Looking for a legal performance enhancer to blitz your Park Run or half-marathon PB? Guzzle something pink.
Researchers at the University of Westminster have found that pink drinks can help you run faster and further compared to clear fluids by activating a placebo effect.
The study saw participants run for 30 minutes on a treadmill while rinsing their mouths with either a pink artificially sweetened drink that was low in calories or a clear drink. Other than the colour, the two drinks were identical in composition.
In the test, those who drank the pink fluid improved their mean speed by 4.4 per cent and ran 212 metres further. They also found running more enjoyable.
The researchers chose pink as we associate the colour with sweetness, increasing expectations of a sugar and carbohydrate fix. Previous studies have also shown that rinsing your mouth with carbs can improve exercise performance by reducing the perceived intensity of the exercise. In this case the researchers wanted to assess whether rinsing with a pink drink with no carbs could deliver the same boost through a placebo effect.
Colour is a proven weapon in boosting athletic performance, though many previous studies have focused on red rather than pink. A study published in Nature that analysed results in combat sports in the 2004 Olympic Games, found “a consistent and statistically significant pattern in which contestants wearing red win more fights”. Another study, published in Psychological Science found competitors who wear red have higher levels of testosterone.
It turns out pink may be similarly effective, helping you dig that little deeper while easing the pain of exertion.
“The findings from our study combine the art of gastronomy with performance nutrition,” says study author Dr Sanjoy Deb.
May as well take any advantage you can get, however unlikely the source.