The study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition and is the first to assesses the effect of beverage color on exercise performance, something that may well be of interest to the sports drinks sector.
In the experiment, participants had to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes. The speed they chose themselves with the only requirement that the effort rate was always constant. During the exercise they were given artificially sweetened, low-calorie pink drink to rinse their mouths and the same, but light in color. The rose only had food coloring that the researchers had added. Well, the result was that the participants ran an average of 212 meters more with the pink drink, while their average speed during the exercise test also increased by 4.4%. The feeling of pleasure also grew, which means that they enjoyed the activity more.
And why the pink? The researchers chose this color because it is associated with perception of sweetness and, therefore, increases the expectations of consumption of sugar and carbohydrates. Other experiments have shown that rinsing your mouth with carbohydrates can improve exercise performance because it is perceived as less intense. In this case, the researchers wanted to test whether rinsing with a pink drink that did not have any carbohydrate boost could elicit similar benefits through a possible placebo effect.
Further research will be necessary in the future to to know if the proposed placebo effect causes a similar activation in the reward zones of the brain that are usually recorded when someone rinses their mouth with a drink that contains carbohydrates.
Discussing the study, Dr Sanjoy Deb, author of the University of Westminster paper, said: “The influence of color on athletic performance has been the subject of interest before, from its effect on an athlete’s equipment to its Impact on Testosterone and Muscle Power Likewise, the role of color in gastronomy has received wide interest, with published research on how visual cues or color can affect subsequent taste perception when eating and drinking.
“The results of our study combine the art of gastronomy with performance nutrition, since the addition of a pink food coloring to an artificially sweetened solution not only improved the perception of sweetness, but also increased the sensation of pleasure, speed self-selected race track and distance covered during a race “.