Thanksgiving Special – Tryptophan Supplementation Research

Happy Thanksgiving from! Today we did some research on tryptophan supplementation for you, and as a Thanksgiving present, we created a Tryptophan category under our Essential Amino Acids section.

Background on Tryptophan / L-Tryptophan:

There are tons of other resources on Tryptophan, so we’ll be brief and get to the fun stuff (supplements!):

Trytophan is an essential amino acid to humans, and is the precursor to serotonin via the intermediate amino acid, 5-Hydroxytryptophan (or 5-HTP). The serotonin can then be converted to melatonin. Both of these chemicals are useful because serotonin helps regulate behavior and elevate moods, and melatonin assists in quality sleep.

According to this study, physical exercise increases the synthesis from tryptophan to serotonin, or 5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT, as referenced in the study. Thus, elevated tryptophan in the brain allows for more serotonin creation, causing this fatigue.

Additionally, tryptophan competes with Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) for uptake into the brain, meaning that supplementation of BCAAs will assist in reducing fatigue by limiting tryptophan uptake (study 1, study 2).

Implications for Supplement Users

Most essential amino acid products do not contain l-tryptophan. This means that they do not have complete amino acid profiles. We do not recommend tryptophan-containing supplements before or during workouts for two reasons: 1. The tryptophan will induce fatigue, as shown above, and 2. The tryptophan will compete with your BCAA supplements, and there is more evidence that BCAAs may stimulate muscle synthesis than does l-tryptophan. In the meantime, we cannot find any scientific evidence that tryptophan has any strong anti-catabolic or anabolic properties, so we’d rather have BCAAs in our bloodstream.

However, just in case tryptophan does assist with protein synthesis, it would be wise to take it before bed if you have the budget. This can then assist with quality sleep and mood elevation thanks to its conversion to melatonin and serotonin. Beverly International Density is one such amino acid product with a good amount of tryptophan in it.

Notes to Thanksgiving eaters is a site based upon scientific research and is meant to separate the facts from the hype that exists in the food and health industry. As we grow this blog, this will become a recurring theme.

We believe that turkey’s role in sleepiness is OVERRATED. According to this table, turkey contains no more tryptophan than chicken, and is relatively low on the list compared to other common foods such as egg whites, soybeans, and cheese.

Thus, we don’t believe the hype that eating turkey is what makes you sleepy on Thanksgiving. Did you ever think that it might be the sheer number of calories (including carbs) and BEER that everyone stuffs into their faces all day long?

Or, more importantly, perhaps we’re all going into comas on Thanksgiving day is because we are mercilessly tortured by the NFL with the dreaded annual Detroit Lions football game.

And on that note, Happy T-Day from – Hit it hard in the morning and eat all you can afterward! Try your best to at least get some light cardio in on Friday!

About the Author: Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto is a research scientist and water sports athlete who founded PricePlow. He is an n=1 diet experimenter with extensive experience in supplementation and dietary modification, whose personal expertise stems from several experiments done on himself while sharing lab tests.

Mike's goal is to bridge the gap between nutritional research scientists and non-academics who seek to better their health in a system that has catastrophically failed the public.

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