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Thanksgiving: Busting the tryptophan myth wide open

November 23, 2011 | 10:10 am

Don't blame the turkey for that hazy, sedated, let-me-snore-on-the-couch feeling you get after the Thanksgiving feast. 

It is not the tryptophan in the turkey, according to experts at the American Chemical Society, who are determined to debunk that holiday myth.  In fact, if you ate a Thanksgiving chicken, you'd get more tryptophan than you do from that turkey.

Although tryptophan, an essential amino acid, is involved with other sleep-inducing chemicals, the "tryptophan levels in turkey are too low to cause drowsiness," says a new video from the nonprofit group, chartered by Congress.

So, what's to blame?

It's that mountain of mashed potatoes, the piece after piece of pumpkin pie and the yams that make you yawn.  In other words: carb overload. The blood rushes to the stomach, away from the brain and the rest of the body after the annual feast, and the eater feels entirely depleted.  Call it postprandial somnolence or food hangover, but you get the idea.

So do you give in and snooze and groan? Or go for a run?

Excercise Reports website advises against eating a lot and immediately trying to work it all off with a mini-marathon.

Within two hours of finishing your meal, you should avoid intense exercise. You probably won’t be in the mood anyway. The best exercise is a nice brisk walk with family and friends. Especially if you are relatively new to exercise. A brisk walk is not intense enough to require the two-hour wait after eating.

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