Chances are you probably think about it during your workout: a big juicy burger, greasy fries and an ice-cold Coca-Cola. You’re going to gobble them up as soon as you get off the treadmill, you tell yourself. But then, of course, you feel so totally amazing after your workout that you’re terrified to even put a carrot to your lips for fear of gaining back even a droplet of the sweat you just shed.
So here’s the ha-ha-joke’s-on-you reality: A study published in the recent issue of the Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise, found that your body may recover just as well from junk food after a workout as it would from post-workout meals like sports drinks, energy bars and smoothies.
What kind of junk food? All that stuff mentioned earlier and then some: hotcakes, hash browns, hamburgers, fries, and Coke. Now, what the researchers were testing for wasn’t overall health, but rather for blood sugar levels and glycogen recovery rates, which indicates how well a muscle has recovered from an exercise activity.
The researchers noticed no difference in the muscle recovery results between junk food and Gatorade or energy bars. Granted, we’re just talking muscle fatigue here, not the colo-rectal cancer the hamburger may cause down the line.
And the researchers explained that it’s more indicative of an issue with foods marketed as ideal for “post-workout recovery” than it is an endorsement for pulling a Clinton and jogging all the way to the nearest burger joint.
At its heart though, the study results really point to one glaring truth: there are no food shortcuts. What if the study would have compared the long-term benefits of eating fresh food, like whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables compared with those hotcakes, hash browns and sodas?
You don’t need a science degree to unravel this one. Eat whole foods, the kind that don’t market themselves as the ideal post-workout food because they don’t come with any labels in the first place.
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