A recent study shows that eating a fast food meal after you work out is just as good for muscle-building as eating a protein bar. Of course it’d be nice to think that McDonald’s has switched its focus from greasy burgers to health supplements, but alas, that is not the case. Rather, sports supplements may not be all they’re cracked up (or marketed) to be.
As published in the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism,” the study examined how a post-workout meal affects a man’s muscle glycogen recovery. The researchers had 11 men perform an intense 90-minute workout, followed by a meal right after the workout, and then another meal two hours later. In each trial, the men’s meals were either sport supplements or fast food. The fast food meals consisted of hotcakes, hashbrowns and orange juice right after the workout (amounting to 2720 calories) and a hamburger, coke and fries two hours after the workout (amounting to 2845 calories). The sport supplement meals, on the other hand, consisted of Gatorade, Kit’s Organic PB and Clif Shot Bloks right after the workout (2775 calories) and Cytomax, Power Bar Recovery, PBCC and Power Bar Energy Chews two hours later (2678 calories). Tests measuring muscle growth, blood lipids and glucose showed that there was no difference between the fast food and sport supplement trials. In addition, participants noted the same level of discomfort or sickness following the meals.
This study seemingly backs up a 2009 study published in the “Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition,” in which the workout routines of 28 overweight or exercise-averse men were analyzed over the course of 12 weeks, along with their consumption of soy or whey protein. Results showed that neither type of protein was more effective for building muscle, and in fact there were no discernible differences between those 28 men and a third group which was given no added protein to their diet.
So if protein bars are essentially just as useful as fast food when it comes to post-workout nutrition, what is all the hype about? Naturally, there’s the protein factor. But all protein is not synonymous with health. In fact, many unhealthy products use the guise of “high-protein” labels to sell their highly processed, sugary content. For instance, the protein in many bars comes from soy protein isolate, which is made from processed soybeans. While natural soybeans can be a wonderful source of protein, processed soy is a whole other story. The processing of soybeans at high temperatures denatures the proteins, which essentially results in a low quality form of protein. In fact, most soybean meal (which is what’s used to make soy protein isolate) is used as livestock feed in the U.S. (Read more from “No Difference Between Fast Food, Protein Bars as Post-Workout Meals” HERE)