You’ve struggled through dozens of obstacles, plenty of mud-entrenching miles, and have the sore muscles to prove it. While it might be tempting to treat yourself to a gallon of ice cream, 14 pizzas, and guzzle down booze after a particularly challenging race or event, post-Tough Mudder is actually one of the most critical times get the proper nutrients.
So we’re about to get nitty gritty about what you should eat post mud-run. Because who wants to meal-plan after Balls To The Wall and Electroshock Therapy, anyway? Here are the ingredients you need for a perfect post-Mudder meal.
1. Complex Carbohydrates
There's simple carbohydrates and there's complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs turn to sugar quickly and are found in foods like cereals, white rice, pasta, cookies, pastries, gels, and fruit juices. Complex carbs, on the other hand, are typically found in whole grains and seeds like brown rice, quinoa, whole grain or sprouted breads, and tubers like sweet potatoes, squash, or potatoes.
After a Tough Mudder Event, fill your post-event plate roughly half full of a complex carb like the ones mentioned above. (And for good measure, these are the other times of day it's best to eat carbs.)
2. Lean Proteins
Bacon might be delicious, but opting for a lean protein is a better choice for refueling, since high fat foods (like bacon, pork belly, fatty steak, etc.) can slow down digestion, which slows your body's ability to intake the protein it needs for muscle recovery. Basically, protein helps you bulk up those biceps (Hunter, we’re looking at you).
Opt for 4-6 ounces of lean proteins like wild salmon, wild cod, chicken, lean steak, eggs or tofu. Vegan or vegetarian athletes who like tofu about as much as they like Artic Enema should mix brown rice and beans or quinoa and lentils, or opt for some of these high protien vegetables.
3. Healthy Fats
They may not be vital for post-workout nutrition, but healthy fats help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K). Additionally, fats can increase satiety post-exercise when you’re likely the hungriest (and hangriest).
Add a thumb-sized amount from foods like raw nuts, avocado, coconut oil, ghee, and cold-water fish to your meal for better taste and nutrition.
Antioxidants protect cells from oxidation, but all you really need to know is this: find them and eat them. All of them. There's flavanols (in chocolate), beta-carotene (in carrots), vitamin C (in oranges), resveratrol (in wine), and catechins (apples). But if you vary the fruits and vegetables you eat, you'll get a wide variety of antioxidants daily.
While supplemental antioxidants are available, focus on real food instead. The reasoning? One study found, athletes who took supplemental antioxidants did not experience the same muscle growth as athletes who went without the vitamins.
We know that at the very minimum we need to be drinking 8 cups each day, but few of us drink enough each day. So after sweating through a Tough Mudder, make sure you reach for the water first, then enjoy your beer alongside a glass of H2O.
Need Some Meal Suggestions?
-Grilled chicken with olive oil-roasted potatoes, beets, and carrots
-A salad with steak, dressed with an olive oil-based vinaigrette and a side of mashed sweet potato
-Salmon with brown rice and stir-fried vegetables and topped with sesame seeds
-Tofu with quinoa, brocoli, and a tahini-based dressing
-Egg omelet with goat cheese, mushrooms, and spinach
-Yogurt bowl (dairy or coconut yogurt works here) topped with fresh fruit, low-sugar granola, and hemp seeds
And if you do choose to indulge in a beer or pizza, enjoy it. Then focus on rounding out the rest of your diet with a wide array of vegetables, fruits, complex carbs, healthy fats, and quality proteins. Fueling your body now, means plenty of Tough Mudders to come.