TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Truth About Turkey and Tryptophan

Here's the real reason Thanksgiving makes you sleepy

No Thanksgiving is complete without a turkey at the table—and a nap right after it’s eaten. The meat has a bad reputation for making eaters sleepy, but is there really science to back that up?

Here’s the lowdown: turkey contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which produces sleep-promoting serotonin and melatonin. But turkey has about the same amount of tryptophan as other meats. It may even have a built-in secret weapon against sleepiness: an abundance of protein, which can regulate insulin levels and actually combat fatigue. So don’t blame the turkey for your tiredness; the heavy load of carbs that made up the rest of the meal are likely the culprits. Here’s what turkey really does to your body.

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