Wold Cup players have been puzzling viewers with a regular technique they’ve been taking part in that involves taking a drink of water from their water bottles and spitting it back out while on the field. We found out what it could mean here.
Players like England’s Harry Kane in this year’s World Cup have been catching viewers’ eyes not only with their soccer playing techniques but also with their odd ways of drinking water. Many of them have been appearing to regularly spit out water from their water bottles onto the field during breaks in a game instead of, you know, swallowing the fluid. So what exactly are they doing and why? While it could very well be that some players just don’t want to ingest the water to avoid feeling bloated during the game, others may be partaking in something known as “carb rinsing” aka “mouth rinsing”, according to some nutritional experts who spoke with the New York Times.
What is carb rinsing? Research has shown that many athletes involved in endurance sports can get a performance boost during intense exercise by rinsing their mouths with a carbohydrate solution and then spitting it out. According to scientists, the reason for this is because the receptors in the mouth will send signals to the pleasure and reward centers of the brain indicating that more energy is on the way so the muscles can continue to push harder without feeling tired. The players are basically tricking their brains into believing they’re getting more fluids by swishing it around in their mouths for 5-10 seconds without actually ingesting it. Carb rinsing shockingly made cyclists go about a minute faster in the nearly 25 mile cycling time trials, according to sports nutritionist Asker Jeukendrup.
Although carb rinsing is not extremely popular among athletes yet, it has been seen more and more lately, especially during the World Cup. While it can sustain the athletes for longer periods of time, carbohydrate fluids still need to be ingested eventually or the body would get dehydrated and that wouldn’t be good for anyone! Despite the fact that many World Cup players are taking part in the carb rinsing, exercise physiologist, Lindsay Bottoms, who is the lead researcher for sports, health and science at the University of Hertfordshire in England, says that it may not be the best thing to do considering it’s only meant to benefit in exercise for up to an hour and soccer games are around 90 minutes. “They need to ingest it rather than spit it out because of the duration of football,” she said. “Ideally, I would say rinse it in your mouth and actually swallow it” to get the maximum benefit.
Researchers are still figuring out other ways, if any, carb rinsing can benefit athletes and there’s a lot of details to factor in such as the amount of carbohydrates needed to gain a boost and for how long that boost can go on which all depends on the athlete and the game they’re playing. It will be interesting to see what researchers conclude and if they’ll be more athletes carb rinsing in the future.