A new study from the Centre for Nutraceuticals at the University of Westminster has shown that pink drinks can help you run faster and farther than clear drinks.
The researchers have discovered that a pink drink can boost physical performance by 4.4 percent while also increasing a feel-good effect, making exercise appear easier.
The study, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, is the first to examine the effect of drink color on exercise performance and has the potential to open up a new avenue of future research in the field of sports drinks and exercise.
During the study, participants were asked to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a self-selected speed while maintaining a consistent rate of exertion. “Throughout the exercise, the participants rinsed their mouths with either a pink artificially sweetened drink that was low in calories or a clear drink which was also artificially sweetened and low in calories,” as per the reports.
Both drinks were identical and only differed in appearance, as the pink drink was colored with food dye by the researchers. Pink was chosen by the researchers because it is associated with perceived sweetness, which raises expectations of sugar and carbohydrate intake.
Previous research has shown that rinsing the mouth with carbohydrates can improve exercise performance by lowering perceived intensity, so the researchers wanted to see if rinsing with a pink drink with no carbohydrate stimulus could elicit similar benefits via a potential placebo effect.
Dr. Sanjoy Deb, the corresponding author of the paper from the University of Westminster said, “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 color can affect subsequent flavor perception when eating and drinking.”
The results show that the pink drink caused participants to run an additional 212 meters, while their mean speed during the exercise test increased by 4.4 percent. Pleasure feelings were also enhanced, implying that participants found running more enjoyable.
“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,” Dr. Deb added.
According to the reports, future research is needed to determine whether the proposed placebo effect activates the same reward areas of the brain that are commonly reported when rinsing the mouth with carbohydrates.