Chowin' down on a Big Mac after your workout may do your muscles some good, according to a recent study conducted at the University of Montana -- and no, this is not a late April Fools' joke.
The study, published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, monitored 11 male athletes' glycogen levels after eating either fast food or sports supplements post-exercise.
Prior to the start of the experiment, all participants fasted for 12 hours.
After completing a 90-minute endurance workout, half were fed pancakes, hash browns and orange juice, while the other half had peanut butter, Clif Shot Bloks (a supplement) and Gatorade.
Two hours later, group one ate a burger, fries and drank a Coke, while the second group had Cytomax powder (another supplement) and PowerBars.
Nutritionally, the meals were nearly identical, though the fast food was slightly higher in sodium and fat.
Two hours were allotted for digestion, after which all participants were directed to ride 12 miles on a stationary bike at full speed.
A week later, the participants switched groups and performed the same tasks.
Blood tests revealed the participants' glycogen levels -- what the body uses as fuel -- were similar across the board. Additionally, insulin, glucose and cholesterol levels remained constant.
Lead researcher, grad student Michael Cramer, concluded,
These data indicate that short-term food options to initiate glycogen re-synthesis can include dietary options not typically marketed as sports nutrition products such as fast food menu items.
In layman's terms: The type of food consumed post-workout has little to no effect on how the body creates and burns fuel.
The long-term effects of fast food consumption post-workout, however, remain unclear (at least, according to this study).
So if you're craving fries after an intense yoga sesh, you may as well go for it: Science approves.