all the carbs that you consume in the meal. The bread, the potatos, the highly glycemic vegetables. These stimulate insulin, which will after a time lower your blood sugar causing drowsiness. The olympic size portions we shovel out lead to the bloatedness. And we musn’t forget the beers and wine that go with the meal so nicely….
All in all if you’re like me why bother to fight it? If I’m going to chow down, pop a few, loosen my belt, kick back and watch the game, thats what lifes about. Thanksgiving only comes once a year, you can work it off tomorrow. Have another drumstick.