Whether you're a serious, sweating athlete or just need to recover after a night of drinking, chances are you've replenished your body's fluids with a sports drink at some point. Those electrolytes aren't the only thing entering your systems, though. Sports drinks are sugary, sweet, and loaded with calories—but there's a way you can still recharge your body without ingesting the unhealthy additives.
It might sound ridiculous to waste your sports drink by spitting it out, but science argues that even the tiniest amount of the liquid offers the same benefits.
According to a series of tests conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, simply swishing a sports drinks around in your mouth is enough to enhance your performance. The researchers examined how the drinks, with their mix of glucose, maltodextrin, and artificial sweetener, would both influence individuals' athletic ability and affect their brains.
The study's tests discovered that when participants simply rinsed their mouths with a glucose-filled sports drink, they were able to cycle noticeably faster than those who swished a sugary placebo. The glucose also stimulated reward triggers in the brain, making the athletes believe the liquid was directly responsible for their improved performance. The sugar water, on the other hand, had no effect on the other group.
Although sports drinks are typically touted for their electrolytes, the true material behind their success is glucose. This carbohydrate, when in our mouths, is responsible for activating the triggers necessary to give us that extra athletic boost.
As the aforementioned study discusses, our brain's reward center is activated by the tiniest taste of sports drinks and their glucose. This doesn't just make us feel reinvigorated, though—that same trigger also controls our motor skills. When we introduce carbs to our bodies, our brains help us move better and easier.
So, when you need a boost but don't want to chug an entire bottle of sugary sports drink, a quick sip and swish will offer you the benefits you're looking for.
Spitting out your sport drinks may seem like a silly, unnecessary idea, especially when it comes to your wallet. Why waste money on cases of Gatorade when you aren't even going to drink it? With a few common ingredients, you can create your own rehydration beverage.
There are a few different recipes you can utilize to create an effective drink. You can cut down on sugar and use agave nectar as a sweetener, or even add in honey to up the glucose percentage. Keep in mind that crafting the perfect sports drink relies on carbohydrates, not sugar, and you'll be able to receive the same benefits as the store-bought versions.
No matter which method of sports drink ingestion you choose, the amount is up to you. With a quick rinse, you can achieve the same effects as gulping down an entire bottle.
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