Ingestion of a cold temperature/menthol beverage increases outdoor exercise performance in a hot, humid environment

Than Tran Trong, Florence Riera, Kévin Rinaldi, Walid Briki, Olivier Hue
PloS One 2015, 10 (4): e0123815

PURPOSE: A recent laboratory study demonstrated that the ingestion of a cold/menthol beverage improved exercise performance in a hot and humid environment during 20 km of all-out cycling. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine whether the ingestion of cold water/ice-slurry with menthol would improve performance in hot and humid outdoor conditions.

METHODS: Ten trained males completed three trials of five blocks consisting of 4-km cycling and 1.5-km running. During warm-up, every block and recovery, the athletes drank 190 ml of aromatized (i.e., with 0.05 mL of menthol) beverage at three temperatures: Neutral (ambient temperature) (28.7°C±0. 5°C), Cold (3.1°C±0.6°C) or Ice-slurry (0.17°C±0.07°C). Trial time, core temperature (Tco), heart rate (HR), rate of perceived exertion (RPE), thermal sensation (TS) and thermal comfort (TC) were assessed.

RESULTS: Ice-slurry/menthol increased performance by 6.2% and 3.3% compared with neutral water/menthol and cold water/menthol, respectively. No between-trial differences were noted for Tco, HR, RPE, TC and TS was lower with ice-slurry/menthol and cold water/menthol compared with neutral water/menthol.

CONCLUSION: A low drink temperature combined with menthol lessens the performance decline in hot/humid outdoor conditions (i.e., compared with cold water alone). Performances were better with no difference in psycho-physiological stress (Tco, HR and RPE) between trials. The changes in perceptual parameters caused by absorbing a cold/menthol beverage reflect the psychological impact. The mechanism leading to these results seems to involve brain integration of signals from physiological and psychological sources.

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