Pink drinks can help you run faster and further compared to clear drinks, according to a new study led by the Center for Nutraceuticals in the University of Westminster.
Individuals who rinsed their mouths with a pink artificially sweetened drink during exercise had significantly improved performance and experienced a “feel good” effect that made exercise seem easier.
Previous studies have shown that rinsing the mouth with carbohydrates can boost exercise performance by reducing the perceived intensity of the exercise.
The current study is the first to explore the influence of drink color on exercise performance. The researchers wanted to examine whether rinsing with a pink drink that had no carbohydrate stimulus could produce similar benefits through a placebo effect.
The color pink was chosen because it is associated with perceived sweetness, which increases expectations of sugar and carbohydrate intake.
Study participants were asked to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a self-selected speed. Throughout the exercise session, they rinsed their mouths with either a pink or clear artificially sweetened drink that was low in calories. The drinks were exactly the same except for food coloring.
The participants ran an average of 212 meters further with the pink drink, while their average speed increased by 4.4 percent. In addition, those who rinsed with the pink drinks found running more enjoyable.
Further research is needed to investigate whether the proposed placebo effect may activate the same reward areas of the brain as rinsing with carbohydrates.
“The influence of color on athletic performance has received interest previously, from its effect on a sportsperson’s kit to its impact on testosterone and muscular power. Similarly, the role of color in gastronomy has received widespread interest, with research published on how visual cues or colour can affect subsequent flavor perception when eating and drinking,” said study co-author Dr. Sanjoy Deb.
“The findings from our study combine the art of gastronomy with performance nutrition, as adding a pink colorant to an artificially sweetened solution not only enhanced the perception of sweetness, but also enhanced feelings of pleasure, self-selected running speed and distance covered during a run.”
The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.