Tag Archive for: ‘carbohydrates’
Tryptophan – the sleepy turkey drug?

Eat Turkey, take a nap, right?  Blame it on the tryptophan in the turkey and stick your hand in your pants and fall asleep in front of the TV while the wife cleans the house and does the dishes.  No problem, except she ate the turkey too, didn’t she?

What is Tryptophan?

Trp or W is one of the 20 essential amino acids in the human diet.  That means by definition tryptophan can not be synthesized by the body and must be obtained as part of the diet.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein biosynthesis.  Most protein based foods contain Trp and Turkey is about the same as most other poultry.

Other Sources

If you really like Trp, you can get it in pill form at your local health food store.  People use this supplement to treat low serotonin levels, depression and as a sleep aid.  But, isn’t there always a BUT.  Read this from Wikipedia

A metabolite of tryptophan, 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), has been suggested as a treatment for epilepsy and depression, although clinical trials are regarded inconclusive and lacking. Since 5-HTP readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and in addition is rapidly decarboxylated to serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT).  However, serotonin has a relatively short half-life since it is rapidly metabolized by monoamine oxidase.

Due to the conversion of 5-HTP into serotonin by the liver, there may be a significant risk of heart valve disease from serotonin’s effect on the heart.

There was a large tryptophan-related outbreak of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) in 1989, which caused 1,500 cases of permanent disability and at least thirty-seven deaths. Some epidemiological studies traced the outbreak to L-tryptophan supplied by a Japanese manufacturer, Showa Denko KK.  It was further hypothesized that one or more trace impurities produced during the manufacture of tryptophan may have been responsible for the EMS outbreak.  The fact that the Showa Denko facility used genetically engineered bacteria to produce L-tryptophan gave rise to speculation that genetic engineering was responsible for such impurities. However, the methodology used in the initial epidemiological studies has been criticized.  An alternative explanation for the 1989 EMS outbreak is that large doses of tryptophan produce metabolites that inhibit the normal degradation of histamine, and excess histamine in turn has been proposed to cause EMS

Turkey and drowsiness

Long story short, your drowsiness after a big Turkey meal is more likely a result of eating too many carbohydrates and not the turkey.  The consumption of large amounts of carbs that are high on the Glycemic index cause the bodies blood sugar to elevate and then the pancreas kicks in to off set the amount of sugar in the blood by producing insulin.  Insulin then stimulates the uptake of the large branch-chain amino acids, but not tryptophan into the muscles.  That increases the ratio of tryptophan to Branched-chain amino acids in the blood stream.  That increased ratio makes it possible for the tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier and then to be converted to serotonin.  Serotonin is later converted to melatonin by the pineal gland which then causes drowsiness.  The same thing happens when you drink or eat a lot of sweets in the morning then later “crash”.


Now that we understand that it is simple carbs and sugar that cause our sleepiness after a big meal, we need to fess up to the fact that either our wives don’t eat the same meal as we do or we are just a touch lazy.  Just my opinion, your results may vary.  – jughandle



Are 500 calories of veggies equal to 500 calories of ice cream?

What are Calories?

Calories are a measure of food energy.  In fact there are many different definitions and measurements of calories, but the accepted definition we are looking for is – “the amount of heat it takes to raise 1 measured weight of water 1 degree Celsius.  1 gram of water would be a small calorie and 1 kilogram would be a large Calorie.

To determine how many calories are in a certain food, scientists used to set the food on fire and see how much it warmed a measured container of water.  Now the calorie count is estimated from its carbohydrate, protein and fat content, with each gram of carbohydrate and protein being 7 calories and each gram of fat being 9 calories.  The Calorie we see on our food labels is a large Calorie or the amount of heat it takes to raise one kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius.

Since none of us have a burner in our belly, our bodies have to convert energy by chemical reactions, mostly oxidation of the carbs, protein and fat we eat.

Calories in = Calories out?

Not so much.  Take carbohydrates.  For every 100 calories of carbs you eat, the body uses 5-10 calories just to digest them.  The difference being 5 and 10 is the difference between complex and simple carbohydrates (remember the Glycemic Index?)  It takes us less calories to break down fat in our body.  But look at protein.  The body needs 20 to 30 calories to process each 100 grams of the protein we eat.

How to Loss Weight?

It would appear that if we ate more protein and less carbs and fat that the body would do our work for us.  Not as much as we’d like.  Just because we put food in our mouths doesn’t mean our body digests it all.  According to Men’s Health Mag ” It passes through your stomach and then reaches your small intestine, which slurps up all the nutrients it can through its spongy walls. But 5 to 10 percent of calories slide through unabsorbed. Fat digestion is relatively efficient—fat easily enters your intestinal walls. As for protein, animal sources are more digestible than plant sources, so a top sirloin’s protein will be better absorbed than tofu’s.”

“Different carbs are processed at different rates, too: Glucose and starch are rapidly absorbed, while fiber dawdles in the digestive tract. In fact, the insoluble fiber in some complex carbs, such as that in vegetables and whole grains, tends to block the absorption of other calories. “With a very high-fiber diet, say 60 grams a day, you might lose as much as 20 percent of the calories you consume,” says Wanda Howell, Ph.D., a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Arizona.”

Exercise Burns Calories Right?

Sure, exercise is a great calorie burner, but you need calories to burn more calories.  Exercise will burn no more than 30 percent of the calories you consume.  Again your body is going to help you burn calories.  60 to 70 percent of the calories we burn are to fuel normal body function like breathing, tissue replacement, blood movement, etc.  Then walking, turning your head, lifting your leg, etc, help tremendously.  Take the stairs, not the elevator.  You get the idea.

Don’t Eat Diet Foods

Diet foods are way more dangerous to our bodies than normal, healthy food.  In diet foods, sugars are often replaced by chemicals like sucralose, aspartame or HFCS.  Men’s Health says that a study at the University of Texas found that consuming as few as three diet sodas a week increases the chance of obesity by more than 40 percent.  At Purdue in 2008 a study showed that rats that ate artificially sweetened yogurt eat more calories at subsequent meals.  Eat the real deal and read the label.

To Answer My Original Question

Are 500 calories of veggies equal to 500 calories of ice cream?  You should now be able to answer that question yourself.