The Truth about Tryptophan

By Justine Sterling Posted November 15, 2012

Ever wondered where that post-Thanksgiving drowsiness comes from? Many say it’s tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey. In this Sunday’s food-focused MythBusters, airing at 8 p.m. EST on the Discovery Channel, the team takes on the theory by testing the mental sharpness of MythBusters Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara through five different dining scenarios: before a meal, after ingesting a large dose of straight tryptophan, after a large turkey dinner (2,000 plus calories!), after an equally calorically impressive meat sans turkey (replaced by a gelatinous protein substance), and after a moderate turkey dinner. To find out the results tune in this weekend, but first watch an exclusive preview above in which Belleci and Imahara take a pure hit of tryptophan and play a sleepy game of Whack-a-MythBuster (think Whack-a-Mole but with more mustachioed men). One of the main lessons Imahara took away from the experiment was to never trade turkey for gelatin. “I’m a big texture guy and it was like eating paste. If you were trying to substitute turkey for Thanksgiving, gelatin would not be the right option.”

Related: F&W's Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide
Delicious Thanksgiving Turkeys
Thanksgiving Alternatives to Turkey

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