Here’s your excuse to hit the drive thru (once in while!): Researchers have come to the conclusion that a little bit of fast food may help athletes recover following an exhausting workout.
A study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism showed that fast food is just as efficient as a protein bar or sports drink when it comes to glycogen recovery (when you work out, you deplete those stores and they need to be replinished afterwards to optimize muscle repair and growth.) The study, which was commissioned by a team of researchers at the University of Montana’s Department of Health and Human Performance, analyzed muscle biopsies and blood samples from 11 male cyclists following a rigorous ride.
Cyclists completed two 90-minute rides, with a four-hour recovery period in between each. Immediately after each ride, cyclists were given either sports supplements or fast food. When each recovery period was over, they got back on their bikes and completed a 12.4-mile time trial.
The researchers found no difference in blood glucose and insulin responses, as well as no difference in the time-trial performance between the two diets.
So, if you have a hankering for a burger and fries post-workout, this research shows you may not need to amp up that willpower after all. But, keep in mind that these athletes worked pretty hard and ate immediately afterwards (rather than going for a walk and then eating a greasy sandwich two hours later.) And no matter how hard you work, think before you super size it: “We had participants eating small servings of the fast-food products, not giant orders of burgers and fries. “Moderation is the key to the results we got,” said Director of UM’s Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism Brent Ruby in a release.