April 03, 2015 02:40 PM

Charles F. Hu Photography/Getty

We always knew something felt so, so right about eating Taco Bell after a strenuous workout.

A new study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism investigated whether popular post-workout supplements and shakes were more effective at enhancing post-exercise glucose recovery than junk food.

The answer? Pour out your protein shake, buy a burger, and never look back.

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In the study, 11 athletes fasted for 12 hours and then engaged in a strenuous hour-and-a-half workout. Immediately afterward, half of the participants were fed hash browns, pancakes and orange juice — and two hours later, a burger, fries and a Coke. The other, “healthy” half refueled with Gatorade, peanut butter and Clif Shot Bloks, followed by Cytomax powder and PowerBar products two hours later. Then, both groups biked for 12 miles as fast as they could. (And miraculously, no one vomited.)

Researchers analyzed several blood tests from each group — and had them repeat the study a week later, switching to the other diet. And the bottom line was this: It didn’t matter if you refueled with fried potatoes or expensive athletic supplements. The biking times were essentially identical for both groups.

While we’re tempted to interpret these results as a science-backed recommendation to eat more burgers, a more reasonable takeaway would be to buy fewer protein bars.

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—Maria Yagoda, @MariaYagoda

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