Why Eating Protein Makes You Feel Happy?

Protein, Amino Peptides and Polypeptides

Just for the record, these are all just difficult terms used in commercials to confuse you. Protein has been a hot issue with Atkins-like diets sprouting all over the place (see recent post on the Dukan Diet), though most people have no clue what proteins even are.

Proteins are simply chains of amino acids, nothing more mystical, I’m afraid. An amino acid is also called a peptide, when you string together some of them you call it a poly-peptide which is nothing but a protein… The interesting bit is what amino acids are in the chain of a protein.

What Are Small Proteins (Peptides) For?

Proteins and peptides can do all sorts of things, adrenaline for example is also a protein and I assume we all know what that does… Smaller proteins like peptides can do a whole range of things especially in the brain. A special type of peptides is called ‘neurotransmitters’, these regulate communication in the brain but also change your mood and mental state.

Feeling stressed and depressed has detrimental effects on our health, so we really want good substances in our brains. Serotonin for example makes you feel good and happy, while too little of this results in depression. Prozac is a well-known medication that acts by blocking serotonin reuptake–effectively increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Another ‘good’ neurotransmitter is dopamine, which is when the brain releases as a reward chemical. If only we could elevate the levels of these substances right…?

Eating Yourself to a Good Mood?

Serotonin and Dopamine are created out of two ‘raw’ amino acids called L-Tryptophan (for serotonin) and Tyrosine (for dopamine). As a bonus L-Tryptophan is also used to create melatonin, the substance that assured a good night’s sleep. So what foods contain L-Tryptophan? Well pretty much all protein rich foods do though eggs, seeds, fish and meats have the highest content.

If you want to improve your mood, try to incorporate these things into your daily diet:

  1. High protein foods (become a label reader)
  2. Limit or restrict high sugar foods
  3. Drink lots of water!
  4. Sleep 8 hours a day or more

Good luck, and happy eating!

More Good Mood Food tips here.  (follow the link)


I am a life sciences student in the Netherlands with a passion for health and fitness. I am an avid follower of the Paleo diet and are a self proclaimed body hacker (and thus guinea pig). I'm currently working on a vitamin store, which started out as a pet projects to cater to my own supplement needs. I blog at Skill Collector and work at Hoasted Webhosting.

11 thoughts on “Why Eating Protein Makes You Feel Happy?

  • March 2, 2013 at 8:08 am

    protein + starch = happy…that is the one formula i know and that when you look at it the wntire world follows consistently. whether it is the bun and meat patty in usa or the rice and fish in bangladesh or pita bread with camel meat in saudi arabia the selfsame rule rings true. seems taken alone neither proteins nor carbs get the job done. i agree proteins are healthy but on their own they cause early aging. carbs alone lead to an insulinemic response that causes fat storage and lassitude and sluggishness. but mix the two and voila you have a good thing going. you get taste. its like a staple food base with a protein/fat sauce or topping is the ideal. take the italian pizza or sphaghetti and meatballs or the pakistani roti salan or naan and tandoori chicken and you find the same pattern repeating itself.

  • June 12, 2011 at 2:52 am

    I have a friend who just loves steak. He compares the feeling it gives him to the hit he gets from a joint (he’s also quite a big pothead). This always struck me as fairly unlikely, but this post makes me wonder if there is more sense to that than I give him credit for.

  • June 9, 2011 at 4:31 am

    More great reasons for me to eat a high protein diet! I usually eat a high protein breakfast (either an omelet, scrambled eggs, or my favorite sausage/bacon/egg) as this keeps me full for longer.

    My day job means that I can sometime go 6 hours easily between breakfast and lunch, so the high protein keeps the hunger away, at least until late morning.

    Now, with the points about, I feel even less guilt about my sausages and bacon!

    • June 9, 2011 at 4:59 am

      Protein is indeed very good for both nutrition and a full stomach. Do remember to eat vegetables (personally I enjoy egg dishes with tomato/spinach very much) since protein rich foods often lack a handful of vitamins…

    • June 7, 2011 at 1:40 am

      Melatonin is also for sale in the States I believe, some people take Tryptophan since it is converted to serotinin which in turn can be converted to melatonin…

  • June 6, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I did not know eating high protein diet can improve mood. Every person with mood swing problem should eat high protein diet.
    Thanks for the info.

    • June 7, 2011 at 1:42 am

      Very true, though things like proper fatty acids are also a good influence… One thing that’s for sure is that carbohydrates are a bad thing…

      • June 7, 2011 at 3:19 am

        I did enjoy your article but please no food is bad. People just make bad chioces

        • June 7, 2011 at 6:03 am

          Ok sure, guns don’t kill people people kill people… Let me rephrase: Ingesting certain foods is bad (e.g. gun is not bad, but taking a bullet is…)


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