Gatorade, Powerbar and Clif products the same as eating fast food post-workout

I’ll be the first to admit that nutrition for endurance athletes is paramount. It’s the foundation for everything.

Post-workout fueling is one key area. I’m not one to get hung up on the whole refuel within X number of minutes of working out. For me, I usually time my sessions just before meals. So, my post-workout fuel is just real food.

But, many don’t or aren’t able to take this approach. Instead, after a long, hard session, they’ll opt for something to help replenish and hold them over until their next meal (or workout).

In the sports nutrition world, options abound: Gatorade, Powerbar, and Clif products are all quite popular. But are these your best options?

A team of researchers from the University of Montana decided to put them to the test among a small group of male cyclists. Here’s the catch, they compared their efficacy in terms of recovery and performance against fast food. thumb_COLOURBOX1166662

They had 11 male cyclists complete two successive hard efforts with four hours of recovery in between. The first session was a 90-minute “glycogen-depleting ride” followed by a 20 km time trial after the recovery period. Between each, cyclists were randomly assigned to consume one of two fueling options: traditional sports nutrition products, or fast food, like hamburgers and french fries.

And what did they observe?

No difference! Yes, after analyzing blood glucose and muscle biopsies, rates of glycogen recovery were the same. Also, there was zero difference in time trial performance.

Now, one approach would be to elevate the value of fast food, which is how the study has been spun by its press release and other outlets.

But, I see it the opposite way. To me, this says that traditional sports nutrition products can’t even outperform fast food. So, is this a positive story for fast food or a negative one for conventional sports nutrition products like Gatorade, Powerbar and Clif?

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