It’s Not the Turkey That’s Making You Tired

Just as traditional as the Thanksgiving turkey is the overstuffed and satisfied sleepiness that follows, and although society has historically pointed the finger at the turkey, it turns out it’s not to blame. Yes, turkey does contain tryptophan — an amino acid that’s a component of the feel-good chemical serotonin — but tryptophan can be found in all kinds of foods from dairy products to nuts and meats. Not only that, but turkey doesn’t have any higher levels of tryptophan than many other foods. In fact, gram for gram, cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey does. So, if the turkey isn't the culprit, what is? It’s actually a combination of factors, starting with the high fat content of most Thanksgiving dinners. The average festive meal contains 229 grams of fat and 3,000 calories. That’s more than most people eat in an entire day. Digesting fat requires a lot of energy, so the body sends more blood to your digestive system to manage the load. Reduced blood flow throughout your body means reduced energy. Finally, on Thanksgiving, even low-carb dieters allow themselves to indulge in carbohydrate-rich foods such as mashed potatoes, pies, stuffing, cornbread, yams covered in marshmallows, and more — all in one sitting. Eating such a ridiculous amount of carbs triggers the release of insulin, which can leave you pretty comatose. So, the advice this year is: if you don’t want to snore to the floor after you’ve cleared your plate, cut back on the fat and carbs.