HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - After the turkey is eaten and sometimes even before the kitchen is cleaned, it is often that we hit the couch for a quick nap after Thanksgiving dinner. Contrary to popular belief, turkey, which has tryptophan in it, is not the reason we feel lethargic.
"It's actually kind of a misleading thought," said Forrest General Clinical Dietitian Ashley Shuck. "Turkey is high in tryptophan, but so are other products such as chicken, peanuts, eggs, fish."
In fact, compared to other products that have tryptophan in them, turkey has a relatively low content. Eggs and fish are high in tryptophan, but turkey has less than one quarter of a gram of tryptophan in it for every 100 grams of food.
"It does lead up to that serotonin production," said Shuck. "Tryptophan is a bulky amino acid, so when we eat a lot of other foods, a lot of other amino acids, it's competing for that utilization in the body. It's not all absorbed at one time, so we don't get a big rush of tryptophan, so that's why it doesn't actually, directly lead to that sleepy feeling."
Shuck says it's really the carbohydrates and over eating that send us to the couch after a Thanksgiving meal.
"At Thanksgiving we tend to overeat these large amounts of carbohydrates and fat, and that's where that sleepy comes from," said Shuck. "You're already kind of relaxed, you're around family, you're off work. You throw in any alcohol to that scenario, that contributes to sleepy as well."