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Power food: Turkey is a true lean protein

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Protein can be an athlete’s best friend. This is especially true following strenuous exercise when refueling and recovery are most critical. Thankfully, protein sources are plentiful and readily available everywhere. One of the best sources of protein is a legitimate ‘lean protein’ and was long ago considered to be the mascot of the United States before that honor was given to the bald eagle.

Turkey is the white meat most of us hear about that is good for the heart because it is low in fat, low in calories, and high in protein. It is also a great source of nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, potassium, and zinc. Turkey contains a good amount of arginine, an amino acid the body uses to make new protein.

Another amino acid turkey is high in is tryptophan. An essential amino acid that must be obtained through food, tryptophan has long been blamed to cause sleepiness following ingestion. Many health experts insist this is an urban myth and emphasize that tryptophan requires some assistance from carbohydrates to bring on the sudden urge of taking a power nap.

A small carbohydrate-based snack (about 30 grams of carbohydrates) when eaten with a serving of tryptophan-loaded turkey will produce the most serotonin, that ‘feel good’ brain chemical. According to WebMD, research illustrates that this carbohydrate-based snack will help you sleep more peacefully.

A typical 3-4 oz. serving of turkey is about the size of a deck of cards. This may seem too small for most people. It is more realistic to measure serving sizes with the palm of your hand. It also makes more sense because you can ensure you get the protein you need to help your body recover faster.

Take a look at how skinless turkey stacks up against some of its fellow meaty competitors:

3 oz. Serving Cal. Protein (g.) Total Fat (g.)

Turkey 125 26 1.7

Chicken 130 23 3.5

Salmon 151 21 7.0

Ham, boneless 151 19 7.7

Prime rib, lean 334 19 27.8

Be sure to include some turkey in your post-workout routine (e.g. Subway run). With the holiday season in full swing, enjoy some turkey when getting together with family and friends. The biggest culprit that will induce sleepiness when enjoying a good holiday meal (experts say) is to wolf down multiple plates of food.

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References:

http://urbanext.illinois.edu/turkey/nutrition.cfm
http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/turkey-a-healthy-base-of-holiday-meal...
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-truth-about-tryptophan

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