Researcher Says Toss The Sports Supplements And Eat Fast Food For Best Post-Workout Recovery

Workout junkies rejoice! New research suggests that eating fast food can be just as beneficial post-workout as taking sports supplements. Researchers found that during workout recovery periods, fast food offered the same benefits as dietary supplements in regards to secondary workout capability and glycogen levels in the muscles post-workout.

The study, which was published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, was lead by University of Montana graduate student Michael Cramer. Cramer’s research studied the athletes’ ability to perform an exercise after eating fast food as well as monitored the glycogen levels of participants. Glycogen is an energy source for the muscles and is used as “fuel” for the muscles during exercise. Therefore, many supplements claim to increase glycogen levels to ensure maximum workout performance. Interesting, though fast food athletes and sports supplement athletes both performed the same in the tests, the study found that those who ate fast food actually had higher levels of glycogen than those who took sports supplements instead.

The Daily Mail reports that the study was performed on 11 male athletes. All 11 participants were asked to fast for 12 hours before their first endurance exercise. The endurance exercise was 90-minutes long and performed on an empty stomach. Directly after the exercise, half the participants were fed hash browns, orange juice, and pancakes. Two hours after the first meal, the group was given a second meal that consisted of a cheeseburger, french fries, and Coke. The other half was given Gatorade, organic peanut butter, and Cliff Shot Bloks after their initial endurance exercise and two hours later given Cytomax powder and PowerBar products.

Researchers note that both groups were given roughly the same calories and protein between their meals. However, the fast food group had higher amounts of sodium and fat. Two hours after the second meal, all participants were asked to ride a stationary bike as fast as they possibly could for 12 miles. Interestingly, both groups performed almost exactly the same.

To ensure that genetic makeup or athletic ability wasn’t hindering the research, the athletes were asked to perform the task again. This time the participants given the fast food were given the sports supplements and vice versa. The results were the same — both the fast food group and sports supplement group performed the same in the study.

In addition to monitoring performance, muscle samples and blood work were also drawn during the course of the research. Blood tests reveal that glycogen levels were actually highest when the athlete was on the fast food diet. It was also indicated that the fast food did not seem to cause issues in glucose levels or cholesterol on the short-term.

“No differences in insulin, glucose or cholesterol were found, while neither group reported any serious stomach discomfort.”

However, before you ditch all your sports supplements, it is noted that more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of fast food consumption between workouts. The study would also need to be done on a larger sample size to ensure accuracy.

What do you think about the idea of consuming fast food between workouts or for post-workout recovery?

[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Justin Sullivan]