This seems like the stuff (cheese) dreams are made of. Is it really okay to eat fast food after a workout? A new study from the States seems to say indicate that yes, yes it is. And there go our saliva glands again.
According to a study released by the University of Montana, participants experienced no difference in their blood glucose levels, insulin responses or rates of glycogen recovery whether they ate fast food (like a cheeseburger) after working out, or a sports supplement.
And here we were thinking a salad for dinner.
Before you go wolfing down drive-thru items on your way home from the gym, however, there are a few things about the study to take into consideration. Mainly that it sounds too good to be true.
First of all, the study only followed 11 males throughout the trial, which hasn’t been followed up by other universities or programs. Therefore, more data needs to be procured before we can exactly say that eating a cheeseburger just because you ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes is a good idea.
Secondly, this particular study focused only on one specific type of exercise that was aimed at depleting glycogen, and not typical of what most of us would actually do at the gym. And third, the study didn’t take the overall heath of its participants into account either.
“Even athletes going for gold are increasingly thinking about their health overall,” Kate Comeau, dietitian and spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada tells The Loop. “Many choose minimally processed food (planned by a sports dietitian) instead of supplements.”
So in reality, perhaps the study should have looked at sports supplements versus natural foods, rather than putting processed up against processed.
Looking to fuel your own workouts? Comeau has some recommendations.
Working out doesn’t have to mean eating more
If you’re just adding 30 minutes of cardio and 20-30 minutes of weight to your day, you can likely wait until your next meal to eat, Comeau suggests. If you had an intense workout, you might eat “slightly larger portions. But for most people, this isn’t necessary — particularly if your goals include maintaining or losing weight.”
When you do need a snack
That doesn’t mean you should ignore your hunger either. If you aren’t simply dehydrated and drinking water doesn’t help, Comeau recommends chowing down on something that contains 10-20 grams of protein and 15-30 grams of carbs. “This could be a slice of whole grain bread with nut butter or a small bowl of Greek yogurt with berries,” she says.
Snack bars beware
If you are looking to throw a quick snack bar in your purse for post-workout purposes, be sure to read the label first and know your portion sizes.
“Some bars marketed as ‘Post-Workout Bars’ provide double the calories of other bars,” she warns. “This could derail your efforts to lose or maintain your weight. Some also include ingredients like sugar alcohols (maltitol, xylitol), which can cause gas, bloating or diarrhea.”
Don’t reward yourself with food
According to Comeau, this is an easy way to develop an unhealthy relationship with food — especially if you reward yourself with it in front of or with your kids. Sometimes a treat is okay, but “be sure to focus on nourishing meals and snacks for the rest of the day.”
Perhaps we will have that salad after the gym tonight after all. With some whole grain toast and smashed avocado on the side.