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April 20, 2015

Study: Fast food just as effective for recovery as sports supplements

A new study by researchers at the University of Montana suggests that fast food could be as effective in athlete's recovery as sports supplements, Medical News Today reports.

The researchers found that there was no significant difference in glycogen recovery when cyclists ate fast food following a workout compared to when they had traditional sports supplements such as Gatorade, Powerbar and Clif products.

The study, "Post-exercise Glycogen Recovery and Exercise Performance is Not Significantly Different Between Fast Food and Sport Supplements," was conducted by Brent Ruby, director of UM's Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism, graduate student Michael Cramer, and a team of researchers in UM's Department of Health and Human Performance.

In the study, 11 male cyclists completed two experimental trials in randomized order. Each trial included a 90-minute glycogen-depletion ride followed by a four-hour recovery period. Immediately following each ride and again two hours later, researchers provided participants with either sports supplements or fast food, such as hamburgers, french fires and hash browns. Following a four-hour recovery period, participants completed a 12.4-mile time trial.

In analyzing muscle biopsies and blood samples taken in between the two rides, the researchers found no differences in blood glucose, insulin responses, rates of glycogen recovery or time-trial performance between the two diets.

"Our results show that eating fast food - in the right amounts - can provide the same potential for muscle glycogen as sports nutrition products that usually cost more," Ruby told Medical News Today.

Ruby stressed the importance of moderation in fast food consumption.

"We had participants eating small servings of the fast-food products, not giant orders of burgers and fries," he said. "Moderation is the key to the results we got."