Back to Thread Listing

ETD 30: A. Explain why your turkey day dinner puts you in a food coma.
December 02, 2013 at 4:04pm


Displaying 1-10 of 15 results.
Sort by:

Sophie Wulfing
December 02, 2013 at 7:57pm

Tony- Common misconception is triptophan.  But Turkey doesn't have much.  Chicken has more.  Exergonic vs. endergonic; exo releases energy. Ender absorbs.  Graph of energy required for a reaction goes up then down.  Activation Energy is the required energy to start the reaction.  Enzymes reduce the activation energy because they force collisions that start the reactions.  First law of thermo says can't create or destroy energy.  2nd law says entropy can only stay or increase, and energy transfer increases heat energy, i.e entropy.  Uses of ATP in cells is for chemical work, transport work, mechanical work, energy coupling.  

Sophie- I had to take a second to think about whether a reaction graph graphed the energy being taken in by a reaction, or if it graphed the energy released. I also had to look up the second law of thermodynamics, because I didn't understand the concept of entropy. Entropy is the amount of unusable energy in a reaction. In respiration, this is seen as heat energy being released by the cell. I also had to look up energy coupling and how it's the combination of gaining and losing energy in respiration. The reason why ATP is usable energy is that its Oxygen are always trying to repel each other. This creates a "vibrating" bond that makes it release a lot of energy when broken.

Anne Paige; Sam Paige
December 02, 2013 at 8:31pm


Sam told me that the tryptophan theory is actually a myth. What really happens is when you eat turkey you are breaking bonds to break it down into things like amino acids and this takes energy to start the reaction even though you still get energy back. But then you store some of the materials but you also build proteins for your body/muscles when you get those amino acids. To build these proteins takes a lot of energy to make bonds and such. So you go into a food coma as a result of using so much energy at one time.



This was an easier topic so even though my mom struggles with science I was able to teach her about this a lot easier. She already knew a little about the tryptophan myth so that was easy to convey. Then I just had to explain how it takes energy to make and break bonds in your food and stuff. The thing is I already understood this topic fairly well so teaching it to my mom did not really bring any huge epiphany to me but is was kind of fun to teach her stuff.

Kelli Vetter
December 03, 2013 at 5:18pm

Parent: I learned that enzymes lower the activation energy which is required to breakdown proteins such as turkey. I always thought that tryptophan made me tired. Kelli told me that this was a myth. So she taught me that enzymes use energy in order to break down reactants or enzymes take amino acids to create a protein. When an enzyme breaks down a protein, the end product releases energy which is called an exergonic reaction. When an enzyme is used to make a new protein from amino acids, then energy is put into the product making that reaction endergonic.

Student: As I was explaining this to my mom, I looked up the word "gonic" so I could remember what endergonic and exergonic meant. I learned that gonic means "work required to facilitate a specified reaction". This makes sense because exer means (outward energy) while ender means (inward energy). And this is the process in which activation energy is compared to free energy in a given reaction. Enzymes lower the activation energy in these reactions which in this case is the "work" to complete a "specified reaction".

January 01, 2014 at 10:32am

Parent: My son explained to me that thanksgiving dinner does in fact make you tired but not because of the turkey. He said that it was because your metabolism was working so hard to digest all the that you had consumed for thanksgiving. I thought that it was the melatonin in the turkey, or at least what I had heard. But Kevin said that there was more melatonin in chicken then Turkey. He also said that this had to do with the activation energy needed to break down all of these components.

Student: I was happy to actually know something my mother didn't on these subjects. She believed that it was the melatonin in the turkey that makes you tired (still does a little), but I told her that it was the amount of energy and activation energy needed to digest all that food makes you tired or in a "food coma".

Madison Boggan
November 25, 2014 at 1:49pm

Parent: Today Maddie taught me about turkey and cleared up some misconceptions. I thought that people get tired on Thanksgiving because of the turkey that they eat, however, Madison told me that people think turkey makes you tired because of tryptophan but chicken has more of that than turkey even does. The part about Thanksgiving that makes people tired is that it takes a lot of energy to digest food then make us. Both endergonic and exergonic reactions are involved in this process. The blood that was in our head starts going to our stomach very quickly in order to deliver energy to process food so we get tired from this.  


