Thanksgiving Meal Science: Does Turkey Make You Tired?

When many people think of Thanksgiving, the first thing they think of is eating a lot of food and usually there is turkey involved. There are also a number of associations with the holiday, such as getting sleepy after the meal. I remember hearing lots of people talk about how eating turkey makes you sleepy, but is this really true?

This belief comes from the fact that turkey contains an ingredient called tryptophan, which can make you sleepy. However, that is far from the whole story. Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid, which are the building blocks of protein and tryptophan is just one of the many amino acids that are contained in turkey. It actually makes up only about 2% of the amino acid content in turkey. For comparison, this is similar to the amount found in many other foods, including eggs, lentils, peanuts, and pork. 

Additionally, amino acids have to compete for binding sites within the body, so when there are many amino acids present, it becomes more difficult for any one amino acid to fill all the sites, especially one that only makes up about 2% of the total. Tryptophan is most effective for making you sleepy when it is taken as individually, without other amino acids (protein) being absorbed at the same time. This doesn’t happen when eating turkey.

The science is pretty clear that getting sleepy from the tryptophan in turkey is not very likely to happen, so why do so many people associate turkey with sleepiness. This has much more to do with the Thanksgiving meal itself than it does with the turkey. The main reason for getting tired after eating a Thanksgiving meal is simply the large amount of food many people eat during the meal. 

It is not uncommon for people to eat more calories during a Thanksgiving meal than their body needs in one or two whole days. The body is not designed to handle that many calories at one time and it takes a lot of work for your body to process all that food. All the unnecessary extra calories have to be converted and stored as fat.

 For these calories to be stored as fat, your body has to release a lot of insulin into your system. Your insulin level will increase drastically at first, but when your insulin level returns to normal, your energy level crashes and you get tired. If fewer calories are consumed during the Thanksgiving meal, less insulin will be released into your system, and you will not be nearly as sleepy after the meal.

Personally, I encourage people to enjoy Thanksgiving and eat what they want, without judging themselves. However, if you are worried about your weight, there are a couple things you can do to have Thanksgiving take less of a toll on your body. For one, spread out your calories throughout the day, instead of having so many of them during one meal. This will ease the digestive burden, decrease fat storage, and make you less tired. 

Even if you don’t change your Thanksgiving eating habits at all, it’s still not that big of a deal in the long run. It’s only one day and you can absolutely recover from it, usually within a week. The more important thing is to not continue excessive overeating throughout the rest of the year. If you give yourself a pass to eat whatever your want, make a commitment to yourself to get back to your regular healthy eating habits the next day. 

It’s your daily habits more than anything that create your long-term success, so enjoy the holiday and all the wonderful food this Thanksgiving. Just don’t make it a new habit, because it takes significantly more time and effort to recover from that.

How to Prevent Weight and Fat Gain when Exercise Decreases or Stops

Exercising consistently is critical for long-term health and fitness, but what happens when you stop exercising. This article explains how to minimize the weight and fat gain or muscle loss that typically accompanies decreases in activity.

     Exercising consistently is well known as one of the best ways to prevent unwanted weight gain, but what do you do if you have to take time off from exercise or your everyday level of activity decreases? When this happens, many people end up gaining weight, but there are some things you can do to prevent or minimize this unwanted weight gain. 

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Preventing Overeating: Weight Loss Strategies to use when Eating Out

Overeating is one of the biggest reasons why people gain weight and have trouble losing fat, so preventing overeating is a key to long-term health and fitness success. This article discusses three tips to minimize overeating when eating out.

     Overeating can make it almost impossible to lose weight, because any time you consume more calories than you burn, your body is forced to store fat. Therefore, if you want to lose weight and fat, it is important to minimize overeating. This article explains three tips you can use to prevent yourself from consuming too many calories when eating out.

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Preventing Overeating: Weight Loss Strategies for Eating at Home

Overeating is one of the biggest reasons why people gain weight and have trouble losing fat, so preventing overeating is a key to long-term health and fitness success. This article discusses four tips to minimize overeating at home.

     Overeating makes it almost impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals, because any time you consume more calories than you burn, your body is forced to store fat. This happens regardless of how healthy you eat, so it is important to avoid overeating as much as possible. This article discusses 4 tips you can use to improve your eating habits at home.

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Tips to Prevent Overeating: General Strategies

Overeating is one of the biggest reasons why people gain weight and have trouble losing fat, so preventing overeating is a key to long-term health and fitness success. This post discusses general tips to help prevent overeating in any situation.

     Overeating is one of the greatest obstacles for people wanting to lose fat, get in shape, and improve their health. Eating too much can make it almost impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals, because any time you consume more calories than you burn, your body will be forced to store more fat. This will happen regardless of how healthy you eat, so it is important to avoid overeating as much as possible.

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The Best Aerobic Exercise for Calorie Burning and Fat Loss

Companies are constantly promoting aerobic exercise machines that are supposed to be more effective for calorie burning and fat loss than other equipment, but these claims are more marketing hype than science fact. This post looks at how different equipment affects your results and explains what is really important for calorie burning and fat loss.

     There constantly seem to be new commercials or infomercials selling aerobic exercise equipment to help you burn calories and lose fat. Many of these advertisements make a point of mentioning how their product gets you to burn calories at a faster rate than if you perform other types of exercise or use a different piece of equipment. With so many companies making statements about their equipment being the best for burning calories, it raises the questions, are these statements accurate and which form of aerobic exercise really is best for fat loss?

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Burning Extra Calories does not Always Translate into Fat Loss

Losing fat is one of the biggest struggles in health and fitness and people often try to make it sound easy by saying things like, “Just increase your activity by 500 calories a day and you will lose 1 pound per week.” Unfortunately, fat loss is not that simple and this post explains the factors you need to take into account in order to lose fat and keep it off.

     It can be a challenge to lose weight and especially fat, which is why so many people struggle to get rid of their unwanted pounds. So many people have problems with their weight that various media sources are constantly providing “helpful” suggestions. This is great, except much of this information is dumbed down or oversimplified to the point where the information becomes misleading or even incorrect. One issue that is frequently misrepresented is the relationship between calorie burning and fat loss. People are constantly saying that if you burn an additional X calories per day, then you will lose X amount of weight over the course of a week, month, or year. Unfortunately, things are not quite that simple.

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