While feasting on a McDonald’s Big-Mac after an intense round of cardio may seem counter-intuitive, a recent study from International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism may suggest otherwise. An entire industry of post-workout supplements exists designed to refuel your energy-striped muscles after a serious workout. From fancy protein powders to nutrient-packed power bars, supplements aim to restore glycogen levels in muscles lost after extended activity. Replacing these lost glycogen levels after a workout is vital, otherwise your muscles will search for other forms of energy, weakening the body’s overall structure and its’ immune system.
The bicep-curling super-humans chugging protein drinks at the gym might convince you that these supplements are the superior way of restoring your muscle’s energy. That’s where you’d be wrong. Research was conducted on two groups of participants to prove that any type of nutrients after a workout can be beneficial in helping the muscle groups, regardless of whether or not it was served up in a paper bag with a side of fries. The two groups were advised to fast for 12 hours prior to a 90-minute endurance run. After which the first group was fed a meal of pancakes, hash browns and orange juice. Two hours later they were fed a burger, fries and a Coke, while the second group was given Gatorade, Cliff bars and Powerbars instead. Once the workouts where complete, muscle tissue tests and blood samples where evaluated for glycogen levels. The results for the two groups showed virtually the same results, regardless of the post-workout diet.
This doesn’t meal that there aren’t other ill-effects of consuming a meal high in fat after exercising. In fact, foods with too high of fat and fiber contents can actually slow down glycogen replenishment. So while fast food isn’t superior to other nutritional supplements, it certainly doesn’t hurt to indulge every once and a while.
Hilary Mello (Group B)