Metabolism is the total amount of chemical reactions going on in a persons body. This isn't what I had thought prior to today...I had thought it was how fast my body digests food; now I know that this is only part of it.

Student: Clearing up these common misconceptions and explaining what is actually biologically happening on Thanksgiving has made the concepts more solidified in my head and makes me feel more prepared to defend the truth and clear up any confusion on Thursday when my family is talking about how tired they are. It makes even more sense to me now after explaining the process to someone else that it takes energy to break down food then build ourselves up.

Rachael Benson
November 25, 2014 at 8:25pm

Mom: Rachael told us at dinner tonight that we've all been duped into believing that eatting turkey makes us sleepy on Thanksgiving day.  Little did I know it was the all of the potatoes and other carbs that we consume in large quantities.  She talked about the bonds having to be broken down that takes a lot of energy to do.

Student: As we were talking about Thanksgiving dinner and all the joys of what comes after, I decided to grace my family with the knowledge of endergonic and exergonic reations and why potatoes are the culprit of the food coma. I explained that Turkey is not the reason why people get  so sleepy but that its because the carbohydrates you eat had a ton of bonds that need to be broken for digestion (an exergonic reation). This then leads to the storing of energy-- in fat and such-- in an endergonic reaction.

Laurel Dillon
January 22, 2015 at 4:20pm

Aunt: I have always thought it was the triptophan from the turkey that makes you sleepy, because it triggers a reaction with your brain to produce more melatonin! But I now know that it's really our bodies getting tired from breaking down lots of bonds from carbohydrates such as potatoes that require a lot of energy. 

Laurel: It was fun to explain why the real reason we get tired to my family, especially since I too had thought that turkey was the culprit all along! It also helped me clarify some other misconceptions about how my family thought the turkey was the leading cause of weight gain after Thanksgiving, when it is really the carbohydrate rich potatoes and other bread- based desserts!

Anne Sweeney
December 27, 2015 at 3:25pm

Parent: I used to think eating turkey made you sleepy, but Anne explained that it is exactly by body breaking down the carbohydrates that depletes my energy. Anne also explained the difference between exergonic and endergonic reactions; one breaks bonds while the other makes bonds!

Student: It was interesting to learn the learn reasons why we get so tired after Thanksgiving and helpful to explain the process. Before explaining the reason why, I had to look up some definitions of the words to better solidify them to myself and the process(Ex:words like the roots of exer and ender). It makes sense why we would get a food coma after all the energy we are using at the same time makes us tired.

Amber Neathery
January 03, 2016 at 10:37pm

Student: I explained to my dad that the reason that many get tired after Thanksgiving dinner is because your body must exert energy to break down the chemical bonds of the food that you consumed (digestion) in order to release usable energy. The process of converting fat into usable energy, I told him, is an exergonic reaction and its graph would go from high to low. On the other hand, I explained that an example of an endergonic reaction is the construction of fat from fatty acid (storing energy). This graph goes from low to high. 

Parent: I learned that exergonic means breaking bonds and endergonic mean storage. amber explained that the chemicals in turkey dont make you tired. digesting food makes you tired after thanksgiving. 

Makaila Heifner
January 05, 2016 at 9:01am

Aunt: When Makaila started explaining this concept I thought I already knew the answer: the reason we get tired is because of tryptophan. It makes sense though that the real reason we get tired is because it takes a lot of energy to break the bonds in the food we ate. 

Student: This was a pretty easy topic to explain to my family. We discussed the topic when my uncle said all the food made him want to take a nap. Initially, my family all said the reason we get tired after eating was tryptophan. When I explained why they were all kind of confused but said it made sense, they just didn't realize how much enedgy it required to break bonds. 

Post Reply