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Does Turkey Make You Tired?

Debunking the Tryptophan Myth

By Mark Hyman, MD

The original version of this article appeared in The UltraMind Solution.

Want a happier holiday this Thanksgiving? The solution may be as close as the turkey on your table!

Turkey is particularly high in the amino acid tryptophan. Media suggests this is why people get sleepy after eating their Thanksgiving feast. While it's true that tryptophan is a key element in the production of serotonin and serotonin is essential for sleep as well as happiness, it's actually unlikely it's the turkey that turns down your energy on Thanksgiving afternoon. The real culprit are the starchy vegetables, refined carbohydrates, and sugar so many consume on Thanksgiving.

Eating a heavy load of refined carbohydrates and sugar spikes your blood sugar and your insulin. As these effects wear off, your energy dips and you get the classic post-sugar crash. Even if you don't eat white sugar, refine carbohydrates have a similar effect on your body.

So if you want a happy, energized Thanksgiving, feel free to indulge in the turkey, but stay away from mashed potatoes, rolls, and pie that are staples of the classic American feast. Choose low-glycemic load carbs like spinach, chard, kale, beans, and others for your veggies, and opt for desserts lower in sugar. Fresh fruit is an excellent option.