Does Tryptophan Make You Sleepy? A Look at an Amino Acid with a Bad Rap.
Posted on 11/21/18 by Courtney Smith
If you've ever been to a Thanksgiving dinner, you've probably heard something along these lines: "I'm so tired because I ate too much turkey. You know, all that tryptophan."
Well, I think it's time you learned the truth: tryptophan is the scapegoat for post-Thanksgiving meal exhaustion. But if it isn't to blame, then why do you want to curl up and sleep for a year after eating all that turkey? There's a very simple reason.
Let's break it down.
What is tryptophan?
An amino acid.
No, really! Less harbinger of eternal slumber, more essential building block of protein.
L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, but it's not one that our bodies produce on their own, which means we get it through our diet. Believe it or not, you consume plenty of tryptophan on the regular, because it's found in yeast and cereal grains, and in foods like cheese, chicken, eggs, and fish. And yes, turkey.
So then why am I so tired after eating all that turkey?
Consider this: you just ate a lot of food. Like, a lot a lot.
Thanksgiving is the holiday associated with overeating — I'm 1000% guilty of chomping my way past the point of no return every year — and the grogginess you feel afterward is because, to be frank, you've basically eaten yourself into a food coma.
I'm well-acquainted with food exhaustion all year 'round, so I can confirm this. I've been to BBQs where I've shoved so much brisket down my gullet that I basically have to be carried back to my car at the end of the night. It stands to reason that the same thing happens after I have my 19th helping of stuffing and cranberry sauce (my favorite T-day combo, especially when topped with gravy).
When you're reaching for the platter of turkey for the sixth time since you sat at the table, remember not to blame poor L-Tryptophan for the tiredness you feel half an hour later. Instead, be thankful for it! After all, it's helping your digestive system, which will be working overtime this Thursday.
And if you're planning to celebrate Thanksgiving, everyone at Visible Body hopes it's a happy one!
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