|Image 1: "You need carbs to fuel your workouts!" You know the whole litany... what may be news to you is that scientists are speculating that "intra workout carbs" do not necessarily have to be ingested to do their ergogenic magic.|
As part of their recently published study into the effects of carbohydrate mouthrinsing on exercise capacity in the pre- and postprandial state (Fares. 2011), Elie-J. M. Fares and Bengt Kayser have compiled a list of the 8 hitherto published peer-reviewed papers on that subject. And if you just went by the column "increased perfomance", "yes or no", it appears like it was an established fact that carbohydrate mouthrinsing was highly ergogenic. After all, six out of the eight studies are marked with the tag "increased performance".
|Figure 1: Performance increases and standard deviations of the respective measures from studies on the advantage of carbohydrate vs. artificially sweetened or plain water mouthrinse (data calculated based on summary in table 2 of (Fares. 2011)|
Mouthrinse vs. placebo = minimal (if any advantage), but what about vs. ingestion?
Regardless of what you think about the real world significance of an average performance increase of 1% (calculated based on the data from figure 1), for the small fraction of athletes for whom these minimal performance increases would actually count, i.e. high intensity endurance athletes, like time-trial Tour de France cyclists, the "control", or I should say the "benchmark" should not be plain or sweetened water, but rather one of these crab-, ah... pardon me, carb-loaden sugary electrolyte drinks these athletes are habitually consuming. I was thusly happy to see that Catherine Moss, a student of Sports and Exercise Sciences at the Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand has recently conducted an experiment for her thesis that has much more practical relevance for the high achieving athletes (Moss. 2011).
|Table 1: Composition of the placebo and CHO supplement in the Moss study (adopted from Moss. 2011)|
|Figure 2: Mean power output (in Watts) at different time points during time trial (data adapted from Moss. 2011).|
|Figure 3: Total time (in s) during time trial (data adapted from Moss. 2011).|
|Figure 4: Pleasure / displeasure feeling during time trial (data adapted from Moss. 2011).|
|Figure 5: Respiratory exchange ratio (higher values = higher carbohydrate oxidation) during time trial (data adapted from Moss. 2011).|
Spit it or suck it? What's right for you?
While we do not know whether it would make sense to mouthrinse in a glycogen repleted state (yeah, I know +1% ;-), for any athlete interested in maximal performance, simply ingesting his carb + electrolyte drink would certainly be the best option. The (intermittendly) fasting dieter, who wants to maximize his fatty acid oxidation in the course of say his "morning cardio", on the other hand, would be best off with a non-carby electrolyte drink that helps him avoid dehydration and does not compromise (even if the effect is minimal) fatty acid oxidation... what? You want to know who would benefit from spitting his carbs out? Well, at least based on the current data, mostly the cleaning contractors of your local gym - after all, they would have to work overtime (and be paid overtime) to clean up the mess ;-)