Researchers have found that simply rinsing the mouth with an energy drink could improve sports performance, thanks to sensitive receptors that acknowledge the presence of sugar.
A study carried out by experts from the University of Birmingham and Manchester Metropolitan University found that the sugar in sports performance drinks does not even have to be absorbed by muscles to have a positive impact on performance.
The research, published in the Journal of Physiology, shows certain receptors in the mouth acknowledge the presence of sugar and send reward and pleasure signals to the brain.
Scientists gave eight endurance-trained cyclists a drink containing 6.4% of glucose (a form of carbohydrate) and compared the results with those for a drink containing the artificial sweetener saccharin.
A second group were given a drink containing 6.4% of maltodextrin (a tasteless form of carbohydrate).
All participants rinsed their mouths with their drink and spat it out before completing a one-hour cycle challenge.
In both trials, the cyclists swilling their mouths with the carbohydrate drink performed significantly better than those given the artificial sweetener drink, with a 2% reduction in the time it took to complete the set workload.