Everyone’s favorite big word around Thanksgiving is “tryptophan.” That’s the chemical in turkey that puts all of us in a food coma, the one sign that lets us know we have officially enjoyed the holiday to its fullest.
Actually, that’s not true. Your food coma has nothing to do with tryptophan. It’s actually how much you ate that knocks you out.
The Truth about Tryptophan
L-tryptophan, an amino acid, is found in turkey, chicken, meat, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and fish, and more. So, if it really were tryptophan, a big chunk of what you eat would knock you out after every meal. The misconception probably stemmed from the chemical reaction that follows after eating tryptophan-containing foods. Your body converts tryptophan into a B vitamin called niacin, which then creates serotonin. While many people know serotonin plays a role in helping people feel calm and happy, it’s also involved in your sleep-wake cycles. So, if serotonin stems from niacin, which comes from tryptophan, then tryptophan really is making us sleepy, right?
Angus Stewart from Science Alert writes, “When we’re eating, the stomach is producing gastrin, a hormone that promotes the secretion of digestive juices. As the food enters the small intestine, the cells in the gut secrete even more hormones (enterogastrone) that signal other bodily functions, including blood flow regulation.
But what does this have to do with sleepiness? Well, as we’re digesting our meal, more of our blood is shunted to the stomach and gut, to transport away the absorbed newly digested metabolites. This leaves less blood for the rest of the body and can cause some people to feel a bit ‘light-headed’ or tired. Still, the body is a lot more sophisticated than that; it doesn’t respond to food volume alone. What you eat is just as important as the size of your meal.”
So, to put it plainly, eating a huge meal is what’s making your eyelids feel heavy. Everything else going on inside your body slows down to compensate for that giant meal you just ate. Proper digestion has to come first so your body has all the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
How to Skip the Food Coma
Probably the most obvious answer is not to overeat. Not happening for a lot of you, but that’s okay. There are other things you can do stay awake and enjoy every last minute of Thanksgiving.
- Balance out your meal with a protein-to-carbohydrate in a 2:1 ratio. Excess carbs are another food coma culprit.
- Make sure you’re still getting all your vitamins and minerals. This means not skipping out on raw fruits and vegetables.
- Get moving after your meal. Instead of hitting the couch, take a short walk to keep your blood flowing from head to toe, instead of congregating in your stomach.
- Take supplements that ensure proper and complete digestion. This’ll lighten the load on your system and minimize the energy dip.
Top 2 Supplements to Keep Energy Up and Properly Digest Your Holiday Feast
Optimal 1 Digestion provides a complete array of digestive enzymes that break foods down into usable nutrients, making it possible to be metabolized and used.
Optimal Fat • Sugar • Trim is full of ingredients that help your body get rid of undigested fats, helps normalize blood sugar levels, and gives your body the nutrients it needs to metabolize them as energy. This formula may be your energy boost if your meal has a lot of sugars and fats you’re not used to eating.