What is Carbohydrate Rinsing?

Carbohydrate mouth rinsing can be defined as flushing a carbohydrate-based drink around the oral cavity multiples times and for a certain period (5s to 15 s) followed by the subsequent expulsion of fluid. 

How did the idea of Carbohydrate Rinsing come about?

The benefits of performance are documented when ingesting a carbohydrate-based drink. In 2004, Researchers at the University of Birmingham tried a different experiment where cyclists where given an infusion of glucose vs a placebo (saline). The results were surprising as the infusion of glucose did not bring about any ergogenic benefit over saline solution. This result brought about the thought of whether there is any ergogenic benefit with the sensing of carbohydrates in the mouth. Results showed that rinsing with non-sweet maltodextrin every 5 s regular intervals vs water had a positive effect on a 1 hour cycling time trial study.

It appeared that the taste receptors in the mouth can influence the neural pathways and can improve performance. The taste receptors in the mouth appear to be sensitive to non-sweet carbohydrates and could stimulate the reward centers of the brain.

Rinse Frequency

To gain similar benefits, a carbohydrate drink needs to be rinsed in regular periods of 5 to 10 min. This may not be feasible in all sports. Before starting a workout in the morning, doing a carbohydrate rinse could be a better option.

Type of Carbohydrate

All types of carbohydrates tested have demonstrated positive results. However, the effects are not dependent upon the sweetness of the drink, as maltodextrin is tasteless. The addition of artificial sweeteners does not provide any additional benefits.

Carbohydrate Drink Concentration

All concentrations ranging from 6% up to 17% concentration of carbohydrate work. Examples, fruit juices, sodas, sports drinks. It would be a waste to spit out sports drinks hence it is recommended to add plain sugar to water. 2 TBSP in 500 ml water is recommended.

Duration of Rinse in the mouth

Research has shown the best results can be achieved with a rinse duration between 5 to 15 secs.

Fed vs Fast State

Research indicates that better power output and faster times have been achieved when rinsing has been done in a fasted state. Hence rinsing first thing in the morning before beginning the workout can produce better results.