Want to cut some time off your next race? The answer might be as simple as a short swish in your mouth.
Sugar mouth rinses can improve endurance performance, researchers from the University of Georgia discovered. They found that when trained runners swished with a solution containing table sugar eight times during a 13-km trial run, they significantly cut their finish times compared to when they rinsed with just water.
That equated to completing their runs about 3 minutes faster on average - a performance boost of about 5 percent, the researchers say.
The runners didn’t swallow the sugar solution, but the sugary water still did provide some calories for energy, which is probably an important part of what’s responsible for the boost. In fact, when the runners swished with a solution sweetened with artificial, no-cal sweetener, there was no difference in finish times as compared to water alone.
The researchers believe that the energy provided by the small amount of sugar triggers reward parts of your brain associated with motor control, which can help boost your endurance performance.
Now, this tactic probably works best when you’re completing runs in the 10K to 15K range or even a sprint triathlon, study author Dr Jamie Cooper, said a press release. Anything longer-distance - like a marathon, for instance - would likely need to take in more calories, in the form of carbohydrates, to help fuel their body.