According to a study published in the Journal of Physiology, it is possible to reap some of the athletic performance rewards of a carbo-load without actually eating any carbs.
Previous studies have shown that the presence of carbs in your mouth activates regions of the brain that can improve athletic performance.
The primary aim of this study was to see how “rinsing the mouth with solutions containing glucose and maltodextrin, disguised with artificial sweetener, would affect exercise performance”.
The secondary aim was to identify those regions of the brain activated by the sugars and artificial sweetener. A functional MRI (fMRI) machine was used to map the brain.
Prior to completing a cycling time trial, the eight volunteers rinsed their mouth out with a solution of glucose or maltodextrin or a placebo solution containing the artificial sweetener saccharin.
After the rinse, they hopped on their bikes and pedaled as hard and as fast as their legs could go.
- In study 1A, test subjects “completed a cycle time trial significantly faster when rinsing their mouths with a 6.4% glucose solution compared with a placebo containing saccharin.”
- The corresponding fMRI study (1B) revealed that oral exposure to glucose activated reward-related brain regions, including the anterior cingulate cortex and striatum, which were unresponsive to saccharin.
- In study 2A, cyclists who rinsed with the maltodextrin solution once again outperformed their saccharin-swilling brethren.
- The second neuroimaging study (2B) “compared the cortical response to oral maltodextrin and glucose, revealing a similar pattern of brain activation in response to the two carbohydrate solutions, including areas of the insula/frontal operculum, orbitofrontal cortex and striatum”.
The results suggest that the improvement in exercise performance caused by the carbo-rinse may be due to the activation of brain regions believed to be involved in reward and motor control.
The findings also suggest that there may be a class of so far unidentified oral receptors that respond to carbohydrate independently of those for sweetness.
What does this mean to you?
- One of the primary benefits of cardio-vascular training is that fat is the primary choice of fuel.
- This is why cardio training is one of the most popular weight loss tools.
- However, a lot of trainees hurt their own cause by carbing up prior to a cardio session.
- Carbo-loading before a cardio session impairs the use of body-fat as fuel.
- It shifts you from being a fat-burner to a carb-burner
- However, because of this study, you can have the best of both worlds. The performance boosting effect of carbs combined with optimum fat burning.
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