Your ability to maintain both physical and mental capacity during competition is undoubtedly very important to your overall success.

When fatigue kicks in, your reaction time and decision making declines and your skillset becomes clumsy (you know what I mean).

In sports that require you to operate at high intensities whilst staying mentally sharp, this could be the difference in making an important shot, the timing and speed of a pass…or winning and losing.

Therefore, the best performing athletes can maintain physical output, but can also stay mentally sharp right until the very end.

One method of achieving this is through rinsing carbohydrates in your mouth intermittently for the duration of exercise/competition.

Konishi et al (2017) tested this method by recruiting individuals to run on a treadmill at 75% Vo2max for 65 minutes before completing an ‘executive function test’. In other words, they made them physically tired and tested their ability to stay focused, pay attention and make quick, decisive decisions.

Every 10 minutes during the test, the runners were asked to swill a carbohydrate drink in their mouth for 5 seconds (not swallow).

Interestingly, mouth rinsing allows you to gain the neural benefits of carbohydrates without fully ingesting it…and therefore a nice strategy for those who experience gastrointestinal issues during competitions. Because sometimes, you just don’t want to swallow.

The results suggest that NOT rinsing carbohydrates significantly increased reaction time, where rinsing carbohydrate maintained reaction time and mental capacity. Therefore, their ability to concentrate and stay focused was maintained throughout, unlike those who went without carbs.

In previous studies, this protocol has been shown to improve running performance and decrease ratings of perceived exertion through activating the reward centres in the brain.

Other research has shown that the presence of carbs in the oral cavity can increase heart rate variability (HRV) and can positively impact executive function.

Finally, this research showed that rinsing carbs throughout exercise can decrease stress hormones (norepinephrine) which have previously shown to impair cognitive function.

Ultimately, if you need to be mentally sharp during high intensity sessions, games or events, carbohydrate mouth rinsing appears to be a very wise approach.

Whilst you’re here…If you find this content interesting, but don’t quite know how to apply it to maximise your performance and take your athletic development to the next level, I can 100% help you through my Athlete Coaching Programme. Click the shiny orange button below to find out more.

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