Tryptophan, tryptophan, tryptophan. Every year it makes its amino acid cameo on Thanksgiving, right around 7 PM, when America simultaneously drifts off in unison into Turkey Day Dream World. It’s what makes Thanksgiving, well, Thanksgiving.
Traditionally, turkey’s perceived “high tryptophan content” has always been the culprit, but is turkey really to blame for the impending flood of unstoppable drowsiness? After doing a little research and number-crunching, it turns out that it’s not — the turkey-tryptophan connection is pure myth.
In fact, turkey has less tryptophan per 100 g than pork and chicken, both of which are never associated with drowsiness and lethargy. I’ll chalk up the Thanksgiving Day snooze-fest to one thing — food coma. Much like a sugar rush and the following sugar crash, the sheer volume of food dumped into your stomach during Thanksgiving dinner requires A LOT of energy to digest and metabolize, which produces a full-body shutdown.
While the turkey may be one cog in the larger shutdown process, it’s not the fault of tryptophan.