When prepping for a marathon, most people will give at least some consideration to their nutritional and hydration needs during the race. These are essential components for a successful race and are not to be overlooked. Unfortunately, a lot of people have to deal with a sensitive stomach or indigestion problems and cannot tolerate consuming good sources of energy. These people (as well as everybody else) would benefit from a carb mouth rinse.

What is a carb mouth rinse? Exactly what it sounds like. Swishing some form of carbohydrate (ie gatorade) in your mouth for 5 to 10 seconds and then spitting it out. 

The science behind it: the glucose—or whatever form of carbohydrate is consumed— is infused via oral receptors in your mouth, as opposed to the regular absorption process of digestion. Studies have shown that the reward centers of the brain are activated with carb mouth rinsing. So “the sugar goes straight to your brain”. An important note is that the actual sweetness of the carbohydrate consumed seemed to be irrelevant—indicating that there are oral receptors that respond independently of taste.

Cycling and running performance have been shown to improve after a carb mouth rinse. This can be attributed to the activation of the reward centers of the brain.

Most studies included a fasting period prior to the carb rinse, ranging anywhere from 2 to 15 hours.

Because of the activation of the brain, the carb rinse is a great strategy to use during a marathon as you’re hitting the wall. The activation of the reward centers of your brain will help adjust your Rate of Perceived Exertion— like a mind trick to make you think you’re not working as hard. The physical capability of your body greatly exceeds the mental capacity. The carb rinse allows you to take advantage of that.