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Sports Drink Color Affects Performance

Can the color of a sports drink affect athletic performance?

Athlete consuming pink sports drink

Turns out that even the color of a sports drink may enhance feelings of refreshment and revival. Recently, a small study found that a pink drink can increase exercise performance by 4.4% and boost the “feel good” effect that makes exercise seem easier.

Investigators from the Centre for Nutraceuticals at the University of Westminster found that 10 male and female study participants ages 27–33 who ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a self-selected speed ran an average of 212 meters farther and felt more feelings of pleasure after rinsing their mouths with a pink-colored sports drink than after rinsing with an identical clear beverage.

“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 the run,” said study author Sanjoy Deb, PhD, a lecturer in sport and exercise nutrition. Study limitations include the small sample size, a limited age range and the fact that all participants were experienced runners.

The findings appeared in Frontiers in Nutrition (2021; doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.678105).

See also: Energy and Sports Drinks Can Take a Toll on Teeth


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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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