There may be a performance enhancing substance hiding beneath the bathroom sink. New research suggests a few gargles of a sugary solution, like mouthwash, offers a performance boost for endurance athletes.
When scientists had marathon runners swish, but not ingest, a basic sugar solution during a timed trial, they measured a 5 percent improvement in performance.
â€œIt was surprising to us how drastic the improvement in times was,â€ Jamie Cooper, an associate professor food and nutrition at the University of Georgia, said in a news release. â€œThese were endurance-trained individuals, so to see a 5 percent improvement in performance â€” almost three minutes on average â€” was huge.â€
The experiment featured a 7.9-mile time trial on an indoor track. Nine men and seven women completed the trial four times, swigging a solution eight times over the course of each run. Each of the four trials featured a different solution.
Runners swigged a basic sucrose solution made with table sugar. They also swished two solutions made with sucralose, an artificial sweetener â€” one high-intensity and one low-intensity, both offering a sweet taste but no energy. The fourth solution, and control, was water.
Only the sucrose solution offered a performance boost.
The time trial results were published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.
â€œIf someone is doing a marathon, this is not going to help them â€” they need to take in carbohydrates because they need the calories in their body,â€ Cooper said. â€œBut if someone is going to run a 10K or 15K or theyâ€™re a cyclist whoâ€™s doing a 20-mile time trial or even a sprint triathlon, if they do a mouth rinse with a sweet-tasting carbohydrate, they should see some improvements in performance.â€