Saturday, July 14, 2018

They're Not Spitting, It's Carb Rinsing

Helps with penalty taking?
Last couple of days before the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup and if you've been watching the football matches, you've noticed all the rinsing and/or spitting some of the football players do nearing the end of the match. Particularly before the penalty kicks so that their performance won't decline. 
Yes, the players seem to be taking a long swig from the water bottles and then they expel all the contents instead. The players are actually "carb rinsing".

I've written about this "rinse and spit" way back in 2010. It definitely works. Yes, us runners and triathletes have done this for a long time before the footballers caught on. If  you live in Singapore, you'll know that how it feels racing in our super hot and humid climate. Not everyone can handle eating a Power bar or gel and it's worse when you drink too much because you'll end up feeling bloated. And once you feel bloated, it's gonna be real difficult to run fast.

How does it work? It involves "tricking" the brain a little. Exercise physiologists explain that receptors in our mouth send signals to our brain (reward and pleasure areas) suggesting that more energy is on the way so our muscles can push a little harder and there should not be any reason to feel tired.
Ronaldo does it too
Research suggest that carb rinsing works better when the fluids are swished around the mouth for at least five to ten seconds, the longer the better so that more oral receptors come into contact with the carbohydrates in the drink.

Please take note that there needs to be actual carbohydrates in the drink that you use and carb rinsing cannot sustain you for an indefinite period. You still need to eat or drink actual carbohydrates as your body's muscles become depleted of glycogen. 

It seems to work best for intense exercise lasting between 30 mins and and hour so perhaps rinsing your mouth and then actually swallowing some of it for best results if your races are longer.


Currell K, Conway and Jeukendrup AE (2009). Carbohydrate Ingestion Improves Performance Of A New Reliable Test Of Soccer. Int J Sp Nutr Ex Metab. 19(1): 34-46.

Phillips Sm, Sproule J and Turner AP (2011). Carbohydrate Ingestion During Team Games Exercise: Current Knowledge And Areas For Future Investigation. Sports Med. 41: 559-585.

Rollo I, Williams C et al (2008). The Influence Of Carbohydrate Mouth Rinse On Self-selected Speeds During A 30-minute Treadmill Run. Int J Sp Nutr Ex Metab. 18(6): 585-600.

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