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Does Fried Chicken Make You Sleepy?

We’ve all experienced it – that overwhelming urge to nap after polishing off a bucket of fried chicken or a heavy, carb-laden meal. The mythical “food coma” makes us feel sluggish, sleepy and completely sapped of energy shortly after eating. But what exactly causes this drowsy phenomenon? Let’s take a closer look at the science behind why certain foods make us sleepy.

Does Fried Chicken Make You Sleepy?

Yes, fried chicken can often cause sleepiness after eating it. There are a few reasons why fried chicken induces food coma:

    • Fried chicken has a high carb content from the breading and any accompanying sides like biscuits, mashed potatoes or fries. The surge of carbs leads to spiked insulin levels, followed by a crash that brings on drowsiness.
    • The tryptophan amino acid found abundantly in chicken triggers increased serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep and relaxation.
    • Overeating fatty fried chicken can lead to stomach distension, placing pressure on the vagus nerve which slows digestion. This provokes the brain to release signals of fullness, lethargy and sleepiness.
    • Fried chicken is extremely high in calories and easy to over-consume. Eating a large quantity of fried chicken places a heavy digestive burden on the body, diverting blood from the brain to aid digestion, making you feel tired.
    • The combination of a carb-loaded meal with fried chicken as the centerpiece is a perfect recipe for post-meal fatigue. The carbs, tryptophan, high calorie and fat content work together to spur insulin spikes, serotonin production and digestive slow down.

So in summary, yes – the high carb, high tryptophan and high calorie nature of fried chicken, especially when paired with other carb-heavy sides, can frequently lead to sleepiness and “food coma” due to the physiological effects on digestion, blood sugar and neurotransmitters. Limiting portion size and carbs can help avoid this “poultry coma” effect.

Related post: Does fried chicken lower testosterone?

What Causes the Food Coma?

Several factors can contribute to that post-meal sleepiness:

Blood Flow – Eating a big meal requires more blood flow to the stomach and intestines to help digest the food. This diverts blood away from the brain and other parts of the body, leaving you feeling tired.

Insulin Spikes – Carb- and sugar-heavy meals cause insulin levels to rise quickly. The spike and subsequent crash of blood sugar levels can make you feel fatigued.

Tryptophan – Many foods, especially turkey, contain the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan increases serotonin production, a brain chemical that induces calmness and sleepiness.

Stomach Distension – A distended, full stomach places pressure on the vagus nerve, which slows down digestion. This triggers signals in the brain that make you sleepy.

Why does fried chicken make me sleepy?

Fried chicken makes you sleepy because of its carb-heavy breading coupled with the high tryptophan and fat content of the chicken. Fried chicken is a perfect storm when it comes to triggering the food coma effect. First, it usually contains a good amount of carbohydrates from the breading and any sides like fries, biscuits or mac and cheese. The carb-load leads to an insulin spike and crash.

Second, fried chicken is high in tryptophan, especially when it includes dark meat. Chicken thighs and drumsticks contain the most tryptophan. Finally, fried chicken is calorie-dense and easy to overeat. Eating a substantial portion of fried chicken can place pressure on the vagus nerve and cause digestive slow-down.

In summary, the combination of carbs, tryptophan and high calorie content make fried chicken a prime culprit for causing post-meal sleepiness.

How to Avoid the Fried Chicken Food Coma?

If you want to enjoy some finger-lickin’ fried chicken without the subsequent fatigue, here are some tips:

    • Go easy on the skin and breading to cut down on carbs
    • Choose white breast meat over dark meat to reduce tryptophan
    • Pair it with lighter sides like a salad instead of fries or mac and cheese
    • Don’t overeat – stop when you start to feel full
    • Stay active after your meal to boost your metabolism
    • Drink water to aid digestion
    • Have a caffeinated beverage like tea or coffee to perk up

The science shows that fried chicken can certainly cause sleepiness in many people due to its carb, tryptophan and calorie content. But with a few tweaks to your meal choices and post-meal routine, you can avoid the dreaded food coma!

So, Can chicken make you sleepy?

Yes, chicken can make you sleepy, especially the dark meat. Chicken contains tryptophan, an amino acid that increases serotonin levels in the brain and signals relaxation. The tryptophan content is highest in chicken thighs and drumsticks.

Eating a large serving of chicken floods your brain with serotonin, making you drowsy. Chicken is also high in protein, which requires significant digestive energy, contributing to fatigue after a chicken meal.

FAQs
Why do I get sleepy after eating fried chicken?

You get sleepy after eating fried chicken because of the combination of carbs, protein, and fat. The breading and any sides like fries or biscuits spike your insulin levels due to the high carb content. This leads to an energy crash after the initial insulin rush.

The tryptophan amino acid in chicken causes your brain to produce more serotonin, a neurotransmitter that induces sleepiness. Overeating all those fatty calories also slows down digestion, diverting blood from your brain to your stomach, making you feel sluggish.

What part of a meal makes you the most sleepy?

Carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta, bread, potatoes, and desserts make you the most sleepy after a meal. Carbs cause your blood sugar and insulin to spike before eventually crashing, triggering intense drowsiness and lethargy. High glycemic index carbs in particular, like white rice or potatoes, lead to an exaggerated insulin rollercoaster that rapidly depletes your energy after eating.

What foods make you sleepy?

Carbs, fatty meats, cheese, and rich desserts are the foods that make you most sleepy. Specifically, foods like pizza, burgers, pasta Alfredo, mashed potatoes, bread, ribs, mac and cheese, ice cream, and cheesecake tend to induce food comas and drowsiness. They all contain some combination of carbs, fat, protein, sugar, and calories that overworks digestion and imbalances blood sugar levels.

 

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