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Tired From Turkey? Are The Meat Sweats Real?

It’s Thanksgiving time! Bring on the turkey, stuffing and gravy! There are few meals more anticipated than your annual Thanksgiving feast. It’s a time for family to come together around the table to be grateful—and possibly overindulge—together.

As you settle into a nice food coma after the big meal, you may blame it on the turkey. But, you may be surprised this isn’t what is making you tired. We debunk five Thanksgiving meal myths that will surely get you talking this holiday.

Myth #1: Turkey makes you sleepy

False. Tryptophan, an amino acid (a building block of protein) found in turkey, has long been blamed as a culprit for making people fall asleep on Thanksgiving Day. But, it’s just a myth and not to blame for the post-meal naps experienced across the country, said Jennifer Oikarinen, a registered dietitian at Banner - University Medical Center Phoenix.

“After eating a meal full of fat, sugar and maybe even alcohol, your brain sends signals to your stomach to slow down and digest. This is what zaps you of your energy and makes you sleepy, leaving little energy for other activities,” she said, in a recent conversation regarding Thanksgiving diets.

Myth #2: White meat is healthier than dark meat

That depends. When it comes to calories, grams of saturated fat and total fat, white meat is slightly less in all three categories. But, dark meat provides more vitamins and minerals, such as iron and vitamin B12.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, three ounces of boneless, skinless turkey breast contains about 160 calories and 6 grams of fat, compared with roughly 190 calories and 10 grams of fat for three ounces of boneless, skinless thigh.

“Both are great sources of protein,” Oikarinen said, so you really can’t go wrong with either.

Myth #3 Canned pumpkin is unhealthy

False. Many assume that “fresh” is more nutritious than canned. But, that’s not the case for canned pumpkin.

“Both fresh pumpkin and canned pumpkin provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin K and vitamin A,” Oikarinen mentioned. “Just be sure to read the label and choose pumpkin that doesn’t have added sugar or salt.”

Myth #4 Eating too much turkey will cause meat sweats

Believe it or not: True. While you won’t find “meat sweats” listed in any reputable medical website, you can find research on the thermic effect of certain foods that make these sweats quite possible.

“To digest and process protein, your body will have to burn a lot more calories compared to things like carbohydrates and fat,” Oikarinen said.  “Nutritional guidelines recommend that only 10-35% of your daily calories come from protein.”

So, you can imagine eating a big plate of turkey, ham or roast at just one sitting could push you over your daily intake and induce some mean meat sweats.

Myth #5 One meal can impact your waistline

Absolutely. Although, Thanksgiving dinner is not likely the only meal you’ll indulge in this season. Many people are bombarded with and unable to avoid holiday dinners and parties and treats and goodies at work during the holidays, especially from Thanksgiving to New Years. Many people also don’t increase their level of physical activity during this time to counter the increased caloric intake, which ultimately is a slippery slope until January 1.

Oikarinen advised if you know you’ll be having a big meal, make sure you eat a balanced breakfast of protein and fiber. This helps you feel in control and hinder you from binging.

It’s easy to go overboard on a holiday that centers around food, so try and limit your portion sizes. Focus on the delicious leftovers you’ll have if you don’t overdo it. Meat sweats aside, your tummy and pants will thank you.

If you have nutritional questions, our dietitians can work with you to achieve your goals. Visit bannerhealth.com to get started to a healthier you.

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