If you are going to gargle something next time you choose to run, here’s some free advice: Try using a pink-colored drink. As strange because it sounds, pink drinks appear to be linked with enhanced running performance.
In a new study, scientists found that runners who rinsed their mouths with a pink-colored liquid solution –identical-tasting one – ran long distnace & at a faster average speed, while having a more enjoyable running experience too.
“Adding a pink colorant to an artificially sweetened solution not only enhanced the perception of sweetness, but also enhanced feelings of delight , self-selected running speed,& distance covered during a run,” explains performance nutritionist Sanjoy Deb from the University of Westminster in UK.
Before you create a beeline for the drinks aisle in your local supermarket, though, let’s get some caveats out of the way.
This is alittle study that only involved 10 participants in total, so bear that in mind. Plus, like any experiment like this, all the researchers found was an association with pink drinks – not definitive scientific confirmation that pink drinks actually cause your legs to maneuver quicker or anything like that.
That said, the results are certainly suggestive that pink-colored drinks might be making a big difference to people’s overall running performance… so how exactly is that possible?
According to the researchers, the answers need to do with how our bodies reply to energy intake during exercise, albeit it’s only perceived energy intake.
Previous studies have already shown that performance in sports like running & cycling seems to be enhanced when people use carbohydrate mouth rinses, with the stimulus thought to deliver a strength to areas within the brain involved motor output and reward system functions – effects which will make exercise seem simultaneously more pleasurable & lesser tiring.
Caffeine is another substance which will deliver enhancements to physical performance, but same type of benefits are often realized without actually consuming energy or stimulants, it seems.
As for the precise color pink, the team chosed this on previous research that has demonstrated we associate pink with sweetness.
“Although there could also be no immediate link between drink color, taste & performance nutrition, if the colour pink is related to perceived sweetness, and thus expectations of sugar/carbohydrate intake, it’s going to be plausible that the supply of a pink-colored mouth rinse during exercise may elicit an identical ergogenic [performance-enhancing] benefit thereto of carbohydrate mouth rinse through a potential placebo effect ,” Deb & his co-authors write in their new paper.
To test their consequence hypothesis, the researchers recruited 10 fit, healthy adults experienced with running as a part of their regular exercise, and got them to run on a treadmill for half-hour , with instructions to line-up their own speed for a challenging workout.
At several times during the experiment, the volunteers were asked to rinse their mouths out with an artificially sweetened, non-caloric solution – either a transparent liquid, or same-to-same solution colored pink with a food dye.
That one simple addition made a notable difference to running performance, the researchers say, with the pink drink linked to a mean speed boost of roughly 0.5 km/h, which within the experiment meant an additional 213 meters being run, for an overall 4.4 percent improvement in performance.
“An increase in feelings of delight was also reported during exercise in pink mouth rinse condition, a possible psychophysiological mechanism which can have underpinned the performance improvement reported,” the authors write.
This mechanism, the researchers suggest, is underpinned by placebo effect ,in which the runners could expected to receive an energy boost from potential sugar/carbohydrate consumption in sweet-tasting mouth rinse they used.
It’s worth noting that before the experiment, the participants did watch a video detailing the performance-enhancing benefits of carbohydrate mouth rinses, and were informed that the tests they were close to undertake were designed to live the consequences of mouth-rinsing two commercial sports drinks.
That was a ruse, of course, designed to ‘blind’ the volunteers to what the experiment was actually about. But it also means they were perhaps primed for a placebo effect to happen – during a way which may be difficult to copy at resident (home) by simply gargling pink-colored liquid once you choose to run.
In any case, it is a pretty fascinating result, and one that the researchers say warrants further investigation in future studies – to ascertain just how far this pink (and maybe other colored) placebo effect might extend in terms of potential performance enhancement during exercise & sport.
Oh, and if you’re getting to rinse your mouth with something once you exercise, maybe stay away from actual mouthwash. That has some pretty weird effects, too.
The findings are reported in Frontiers in Nutrition.