Just in case you thought performance drinks were a waste of money, a new study, reported in the Journal of Physiology, says they're not.
The study, undertaken by the researchers at the University of Birmingham in England. used eight endurance-trained cyclists as subjects for their experiments. They were asked to 'swish' with one of three liquids: two of the liquids were pseudo-sports drinks which contained either glucose or maltodextrin (carbohydrates), and the third mixture contained an artificial sweetener. Then, the athletes completed a very challenging workout.
It turned out that the athletes who swished with either the glucose or the maltodextrin liquid performed 2 - 3 percent better than the athletes who swished the artificial sweetener. Not only that, but magnetic resonance images (MRIs) taken after the subjects swished, showed that specific pleasure centers of the brain were stimulated in the subjects that swished with the carbs, whereas the artificial sweetener did not have that effect.
What did the results of the study suggest? First, that the human mouth has receptors that are sensitive to carbohydrates that are independent of those sensitive to a sweet taste. And second, and amazingly, that there is a positive relationship between just tasting the carbohydrate drink and exercise performance.
The authors of the study say they are not implying that sports drinks don't need to be swallowed to be effective.
(I wonder what the effect would be if you simply inhaled the drinks....)