A new study, recently published by the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found there was no significant difference in glycogen recovery when cyclists ate fast food after a workout compared to when they ingested traditional sports supplements such as Gatorade.
In the study, 11 male cyclists completed two experimental trials in randomised 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 fries and hash browns.
Following a four-hour recovery period, participants completed a 12.4-mile (20-kilometer) time trial.
The researchers analysed muscle biopsies and blood samples taken in between the two rides and found no differences in blood glucose and insulin responses.
Rates of glycogen recovery from the feedings also were not different between the diets.
Most importantly, there were no differences in 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,” said lead researcher Brent Ruby, director of UM’s Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism.
He stressed though that “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.”