Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Super-Size Your Workout

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)


  1. Good post, I find it interesting that once you boil it down your body needs pretty basic things after exercise and these things can not only be found in protein bars but also in other foods as well. You mention in your post that the first group was fed two meals after fasting while you only mentioned group two as having one meal. Why wouldn't the two groups eat the same number of meals?

    David Rains,

  2. is it possible that since the second group wasn't fed as much as the first group, that may be the reason why their muscle tissue tests were almost the same? Because I was wondering that maybe if they both were fed the same, one group may actually test higher than the other.

    osuji chukwunonso

  3. These are some interesting results. I had always heard that it was fine for your health to occasionally get a burger from McDonald's or any other fast food restaurant and that it was really the fries and soda that make the meal so unhealthy.

  4. I think that this is really cool, especially since protein shakes and powders are a major business now, and the majority of the people using them don't really understand what their body needs. However I think that a study such as this would need to also look at the long term and see if this kind of fuel is actually as good. But good post!

    -Madison Boone

  5. Very interesting! I've always assumed that fast-food was always a negative source of nutrition, but it's interesting to consider that it could be beneficial for weightlifters and individuals who exercise often! I'll have to pass this along to my muscle-head friends! Cool post!

    -Michael Salhany

  6. Interesting post on dieting and exercise, but was there any control group in the test? Given the testing conditions, do you think they should have had a third, fasting, group to see how either meal improved muscle recover after working out?

    Also, I found the phrase "bicep-curling super-humans" hilarious, thank you.

    -Dan Staiculescu

  7. Interesting post! It's always crazy how misconstrued some nutrition stereotypes can be when consumers don't have all the facts. However, I was wondering what effect the high salt content of fast food would have on muscle recovery versus a lower-sodium but equally carbohydrate-rich meal. Thanks!

    -Rebecca Quirie