Victorian Institute of Sport

Nutrition Tip | Tryptophan

Monday, 06 August 2018

Did you know that during intense training periods, the quality and timing of your sleep can be compromised?

Never fear, the good news is that by optimising your recovery nutrition you can ensure that the length, quality and quick onset of sleep can still be achieved.

There are several nutritional components shown to improve sleep. Tryptophan and melatonin are both key sleep inducers, found naturally in specific recovery foods. Melatonin production is influenced by tryptophan availability.

Tryptophan is an amino acid found in protein rich foods such as seeds, nuts, chicken, cheese, yoghurt and milk.  The key to absorbing tryptophan most efficiently is having carbohydrate rich foods at the same time, such as rice, pasta, bread, corn, potato and noodles.  This allows for better absorption, and more tryptophan into the brain. When you’re wanting to nod off you can thank tryptophan for how quickly this process occurs.

So, when planning dinner or your evening post-training recovery, think about tryptophan and how it can increase your quality of sleep and reduce the time it takes for you to doze off. Perhaps some fruit & yoghurt or a banana milk smoothie before bed.  Better sleep = better recovery, increased muscle synthesis, immunity and metabolism.

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