What Is A Carb Mouth Rinse?

EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman discusses what a carbohydrate mouth rinse is and how it can improve endurance performance.

Video Transcription:

Good morning, endurance friends. Matt Mosman, the endurance guru over at EndurElite, coming at you with another endurance knowledge bomb. So I'm only going to do one take of this video because I really just don't want to clean up that mess I made over here. From previous videos, we all know that consuming a carbohydrate-based sports drink during endurance exercise can enhance performance. But what if I were to tell you that you could take that same sports drink, you could drink it, swish it around your mouth without swallowing it, and you could still get some cool endurance-enhancing benefits?

Would you call me A, a liar, two, a zealot, or would you say three or C, "Matt I want to know more about this." Let's just assume the answer is C for right now. So what we're going to talk about today is what you call a carbohydrate mouth rinse. And it's exactly what it sounds like. You have a carbohydrate solution, you put it in your mouth, swish it around, and you spit it out. Now, as disgusting as that sounds, there's actually some pretty cool research behind it, showing it does work to enhance endurance performance.

What Does The Research Say About Carb Mouth Rinses?

For example, the classic study here is where the researchers took a group of cyclists and they had them do a 40-kilometer time trial. One group of cyclists got the carbohydrate mouth rinse and the other group got a placebo. Now during the 40-kilometer time trial, the cyclists who received the carbohydrate mouth rinse did it about every 5 minutes, swished the solution around in their mouth for about 5 seconds and spit it in a bowl without swallowing any of it. And then the placebo group basically did the same thing, but they weren't getting this carbohydrate mouth rinse. At the end of the study, the researchers crunched all the data, and it's actually pretty amazing what they found out. They found out that the group who did that the carb mouth rinse were over a minute faster than the placebo group. And there's a lot of other studies out there that has demonstrated this as well, in exercise lasting from 30 minutes up to about 75 minutes which, it's a good strategy for this duration of races. But any longer than that, this carb rinse method may not be the best of strategies and I'll tell you here why in a second.

How Do Carb Mouth Rinses Enhance Endurance Performance?

Now, where this really gets weird, with this whole carb rinse method is, from a physiological perspective, it makes absolutely zero sense why it would enhance performance. One, because your body has enough muscle glycogen to get you through a race lasting 60 minutes or maybe up to, like, 90 minutes without having to consume any kind of carbohydrate whatsoever. And two, any kind of carbohydrate that you did consume in exercise or racing less than an hour, by the time it was broken down and delivered to the muscles as glucose to provide any performance benefits, your exercise would be done. So the carbohydrate really has... From a physiological perspective, like I said, it makes no sense.

So what, what the hell is going on with this carb mouth rinse thing? It's actually pretty interesting. What the researchers think is that when you swish that carbohydrate solution around in your mouth, there's a receptor in your mouth that signals the brain that, "Well, food is on the way," and that just sends some kind of response to the body that gives it a quick spurt of energy, or what they think reduces the perception of effort, or how hard the exercise seems. I kind of liken it to if you're getting done with a big long run or ride and you eat a candy bar, you have that immediate effect of feeling better while, actually, no carbohydrate is into your system.

So carb mouth rinse...very, very interesting method and can be effective for exercise lasting 60 to 90 minutes. Now to circle back around, I wouldn't use this strategy if you're going over an hour of exercise, whether you're training or racing, because at some point your body cannot be tricked any longer and it's going to say, "Hey, you big dummy, you need to eat some carbs to keep glucose up and be able to keep on cranking away." So the carb mouth rinse strategy would seem to work best for exercise lasting underneath an hour.

What's The Best Way To Use A Carb Mouth Rinse?

Now let's go on to the next point, like when would this be an effective strategy to incorporate into a training regimen? I mean, I can think of a few circumstances where a carb mouth rinse would be beneficial. One is if you're the type of person who wakes up first thing in the morning and needs to get out of the door within five minutes before your kids come up to you and start saying, "Daddy, wipe my butt. Daddy get my breakfast." But in that case, you probably want to start drinking. But again, if you're the type of person that heads out the door first thing in the morning, maybe try and take that sports drink, take some PerformElite as well, swish the carbohydrate sports drink around in your mouth for about five seconds, and spit it out and head out for your run.

So that's one circumstance I can see it used in. Another circumstance is, like, if you can absolutely not stomach any food or drink leading up to your race, a carbohydrate mouth rinse might be a good idea. And on the same token, too, if you're racing underneath an hour and you, kind of, want to wet your whistle and you feel like you might need a little bit more energy or you're coming in fasted, a carbohydrate mouth rinse might work well in that circumstance, too. And then things for, like, OCR racers, it would be kind of an interesting theory to test out, like in a Spartan Sprint or more of a sprint series, to have...I don't know if you guys have aid stations or carry, like, a little flask with a carbohydrate mouth solution and just swish that real quick and spit it out, and you could even maybe get a competitive advantage from that. Just, like, spray it in your competitor's face. But, play fair, that wouldn't be nice.

So that's really the circumstances where I could see a carb mouth rinse being beneficial. So there you have it. It sounds really disgusting, but the carb mouth rinse seems to be pretty effective for exercise, like I said, lasting from 60 to 90 minutes. So if you want to learn more about this, I'm going to post a more thorough article here on the blog soon about the carb mouth rinse, and we're going to go into a few more studies that have looked at this. So if you really want to geek out, head over to www.endurelite.com, click on the Learn section and then it'll go to the EndurElite blog, where you'll find that article and a ton of other articles, all endurance, nutrition, training, and supplementation-related. So until next time, my endurance friends. Stay fueled, stay focused, and stay fast.