There are over 3,000 different eating challenges around the world that all fall under 28 distinctive category types. Your body may have a completely unique response to each and every single one of them. How quickly you recover after completing your challenge mostly depends on how your body reacts specifically to the foods and drinks that you just consumed. There are four major criteria you need consider when evaluating how your body will react and recover from your upcoming food challenge. Here are those 4 criteria along with explanations:

4 Criteria For Evaluating Food Challenge Speed Of Recovery

1. Digestibility of the food – The more dense and complex that a food item is, the longer it will take your body’s digestive system to process it. The lighter it is and the higher the percentage of water it contains, the easier it will be for your body to digest it. Fruits and vegetables such as watermelon and broccoli are very light and are largely made up of water, while meats such as beef and pork are heavy and very dense. Your body will be able to process the watermelon and broccoli a lot quicker than it can digest the pork and beef. For the most part, fruits and vegetables are the easiest foods to digest, and that is why we recommend consuming them during training and max-out meals when preparing for eating competitions. Red meats like beef and pork are the toughest for your body to digest and the process takes much more time and energy. All other components of challenges are between those two groups on the digestibility scale. If you are attempting a large steak challenge or a burger challenge that has a very large beef patty, your challenge will take longer to process than other challenges. Not only are meats dense, but they also contain little dietary fiber which helps push the food through your body. A good rule of thumb is that the harder your food is to digest, the longer and more energy intensive your recovery will be. Remember also that complex carbs take longer to digest than simple sugars. A bowl of pasta (complex) will take much longer than a large milkshake or bowl of ice cream. To help your body recover after very dense challenges, consider Supplementing Digestive Enzymes & Probiotics. Read that article for more information.

2. The amount of sodium in the food – This is discussed much further in our Expect Your Weight To Fluctuate Significantly article, but the amount of sodium in your challenge meal plays a major role in deciding what your recovery will be like afterwards and how long it will take for you to return to normal. Sodium retains water, which is why we recommend drinking plenty of water as soon as possible after your challenges and other big meals. An excessive amount of sodium causes your body to retain an excessive amount of water. Even if you begin drinking water as soon as the challenge is over, you will most likely not have to use the restroom very often that evening. All of that sodium you just consumed is causing all the water and liquids you are drinking to be retained. You may eat a five pound food challenge and weigh fifteen extra pounds the next morning. That is because your salty meal reacted with your body and caused it to retain a large portion of the liquids that you have drank since taking your first few bites of the challenge. The next day after a really salty challenge, you may wake up with swollen ankles, simply because your body is trying to find places to store all of the excess water. If you are eating a very salty challenge, which is almost all large challenges, plan on it taking a few days for your weight to be back around normal. The more water you drink though, the quicker your recovery will be.

3. How unhealthy the food is – This is a pretty easy quality to judge, but the third thing to evaluate is how “healthy” your challenge meal is. The more unhealthy the challenge is and the less nutritional value it contains, the worse you are typically going to feel afterwards. Therefore, you need to really consider this quality before scheduling something to do afterwards. Does anything sound healthy about eating 18 scoops of ice cream, 6 pounds of nachos, or a 3 kg cream-filled doughnut? Heck no!! In our Why Your Body Feels Tired After Eating A Lot article, we discuss why you may experience a “sugar crash” after your challenge. If the challenge is loaded with sugars and carbohydrates, such as ice cream, milkshake, and dessert challenges, you may experience extreme fatigue a little bit later while your body is digesting everything. You may experience similar issues and feelings too if your challenge is extremely high in fat. For example, I defeated a large “horseshoe” challenge which was five pieces of Texas toast, five 1/2 pound burger patties, and two pounds of fries, all topped with over two full pounds (32 ounces) of melted nacho cheese. I had no intentions of feeling great afterwards because I knew that all that cheese would not sit well in my stomach. I would not expect to feel great after a big six pound nacho challenge either. The more unhealthy your food challenge is, the worse off you will probably feel afterwards.

4. How your own body physically reacts – As we say, All Stomachs Were Not Created Equally, and your stomach and body may react to some foods differently than other people. What may digest just fine for me, your stomach may have problems with. The fourth quality to evaluate is how your body will personally react to all of the foods that make up that challenge. This mostly applies to challenges involving dairy products such as cheese and ice cream. If your body is lactose intolerant, you need to be careful and really plan out how you are going to make sure you don’t get sick afterwards. Everyone has heard a friend say their stomach doesn’t deal well with some particular item at some point. If not, you must not go eat with friends very often. This criteria applies to you if you have ever said that. If you want to take a challenge that doesn’t allow substitutions, and you know that one particular item may not set well in your stomach, plan ahead to make sure your recovery afterwards goes well.

For more information about recovering from food challenges, check out both our Recovery From Quantity Food Challenges and Recovery From Spicy Food Challenges articles. The above four criteria are briefly mentioned throughout those main articles because they have direct involvement in how long your full recovery period will be afterwards, along with how poorly you will feel during the first few hours after the challenge. Consider these four criteria while planning before your challenge, and you will be able to use all of the other tips throughout this section to feel better faster and fully recover much sooner than if you had never found our website. 🙂

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